Our bodies know what is going on inside them, and they speak to us about this in dreams, which often diagnose developing illness before physical symptoms are detected. By working with these diagnostic dreams, we can often deal with a problem before it has reached a critical phase – and sometimes avoid painful and costly medical interventions.
Some of our dreamscapes are living dioramas of what is going on inside our bodies. Conflicts taking place in our dreams are sometimes dramatic portrayals of how our immune system is trying to cope – or failing to cope – with disease. Dreams can take us deep into the cellular structures of the body. For thousands of years, gifted physicians have recognized that such “bodytalk” dreams can provide accurate diagnosis of our ailments, often long before physical symptoms have developed.
Reading somatic messages in this way was central to traditional Chinese medicine, as well as to medical practice in ancientGreeceand in many other cultures. In the Victorian era, Western doctors continued to look for diagnostic information in their patients’ dreams
Sometimes, the dream diagnosis can mobilize us to get the right medical help before a developing illness becomes even more serious.
In her late thirties, Ellen, dreamed that a threatening intruder walked into her dream house and pointed a gun at her breast. She was sensitive to dream imagery and knew intuitively that the dream was warning her that she might have developed breast cancer. She immediately sought medical help. Ellen’s cancer was discovered in its earliest stages, thanks to the fact that she remembered her dream and acted on its warning, and her problem was solved with a simple lumpectomy.
Sensing that her dreams were telling her about a serious health problem, a young woman called Carol made repeated visits to a physician who was initially baffled by her punch list of vague and elusive symptoms The doctor began to question whether there was really a physical problem. Then Carol dreamed a very simple dream – a large wolf appeared and spoke to her: “I am Lupus Wolf.” Carol called the next morning, snagged an appointment and told her physician the dream. Now he went to work and soon confirmed that her dream diagnosis was exactly correct; she had lupus.
The dream of Lupus Wolf gave Carol more than diagnostic information her physician could work with to help her get well. Lupus Wolf became a guide and partner in her dreams, helping her to become an active participant in her own healing. He showed her the foods she needed to eat, warned her away from a medicine that would cause anxiety, and led her in further dreams to a healing garden, a place she found she could revisit to relax and imagine herself well.