Case #3092: The Power of Dreams
I awoke with a scream in the dead of night, drenched in sweat. Perhaps I had been sleeping soundly enough to the outside observer, but my seemingly calm appearance no doubt belied the maelstrom of electrical activity taking place within the confines of my cranium.
So fascinating are my own thoughts that, as a rule, I generally attach electrodes to myself and run an electroencephalogram in an attempt to document the outflow of genius as it slathers my subconscious. But last night, before I could hook myself to the machine, I found myself perusing my bookshelves for a little light reading, and subsequently became engrossed in Andrew Samuels’ Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis. Lounging on my bed, I paused from the formidable tome only to sip my cognac. Hours passed, my eyes grew weary, and I slept, perchance to dream. And dream I did.
I was standing in the middle of Colfax, near the Bluebird Theater, staring down a blood-red sunset. The skies were a dark gray, and the streets were bereft of cars and people. Immediately I began to suspect that I had been dropped into some manner of post-apocalyptic alternate universe. Determined to get to the bottom of the matter, I began to walk towards downtown to have a word with city hall. But after a few steps in that direction, I was stopped dead in my tracks by a shockwave that shook the gravel loose from the streets.
A few seconds later, another, and then another, and more in succession, each louder than the one preceding it. Standing in the empty street, I recognized a massive brown monstrosity lumbering past East High School, bellowing plumes of fire. It was Snuffleupagus.
Seated atop the mighty beast was none other than Heather Mills McCartney, flanked by an army of torch-bearing, ax-wielding amputees, all of whom were cloaked in sackcloths like druids. As their collective gaze affixed upon me, the former Beatle-wife pulled back on the animal’s reins and cried out in a bloodcurdling British brogue, “Get ‘im!!!” Snuffleupagus reared back on his hindlegs and let out a mighty roar; then onslaught charged me, barreling down Colfax like Hannibal over the Alps.
When I turned to run in the other direction, I found myself face to face with hip hop pioneers Eric B. and Rakim. With their arms folded neatly across their chests, they looked at me slightly askance. In their eyes I could see the reflection of the fire borne by the oncoming onslaught bearing down behind me. It was getting louder and hotter with each passing second.
“You best come correct, Osgood,” Eric B. cautioned, “Start doin’ your part in makin’ this world a better place… and you can start by actually helping your patients.”
“Yeah, I know you can do it,” Rakim chimed in, “I know you got soul.”
Instinctively, I turned around at that very moment to find Snuffleupagus’s snuffle pointed skyward, and his open jaw descending on my head as Mills McCartney and her army of amputees looked on with an air of satisfied vengeance. I closed my eyes and screamed, preparing to be devoured whole by a creature that, as a man of science, I would have never believed to be real but for the awesome power of dreams. That is when I awoke.
By sheer coincidence, my 10:00 the next morning, a wild-eyed seven-year-old boy, was afflicted with powerful dreams. In his case, however, the dreams, often involving a flood or waterfalls, culminated in nocturnal enuresis. Despite courses of imipramine and desmopressin, the bedwetting had proved intractable, and his well-to-do mother was up in arms. “The boy is still several years away from wet dreams, doctor, is he not?” she pleaded, “Yet I must change sheets daily as if I were some maid! Is there nothing you can do?”
Instructing the boy to lie on the Corbusier, I proceeded to engage him in several hypnotic techniques until he fell into a restful sleep. Then I strapped on the EEG.
“Now,” I said to the mother, “we wait.”
Hours passed, and the boy slept soundly while I monitored the EEG. Not a word was spoken between the boy’s mother and I, for every time she began an utterance, I brusquely shushed her. How dare she doubt the methods of Dr. Liebnitz Osgood?
During this time, I thought of my dream the night before: Snuffy, Heather Mills McCartney, an angry army of ax-wielding amputees, a pair of hip-hop legends… What did it all mean? Somehow, these dream figures suddenly seemed to represent the collective conscious of my patients, brimming as they do with an unrequited desire to be recognized, a yearning to replace something missing, or simply a desire to be healed.
For a moment, I silently questioned myself and wondered if I knew what I was doing. Was the boy’s mother was right to doubt me? Could my unorthodox methods cause more harm than good to the poor souls in my care?
My attention instinctively turned to the EEG–the readings were off the charts. In the boy’s mind, a dam, perhaps, was about to break.
Had I hesitated for but a moment, I would have been witness to the boy’s freshly supersaturated urine-soaked pants spilling their contents onto my chair, soiling it and the carpet beneath. But there was still time. I preemptively flew into a rage, stormed up to the boy, and shattered the silence: “Get the fuck off my Corbusier!”
The boy awoke instantly, in a paroxysm of fear. He bounded off the chair crying, and ran to his mother, who hurriedly escorted him out the door. “You monster!” she issued at me before slamming my office door behind them. I took a deep breath, and sighed. Pushing a button on my phone, I called for my next appointment.
About a week later, I received a call from the boy’s mother. He had not urinated during a single night since our meeting, she was pleased to report, apologizing for her reaction to my having verbally abused her son. “Think nothing of it, my dear,” I quipped, assuring her that I would only add a small surcharge to the bill on account of her insolence. “And by the way, for future reference…,” I said, pausing for the dramatic effect before quoting a classic hip hop refrain: “Don’t sweat the technique.”
Dreams are powerful indeed. They can strike fear in your heart and refresh your confidence in your work, but they can also make you piss yourself. Our capacity to dream is limitless, to be sure, and so is our ability to interpret. Hence, Jung, Freud, and so many others made fine careers of doing so. Fear not your nightmares, for you may rest assured that I, Dr. Liebnitz Osgood, will get a piece of that action too.