Bad dreams are made of this: looking at distressing dreams in light of Heidegger's Befindlichkeit and Boss' dream theories.
Abstract: This paper explores the experience of sharing distressing dreams in therapy. The author is influenced by his own therapeutic dream-work, and focuses on his experience working with a client who brings a recurrent bad dream in therapy. A review and critique of Boss' dream theories is included, looking at paradox, reality/fantasy and waking/sleeping experience, while the second part focuses on Heidegger's Befindlichkeit and its relevance to distressing dreams in therapy. This paper attempts to bring Boss' theory and Heidegger's philosophy closer to the lived experience that happens in the therapy time/space. In the light of what is presented here, the potential value of existential dream-work lies upon looking at the interrelatedness between the waking and dreaming worlds, which happens through the relationship between client and therapist.


Distressing dreams, reality/fantasy, waking/sleeping, time/space, Boss, Heidegger, Befindlichkeit, Stimmung, throwness, paradox, therapeutic relationship.
Article Type: Report
Subject: Existential psychology (Research)
Philosophy of mind (Research)
Dreams (Physiological aspects)
Dreams (Psychological aspects)
Author: Dolias, Leo
Pub Date: 07/01/2010
Publication: Name: Existential Analysis Publisher: Society for Existential Analysis Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Psychology and mental health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Society for Existential Analysis ISSN: 1752-5616
Issue: Date: July, 2010 Source Volume: 21 Source Issue: 2
Topic: Event Code: 310 Science & research
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United Kingdom Geographic Code: 4EUUK United Kingdom
Accession Number: 288874197
Full Text: 1. Introduction

The focus of this paper is bad dreams referring to dream experience that include strong feelings such as anxiety and fear. Attempting to explore dreams from and existential perspective I look at both theoretical and experiential dimensions that appear relevant: ideas about reality/fantasy, time/space, and waking/sleeping experience. The first part of this paper includes a review and critique of Boss' dream theories. The second part explores Heidegger's Befindlichkeit in relation to distressing dreams focusing on Being and Time; acknowledging also that more is being said on dreams later during the Zollikon seminars.

My motivation and interest in looking at dreams from an existential perspective has been based upon my life experiences: my own dreams and extensive dream work in my own therapy, being with clients who recount bad dreams, having anxious dreams with clients myself, and overall intending to make better use of dream work as part of my existential practice. I also intend with this paper to bring experience and theory closer together, to allow for a creative interaction between theory, Heidegger's philosophy, my views and experiences in relation to dreams and my engagement with Heidegger's and Boss' ideas. Along these lines, a client of mine, whom I will be referring to as Martha, and her repetitive bad dream are presented in the following pages. Phenomenologically, the aim here is to create experiential 'substance' amongst theory that tends to be abstract--especially ideas about dreams, which seem to be mysterious and elusive anyway by nature.

I also attempt to shed more light on how I have approached my client's dreams from an existential angle, reminding myself of the value of an existentially informed therapeutic approach to dreams. Working with my dreams was a central part of the six years of my past psychoanalysis--I recall the value of revisiting dreams with my analyst's insightful engagement, especially during depressive times when other forms of expression felt dead. I also recall feeling annoyed by some of his witty Freudian interpretations that felt quite irrelevant or forced. In our last session four years ago he thanked me for the 'gifts' I used to bring frequently to him: my dreams. Writing this paper makes me also notice how I am as a therapist myself and how I relate to clients who talk about dreams. I can say that I do not see my client's dreams as special gifts--what I feel is that they can be creative opportunities that bring about particular openings in therapy, which I attempt to better understand through reading Boss and Heidegger, being with Martha, and writing this paper.

