The Dream

Dr Bernard Auriol

translated by Elisabeth Boyreau, Marie-Claire Nguyen and Art Funkhouser

The philosopher's dream

'Should we dream every night of the same thing, we would be as much affected by it as by the objects we see every day. And if an artisan was sure to dream every night, during twelve hours, that he is a king, I think he would almost be as happy as a king, dreaming every night, during twelve hours, he is an artisan.' (Pascal, Pensées, 386)

That thought isn't exclusive to the oriental mind, for which there is something not only uncertain or superficial about each experience, but even illusory. 'Maya': Unsubstantial sparkles leading us constantly to the pursuit of new illusions...

Amiel, the philosopher, writes: "In dreams, our individuality isn't closed; the whole environment is, so to speak, wrapped in it; it is the scenery and all its contents, including us. The individual who is dreaming is being dissolved into the universal fantasy of maya..." (Amiel, Journal Intime, 1 12 1892)


publicité non évaluée par le Dr Bernard Auriol

Conscious dreams

A lot of people, and many among the thinkers who wrote essays on dreams, totally dismiss the possibility of a dreamer, being conscious he is dreaming. After Paul Valéry for instance, it is obvious that

"Dreams are phenomena we only observe during their absence". (Tel Quel II, 258)

Jean-Paul Sartre even thinks that if the consciousness of dreams appears, it is because we are awake! He asserts that

"any appearance of the reflexive consciousness in dreaming is a momentary waking up, although the power of the consciousness that dreams is often such that it annihilates the reflexive consciousness straightaway, as during nightmares when the sleeper desperately thinks 'I am dreaming', without managing to wake up, because his reflexive consciousness disappears as soon as dreaming takes him over again". (Imagination, 207)

Delage adds:

"allowing for exceptions, the dreamer believes his dreams are objective, simply because he has no reason not to believe so, in the absence of any possibility of comparison with the waking state life, the existence of which he is not aware of in his dream". (The Dream, 668)

This author was wise enough to use the initial clause 'allowing for exceptions': Here again physiology tells us that those exceptions exist. The Indians knew so. They even assert that a conscious sleep is possible, in between the dreamlike phases too.


Freudian theory of dreams

"Dreaming is the realization of a desire" (S. Freud, La Science des rêves, 113)

"Dreams never deal with trifles; we wouldn't let so few things disturb our sleep. The dreams which are apparently innocent, prove to be full of mischievousness once interpreted. They have, as you might say, plenty of ideas on the back of their mind." (S. Freud, La Science des rêves, 168 sq.)

"The more you interpret dreams, the more you have to admit that most of adults' dreams are connected with sexual facts, and express erotic desires. Naturally, we shouldn't see those only." (S. Freud, La Science des rêves, 353-354)

"All the dreams of one night belong to the same set" (S. Freud, La Science des rêves, 298)

Which Jung confirms : "If possible, I never interpret a dream separately. As a general rule, a dream belongs to a series of dreams. Just as in the conscious realm, there is a continuity (except that it is regularly interrupted by sleep) which apparently exists in the succession of unconscious processes" (Jung, Psychology and Religion, 58)

Jungian theory

"As a matter of fact, dreams are productions of the unconscious soul. They are spontaneous, unbiased, not influenced by the arbitrary of consciousness. They are pure nature and therefore, are part of natural truth without make up (...). Pondering over our dreams is like returning to ourselves. We ponder over our Self, not over the ego; over that stranger Self which is essential to us, which constitutes our basis, and which, in the past, created the ego" (Jung, L'Homme à la découverte de son âme, 57).

Therefore, "an unknown faced stranger lies dormant within each of us. He talks to us through dream and let us know how different the vision he has of us is from the one we revel in" (Jung, L'Homme à la découverte de son âme, 63).


Premonitory Dreams?

"In the medicine of the Antiquity for which dreams science held such a big part, premonition in dreams have been mentioned as they often announce a coming illness before it erupts. (...) Must we consider that there is really premonition in dreams and that mysterious forces rule over the exclusion of feelings or sensations which trouble the dreamer who is going to fall ill?

We don't think so and we can give a more simple and more satisfying explanation to those so-called premonitory dreams.

In dreams some of our senses take a greater acuteness than when we are awake - so that a morbid irritation inhibited during the day, can be felt much more acutely in dreams -" (in J. Lhermitte, les Rêves, 39-41)".

