My name is Christoph Gassmann and I live in Switzerland – on the lake of Zurich. I was born in 1954. When I was around 17 or 18 I had a dream of an unbelievably huge rising sun that impressed me very, very deeply. Since then the theme of dreams has never gone away. At times, for sure, it was in the background but I have been occupied with my dreams again and again. I became a psychologist because of my dreams. I have been noting them for the past 25 years, sometimes more, sometimes less, often. For this I first use an empty book, later the Alchera software (from Harry Bosma) on the computer.
When I go into a bookshop, in general and also in specialized ones, I come across an assortment of dream books, most of which do not get beyond dream interpreting and fortune-telling. The main part of the books about dreams are dream symbol dictionaries, a few of which containing hair-raising and fully unbelievable interpretations of dream symbols. I suppose that persons that buy such books do not receive real help for their money. Probably they look in such a book a few times to see what a dream might mean and then obtain such strange answers that they soon lose the interest they had in their dreams. In this way such books obstruct the access to ones own dreams, they do not support it. Freud’s 100-year-old “Dream Interpretation” still hangs around (although this is not a proof of quality!) as a “serious” dream book and is still being reprinted. This fully antiquated theory, which maintains the subconscious is a collection of garbage that one does not want to admit that one has because such stuff is unpleasant, is degrading and in no way supported by evidence.
Fundamentally I hold dream interpretation to be a very limited method for dealing with dreams. It springs from the idea that the dream is a picture language that one must translate. So long the dreamer is in the dream, he or she never experiences it as a language, but as a world in which he or she has experiences. Only the distance that comes with waking up and the current psychologies make the dream into a language that has to be decoded like a detective. When one understands the dream as a world, new ways of looking at it become relevant. How is this world made? How does it function? What (natural) laws function there? Who creates the dream world? Do the inhabitants of the dream world have their own consciousness? What role does the dream ego play? Does it behave in a clever and prudent way? Could the dream ego improve it? Does he or she use his possibilities, those that arise from the situations therein, for example?
In my opinion it is important to deal with dreams in a more conscious way. More conscious in that one does not forget them in the morning, but writes them down or tells them. More conscious in that one asks questions of the dreams and does not answer them too soon or goes and consults a dream symbol dictionary. More conscious, finally, in that one dreams consciously – lucidly dreams. This all can be learned. One can cultivate dream life. The dreams are an important component of our life, like our hands, for example, or our eyes. We criminally neglect this important part of our life. I believe that there are many hidden treasures and discoveries to be made in the dream world.