2. Boss on dreams

Freud (1900a) suggests that dreams are masked unconscious messages that hide wishful desires and conflicts. Dream interpretation holds a central place in psychoanalysis, seen as the golden opportunity for accessing the client's dark psyche. Jung (1961) sees dreams as compensations to one-sided waking attitudes that open to the 'other side', to one's collective and unconscious past. Jungian analysis embraces dream work as part of the client's growing process towards individuation. Boss (1957, 1977), himself a trained psychoanalyst rejects analytical ideas--namely that dreams withhold meaning from consciousness behind symbolic facades in a misleading manner. On the contrary, Boss sees dreams as natural processes that carry no intention to deceive and, as he points out, if there is any deception taking place then it would be due to our own short-sightedness (1977). Phenomenologically, dreams are not masking one's truth--their true significance lies in that dreams have no disguise: the experience of bad dreams is seen for what it is. Boss was progressively influenced by existential thinking and practice, and his work with dreams was furthered by his collaboration with Binswanger and friendship with Heidegger. His influence and inspiration by Martin Heidegger is direct and obvious.

The analogy of light plays an important part in Boss' theories, understanding one's dreaming Dasein as an illumination which brings things to light. As he points out, the word phenomenon literally means 'to shine forth,' 'to come out of the darkness' (Boss, 1978: 157). Disclosure and concealment are seen as mutually dependant concepts, and Boss attempts to describe dream phenomena and allow them to unfold its meanings in order to illuminate one's experience of being--dream phenomena are what they reveal themselves to be: honest and immediate. The mood and relationship to the dream phenomena are seen as part of one's potentials of a meaningful relatedness to the world one finds him/herself part of (Boss, 1957), as he argues:

Boss' work on the relationship between the dreamer and the dream contains phenomenological investigations of certain experiential dimensions: How is reality and fantasy seen by the dreamer and the therapist? What are the relevant temporal and spatial characteristics of Dasein? How do we understand dreams by looking at the differences between dreaming and waking existence? These questions are tackled next, focusing on a recurring bad dream that Martha has brought to therapy on several occasions:

Martha also has similar bad dreams of travelling on a ship, as well as frequent good dreams about travelling on planes and ships feeling pleasantly excited--when this scenario turns into a nightmare she frequently wakes up distressed, and there seems to be no conclusion or destination to any of her travelling dreams. Martha is an attractive and intelligent woman in her late twenties, who holds a high profile job in finance. She came to see me encouraged by her G.P. who told her that she was depressed. Martha came to therapy feeling low and disconnected from reality, unsafe with her boyfriend, struggling with binge eating and dieting, feeling insecure about her body image and very concerned with the fact that time is passing and she is getting older. My experiences with Martha's bad dreams have included feeling and remembering of my frequent fear and discomfort when flying long flights--in my case this happens when I am awake, and trying to go to sleep during uncomfortable long flights is a way to deal with my midair distress and fear.

2.1 Reality and fantasy

Boss does not clearly differentiate reality from fantasy, accepting transformative and intangible interpersonal processes involved. In light of Heidegger's concepts around temporality and spatiality, Boss views reality as an experience that involves paradox, elusiveness or transcendence--experiences that are perhaps more apparent in dreams. Existentially, pure reality is ungraspable; instead what we experience as real or known is inextricably linked to the way waking or dreaming existence is perceived and illuminated (Boss, 1977). The reality of distressing dreams is created by the way the dreamer perceives the dream-world as part of one's existential interrelatedness. Boss (1977) rejects attempts to objectify dreams that promote a subject-object situation between the dream and the dreamer. According to him, such objectification relates to further divisions and psychic dissections, which appear like 'assumption[s] that there must be, in a pre-existent space, some encapsulated psyche in which the dream process occurs.' (1977: 16). Boss argues that there is only the dreaming reality when one dreams--rather than differentiating between what is real or fantasised: '[t]here is only the dreaming human being' (1978: 150) there and then, within the particular dream temporality and spatiality.

Looking at how Martha experiences reality and fantasy in relation to her dream was somewhat surprising: against my assumptions at times that fantasy is closer to her (and my) dream-world, it transpired in therapy that Martha has experienced her recurrent flight dreams more real--in terms of presence, aliveness or vividness--in comparison to her frequently disconnected and dreamy waking experience. This realisation has been difficult for Martha who struggles with paradoxical versus logical views, according to which her waking logic holds the key to knowledge and hence wellbeing. Given such confusion, our therapeutic work has also aimed at understanding paradox in Martha's life, and the experience of sharing her dreams with me provided fertile ground for this.

