Book Review: Dreaming on Both Sides of the Brain
Author Doris Cohen’s subtitle for Dreaming on Both Sides of the Brain is “Discover the Secret Language of the Night.” This is an appropriate way to look at dreaming, I think. Reading the book has given me much better insight into dreams and their possible meanings than I ever had before. It is a very interesting book that could be appreciated by almost everyone.
Cohen has been a psychotherapist for thirty years. In addition to her more traditional counseling work with patients, she also incorporates a strong element of spiritual and metaphysical exploration into her practice.
As many self-help books do, this one begins by setting a foundation for what is to follow. As the title suggests, Dreaming on Both Sides of the Brain teaches readers about the differences between our left and right brains and how they interact in dreaming and awake states.
According to Cohen, we have feminine energy (right side) and masculine energy (left side), and there are different types of dreams (e.g., nightmares, intuitive). She explains both the physiology and psychology of dreams. It is all very interesting.
We all know people who claim that they never dream. What they really should be saying is that they do not recall their dreams, for we all do dream. And Cohen offers ideas throughout the book for us to unlock our dreams.
To help readers get better at the complex processes of recalling dreams, remembering them later, giving them meaning, and somehow using them, Cohen has a system that she has developed over years of working with dreaming and patients. It isn’t complicated, but there is a specific series of steps for readers to follow. By following these steps, not only will readers become better at recalling dreams, they will also begin to better understand what they may mean. As time goes on, Cohen says, the accumulation of dreams begins to form a pattern from which we are able learn more about ourselves.
There are two important points that are emphasized throughout the book. Our dreams are about us, not other people. While there could be other people in the dream, it is always about our own life, not another person’s. And our dreams relate to something that is significant in our lives at the time of the dream. It may be something right in front of us, such as a health or job issue. But it could also be something lurking just beneath the surface. But it is current.
I won’t reveal the steps here because that would simplify something that requires more explanation and understanding. I think that with time and practice, we can derive meaning from a part of our brain that we haven’t been using. This should be exciting and welcome.
The book devotes many pages to dream analysis, including examples from patients. I suspect that many of us could be skeptical about the interpretation given to dreams. As I read the examples, I could see how Cohen came to her conclusions, but I could also see other interpretations. What was not clear to me was whether her interpretation was the only correct one based upon her years of experience, or whether there is also room for others. In attempts to understand our own dreams, could we easily misinterpret them and become misguided?
Dreaming on Both Sides of the Brain is a book that can be re-read, and I intend to in order to develop greater insights and benefit from my own dreams. I have rarely recalled dreams in the past, but already have seen a change in that. There is a richness to our dreams that should be captured, I think, as well as the obvious potential benefit of helping us to see our issues in new ways. Those who are curious will enjoy this book.
Dreaming on Both Sides of the Brain: Discover the Secret Language of the Night
Doris E. Cohen, PhD
Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.
Paperback, 170 pages