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A woman has a dream that is disturbing on the face of it. It’s connected to her trauma imagery and

21 Nov
A woman has a dream that is disturbing on the face of it. It’s connected to her trauma imagery and she interprets the dream in a way that upsets her. She asks what this dream means..
Question: I have started listening to your tape, Healing Trauma, PTSD, every day and found it very helpful! My mental guide is myself as an innocent child.

I had a troubling dream that I was with my mental guide on an airplane and she attempted to kill the pilot. I think the "pilot" represents my abuser.

But this dream is troubling. What do you think? Can you help me understand this? I am NOT a violent woman, which is why the dream is so upsetting.


Dear Elaine,

I''m glad you are finding the imagery helpful. I hope you stay with it!

As for your dream, please don''t be too quick to evaluate it and decide its meaning prematurely. These things are rarely literal and you would be doing yourself and the dream a disservice to react to it as if it meant something bad. It could mean any manner of things. The key is to keep an open mind and assume that there is wisdom and value to it, but it may be subtle, symbolic or even paradoxical.

Jungian thinking, for instance, would say that each element in the dream is a part of you - sometimes a disowned part of you. So the observer, the guide, the pilot and the plane are all different representations of your own multifaceted psyche. There is juicy stuff to explore here once you take that view, and there is power and wisdom in each element. See if you can let yourself be curious about this. You might even write a dialogue with each element, asking it what it wants to say to you and chatting back and forth with it - you''d be surprised what you can discover from such a simple exercise.

Sometimes the dream is telling a metaphorical story with its own little wisdom tag line. For instance, it might mean the equivalent of ''Don''t throw the baby out with the bathwater'' - if you completely dispense with the pilot, you lose a valuable vehicle that''s keeping you up in the air safely! Maybe you need just to neutralize the pilot and keep the plane going - in the direction you want it to go.

Or maybe the guide is telling you that it''s time for you to do the piloting. And killing the pilot really means "It''s time for you to quit letting others commandeer you and get in the driver''s seat yourself" - or flier''s seat, however the case may be.

I''m only playing with ideas here, so please don''t take any of this as the last word - these are merely alternate interpretations and possibilities, to encourage you to see beyond your first negative reaction about the dream and to get the most out of it. The dream is there to help you and to teach you, and it comes from the deepest part of you, the wisdom of your truest self. That can''t be bad.

I hope this helps!

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award