Written by Edwards Bruce Bynum, PhD, ABPP

..Life is but a dream

Review by Gunnel Minett

Although we still have a lot to learn about dreams, why we have them and what they mean, we can conclude that they play a big part in our lives. As this book points out, they often represent a true expression of our innermost thoughts, a version that is uncensored by the conscious mind. They can also express our connection with others, family and friends, past and present in ways we normally would not perceive them. Dreams can also solve problems of all kinds both past, present and future ones.

From perhaps a somewhat unexpected environment, I can give a personal example everyday ‘problem solving’ via dreams from my own past history when I worked in a bank. Despite an otherwise very conservative environment, we had a well establish method of solving mistakes we had made during the day, which usually meant the embarrassing situation of giving customers too much or too little money. When we could not find where we had made the mistake, we were told to go home and sleep on it. Mostly this had the effect that the person in question came back the next morning having ‘remembered’ in a dream where they had made the mistake.

In his book, Edward Bruce Bynum presents a comprehensive and integrated view of traditional dream analysis and family psychology both from a clinical science approach, but also drawing on old traditions from Africa, China and India and from parapsychology. He explains and illustrates with numerous examples how our individual unconscious is part of a larger collective or family unconsciousness and how dreams can express this.

One of the really positive aspects of the book is that it approaches our interest in dreams both from a current and historical angle: it points to the way we lived in (extended) family groups and the role dreams played there. This ancient way of life may often be dismissed as superstition based on ignorance (‘now we know better’). But, as the author points out, even if we now live more isolated lives, and have more individual freedom, the extended family can often have a positive effect on our inner wellbeing. We seem to have a need to get so close to others that we can share both their conscious and unconscious life in the form of dreams.

However, going back to closer family ties doesn’t necessarily mean returning to the biological family. Such a return to closer family ties would probably demand an impossible amount of change in our modern societies. But an ‘extended family’ does not have to be biological. As Steve Minett describes in his book Gazing at the Stars, well managed family constellations aimed at providing the optimal environment for child care can be a very good solution for adults as well as children.

Bynum’s book is full of recorded dreams that reflect both major and minor events in our lives such as illness, birth and death and medical emergencies, that all seem to have a special effect on our dreamlife. These dreams can also be simultaneous shared dreams, telepathic or precognitive dreams. Regardless of the fact that these types of dreams may not have an explanation within our current scientific paradigm, they most certainly appear often and strongly enough to be taken seriously, which is exactly what this book is doing.