Claire Mitchell

Title: An exploration of existential dream phenomena


During this presentation I will present the findings of a small pilot study entitled ‘An existential phenomenological exploration of the unassisted gravity dream’ - 6 Psychotherapists were interviewed who all had experienced gravity dreams. The interviews involved an embodied exploration. Gravity dreams are dreams that involve Flying and falling dream. They are listed amongst the most common dreams (Maggiolini et al. 2007).


My presentation will take the audience through the findings of this study, opening up the dialogue among colleagues as to the importance of existential and lucid dream phenomena in the therapeutic setting, pushing the boundaries of current practice.

The gravity dreamers that I interviewed had been flying or falling all their life. Their dreams had been impactful and remembered over the course of their lifetime. The participants described dream sequences, which may be suggestive of a psychological ‘compensation,’ (Sharp 1998) a ‘creative adjustment’, (Evans and Gilbert 2005) or a mode of resilience enabling dreamers to deal with life events; ‘a freedom wound ’(Todres 2007)


I believe it is important to acknowledge the hidden and unexplored aspects of our beings with curiosity. Case studies have found that through working with lucid dreaming, patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia and nightmares can see relief of their symptoms (Zadra, A.L, Phihl 1997; Pesant & Zadra 2004). This I believe demonstrates that the exploration of these nocturnal experiences may well be significant in helping us to not only distill the essential meaning of the experience but also has applications for what happens within the therapeutic context.


To be based upon the personal experiences of the audience in terms of working with dreams, any feedback on the study and also ideas for future studies. I am also
recruiting for my next phenomenological study involving gravity dream motifs.