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Stanley Kripner

COPYRIGHT CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION

REEL #032 - (INTERVIEW WITH STANLEY KRIPNER):

LET'S BEGIN WITH BASICS BECAUSE YOU'RE KIND OF A DEAN OF DREAM WORK, SCIENTIFIC DREAM WORK. CAN I HIT YOU WITH A VERY BASIC QUESTION ABOUT WHAT DREAMS ARE.

When we use the word dreams, we're actually talking about verbal reports, stories, narratives that people give us about their experienced dreaming. So we never dream - I'll start over.

AT ANY POINT YOU CAN START OVER.

When we use the word dream we're actually referring to a report, a story that people are telling us about images that they have had when they were asleep that take a narrative form. In other words, we never really know 100% for sure what a person dreamed about, what the dream experience was. We're always dealing with something secondhand.

SO IT'S TOTALLY ROOTED IN INDIVIDUAL'S EXPERIENCE.

The dream is totally rooted in an individual's experience. One individual will report the dream one way, another people -

One person will report the dream one way, another person will report the dream another way.

HOW MUCH DOES OUR ENVIRONMENT AND OUR CULTURE FACTOR INTO OUR DREAMS?

Environment and culture really shape the dream. We know that virtually everybody dreams. It's a biological necessity that we have these so-called rapid eye movement sleep periods every night in which most of our dreams take place. But the type of dream we have is shaped by daily experience and daily experience, of course, is shaped by the physical environment, the temperature, the climate, the food that we eat, whether we're hot or cold and also the cultural environment, the type of stereotypes in the culture, the mythology of the culture, the role that culture gives to men, women, children, adults.

SPEAKING OF CULTURE, DOES THIS MEAN THEN THAT PEOPLE IN DIFFERENT CULTURES DREAM DIFFERENTLY?

People in different cultures do dream differently in my opinion. A culture that has a very strong stress on achievement and motivation will have achievement and motivation dreams while a culture that's more laid back and more relaxed and unmotivated will have dreams a little bit more passive. And sometimes these cultures are side by side separated by only a few hundred miles and yet the dreams are very very different.

YOUR LATEST WORK INVOLVES LOOKING AT DREAM STUDIES, A CROSS CULTURAL VIEW WITH TEN DIFFERENT NORTH AMERICAN -

Sixteen yes.

SIXTEEN. CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT IT.

My research associate, April Thomson and I, have just studied 16 different native American dream systems. We've done this by going into the library, into the journals, into the books and seeing what was written about these cultures, mainly the anthropologists -

IT'S OKAY.

We've done - my latest research has involved looking at 16 different native American cultures and their point of view on dreams and dreaming and dream working. My associate April Thomson and I have gone into the library and have read everything that we could find about the Zuni, the Quacquetl, the Mojave, the Navajo, 16 different tribes and how they used dreams in their culture, where they think dreams came from and the role that visionary dreams and precognitive dreams and warring dreams played in the culture. And we found, obviously, that these native American cultures, especially before the Europeans came, were very very different than the contemporary Western cultures and their approach to dreams.

IN WHICH WAY WERE THEY DIFFERENT?

The native American cultures found a much closer relationship between dreaming life and waking life. They feel that there is an overlap between the two and they think that one can step from waking life into dreaming life and back very easily. They also seem to think that the dreaming world is important. It's something to take seriously and that what you do in the dreaming world can either rehearse for what you do in the waking world, can warn about what you're doing in the waking world or can be a message as to something you should do in the waking world. Now in the Western societies that we have studied, very few people take dreams seriously. People don't remember their dreams, parents tell their children, well that was only a dream, don't pay attention to it. Some psychotherapists work with dreams; some psychotherapists do not work with dreams. There are a few dream groups, especially in United States and different parts of Europe and Canada now getting together to share dreams on their own and their point of view about dreams, interestingly enough, becomes a little closer to the old native American dream models that were here for thousands of years.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS BEHIND THIS MOVEMENT, THIS REAWAKENING?

I think there is a reawakening of interest in dreams. I'm a past president of the Association for the Study of Dreams and we are having larger and larger groups of people come to our annual conferences from all walks of life. People are becoming interested not only in their inner life but sharing their inner life with other people. It seems that there is a need for sharing, a need for intimacy, a need for relationships, a need for community and dreams are something that all people have in common. The dreams might be different but they do address similar issues of life such as work, play, love, sex, spirituality. Yes, the way that cultures shape those dreams will be different, but the needs and the themes are very similar.