Tuning in with Martha's pace has been challenging, especially in the ways she and I experienced time and space at times. This was most evident in my experience in a session when Martha recounted one of her bad dreams: I experienced Martha more 'alive' and present than usual, speaking energetically and fluidly while feeling myself that we connect, getting closer together, time going faster than usual. On the contrary, Martha later described the recounting and sharing of her bad dream as a relief, entering her own 'bubble' with time slowing down in comparison to her frenzied dream flight. I found it difficult myself on some occasions to understand the paradox of how we were so close during her dream visits, while, simultaneously, being so far apart.

Such odd experiences between Martha and I seem to disclose uncanny aspects of the everyday. Existentially, the time/space paradox exists and is allowed in the way reality and fantasy is constructed and made sense of. Heideggerian notions about temporality and spatiality shine through Boss' ideas of dreamt and waking reality; in Boss' (1963: 47) words:

How is this unfolding, in this opening up of space and time, occurs in dreams? Or in the waking sharing of Martha's dream with me? Boss does not see a difference, in the existential process of unfolding, between waking and dreaming states. Both experiences are part of the emergence of Dasein, and Boss (1977) suggests that Dasein unfolds in space and time that might feel dreamlike while one is awake, or like waking life while one is dreaming--which is far from dissimilar to the way Chuang Tzu (2) made sense of dreams a couple of millennia ago. From an existential angle, time and space are what we scientifically investigate and are taught by physics, chronometry and historiography, but are also far beyond our logic and conventional three or four dimensional mental representations. In this spirit, one is in relation even when one is alone and isolated, one might feel close to someone who is far or not existing anymore, and accordingly one might feel disconnected and miles away from someone who is at an arm's length. It appears that the experiential unfolding between Martha and I partly was this paradoxical time/space disturbance that happened in light of bringing her dream in therapy, which generated new meaning and understanding, as it potentially happens now while I am writing this and feel close to Martha.

2.2 Dreaming and being awake

Boss (1978) sees dreams as illuminating openings of one's Dasein, but also argues that: 'The waking mode of existence assumes the highest rank' (p.159), since in 'dreaming, we rarely reflect on ourselves in an attempt to gain insight into our existential state' (p.155). As he argues:

Reflection and understanding might not be present in Martha's dreams nonetheless, her recurrent bad dreams included on some occasions a special quality that was only present in her bad dreams, an anxious awareness and clarity that also seemed absent in her waking mind: Martha has described that at the start of some of her bad dreams she had a vague awareness that something bad will take place during her journey. This awareness has been part of her anxious dreams and mostly absent in her waking life. Opening to the anxious uncertainty of her dream world has been a starting point of articulating together in therapy her anxiety in the light of Martha's dreamt experience of it--an experience that appeared well away from her waking mind. Such investigations have also opened further to main personal concerns: her emerging strong fear and anxiety of not being in control over her life: her diet, body, image, age, career and fiance. I also frequently felt while being with Martha the anxious excitement of opening through her dream to something significant for her. The significance of Martha being clearer of her existential uncertainty and anxiety in her bad dreams--less when awake--calls for questioning Boss' suggestion that waking experience assumes the highest status.

Nonetheless, differences between dreaming and being awake do exist and Boss elaborated on these, namely in relation to the freedom of the dreamer's perceptive openeness. He argues that--from a phenomenological angle--it appears that while dreaming we inhabit a more open, broader and freer world that is less constricted than the waking one; in this light a dream mouse can suddenly become a lion, or one can easily take off and fly away (Boss, 1977). However, according to Boss the reverse is true: dreams are more limiting rather than freer compared to being awake, highlighting three main differences between the dreaming and the waking experience that indicate the particular possibilities, as well as restrictions and limitations, inherent in dreams.

