Social Dreaming Event

1st December #18

Three facilitators present, one participant plus two short visits.  4 dreams are presented. There is a man from the Duchy of Luxembourg with a camera. He writes down everything that is explained about social dreaming and he leaves after 8 minutes to catch Eurostar.


1.         I’m attending a seminar, but I hadn’t done my preparations for it. I am approached by someone like SM who interests him in social dreaming. The reading material for the seminar is placed on everyone’s seats. It is short and can be read quickly before starting, but nothing is taken in. I then walk back with two others back towards my house. I am talking to a woman in a doorway near Celia Road (my mother’s name). I kiss the woman and I feel torn between doing that and being spotted. We go into her house and she appears naked. We have sex in different locations ending up in the bedroom. I think I hear the door once, but that is a false alarm. Then my wife comes in – I’m dressed and preparing to give excuses. She gives me a peck on the cheek and I admit to doing a terrible thing. I feel that my world is closing down.

Associations: I feel guilty at entering this camp because of feeling privileged and being a professional in the City. I have been talking with my brother who sympathises with the protesters.

2.         I dream about my wedding taking place on an estate. The wedding ceremony takes place near a noisy road – like at Tent City. Just as the ceremony is about to start, I suggest moving it to another, far prettier part of the estate, but when we get there, we discover that it is not there any more. Parts of the estate had been sold and so we go into the kitchen garden which is not very pretty or clean and in fact we end up in a worse place.

Associations: that the estate/’state’ had contracted – which the protest is about. Selling off the estate – getting poorer.

3.                  A dream about a workers’ strike at Bulgarian railways.  People are looking to save their jobs but are confused. They are searching for a better way of life by taking actions that leads to its opposite, viz. the protest threatens to bankrupt the company.

Associations: we all have a tendency towards engaging in self-defeating behaviour.

A joke comes to mind following the dream about unfaithfulness.  A man goes on a business trip and when he returns home he finds his wife naked and short man called John hiding in the wardrobe.  The husband beats both of them up. This happens twice more.  On the third time the man returns home, opens the wardrobe and find a big burly guy with earrings, and when the guy says what do you want?, the husband says, sorry, I’m looking for John.

Association: the protesters are identified as ‘Big John’ and ‘Little John’. A facilitator says he feels intimidated by coming into the camp and discovering that in fact the campers feel more intimidated by us. We start by being the “Little John”, but change into the “Big John” – an inversion of roles with corresponding projections of strength and weakness, fear and bravado.

4.                  A young man sits at the edge of the tent, eating and spitting, very rough-looking, missing a front tooth. He is from Manchester and dismisses this weak London demonstration. He says he does realise that social dreaming is about night-time dreams. He thought it would be about living dreams; about the passions for living rough together, sleeping in the cold.  A man is comes in and says “I dream of having a decent coffee in the morning” and leaves. The young man dominates for the rest of the session, ruminating, free associating, being angry, because, he says, he is here to protest against the war and no one seems interested. This is the second anniversary of the death of his sister who was killed in the war. But it’s like a holiday camp, he says. If that is what people here want, they should go to one, but not be here. He says he hasn’t met anyone on his level – people who think like him. He feels very lonely. He then presents a dream of trying to run away from someone, but his pumps won’t let him get away. He then reaches a high building like a Victorian Hall, something like his old boxing club which is haunted by two ghostly figures.  Next, he is driving a Lamborghini, then it becomes small enough to fit into his hand and he gives it to someone as a gift, like a toy.

Associations: People in Tent City say they are living their dreams – want to be millionaires or protesting against them.  The man recalls his sister and other people who are not here in this tent. He thinks of the time his mother brings him food and he responds.  The protesters are feeling stuck and want to get out of their misery, but they have heavy pumps that prevent them moving. The man says he can’t believe that some of the protesters do not believe in God. Its crazy,  man.  He says protest is universal – there are protesters in every society and in every age – the fact is that throughout history protesters have existed.  People like the government and the Queen know all about this and they can predict what is going to happen. Protest has been going on for thousands of years, but it leads to nothing. Even in the camp here, he says, there is a hierarchy – it pisses him off. He came here thinking that the people would be activists pursuing peace. I know about violence – I’ve been in prison where I was confronted with the deliberate violence of government who train men to kill. That is okay, he says, these people come back from the war as heroes.  In prison, I met another prisoner who was in on a drink-driving charge, and it turns out that the guy was a soldier who had killed six people in Afghanistan and he is indifferent about it. The young man asks if his violence in on the same level as that guy – in society I am now regarded as being worse than the soldiers who kill and think nothing of it.  At first, this man shows his dangerous side before showing his sensitive side and saying what a good thing the social dreaming event is for him and he wants other people to share in it, so he goes out and tries to recruit people to come and share their dreams. He manages to bring someone in, a Hungarian who can’t speak English, and he leaves.

Association: Thinking of a group relations conference – the large study group laid out in a spiral. The person in the centre is driven out of control by the rest. The young man feels that there is a spotlight on him to tell his dream. He is honest without inhibitions, but he feels totally marginalised and is not accepted in Tent City.  He is upset that even his attempts to organise people to come into the dream session are not successful.

Associations: we are abandoned by the protesters; Boycott because of despair and fear.  The dream is about fading hope for the dreams – “living the dream” is confused.  There seems to be an institutionalisation of social dreaming – it is taken for granted resulting in poor attendance.  We are affected by their despair and isolation – we feel we have become institutionalised.  A lady says disdainfully: I’m not coming to social dreaming – “I won’t want to have my dreams interpreted by opinionated people”.  The issue seems to be about the use and abuse and the exploitation of people’s dreams.

In the transference we are feeling what they are feeling – what is it all for? Is it worth it?

Facilitators: Alex Read, Maria Tchomarova, Mannie Sher