Does Couples Therapy Always Work? Should It?

If I had a dollar for every problematic thing people said to me once I announced that I was getting divorced… I’d be richer than I am today. People are so full of opinions about whether or not I should get divorced, even without knowing any details about our relationship or the reasons for divorce. I’ve even had people attempt to “stage an intervention” to try to tell me that divorce is the

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Author: Penniless Parenting

3 Frugal Ways to Protect Your Family from Household Pests

Nothing quite as gross and alarming as seeing your home, your safe haven, being infested by a variety of pests. Here’s some ideas from a reader on how to prevent them.

Having a pest problem at home? Let’s face it, pests are more than a nuisance, they can also spread disease and put the health of your family at risk. The first thing that comes to mind when you encounter pests is to rush to a

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Author: Penniless Parenting

Guédelon Castle

A portion of Guédelon castle under construction in 2012

History in the making

For 13 years, from 1981 to 1994, restorers worked to remove centuries of soot and candle smoke from the famous frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, including those created in the early 16th century by Michelangelo. After layers of varnish and grime covering the frescoes disappeared, the newly vibrant ceiling and walls of the chapel showed a modern world what Michelangelo’s work might have looked like soon after it was completed in 1512. Not only were the colors of the frescoes revealed to be much brighter, but even individual brushstrokes were visible enough to be compared to the styles of other artists.

Although restoration work of this kind can stir up controversy, as some would prefer not to risk damaging delicate artworks, or may disagree about the best method for restoring them, there is something extremely compelling about seeking to return old objects to their original states. It’s not possible for us to know what it was like to stand and watch Michelangelo at his work 500 years ago, but it is fascinating to imagine it.

Of course, restoration is not limited to famous paintings; ancient buildings also often undergo painstaking restorations. One such example is the castle of Saint-Fargeau in Burgundy, France. Built in 1453 on the foundations of a fortress dating from the 10th century, the castle now draws in large numbers of visitors who view epic historical reenactments on its grounds.

The man behind its restoration, Michel Guyot, has another project currently underway: the creation of an entire castle from the ground up, using the building techniques and materials of the 13th century. In the small village of Guédelon, not far from Saint-Fargeau, visitors to the castle can watch trained artisans go about their work, much as their counterparts did 800 years ago. Although seeing a restored castle can give you historical insight, the Guédelon project goes much further; with its emphasis on recreating the methods used to build the grand castles of the past, the experience could be likened to looking over the shoulder of a Renaissance artist, watching as he mixes his paints.

I Louvre What You’ve Done to the Place

The design of the castle was inspired by the castles built by King Philippe Auguste (or Philip II Augustus) in the 13th century. Among them is the original Louvre fortress, built to protect Paris from Viking attacks on its west side. Although the fortress was later razed to make room for a new palace, parts of its foundations remained intact (modern visitors to the Louvre can view these foundations in a special exhibition beneath the museum).

Although Philippe Auguste only lived until 1223, the Guédelon project’s designers imagine its beginning construction date as being 1228, when castle designs still followed Philippe’s model. Having chosen to emulate this historical era, the specific plans for the Guédelon castle were developed by Jacques Moulin, the chief architect of historic monuments in France. Begun in 1997 with the laying of the foundations, the Guédelon project is not scheduled to be completed until 2023. When it is finished, the castle will consist of high fortress walls, with towers of varying sizes around its perimeter.

Material Whirl

Forming the backbone of the project are the 40 or so builders who quarry stone, mix mortar, and chisel rock, among other tasks, during the warmer part of the year. In spring, summer, and fall these workers put in long days of work, while the site is closed in the winter. In keeping with the spirit of the project, workers wear simple tunics that would not have looked out of place in the 13th century, although they do make use of modern safety equipment such as goggles, helmets, and harnesses.

Both the materials they use and the techniques they employ are limited to those used by builders of the 13th century. The area around the construction site provides all the necessary materials for the project, including sandstone, wood, iron, limestone, earth, and hemp. Sandstone is quarried near the site, using only hand tools (such as sledgehammers), and then carried by horse-cart or wheelbarrow to the area where masons wait to shape the rock with chisels and mauls. The nearby forests provide wood for a variety of uses including the production of beams, planks, levers, scaffolding, banisters, wheelbarrows, pails, and tool handles, as well as fuel for all the site’s heating needs.