Firstly Boss argues that dreaming is predominantly a very particular temporal being: 'in that mode of being present of an immediately sensually, optically, perceptible, temporally present presence--as distinct from visualised presences, remembered presences, or expected presences' (1977: 198). It appears that in dreams there is an immediate perceptual experience, which is also more cut off from past experience and future possibilities compared to being awake. Secondly, Boss suggests that dreaming presents a very particular spatial being: 'the beings of our dream world, in their immediate sensual visibility, come impressively, and at times uncomfortably, close to us' (1977: 199).

In keeping with Heidegger's ideas, dreams show us how temporality and spatiality is relative and fluid. In dreams it is possible to be able not only to think of and feel close with someone who is far away or even dead, but to be with this person in physical proximity. I dream myself frequently that I am with people who live in Greece or are not alive anymore, friends and family who I may be missing or not (there seems to be more to my dreaming than Freud's wish-fulfilment theory), and the realness of being in that far away time/space, that at the same time is part of me, always amazes me. Boss presents this point as another dream limitation in comparison to the waking experience--nonetheless, there seem to also be many possibilities here in looking at experiences that might only be possible in light of one's dream-world.

In line with the above, paying more attention to personal and client dream experiences, while looking how dreams affect us interpersonally, has been fruitful most of the times. I recall working with a bereaved Muslim mother who had lost her young son in an accident many years back--regardless his death, her relationship with his spirit was ongoing in her dreams, some of them being highly distressing and painful but also clearly cherished, personally and culturally. By focusing less on her PTSD diagnosis and more on her dreams and our relationship, this client was more able to bring herself and her dream-world into our world in therapy, hence feel more alive, real and able to make some sense herself of it all. Lastly, Boss (1977) argues that in '[d]reaming, we rarely reflect on ourselves in an attempt to gain insight into our existential state.' In dreams Dasein appears vividly perceptual and reactive to what is encountered in the dream world--reflection, insight and understanding are limited compared to the waking mode of being. In a way, thoughts, possibilities and choices in dreams are cornered by images and dramas. Thinking also of Martha's bad dreams that included her raw awareness of uncertainty and mortality, it seems that reflection, insight and understanding can happen in the bringing together of dreaming and being awake. Martha has been stuck either in her repetitive anxious dreams or in her waking avoidance of uncertainty and death, and a way out of her bad cycles seems to lie on what is presented by bringing closer her dream world and her waking world, which happens in our case through the therapeutic relationship. In the same spirit, Boss invites clients in therapy to move between the dream and the wake worlds in order to better understand existence.

3. Dream Befindlichkeit

In this part of the paper I take on board Boss' ideas--especially the distinctions between the waking and the dreaming mode of being--and continue with Heidegger (3), attempting to make sense of bad dreams in light of what he termed as Befindlichkeit: our mood and attunement to life.

Heidegger introduced complex and insightful language to understand Dasein, or being there: Here I am, I exist, I stand out by having a sense of 'beingness' while thrown 'there' in my life and the world. My Dasein is ontico-ontologically my being-in-the-world and the person I am is a meaning making unity of living through within a world that I co-create. My existence is more than just existing as my Being is an issue for me, I exist in my care for my Being as my lifetime matters to me in my journey to the completion of my life and the impossibility of more possibilities: my own death. I can be or not be open to my Being-towards-death knowing that my end can happen in any given moment, and that leaves me in an anxious and uncanny place. The uncanny nature of bad dreams frequently involves a kind of 'raw' anxiety and one might easily relate this to Dasein's primordial death anxiety--by looking at Martha's Befindlichkeit and her bad dreams I also attempt to explore the extent to which her distressing dream moods reflect her existential angst mentioned above, and/or a kind of 'neurotic' anxiety that one might say is part of trying to cope with, escape and conceal herself from herself.

The idea that Heidegger attempts to present by introducing Befindlichkeit refers to 'how one finds oneself, one's attunement or disposition that presents the ontological fact that we are always and already in relation to the world in our particular ways. Stimmung or mood is Befindlichkeit's ontic counterpart, presenting our everyday and familiar emotional taste or tone to our attunement. As Heidegger puts it: 'Dasein is always brought before itself, and has always found itself, not in the sense of coming across itself by perceiving itself, but in the sense of finding itself in the mood that it has' (p.174, my italics). In terms of dreams, this finding happens in two dimensions, the mood in which one finds oneself while dreaming and the mood one experiences in the waking world while remembering the dream.

