1969: I was living in Paris, studying to become a Soviet Studies specialist when I had a life-changing dream. Before waking that morning, like most people, I had thought of dreams as entertaining nonsense. I went back to Princeton in Russian Studies, but was busy reading about dreams. How could my education have left out a serious exploration of how my, and everyone's minds work every single night?
At the very end of my junior year, I switched majors the next year changed my major so that I could dedicate myself to teaching people how to shed dogmatic interpretations and appreciate the immediate, practical applications of dream insights. That summer I spent on an island near Stockholm reading the entire collected works of Carl Jung and writing a junior paper on his work with dreams. In my senior year, I hit upon the core strategies of the Dream Interview and thought there might be a more direct route to understanding dreams than my New York City analyst had shown me. Still, the following year I went to the Jung Institute in Zurich to see if dream interpretation worked better there. Well, I decided not to become a Jungian therapist after that year, and was determined to develop a more transparent, client-centered, secular approach to dreaming. A master's degree and a doctorate in California followed and here I settled in to live and work.
Throughout my adult life, my dreams have helped me see myself better, improve my relationships with my parents and friends, see me through a good marriage and a kindly divorce, navigate the singles' world, and generally help me though the sad times and increase my capacity for joy and just plain fun.
In the last four decades, I have developed the Dream Interview method of interpretation (1971), popularized a secular form of dream incubation , co-founded the Delaney & Flowers Dream Center in San Francisco (1981), co-founded and been Founding President of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, written 6-7 books, and lectured at universities and to a wide variety of interested groups. This mix of helping, teaching, and performing has been perfect for one of my independent and passionate nature.
My favorite job was as a KVI AM radio host on a daily 3-hour afternoon show. "Dream Talk" engaged people in Seattle, Everett, and Tacoma, Washington who would not normally take an interest in dreams, thinking them nonsense; but when they heard people working out the meanings of their dreams as I played the role of interviewer, not interpreter, they saw more clearly that they only had to learn a new language to reap practical insights into their lives! I've spoken of dreams in three languages on hundreds of TV shows, including Oprah, NBC Nightly News, The View, Today, GMA, The Costanzo Show, Il Tappetto Volante, and many local shows around the country. It is important to get the word out that dreams are not nonsense. They are the product of our minds' working in a different language of visual metaphor. But I can tell you, that many people still think of dreaming as the sport of fools. We have a lot of educating to do!
My favorite work is teaching people how to understand their dreaming minds. At the dream center that I co-direct with Loma K.Flowers, we teach individuals and groups of amateurs and professional how to conduct solo or pair dream interviews. This skill of knowing what to ask yourself about your or another's dream straightforward, but takes practice to master. We also teach dream incubation, or targeting the dreams of one night to focus on a particular creative challenge or problem. Our most difficult task is showing students how to restrain the natural inclination to project preconceived interpretive notions into the dream. Our goal: to assist the dreamers in finding the personal meanings of the images on their own, and to learn careful interviewing skills for working with others. We invite students to study with us for Brief Intensive Programs, to study with us in person or via Skype in English, French, or Italian, and to earn a Delaney & Flowers Dream Center Diploma in Dream Interviewing so that they can teach it to others.
Once understood without the trappings of dogma and superstition, dreams can be a powerful engine for creativity and solving life's puzzles.
Now that you know how I came to value dreams, would you like to leave us a note telling how you became interested dreaming?