One of those heating needs is the kiln in which sandstone is fired for two days, before producing a lump of iron ore. Blacksmiths reheat the iron in a furnace before shaping it on their anvils into nails, tools, chains, weapons, or hinges. Likewise, blocks of limestone are heated to obtain quicklime, which is mixed with sand to produce mortar. Earth is used to produce bricks, pottery and tiles, and to weatherproof walls. Lastly, the project’s rope makers rely on hemp to create lifting ropes, belts, and harnesses.

Build It, and They Will Come

The Guédelon building site was first opened to the public in 1998, and by 2000, it was producing enough income to be self-sustaining. In recent years, as many as 300,000 people visit the site annually, and it is especially popular for groups of schoolchildren.

Although the workers at Guédelon are involved in actual construction, and are not just doing demonstrations of building techniques, visitors are welcome to not only observe, but to ask questions about what they’re seeing. Education is a big part of the project, and indeed, those involved in the process are also learning as they go, testing hypotheses about how medieval castles were built. The project has recently produced its own web series, “The Fires of Guédelon,” with the first season showing all the ways fire is used in the construction, and the second season dealing with how wood is used.

On a cold October day in 2012, my family and I visited Guédelon ourselves and saw first-hand the detail and craftsmanship that goes into the construction. It was amazing to see walls being built before our eyes, and to experience the site not only as a beautiful structure, but as a work in progress.

To me, the most remarkable thing about Guédelon is that people are not only studying history, but are themselves experiencing what life was like so long ago. The Guédelon workers and their guests have the opportunity to feel what artisans of the 13th century might have felt, watching a medieval castle take shape beneath their hands.

Note: This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared on Interesting Thing of the Day on October 25, 2006.

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Author: Morgen Jahnke

Are you married to an emotional bully?

Emotional bullies are not happy people. Motivated by fear, their insecurities plague them creating a need to command and dominate others to make up for how vulnerable they feel. Controlling others inflates the bully’s ego, masking their self-confidence issues.

Emotional bullies, instead of fists, bully with words (sometimes loudly). They steal the trust, kindness and respect from a relationship through coercion, manipulation and intimidation. Too often, I see clients who are married to a bully and struggling to break free.

Tell-tale signs you are married to an emotional bully

Bullying comes in many forms, here are the four key behaviours to look out for:

Aggression (verbal & physical)

Name calling, critical comments, slamming doors, blaming, accusations, undermining your decisions, arguments from nowhere… the bully has many verbal and physical options to control and dominate. Once they have established the pattern of using anger as a first response, the bully can rule on the fear of anger alone.


A bully will use control to limit your freedom. Isolating you slowly from friends and family, they will manage your time and decide how you spend it and who with; then make you feel guilty when you leave them to spend time with them. They will also text, stalk social media and call continuously to check where you are and what you are up to.

Passive aggressive

The silent treatment, coming home late, not helping in the house, withholding sex, controlling finances, undermining your decisions in small, all subtle ways that a bully will use to keep in control of you and the relationship.


When a bully gets scared of losing you, out comes the threat card. Divorce, moving out, cheating or even harming themselves are just some of the tactics a bully will roll out when desperate.

Living with a bully

Sadly you can spot bullies everywhere: the playground, the classroom, at work and in the home. But what is it like to live with one?

In a functional relationship, both people are equals. In a bullying relationship, there is an imbalance and an uneven distribution of power.

Typically people in a bullying relationship tend to have lowered self-esteem, suffer from depression and/or anxiety, are fearful and feel powerless and trapped. These emotional feelings often manifest physically in addiction, insomnia, changes to appetite and illness.

Leaving a bully

Being married to a bully can be emotionally distressing and the road to separation very stressful but one of the hardest parts is recognising that you are. Long relationships have behaviour patterns within them that are difficult to break.

Start by keeping a written record of your partners bullying for a month. Note down dates, times, situations and how they made you feel. Sometimes when you are living in a situation it is hard to see the bigger picture. Writing it down will show you the extent of your partner’s behaviour.

If you decide to divorce a bully, you will need a strong support team in place. Seek out professional and emotional support from lawyers, counsellors, consultants as well as friends and family on the side.

Sources of support

If you or someone you know is suffering in a abusive relationship, please do get support. The organisations below have advice and details of who to contact. If you feel scared for your safety, please do contact the police, 


Women’s Aid


Men’s Advice Line 

Broken Rainbow (for LGBT people affected by relationship violence)

The post Are you married to an emotional bully? appeared first on Stowe Family Law.