Heidegger postulates that Dasein's attunement refers to the way one is already positioned and disposed in the world when one's Being already matters. Attunement discloses Dasein in its throwness in life, referring to one's having been, one's past, in a manner of an evasive turning away: 'Dasein for the most part evades the Being which is disclosed in the mood' (p.174). According to Heidegger we are disposed in a way of finding what arises from fleeing ourselves, as for the most part mood does not turn towards the burdensome feelings and thoughts relating to life's harsh givens such as mortality and loss. How this fleeing might be manifested in Martha's bad dreams and in our therapeutic relationship?

When Martha brings another dream of being in a luxurious plane that was flying dangerously low and was near crashing, she describes to me in a rational way the dream's aftertaste of helplessness and panic. She expresses her frustration with herself for bringing one of those dreams again in therapy. I ask Martha to describe again her dream images: the bright claustrophobic cabin, the wavy turbulence, the others who appear unaffected, the rocky earth outside her window. I ask her about how she feels, and she talks about her difficulty to breathe freely, about her fear and entrapment. I cannot help thinking of a turbulent anxiety-ridden flight I had experienced recently and I shiver, I imagine that my heartbeat went a bit faster and lost some colour from my face. Martha sees that I shiver; I let her know how her dream reminds me of a fearful plane experience of mine. I become more aware of the waking memory of being on that shaky night flight, my fear of diving into darkness and towards a horrible death. I invite Martha to notice how she feels in her body: she talks about not knowing how she feels, feeling hot, heavy chest, her heart going faster. She feels more anxious but not as desperate as she is in the dream--as she says: she is awake so she knows that it is 'just a dream'; it feels quite safe to share it. I notice that as soon as she tells me this her panic subsides, her face looks calmer and she appears more confident--she smiles. This fleeing is also a defense for her; quite habitually--as Heidegger suggests--Martha flees from her anxiety in the same way she opens to it: through discourse, by being in relationship and by connecting her dream-world to her waking one.

The dialogue that takes place between her waking-world and her dream-world happens in our relationship, meeting each other then losing each other in the mood of our past dreamt or waking worlds, then meeting again. In therapy with Martha it has felt important to attempt a careful balancing and interplay between fleeing from distressing dream mood, and coming back to oneself before fleeing again--moods such as Martha's death anxiety, fear of losing her partner or losing control over her body image.

Heidegger talks about a central mood paradox: Befindlichkeit opens to truthfulness and understanding but also blocks oneself from being with what might be hovering or revealed. As he writes, 'the bare mood discloses the "there" more primordially, but correspondingly it closes it off more stubbornly than any not-perceiving.' (p. 136). Heidegger makes a point by arguing that this paradox is particularly shown by bad moods which bring us closer to truth but also blinding oneself from oneself. In the case of bad dreams this turning away appears even more present according to Boss as part of the limited reflection and freedom in dreams. In keeping with the above, Martha's distressing dreams are disclosing her painful existential situation--her realisations about everyday limitations, uncertainty and mortality--while at the same time her dreamt and waking panic has maintained limited self reflection and openness to herself. The potential to create new meaning and understanding amongst all these is presented again in the dialogue between waking and dreaming, between self and other in that particular time/space dynamic. This approach has presented a different opening to me as a therapist and a client, looking less at dreams as experiences that happened in a different far away realm, and more as an opportunity in the therapeutic relationship to reveal oneself and face truth.

Heidegger postulated three characteristics of our attuned mood: firstly its disclosing of throwness, which suggests the 'facticity of its being delivered over' (p.135), secondly its disclosing of dasein's being-in-the-world as a whole, and thirdly Befindlichkeit occurs in its circumspective concern (p.176). In the case of bad dreams, through Martha's circumspective concern, what she encounters in her dream world is affecting her and is affected by her as life matters to her, life that is lived through the particular vibrations of her attunement. As Heidegger suggests in the case of fear--which overlaps with anxiety in Marta's bad dreams--'only something that is in the state of mind of fearing or fearlessness can discover that what is environmentally ready-to-hand threatening' (p.137). For Heidegger a mood is not just an internal process as it is commonly thought nowadays; it's neither internal nor external but rather part of the interrelatedness of the dream or waking world. Martha's dream world is essentially part of her, created in the light of her waking being-in-the-world; the more we visited her fearful dreams, the more Martha opened to her fear that was present in her waking life.