Such en explanation for refusing to believe in a theory seems to me rather insufficient: it is not true that sensations are more acute when we dream; physiology teaches us to believe the opposite theory in fact. Such an objection does not imply that we should refer to occultism; psychoanalysis and the developments of psychosomatic knowledge might be sufficient to explain such forebodings: I can foresee having a sore throat all the better as I have forgotten my scarf.

Does this mean that we should in any case refuse to give a parapsychological value to dreams? Is there no room at all for really telepathic or truly premonitory dreams?

I would not have such a negative opinion. No more than Jung when he wrote: "Dreams are often anticipations that lose all their meaning when they are examined from a purely causal point of view". Especially if we take the word 'causal' in the meaning of a necessity written in the trivial direction of the arrow representing time, which is a physical and metaphysical prejudice.

Breast cancer; story of a dream

Someone in white said: "you've got at least one month left, one year at the maximum" (tears).
The same night a girl friend dreamt I came to her in tears and said:
- a doctor said I had only one month left!
- Who told you so?
- My father and mother! (dead)

Comments : She actually died in September, that is 6 months later.  The prediction was correct (0 month + 12 months)/2 = 6 months...Of course the development of her disease, and the fact that several women in her family had already died of the same disease, enabled her to predict a quick end.


Precognition ?

However, truly "premonitory dreams" most certainly exist; or as the parapsychologists prefer to use the term "precognitive dreams".

Here are some disturbing examples:

I dreamt general J.K. died, and shortly after, on 12-3-85, he did die.

His son had sold us the property. In the last few days an officer came because he bequeathed all his possessions to his two maids, except for the castle, given to his son, who sold it to us. Incredible! François Mauriac life story!

Rather her husband than her daughter (precognitive dream about her daughter's death) :

I had a dream which deeply moved me. I was sitting on a sofa in a very well-lit room; next to me was my daughter, dressed in black. Her being really alive made me very happy. I asked her "how is it you took such a long time to come?" I told to her about all the events that took place since her accident and her death. I had a hard time to pull myself together afterwards...Before the accident, I dreamt her dressed in long mourning weeds. I told my husband "let's hope nothing will happen to Jean-Jacques!". The contrary happened!
She went cycling. They met in the mountains. They had to choose between two roads. She chose. He went ahead; then waited for her...A car, with the aim of passing another cyclist on the opposite side, came upon her and smashed her into the ravine. I don't know if she saw it coming or if...
She was dressed in cycling shorts down to her knees. The bike was in bits. When she was placed in the coffin, her clothes couldn't be gotten off. My son-in-law put a long, black evening dress on her! ... I didn't see her! I didn't want to! I can't think of her but alive!

Twin dreams of two twin sisters

I was talking about 'cosmetics" but I said "comestics" . My daughter heard "comestible". My previous analyst was angry because my twin sister called me at my analyst's. I reproached her for having "eaten above my head".

When I was a child, my father appeared because we were both howling; we were having the same dream: I was eating over her scalp with a little spoon and she was eating over mine likewise in her own dream. During the following session, she insisted: "You don't know what it is when you are twins: you are never by yourself".

Commentary: In the Potomak, Cocteau says the Mortimers have only one heart - which he represents by a little drawing of their common dream - "so full, so round (only one for two) is the Mortimers' dream that the Eugenes try in vain to look for an issue to it.

About this, Lacan declares: Even when two people love each other, it is not common for them to have the same dream. It would be even very remarkable. It gives us the proof how lonely each of us is with what comes out of the phallic pleasure." (Lacan, 1974).

Dream foreboding a real assault

context : Since an assault two months ago in which she was the victim, that patient, sent to me by a parapsychology lab, complains about headaches, memory losses and difficult psychological concentration

As for the aggression: I dreamt three days before it happened. It was the same ambiance.

We looked at each other in the eyes; he drew me by my wrist in the dream. In fact, he beat me and broke my wrist.

In fact, I went through the wrong door when I came out of the maths lesson and it was thus that I was in front of my attacker. She remembers having other premonitory dreams: For example she saw the head of her sister's baby and the head of her own baby before they were born. She happened also to have flashes before accidents.

Commentary: If the dream had allowed her not to take the wrong door would not have seemed premonitory since nothing special would have happened. There lies a strange phenomenon: She did not foresee how to avoid the assault.

Could that be compared to the masochistic behaviour of the person who knows the negative consequences of an action and yet commits that action anyway?