WHY ARE DREAMS IMPORTANT?

First of all, dreams are important biologically. It seems as if we really do have to have dreams for the brain to work its best and we need dreams virtually every night if the brain is to function in a satisfactory way.

WHY IS THAT?

It seems that the brain must be active at all periods of time whether we're awake or whether we're asleep. And at night, we go for different periods of time without much dream activity and then there's a burst of dream activity as if the brain is trying to keep itself into some sort of equilibrium and also as if the brain is trying to weed out useless material, sore useful material and maybe even do some plans for the future day, maybe solve some problems from the past. There are any number of biological and psychological issues that the dream can handle that no other function in our life really seems to handle quite as well.

THAT BRINGS US TO, WELL IN THAT FRAMEWORK, WHERE DO PRECOGNITIVE DREAMS AND TELEPATHIC DREAMS FIT IN.

Much of my research has been with telepathic dreams and precognitive dreams, in other words dream about what another person is thinking or doing, dreams about what might be happening in the future. Now of course mainstream science ignores this topic and thinks that these types of dreams are impossible or even delusional or even fraudulent. But we have found a small amount of evidence indicating, yes, it might actually happen even under controlled laboratory conditions. So the main impact of this is that when a person comes to a psychotherapist and says, oh yes, I had a dream about the future. Yes, I dreamed about what a friend of mine was doing when it was happening, the psychotherapist should not think, well that's a sign of schizophrenia, a sign of psychosis, a sign of delusional thinking. No, the dream might or might not have actually been unusual or telepathic precognitive but these reports are so common and so widespread and every once in a while they might be valid that no longer can they be considered a sign of mental illness without supporting data from other activities of the client.

EXCELLENT. STEVEN LABERGE SAYS HI - I WAS WITH HIM THIS MORNING. JANE GACHENBACH SAYS HI. (OVERLAPPING)...

All friends of mine ...... wonderful people.

WHAT I'M TRYING TO DO IS COMMUNICATE THAT DREAMS ARE IMPORTANT. AS A SOCIETY WE HAVE TO START TAKING DREAMS SERIOUSLY. SOMEBODY WHO'S STUDIED DREAMS FOR AS LONG AS YOU HAVE, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE RESULT OF OUR LACK OF PAYING ATTENTION TO DREAMS AS A CULTURE - WHAT COST HAVE WE PAID?

I think there is a cost in not paying attention to dreams as a culture. I think the cost is a sacrifice of an important part of ourselves,a cost of our inner creativity, our inner ability to solve problems both while we're asleep and while we're awake by ourselves, or even in groups, even in communities. By sacrificing dreaming, by sacrificing working with dreams, I think we're more prone to be susceptible to what other people tell us, to adveritising, to politicians, to religious dogmatic thinkers rather than find the core of our own being and operating from that core rather than finding the links of a small community and operating within the boundaries of that community. This is what we're giving up by sacrificing the inner life, by not paying attention to dreams.

SO YOU THINK THAT WE HAVE CEDED OUR AUTHORITY GENERALLY SPEAKING, AS A PEOPLE TO EXPERTS OF ALL KINDS.

Yes. I think that the lack of attention to dreams is one symptom of a more universal problem in Western society, that we are giving up our own authority, our own integrity to outside sources, to powerful institutions, business institutions, religious institutions, political institutions and not finding something that will make us happy, make us feel satisfied, nourish us spiritually, nourish us emotionally. I think that this is a - this is the cost that we are paying and you know, you see it in the newspapers and in the media every day. When there is violence, when there is suicide, when there is drug addiction, when there is alcoholism, this great need for inner spiritual sustenance for finding one's own direction, for finding one's own authority is lacking. Very different from the native American dream tribes where the individual vision was always honoured. Even a child could come up with a dream, share the dream with the elders and if that dream was important, this is something the whole community would pay attention to. Well, you try to do that in Western society, they would laugh at you. What does a child know. A kid that has dreams? Why should we pay attention to that? But again, it is this inner vision, this very deep sense of the way to go, the direction that we must go and to save ourselves, our community, our environment, our planet that I think will in some way begin to knit the tattered fragments of Western civilization which is now stressed like never before.

ONE NAIL ON THE HEAD AFTER ANOTHER.

Thank you.

THANK YOU. WE'RE DONE.