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Shell Shocked: We are what we dream
July 5, 2017

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The other night I dreamt that I was sitting in a car which I couldn't turn off. No matter what I did, the engine would just keep running. I turned the ignition key every which way but nothing helped. When I woke up in the morning this incident was the only part of my dream I remembered.

I remember how frustrated I was that the car just kept running and wouldn't shut off. I turned to my Sigmund Freud book of dreams and looked it up. I needed to know what the dream symbolized. I thumbed through id, ego and carburetor and looked for the significance of cars in our dreams. After all, Freud lived until 1939 and there were many cars in his life by then.

I came to the section "cars and the alter ego" and browsed from there. It said "The automobile is a symbol of inner consciousness that often blends with self-esteem and ego gratification. The sensation of an automobile's movement is akin to the algorithms of life movement and the need for acetylic thinking. Grace under pressure manifests itself into oblivion of the universe and attests to boldness under fire and alertness to theater exits."

Well, that certainly cleared things up for me. I might as well have read passages from James Joyce. They would have been just as clear.

Realizing that I didn't understand a word Freud said I decided to ask a friend of mine who is a psychotherapist what the significance of a car's engine is in our dreams. She was most obliging.

"Do you want the Freudian, Jungian or the Will Rogers interpretation? Each is very different and leads us to different forks in the road," my learned friend said.

I said: "Let's stick with Freud. I grew up harboring my generation's designated neuroses and they still ring true today."

She said: "Okay, Freud it is. But I need to know what make and model the car was in your dream. Each make will lead us into a different analysis and explanation."

"I don't recall that the car in my dream had any specific make. It was just a car."

"That's not very helpful," the shrink lady said. "You must go back and dream some more and come up with the exact make and model. Then we'll be able to interpret that dream and advise you as to what you need to do to remove the curse of running motors in your life."

"But," I protested, "what if that same dream doesn't recur? I must know now why that car's engine didn't stop. Otherwise, I'll need to rummage through my 10-year old medications and find the car anxiety pills I discarded when I got a new Lexus."

My friend, the shrink, got rattled and began to shrink. "You don't understand, you jackass you, I must have the make, model, license plate and registration of the car. I'll also need your current mileage number."

I said: "I can give you that for my present real life car but not for my dream car."

She said: "What did you say?"

I said: "My dream car."

"That's it," she said. "Your dream car. There's the missing key. Take a look at page 192 in the Freud book, subtitled 'the meaning of dream cars when dreamt in southern climates like Togo Togo and Florida.' What does it say?"

I flipped through the pages until I came to that section. It said "the transmogology of the subconscious conjoins with id and Sid when dreaming in sub-tropical temperatures. The image of an automobile is commensurate with the capsizing of inner demons struggling to gain ascendancy."

These damn psychology books. Why can't they be written like books about baseball? I asked her what this meant.

She said that it was quite obvious to a trained shrink. "It means that you'll be seeing the USA in your Chevrolet."

I thanked her and then did some self-hypnosis by repeatedly hitting myself over the head with Freud's book. I willed myself to have the same dream again. The self-hypnosis worked once the stitches were removed.

The next night the same car appeared in my dream with the engine still running. Again I couldn't turn it off. But I had a new strategy. I drove the car to an area in Trenton, New Jersey where the rate of car thefts was well above the national average. I got out of the car and jumped on a nearby camel.

Sure enough, I saw a shadowy figure emerge from the darkness. He headed directly to the car and drove it away. I had managed to get rid of the car. Go figure that one out, Doc Freud.

-Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.

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