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Author: Julian Hawkhead

A week in family law: Civil partnerships, coercive behaviour, child support and more

It appears that the Civil Partnerships Bill, which provides (amongst other things) that opposite-sex couples may enter into a civil partnership, is to become law. The Bill passed its third and final reading in the House of Lords on the 7th of March, and is due to have a few uncontroversial amendments made by the Lords considered in the House of Commons today, before it receives Royal Assent. If it becomes law the Bill will require the Secretary of State to make regulations to change the law relating to civil partnership, to bring about equality between same-sex and other couples, with such regulations coming into effect within 6 months of the Bill being passed. Tim Loughton MP, who sponsored the Bill, commented after the third reading on Twitter: “Delighted to say my Civil Partnerships Bill passed its final stages in the Lords in just 2 minutes with unanimous support. Now just one more hurdle in the Commons on March 15th which will hopefully be a formality and then when the Queen signs it becomes law”. It will be very interesting to see what the take-up of civil partnerships will be amongst opposite-sex couples.

In a case that will hopefully send out a clear message, a man who repeatedly beat his pregnant partner has been jailed for three years for displaying controlling and coercive behaviour. The man’s behaviour included stopping his partner from going anywhere without him, taking away her phone or looking through her messages, and ordering her to delete her social networking accounts so that she had little contact with her family and friends. The relationship had apparently started off well, but within three months the man had become controlling and violent, and in one attack he punched his victim and fractured his own hand in the process. In addition to the prison sentence the court also made a restraining order, stopping the man from contacting the victim. Crown Prosecution Service (‘CPS’) prosecutor Emma Harris commented: “[The man] demonstrated extremely controlling behaviour, which included assaulting his partner and trying to isolate her from her friends and family. Having suffered months of isolation and emotional and physical abuse, the victim showed immense bravery by giving evidence during the trial, and I would like to thank her for the courage she has shown. I hope today’s sentence provides some comfort to the victim and shows the CPS’s commitment to prosecuting cases of domestic abuse.”

The Department for Work and Pensions (‘DWP’) has published statistics for child maintenance outcomes for parents that have spoken to Child Maintenance (CM) Options, surveyed in December 2018 (CM Options is a free service that provides impartial information and support to help parents make informed choices about child maintenance). The statistics show that out of the 41,800 parents that had contact with CM Options between May and July 2018, the DWP estimate 80% had a child maintenance arrangement in December 2018. This is 33,600 Child Maintenance Service, court and family-based arrangements. The percentage of parents choosing a Child Maintenance Service Arrangement after speaking to Options has increased, from 47% to 57%, and the percentage having a family based arrangement (i.e agreed between the parents) has decreased, from 26% to 22%. In better news, the percentage having no arrangement has decreased, from 25% to 19%. 86% of parents with a family-based arrangement thought it worked ‘fairly’ or ‘very well’. Out of the parents whose family-based arrangements involved regular financial payments, 89% said their payments were on time and 96% said they received ‘some’ or ‘all’ of their payment. Hmm…

And finally, the latest figures for care applications and private law demand, for February 2019, which have been published by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (‘Cafcass’). In that month the service received 1,001 new care applications during February 2019. This is 16.1% (192 applications) lower than February 2018. As to private law demand, Cafcass received 3,721 new cases during February 2019. This is 20.2% (625 cases) higher than February 2018 and highest demand for February since 2013. So yet again we have improving news on the public law front, but significantly worse news in relation to private law.

Have a good weekend.

The post A week in family law: Civil partnerships, coercive behaviour, child support and more appeared first on Stowe Family Law.

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Author: John Bolch


Fried crickets in Cambodia

Insects as food

Having lived the majority of my life in the northern latitudes, I have rarely had to deal with the everyday aspects of life in a tropical climate. Despite this fact, on those occasions when I have visited countries to the south, I have been able to endure the usual tropical conditions, chiefly high heat and humidity, without too much difficulty. However, there is one aspect of tropical life I find particularly hard to handle: coming face to face with insects of gigantic proportions.

While there are insects I find annoying in my part of the world (such as mosquitoes and ants), their relatively small size makes them seem less threatening than their tropical cousins. I realize that many people are used to seeing such creatures every day and and therefore don’t find them unnerving. However, this knowledge didn’t help me much when I was Indonesia, and we found two enormous water bugs hiding out in the mosquito netting above our bed. After some comically desperate maneuvers, we finally succeeded in banishing the bugs from the room. Perhaps if we had known that water bugs make a tasty condiment (ground up with chilies to make a spicy Thai paste), we might have welcomed them instead.

