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In: Georg Feverstein & Trisha Lamb Feverstein (eds.): Voices on the Treshold of Tomorrow - 145 Views of the New Millennium. Quest Books 1993. pp. 275-276.

Dreams and a New Politics of Connectedness

Montague Ullman

Perhaps the most important challenge we face is how to connect our individual lives to the now obvious reality that the survival of humankind is at risk. Contributing to the mounting nature of the risk is our own failure to significantly impede the degradation of the environment and the equally significant failure, to forgo violence as a means of settling disputes. There is a common factor underlying both these trends. Even more than gradual pollution of the natural world has been a more insidious and infinitely more dangerous form of pollution - the pollution of the human soul. The population at large has been conditioned to be taken in by lies, big and small, and not to see what is clearly there to be seen. While Nazi Germany is often singled out as an instance of a level of social blindness that left an entire nation impervious to the Big Lie, the possibility for tragedy on this scale or on an even larger scale is still with us. The underlying dynamics have never been completely rooted out. This is the formidable task that still confronts us. Are we capable of creating a citizenry that is able to see through the tissue of lies that obstructs its vision?

We will each have to find our own way to political truth (seeing through the lies our leaders tell us) and personal truth (the lies we tell ourselves), neither of which is easy. In regard to political truth, Anthony Lewis put it very well when, in an article in the New York Times in December, 1991, dealing with the vicissitudes of free speech in America, he noted: "Speaking truth to power is never going to be easy, not even after 200 years." There is a connection between the scale of deception, sustained by lies, big and small, and the way power is deployed in the management of human affairs. Only the cultivation of both social and personal honesty will enable us to discern the difference between the operation of power in a way that victimizes others (referred to by Abraham Maslow as asynergic power) and power that benefits all involved (synergic power). The former dehumanizes both the wielder of power and the victim. The latter nurtures the capacity of both parties to be fully human. In this it is somewhat akin to love.

As a psychiatrist, my concern is with personal truth. One road I have taken in pursuit of this has been to attempt to demystify dreams in a way that would make the personal honesty embedded in the metaphorical images of our dreams available to all. Dreaming is a universal phenomenon. In my opinion there should be universal access to the benefits that can accrue from them. For too long the public has been taken in by the prevailing mystique that serious dream work had best be limited to the clinical domain. Our dreaming psyche arises out of an incorruptible core of our being that, in contrast to our waking ego, has never lost sight of the fact that we are members of a single species. Our ability to endure as a species may depend on taking that fact more seriously than we have in the past. Dreams reveal the state of connectedness of the individual to his or her past, to others, and to the supports and constraints of the social order. Is it too much to hope that, as we move into a postindustrial society, the intrinsic honesty of dreams can be harnessed to this effort?

The political climate is not apt to change unless a transformation from below occurs that is great enough in its intensity to create leaders with the long-range vision needed to change the course our present leaders seem so blindly and so helplessly destined to pursue. We are in need of a politics of connectedness, one that will work toward matching our biological unity as a species with a cultural reality of communion and brotherhood.

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Montague Ullman, M.D., is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded the Dream laboratory at the Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York, and is emeritus clinical professor of psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is the author or coauthor of several books, Including Dream Telepathy and Working with Dreams, and coeditor of the handbook of States of Consciousness.

From: Voices On The Threshold Of Tomorrow - 145 Views Of The New Millennium. Edited by Georg Feverstein and Trisha Lamb Feverstein. Quest Books.