Besides, the precognition seems to be just jumbled up: The wrist is an essential element which will be hurt in fact instead of being grabbed brutally (in the dream). There, we have information which is transmitted as everything that is dreamed, with amendments, omissions, deformations. As Freud imagined, dreams seemed to be using the parapsychic data as it uses the day's residues.

Pecognitive dreams

"My mother's brother had a wife, my aunt Zoe, a decent woman who suffered from cancer. I was 7. One night, I dreamt that her husband, in front of a closed door with his arms crossed, told me: "Don't enter. She's dead". In fact, my mother heard someone knocking. It was two o'clock in the morning. I shouted: Don't open. It's Aunt Zoe who's dead. To the astonishment of the whole family!".

(...) This reminds me of the assassination of a young Arab (aged 15 or 16) in Oran, in front of the "Regent" pub in 1960 or 1961. He had his face against the earth, with his arms extended and a group of young boys around him with little hatchets [the patient cries]. Mercy! Disgusted! Even his feet. I couldn't see his face, turned to the Regent's frontage. Young French boys (between 15 and 18 years old) had assassinated him. A dagger between the two shoulders blades! They had threatened me because I had spoken: they had sensed a European French accent in my voice! I had said: "poor boy!" Then, the owner of a shop let me behind his iron curtain. An Arab, hidden under the counter was shivering and clacking his teeth very loud! The lady brought him something to drink. The man let me sit on a high stool. I was surprised because that was Jewish people who had rescued that Arab boy. Then, the young French attacked another Arab who was going by (and killed him, too).

I, exactly, had already dreamed this incident in the night! I felt a very great impression of strangeness, an impression I've had ever since! When I left, all the streets were deserted. I had entered the Church of my communion, that of the Holy Ghost! The Church was empty, its doors open! Strange impression, like madness! With time I was upset by the scene which I had just lived through and was fascinated by the fact that I had completely dreamed exactly the scene that very morning. What is thus life?

Dreams and how they were interpreted in antiquity

For the ancient Egyptians, during the temporary death that sleep is, the dreamer has access to another world, in which the irreversible time of this world, which is one of the elements of creation, yields in front of the future which can be lived in the present... Gods come in the dream of Pharaoh (Merenptah, for example) to comfort and lead him to victory that is actually acquired the following day. As for Stethos, rats sent by Ptah will help him win, as the god had promised him.

Premonitions, Omens

In the Hittites conception of dreams, they seem to have no premonitory value. Gods do not seek to reveal the secrets of their future to their worshippers and the men do not try to pierce the veil. Dreams come from gods, to be sure, but they only resort to them to put them onto the right path (after M. Vieyra, Les songes et leur interprétation chez les hittites).

A dream tells Gideon that he would win the battle against Midianites. Actually, he won. Where is the miracle? That he won!

Outside the Joseph cycle the Torah quotes another example of allegorical dreaming in Judg. VII, 13-14. It is about Gideon (Jerubbaal), when he is ready to fight against the Midianites, he and  his servant overhears what one of the enemy soldiers says about a dream he had just had. A barley cake (lekhem) rolled into the Midianites' camp. It rolled to the tent, overthrew it and the tent fell. His fellow answered: It's the sword (the root "lkhm" evokes fighting) of Gideon to whom God is going to give over Madiab and all his camp.

As in Lacan's land, it is a pun which allows the fellow to interpret the dream: The latter appears to be encrypted as is every dream, revealing a more or less censored desire. Why such a censorship while everybody is ready to fight? Isn't it the spit spurting out of the mouth without credential of Cassandra ? Isn't that spit necessary to ease off the prediction? Frequent easement  in the well known tales of precognition, such an easment as it is able to sometime to change the future rather than seal it in its oracle... Easement which allows Mantinee's victory in spite of the prediction which otherwise would logically lead to defeat.

Dreams in the  Torah

The tale of Joseph occupies chapters 37 to 50 of Genesis, that is to say about some third of this book. Different traditions of one story only can be found intertwined there and these versions don't lack interest. The texts I'll tell you about are essentially of "elohist" origin. Before Moses, to speak about God, one used the term "Elohim", a plural whose origin is explained by exegetes as being polytheist. Yet the scriptural current which uses this term insists on Divine Transcendance and suggests that the name (YHWH) is a revelation given to Moses on the Sinaï Mountain in a well localized fog, by a fire which goes on, indefinitely.