A Plate of Locusts

Although in Western cultures there is a general aversion to being around insects, let alone eating them, in many parts of the world (and also increasingly in the West) the insect kingdom is seen as an important and coveted source of food. The practice of eating bugs as food is known as entomophagy, and has been part of the human experience throughout history.

There is evidence that ancient cultures in Mexico, Spain, China, and what is now the United States included insects in their diets. The biblical book of Leviticus mentions locusts, bald locusts, beetles, and grasshoppers as acceptable food for the Israelites, and in the book of Matthew, John the Baptist is said to have subsisted on locusts and wild honey. The ancient Romans also reputedly practiced entomophagy, consuming locusts, cicadas, and stag beetle larvae at their lavish feasts.

Today, insect-eating is popular in parts of Africa, Australia, Central and South America, and Asia, including Thailand, Indonesia, China, and Japan. In some places, such as among Aboriginal peoples in Australia, insects are part of the traditional diet, being a readily available source of protein. In other places, insects are considered delicacies, and are prepared in numerous ways meant to tempt the palate—including roasting, frying, and grilling. In Colombia, for example, Hormigas culonas, or fried giant ants, are a regional specialty. Hachi-no-ko, or boiled wasp larvae, can be found in some restaurants in Japan, along with fried cicadas (Semi), rice-field grasshoppers (Inago), and silk moth pupae (Sangi).

It’s now possible to obtain edible insects prepared in lots of ways from online vendors, including candied insects, savory canned insects, and even insect alcohol infusions. A quick search of “edible insects” on Amazon currently brings up nearly 400 results of products an aspiring entomophage could sink their teeth into.

How to Eat Fried Crickets

Despite Western societal taboos against human consumption of insects, a growing number of enthusiasts believe there are economic, environmental, and health benefits to the practice of entomophagy. They argue that it is cheaper and more efficient to raise insects as a protein source than it is to rely on other animal products, and that it is less damaging to the environment. In addition, they claim that insects provide more nutritive value, while being lower in fat than other types of protein.

These benefits make entomophagy seem like the answer to some pressing problems, but there are a few barriers to it becoming more socially acceptable. Besides the obvious reluctance to eat creatures that many people find repulsive, there is debate about what effect the large-scale practice of entomophagy might have on the environment, with some voicing concern that certain species could be eradicated entirely. Also, some people have adverse reactions to eating insects, whether from allergies or pesticide contamination, making it necessary to educate the public about these dangers.

Despite these issues, as a former vegetarian I understand and applaud people’s efforts to eat lower on the food chain, for both health and environmental reasons. However, I don’t think I’d ever be able to switch to a bug-eating lifestyle, no matter how tasty or nutritious they might be. I’ll leave that to those with more adventurous palates and stronger stomachs.

Note: This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared on Interesting Thing of the Day on February 21, 2007.

Image credit: Thomas Schoch [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

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Author: Morgen Jahnke

World Sleep Day

A sleeping cat

Hey, it’s World Sleep Day! And to think, I just wrote about dream groups yesterday. As I’ve mentioned from time to time, sleep is one of my very favorite activities, and yet one that (due to having two small children and one small business) I’m unable to indulge in as much as I’d like. If your life situation is conducive to getting extra sleep—and most of us need it, especially after setting our clocks forward a few days ago—make it happen today.

And you know what, it’s probably safest to spend today in bed anyway—it’s also the Ides of March!

Image credit: Image by Eugen Visan from Pixabay

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Author: Joe Kissell

Determining when a parent retains children in another country

It is quite a common scenario that parents will agree that one of them may temporarily remove their children to another country. Obviously, the ‘removing’ parent may then decide not to return the children to the country from which they were removed. A critical question may then be: when did the removing parent make that decision? Did they have the intention not to return the children all along, or did they only form that intention late on? The ‘retention’ only occurs when the decision is made.

The reason why this can be critical is that it relates to the issue of the children’s habitual residence. If both countries are signatories to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction then obviously the ‘left behind’ parent may make an application for their summary return under the Convention. However, the Convention only applies where the removal or retention of the child is ‘wrongful’. It is only wrongful if “it is in breach of rights of custody attributed to a person, an institution or any other body either jointly or alone under the law of the state in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention”. Accordingly, if the child stays in the ‘new’ country for long enough, they will gain habitual residence there, and any ‘retention’ thereafter will not therefore be wrongful, so the court cannot order the return of the child.