Martha was thrown in her dream world, in a panicky and helpless situation with no way out. Heidegger presents throwness as another mood characteristic part of one's attunement that is the way throwness is disclosed to oneself. Dasein is a thrown projection in her historical life which has certain givens but is constantly developing: throwness is not static. One cannot choose not to be thrown but can choose how to be and relate with the way life has been in light of his/her history. Martha is thrown in her dream-world but is possibility at the same time within the dream limitations Boss highlighted, namely the space/time stuckness and the perceptive-reactive tendencies--choice is admittedly limited in Martha's bad dreams, but not her awareness as in the case of some or her bad dreams that came with an anxious clarity. According to Heidegger in our throwness lie our crucial responsibility, our freedom and truth in relation to our existence. The essential project of the therapeutic process from a Heideggerian stance is attending to throwness rather than trying to change it or analyse it. Heidegger also talks about authenticity as a way of owning one's throwness, of finding one's way back to it and be it; not escaping, controlling, or concealing it.

In the light of the above, bad dreams with its attuned and disclosing moods, and depending on whether and how such dreams are explored in the waking life, can equally open to authentic or inauthentic living. The difference lies between experiencing and making sense of such dreams in ways of evading and concealing life on one hand, or disclosing, opening and understanding painful truths, such as loss, death and uncertainty, on the other. In the first experience one's distressing dream would relate to a forgetting of one's truth, with bewilderment, evasion or destructiveness being part of one's being-in-the-world; in the other, experiencing a bad dream would relate to an anxious opening to one's truth, to one's potentials in life and being-towards-death.

According to the distinctions Heidegger makes between fear and anxiety, in the first case one's bad dream would appear embedded in the mood of fear, whereas in the second it would appear as a motivating anxious mood, closer to existential angst, which 'discloses an insignificance of the world' (p.393)--a truthful facing which opens to possibilities for an authentic potentiality-for-Being. Existentially, such dream attunements are part of interrelated streams of life and cannot be distinguished in two clear categories, or any clear categories at all, as this would negate the very fluid nature of Dasein. In Martha's experience, fear and angst were both present in her dreams. The potential of opening to and understanding her fearful self-evasions, of connecting with and facing or not anxiety-provoking truths, seem to happen again in the bringing together of different worlds--in Martha's dream and waking worlds.

4. Conclusion

Bad dreams are experienced as odd, scary, elusive, insightful or meaningless--what comes to light is that there is a lot of therapeutic potential in the recounting and reliving of such dreams in the waking, in the bringing together of the dream world and the waking world as part of our basic interrelatedness. The way and the extent one might be open to uncanny and paradoxical time/space, reality/fantasy experiences varies and might be present or well concealed--from my experience it feels that existential dream work can co-create a safe relationship that opens to uncanny truths. As Boss argues, it is important to see and accept the differences between dreaming and being awake--nonetheless, assigning a higher rank to the waking world has not felt useful to me while investigating this subject. Many of my dreams and Martha's anxiety ridden dream flights have pointed to significant issues that seemed well hidden in our waking respective and interactive worlds; it has felt at times that seeds of insight and understanding were hibernating and grew into light through bringing dreams in the waking. Heidegger's philosophical approach allows for new meaning and understanding to be illuminated, accepting that dreams can open both to fear and angst, to authenticity and inauthenticity--as he suggests later in the Zollikon seminars, what changes an unchangeable and repetitive dream is its expression in the waking experience (Heidegger, 2001). Writing this paper has been an interactive experience between Heidegger's and Boss' ideas, Martha and I--in conclusion I remain with a sense that existential dream work can be valuable.

