The Invention of Lying -or- Galaxy Quest's Search for the Truth
Everybody Lies -or- Generational Lies to Our Children
Having been in private psychotherapy practice, for this the 23 year, I almost always open the first conversation with, "what's the problem?" Listening carefully, I wait until the details of the conscious perceptions of the narrative of the problem are presented. This telling of the problem process may take a session or two. Without having discussed the topic of dreams until the conscious perceptions are expressed, I then ask, whether there are any dreams that they remember. Once I have received the dreams, I can compare the conscious report to the dream presentation. The dream provides a litmus test, about the unconscious perceptions and the accuracy of the conscious perception of the presenting problem.
Often, the conscious report is similar or a variation to the way the problems are presented in their dreams. Then there are those, where there is much more to the problem(s) than what was consciously reported. Then there others, whose conscious report, has nothing to do with the true reasons as to why they have sought out therapy. Some have forgotten old traumas that were repressed, others are afraid of telling the whole truth, because there may be consequences for their actions. Others yet, plain and simply have a guilty conscience and are seeking absolution. This of course, is something that by its definition, is not in my power to provide.
A number of years back, a mother concerned about her 18 year old son's well being, came seeking help. First, I saw and spoke to the mother (alone) who told me how she saw the problem. Then, I spoke to the son (alone) who told me the almost exact same story. The dreams that the son presented matched the conscious presentation. What had impressed me, was that the son and the mother had been extremely honest with each other, that is often not the case in many relationships.
Having been entertained by the TV character Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) for over seven years, I find it easy to subscribe to his signature idea about people, "everybody lies". Having worked in child psychiatric many years ago, I had concluded (that in terms of projective testing at least) children started to become successful in telling lies, or at least hiding their true thoughts and feelings at about 8 years old. Some believe that the process of lying, the deception of others, and of one's self, begins at an earlier age. In the social politics of everyday life, many people resort to Machiavellian tactics. Many dreams sent to the IIDR verify this observation.
When applied to a whole society, or even all of us in the global village, the generational lie begins with the "lie to children". This lie is easily seen in the dreams of children, who culturally inherit the lies from the previous generation. The dream interpretations "The Mysteries of Dallas" and "Games Parents Play" underscore the half baked lies parents tell their children. A young adolescent that was having full blown panic attacks, was referred to me, the panic attacks had no rhyme, and no reason. As it turns out, the child was intuitively sensing via her dreams that one parent was lying, once the lie was exposed, the panic attacks of course stopped. Children are often underestimated and treated as if they were stupid and/or oblivious. Children may not understand the true nature of the "adult world", however most of them do intuitively sense and feel things very deeply.
Everyday psychological manipulation and seduction goes on in society. MacKay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds underscores the on-going problem. We can see the variety of individual and group narcissistic lures that people use to influence other people if we look at dreams.
Two popular films come to mind, the first is "The Invention of Lying" which presents a utopia of truth, where lying does not exist, where imagination and fictions have no room. The movie industry, is dominated by lecture style facts, and advertisements are blunt and to the truthful point. People are brutally honest, often saying true, yet cruel and insensitive remarks. The naked truth is what drives this society and this planet. One man faced with a depressing dilemma has a creative epiphany, he thinks up the first lie. With this new found power to lie, he also learns that he has control over the psychological power of the situation via manipulation. However, when it comes to manipulating his true love, he is unable to do so.
The science-fiction parody "Galaxy Quest" features a group of once popular TV space drama has-beens, who are living out their lives based on showing up at conventions where their "fictional" characters are celebrated by their fans. An alien race has been monitoring the broadcasts of what they believe to be the "historical" tapes of the "Galaxy Quest" adventures. The aliens have no concept of fiction, and have come to earth to recruit the crew, to help them battle against a mortal enemy. Of course, as with all the acting power based on fictions, complications develop.
The manifest dream presented below, does it speak about the facts, fiction, fantasy, deception, truth and/or lies?
Victoria, 31 Married
"I dreamt I went to my husband's work and could feel people looking at me as if they knew something I didn't. I saw my husband and confronted him about cheating on me with a woman that I suspected. He denied it, told me to leave and just then, she came walking out of his office. I stopped her and asked her to tell me the truth. To set me free if it was true, she came through and told me specific details. I cried, he came around the corner, I hit him and told him we were through. As I was leaving, he was following me and he was hysterically crying. Apologizing repeatedly. I dreamt that I was calling my girlfriends in hysterics. I could literally feel my body heaving from the heart ache. When my husband got home, I had all of his belongings on the porch."
Mr Hagen's Reply; "Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive." Sir Walter Scott
Sorting out what is the truth, fact, fiction, fantasy and deceit based on the manifest dream alone, is often extremely difficult. Just because a person dreams that their partner is unfaithful, doesn't necessarily make it true. Perhaps the suspicions about the woman that she "suspected", are based on her own problems with paranoia and jealousy? Perhaps, a previous boyfriend cheated on her, so therefore all men cheat? In the dream, Virginia by her own account goes into "hysterics" calling her girlfriends, did they know the truth?
What is interesting is the husband's response in the dream to the accusation, he denies. A person's first instinctual defense mechanism is to use denial, instead of ‘fessing up. Denial is a wonderful defense mechanism, that most likely has been used and met with such great success over generations, it has never grown old. I remember seeing a late 1960's American "bedroom farce" on TV with Joey Bischop, the wife comes home early, finds her husband with another woman in bed. The wife immediately gets all hysterical, ranting and raving, goes into another room. While the other woman gets dressed and quickly leaves (without being seen exiting), the bed is made and a now dressed Joey Bischop sits in a bedroom chair, with pipe lit reading the newspaper. All this happens in a very short period of time. The wife comes back into the bedroom, looks around says "where's that woman?" Joey Bishop's looks up from reading the newspaper, takes the lit pipe out of his mouth, and responds in a nonchalant fashion, "what woman?"
In the dream, Victoria is not satisfied with the husband's denial, the suspected woman happens to walk out of the husband's office, and is then conviently confronted as well. Is the wife looking for confirmation (also known as confirmation bias)? Victoria uses a variation of John 8:32 of the New Testament, which are said in her words as; "To set me free if it was true, she came through and told me specific details." Maybe that's what Victoria really wanted all along? I guess another cliché is also true, "All is fair in love and war."
Once the accusation is confirmed, the husband starts to hysterically cry and apologizes repeatedly. Is there a better way to present marital soap opera and theatric melodrama than in a dream? Victoria's own "hysteria" reaches a "literal" psychosomatic crescendo angina in her dream.