Thursday, May 17, 2007

Dream language on Shrinkrapradio

Dr. David van Nuys is going to be on a surge before he goes off to Hawaii for vacation. He is so devoted to the public of Shrinkrapradio, that he is not going to let them go with lesser ratio than one show a week, while he is away. And with a conference about dream study coming up he is going to take the opportunity to let a series of guests speak on the subject and then deliver also interviews he intends to make during the conference.

Today we start with the first episode in this string of shows, which is an interview with Robert Hoss on the language of dreams (#90 - The Language of The Dream).
The interview starts off as usual with Dr. Dave querying Hoss on the subject and having him explain the scientifically established frame in which dreams take place. It is exposed well, how certain parts of the brain are inactive during sleep and yet others are active and how one should take on the images of dreams by means of what the active brain parts are functioning for. The conclusion that dreams have a language of their own, but since it is especially the lingual part of the brain that is inactive, whereas the emotional part is, it becomes evident that the imagery needs to be understood as emotive metaphors. Fine, so far so good.
But then, Hoss begins to dominate the interview and is allowed to digest his book on the subject and feed the listener his technique of reconstructing the meaning of dreams as is also summarized in one page on his site. Interesting as this may be, I felt being in the midst of a book promotion and not an actual interview.
Only at then end, when Hoss concludes his victorious display of a particularly successful dissection of some woman's dream, Van Nuys chips in again and pushes forward the question in what way the dream analysis had actually helped the woman forward or in any other way shed some new light on the situation. Finally and we go back into having an interview, but I feel our good host missed an opportunity to push Hoss a bit more with critical questioning.
For example, I found it almost inconsistent, how he tackles the issue of colors in dreams. Once having established that the language system in the brain is off line and consequently we must understand the dream as emotional, metaphoric and strictly individual in its meanings, he seems to do a proper job in taking the objects in the dream on, by means of his questionnaire and allowing the dreamer to verbalize what some of the symbolism is, for him individually. Good point, it certainly puts in place generalized ideas that one specific symbol or another in a dream means a certain thing for everybody, like I am inclined to say that dreaming about a house means dreaming about ones identity and dreaming about a journey is about the conduct of ones life. That has made me think -- thanks to the interview.
However, what warrants the color approach, which is not strictly individualized, but rather maps onto traditional schemes of color interpretation, just as my house and journey schemes above? Hoss couples each color with a set of questions that need to be chosen as the right association with the color, thus steering the individual interpretation towards a general pattern. I would have liked to hear Hoss comment on that and justify this approach.

Here I think we see a point that Dr. Dave may need to develop a little bit in order to become a better interviewer. It is all very fine and a wonderful starting point that he creates a good atmosphere and rapport with the interviewee and he is very good at that. It works very well as long as the interviewee is conscientiously making his point, but not when he drops the ball, or takes over the conversation to push his point unquestioned. It would make Shrinkrapradio even more exciting if Dr. Dave were to spot those moments in real time and chip in and challenge the speaker a bit.

Anyway, Shrinkrapradio is still one of the best podcasts around and a shining example for anybody who wants to try a hand in any kind of educational program.
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