Hopefully dreams will continue to speak to me; I dreamt sometime ago after a phone session with Martha, which had replaced our weekly session since she was away on a business trip, that I was in Greece with an old friend admiring his well toned body--suddenly I realize in my dream that it's time to call Martha for our daily session. Feeling anxious I ask my friend to hand me quickly his phone and a phone card. Bringing the dream to supervision I noticed some strong feelings and made interesting links between my friend and Martha, both expressing similar worries about age and image. I realized that I had been more anxious about Martha's well-being, my role as her therapist and the passing of time than I had admitted to my waking self.


Boss, M. (1957). The Analysis of Dreams. London: Rider.

Boss, M. (1963). Psychoanalysis and Daseinsanalysis. New York: Basic Books.

Boss, M. (1974). Existential Foundations of Medicine and Psychology. Northvale: Jason Aronson.

Boss, M. (1977). "I dreamt last night... ": a new approach to the revelation of dreaming. New York: Gardner Press.

Chuang, Tzu (399--295 B.C.). Chuang Tzu: The Next Voice. In Chebucto Community Net. Available URL: Taichi/chuang.html Viewed on 24/9/2005.

Freud, S. (1900a). The Interpretation of Dreams. In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Work of Sigmund Freud, Vol: 4-5. London: Hogarth Press.

Heidegger, M. (1927b). Being and Time. Oxford: Blackwell.

Heidegger, M. (2001). Zollikon Seminars: Protocols-Conversations-Letters. Trans. Boss, M. (ed.), Franz, M. & Richard, A. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

Jung, C.G. (1961). Memories, Dreams, Reflections. London: Harper Collins.


(1) The client referred as Martha has been informed and agreed with me using personal experiences for this paper.

(2) 'Once I, Chuang Tzu, dreamed I was a butterfly and was happy as a butterfly. I was conscious that I was quite pleased with myself, but I did not know that I was Tzu. Suddenly I awoke, and there was I, visibly Tzu. I do not know whether it was Tzu dreaming that he was a butterfly or the butterfly dreaming that he was Tzu. Between Tzu and the butterfly there must be some distinction--But one may be the other--This is called the transformation of things.' Chuang Tzu, Taoist philosopher (399--295 B.C.)

(3) All citations of Heidegger unless stated otherwise refer to Being and Time (1927b).

Leo Dolias is currently working in private practice and at the University of Reading as a student counsellor and facilitator of workshops and groups. He studied Art and Psychology in the past, and more recently at Regent's College he completed the MA and Advanced Diploma in Existential Psychotherapy, where, in 2009 he received the Hans W. Cohn Award. He comes from Athens, lives in London and engages with yoga, mindfulness, body awareness and their connections to existential practice.

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First, we must notice what phenomena the dreamer's Da-sein is open
   to during the dream and how they affect him. Secondly, we must
   scrutinise the dreamer's response to what reveals itself to him,
   how he conducts himself towards what he sees (1977: 31).

Martha is flying on a large passenger plane and the same
   distressing experience happens again: the plane flies sideways, in
   a strange angle or too low scratching the tips of mountains at
   times, and the intense fear of crashing starts building up. Most of
   the times she is the only one panicking; everyone else in the full
   plane seems naturally relaxed--Martha is aware of others looking
   at her and together with her panic she also finds herself feeling
   ashamed and intruded upon while sitting helplessly tied up in her
   chair. (1)

Dasein grants itself its original spatiality in its relations to
   the phenomena which show themselves in the light of its essence. In
   such opening-up of space, Dasein unfolds its existence, "consumes"
   its time, i.e., it emerges. Without man's existence, unfolding its
   own temporality and spatiality, there would not be a lighted realm,
   a "there " into which particular beings can come forth, can appear,
   and actually come into their own being.'

It is our awaking ... and only this awakening which leads out in
   the full unfolding of being, out of the unfree dimensions of a
   dreaming being-in-the-world, up to a greatest possible freedom of
   our most waking mode of existing, and so to the attainment of the
   proper meaning and purpose of our dasein (1978: 159)
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