When the mother retained the children was the essential question for the court in the recent Court of Appeal case G-E (Children : Hague Convention 1980: Repudiatory Retention and Habitual Residence).

The facts of the case were that the father was Australian and the mother British. They were not married but they had two children, born in 2012 and 2014. The family lived in Australia, but the mother and children came to England for holidays. Lord Justice Moylan then takes up the story:

“In January 2017 the mother applied online for, and in April 2017 obtained, a school place for the elder child in England from September 2017. In April she obtained a quotation both for the storage of her possessions in Australia and for their being shipped to England. The mother accepted that she did not inform the father about these matters but said that this reflected the manner in which they conducted their lives and were not “clandestine” acts as suggested by [the father’s counsel].”

In or about June 2017 the parents agreed that the mother and the children would travel to England, because the mother’s father was terminally ill. The mother and the children arrived in England on the 21st of July 2017, on tickets which provided for a return to Australia within 6 months. The mother’s father died on the 2nd of September 2017. The father agreed that the mother could extend her stay with the children in England, apparently putting no time limit upon when she should return. On the 27th of March 2018 the mother sent the father an email making clear that she did not intend to return to Australia.

The father commenced his application under the Convention on the 10th of August 2018. The application was dealt with by Her Honour Judge Hillier in the High Court in October. She found that the mother had not formed the intention to retain the children in this country until March 2018, and that by that date the children were habitually resident in England and Wales. Accordingly, the father’s application was dismissed. The father appealed.

Giving the leading judgment of the Court of Appeal Lord Justice Moylan found that Judge Hillier had properly considered the evidence and was entitled to come to the conclusion that the mother had not formed the intention to retain the children in this country until March 2018. As to the issue of habitual residence, he found that Judge Hillier’s determination was one which was reasonably open to her. He said:

“She has undertaken a sufficiently broad assessment and explained why, in the context in particular of the children’s existing “real ties” with England, she concluded that their stability and integration “grew closer and faster as a result” and that the “centre” of their lives … had become England by late December 2017/January 2018.”

Lords Justices Flaux and Longmore gave consenting judgments. Accordingly, the father’s appeal was dismissed.

You can read the Court of Appeal judgment here, and the original judgment of Judge Hillier here.

The post Determining when a parent retains children in another country appeared first on Stowe Family Law.

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Author: John Bolch

Dream Groups

Edwin Landseer - Scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Titania and Bottom

Intramural introspection

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Unbeknownst to most of my friends and family, I’m really an action hero. Several times each month, I go on dangerous assignments to exotic locations, where I narrowly escape death, rescue the hostages, recover the stolen chip, round up the bad guys, and generally keep civilization safe from evil. Admirers call me “Indiana Joe.” Of course, it’s no big deal, thanks to my superpowers that enable me to dodge bullets, read minds, and fly off into the sunset. When I return from one of my adventures, I can almost hear the fanfare…no, wait, that’s my alarm clock. Sometimes I awake from one of my dreams uncertain of whether it really happened or not, and with a nagging sense that a vital piece of information has been lost—that the dream was trying to tell me something important. When I’ve needed to get to the bottom of a dream, I’ve often taken it to a dream group, a small circle of friends that meets monthly for a unique kind of dream analysis.

The Woman of My Dreams

I first became aware of dream groups a number of years ago, when someone made an announcement after a church service that such a group was going to form. At first, I wasn’t even sure what they meant by “dreams”—I thought it might have been dreams in the sense of aspirations, rather than the visions that occur while we sleep. Either way, I had plenty to work with, but I had no idea what I’d be getting myself into if I joined. A week later, the group’s leader asked all interested parties to gather for more information. I was still wavering when I saw a very attractive young woman join the group. At that point I immediately determined that I was interested. (I thought the group might be worthwhile too.)

The idea for this group and many others like it came from a book by Jeremy Taylor called Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill. Taylor, a respected author and teacher who died in January 2018, worked with dreams and dream groups for decades. His central principle was that all dreams come in the service of health and wholeness. Whatever else you may believe about dreams, the assumption our group starts with is that they are a good and useful thing, that they exist in some respect to benefit the dreamer.