Dreams are here numerous but in the rest of the Bible, they become scarce and only tell people to beware of the illusions they nurture (Eccli. 34, 1 et 7; Sap. 18, 17; Dan. 1, 17; Jerem. 29, 8; Joel 2, 28). Among the dreams which swarm in the Elohist environment we are interested in, there is the divine monition that makes Abraham cast out Hagar and her son Ismael; then he undertakes to offer Isaac as sacrifice. Let us also remember the well known dream about the Jacob's ladder (Gen. 28, 12-17).

The biblical dreams-specialist is undoubtedly Joseph. Yet, in spite of the theological viewpoint of the Elohist, its interpretations are limited to the world of phenomena. It uses dreams as reflections or group functioning, whether it is about his family (dreams about stars, moon and sun), or about the Egyptian people (the lean cows).

The tale contains many data which may make us think it is partially a historical document:

·      Egypt gave great parapsychological value to dreams.

·      migrants from the East sometimes took power (for example Janhamu, Amenophis III Prime Minister)

·      cycles of 7 years are well documented in Egyptian literature as regards famines and periods of wealth linked to the whims of the Nile's floods.

It's only later that a xenophobia and racist reactions will make Egyptians consider Hebrews as "an Asian leprosy". Then, they will be chased and compelled to flee as is told us in Exodus. The meaning given by Christian theologians to Joseph's tale is that God, for the salvation of the elects (those who are selected by God), uses all circumstances, especially those which are the most unpleasant. Sin itself - although He highly reproves of it - is used for salvation. This will generate the idea of "Felix Culpa" that will allow us to be freed from Adam's sin, since it will give us "such a redeemer" (Gen 50, 19-20; Matt. 16, 21-23; Acts 2, 29-39).

From the point of view of Henri Laborit and ethologists, Joseph is like a domineering white rat: the first born son of the favourite wife of the Father (who will also beget Benjamin). He is himself pampered and better treated than his brothers. Hence, his adventures. His brothers don't bear at all his prominence as over gifted, all the more as he becomes his father's sycophant, a smug zealot whom all groups and gangs abhor.

He is then doomed to be killed. Unless an ultimate remorse ...

And here he is in the well, sold by his brothers into slavery, owned by merchants, thrown away...

For me, he is the type of a progressive individual (or group). Changing a group structure, as changing any system implies a perturbation of the balance, superior to the common fluctuations which just allow stability or, at best, a slow stochastic trend. Although a real move implies a noticeable, durable perturbation.

Leaving the rut generally leads to the destruction or ousting of the spoil-sport, the one who hinders thinking as usual.  In order to change the system it needs the tenacity and the skill of Joseph: so sure of oneself that the counter reactions of which he is the target do not destroy him, skilful enough to get out of the venture without loss, to distinguish the faults of the system and to show that the solutions he imagined were well-founded .

Is this function of the skilful disturber something that happens at random? Could we admit the assumption that the faults of a structure generate its progress? That is what is observed in all cases of Darwinian evolution: the impairments of information copying lead to changes which, after very badly adapted specimens are eliminated, allow one to face any deterioration of the environment and which support its wider conquest. On the level of scientific progress, it is well-known that the great advances often come from individuals or groups situated at the intersection of at least two fields of thought, that is, twice foreigners.

The tragedy of the Jews, the reasons of this tragedy and the momentous success of most of them as regards Science and Culture, generally speaking could well be explained by the example of Joseph and his story. As Joseph the pious man thinks he is the most beloved and, fundamentally the best one: not because of racial competence or quality, or any peculiar genetic feature but because he has been elected, elected freely and lovingly by the God of the Universe.

Like Joseph, some people in the Jewish culture are characterized by their capacities; like him they are at the intersection of two cultures: that their ancestors tied by the religious tradition and that of their "diaspora" environment; where they are educated.

Thus, Freud, Marx, Husserl, and Einstein as a very abbreviated list!

Guided dream of Desoille and Techniques of Mental Imagery

One can use the Desoille's guided dream within the framework of a therapeutic technique to promote a better presence to oneself and to the world rather than to flee or flee reality according to the simple slope of the state which depicts in its Newspaper (27.7.1854) the sentimental philosopher (Amiel):

"I will have dreamed all the lives, to comfort me not to have lived one"


The conference then continued on the more traditional aspects of the psychoanalytical theory and experimentation concerning the dream (either of man or of animals)

Freud, Jung, Jouvet, etc. 

To follow



Psychosonique Yogathérapie Psychanalyse & Psychothérapie Dynamique des groupes Eléments Personnels

© Copyright Bernard AURIOL (email : )

4 Novembre 2006