Perchance to Dream

It may be helpful to clarify what group dream work is not. First and foremost, it is not simply a matter of guessing or looking up things in dream dictionaries. At the other extreme, it’s also not formal psychoanalysis. Participants in dream groups are simply laypeople who have learned some basic skills—not professional therapists. Finally, it’s not a religious exercise. Someone may, of course, experience religious symbols in dreams, but dream work as such does not presuppose any religious framework for interpretation.

Members are encouraged to write down any dreams they remember as soon as they wake up, then bring them to share in the meetings. Dream work can be very intimate, so all members agree to treat each other’s dreams with respect and discretion—and never to share the content of a meeting outside the group. As a member recounts a dream, the others listen quietly; when the dream is finished, we ask questions only if needed for clarification. Then we begin sharing our thoughts. Although someone may have a strong opinion about what another person’s dream means, only the dreamer can ultimately determine its meaning. In addition, because dreams are abstract and richly suggestive, there’s a strong tendency to read one’s own issues into someone else’s dream. For these reasons, we avoid saying, “This is what your dream means.” If someone has an insight or observation, the language we use is, “If it were my dream…” That way each person can put him or herself in the shoes of the dreamer with impunity, and the person sharing the dream can look at it more objectively too.

Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made Of

Taylor’s book discusses numerous principles of dream work at length, but a couple of notions come up with great regularity. For one thing, we assume that a given dream may have many different meanings, which may or may not be deep and profound. My action-adventure dream could mean both that I really enjoyed that James Bond film I just saw, and that I feel some situation in my life needs rescuing. Another postulate is that many or all of the different characters in a dream may represent the dreamer. So if I save the damsel in distress from the evil prince, it could be that my dream is about situations in which I feel helpless, or conversely, cause pain to others—not necessarily my role as the hero.

These ideas, and many more, come into play as we discuss each other’s dreams. Often the person who shared the dream will have an “aha” moment—a sudden realization of the significance of a dream symbol that would not have occurred outside the group setting. Of course, it also sometimes happens that a dream remains entirely inscrutable even after an hour of intense discussion. Even so, the process of sharing and discussing dreams can have a very therapeutic effect.

I Have a Dream Today

Dream groups can have many different forms, and their structure can vary depending on how many people are involved, where the meetings take place, and how well the members know each other. Although I’m not currently in a dream group, I’ve been in several over the years. Typically the members of my groups were quite comfortable with each other, and chose to meet monthly, in a different person’s home each time. We’d begin with a potluck meal, and while we were eating we’d take turns talking about the significant events in our lives. This is quite important, as it gave us a context to evaluate the significance of dream images. We also usually spent a short time discussing “meta-dream” issues—things like methods for improving dream recall, the phenomenon of lucid dreaming, or insights from a book one of us had read.

Next we’d take a moment to center ourselves and mark the transition from ordinary discussion into dream work. Each person would then very briefly share a recent dream, and we’d determine who had a dream they’d like to examine in detail. Time permitting, we’d discuss two or three of these dreams using the principles from Taylor’s book and the “if it were my dream…” language. We’d finish with another simple centering exercise to mark the end of our dream discussion.

Don’t Dream It’s Over

Our meetings were not uniformly successful in revealing the inner workings of our minds, but more often than not, we all left feeling we’d learned a great deal more about ourselves and each other. During my first year in a dream group, I developed deep relationships with the other members—including that attractive young woman, whom I later married. And I acquired not only valuable introspective skills, but also some very good habits of deferential and attentive listening. But leaving aside all the touchy-feely stuff, the bottom line is that it is seriously fun. I loved being involved in dream groups, and hope to do so again someday.

Some scientists believe dreams are nothing more than residue from the brain’s “garbage collection” process as information is transferred into long-term memory. Others hold, somewhat more charitably, that dreams are the mechanism the brain uses to unconsciously work through issues that could not be dealt with in waking life. And then, of course, some people have a more mystical take on dreams, declaring that they are a direct communication channel to God, the collective unconscious, a “higher wisdom,” or whatever. Unlike my biblical namesake, I don’t pretend to any supernatural gifts when it comes to interpreting dreams, and I don’t have much of an opinion about either their neurological or metaphysical basis. All I can say is that after working on my dreams in groups, I feel I understand myself better. That dreams can accomplish this is enough for me.

Note: This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared on Interesting Thing of the Day on April 25, 2003, and again in a slightly revised form on June 6, 2004.

Image credit: Edwin Henry Landseer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Author: Joe Kissell