The Symbolism of Hair

Bald_woman_free  At an event I recently attended, I met an actress who in her speech related how hard it was to pursue her dreams.  Although she had extraordinary talent and great looks, there were so many obstacles in her way, including auditions with inevitable rejections and more auditions with rejections, that it all became too taxing.  Exhausted and disheartened, she was going to abandon her extraordinary gift, her calling.  She found herself fantasizing about leaving it all, becoming a waitress and shaving her head, though she doesn't know what the shaving of her head was all about.

So what does fantasizing about shaving one's head mean?  Hair, after all, symbolizes power, potency and sexuality.  When in the Bible Samson's hair was cut, he lost his power.  When a newly ordained nun shaves her head, she is giving away her power as a woman in order to submit her life and her will to serving God.  In some Hassidic sects the young bride shaves her head on her wedding night, giving away her allure and personal power in order to submit to the marital union.

 Although the actress's fantasy provided needed relief from daily hardship and uncertain results, it was not without sorrow.  Shaving her head symbolized giving away her most extraordinary and powerful asset, her very special gift, in exchange for a seemingly easy and simple life.

Fortunately for her and for us, she persevered.  Today she is at the zenith of her professional life, enjoying her success fully with no regrets for living an exceptional life.

I'm Dr. Blokar.  For more information, click on the following resources:

Hair:Surviving the Fall

The Sabian Symbols & Astrological Analyses:The Original Symbols Fully Revealed  

The Roots of Desire:The Myth,Meaning,and Sexual Power of Red Hair 

Hair:Its Power and Meaning in Asian Cultures  

When Patients and Therapists Are Intimate

Dr_%20Cannon%20Women-TherapistIn Lying on the Couch, psychiatrist Irvin D. Yalom describes several scenarios in which male therapists have sexual involvement with their female patients.  The majority of patients in therapy are female, often relatively young and often struggling with issues of self-worth and entitlement.  By definition, a patient brings into therapy weakness, confusion and the need for guidance; she is in a vulnerable position regardless of her attractiveness or success.

Any time a therapist engages in sexual activity with a patient it is wrong and unethical.  Every female patient has fantasies about her male therapist knowing all the answers, being able to save her and then deliver her into a happy future.   Every female patient in intense individual therapy with a male therapist is overtly or covertly seductive towards her male therapist.  The therapist must analyze and understand the process so as not to get sucked into, and indulge, the female patient's unquestioning adoration, regardless of the degree of adoration.

If the female patient gets involved with a manipulative, narcissistic, self-indulgent male therapist, on the other hand, the patient may feel responsible since she desired him, maybe had sexual dreams about him, flirted with him, and wanted his approval and admiration.  At the same time, she also may be flattered and incredulous that someone knowing her as well as the therapist, including her most shameful secrets and weaknesses, can find her attractive and desirable.

When roles are reversed, however, female therapists in the authority position are less likely to find a male patient's neediness sexually arousing.  And many men, including male patients, often find women in authority positions too intimidating to be sexually aroused by them.

Of course, there are deeply controlling, predatory, even sadistic women, who, as therapists, may enjoy, and be sexually aroused by, their extraordinary power over the man and indulge their sexual appetites, but these instances are relatively rare. 

I'm Dr. Blokar.  For more information, click on the following resources:

Lying on the Couch

The Impossibility of Sex:Stories of Intimate Relationships Between Therapist and Patient 

Therapy:Intimacy Between Strangers 

Therapists Who have Sex With Their Patients:Treatment and Recovery 

Seduced by Madness:The True Story of the Susan Polk Murder Case

What Therapists Don't Talk About and Why:Understanding Taboos That Hurt Us and Our Clients 

Touch in Psychotherapy:Theory, Research, and Practice


Common Symbols in Dreams

Gal_car_stars1 There are certain symbols that are common in dreams many of us have.  Among the most common  are phallic symbols -- anything penetrating and/or sharp.  Then there are also the feminine sexual symbols -- anything that is enclosed and/or can hold something, such as shoes, purses and pockets.

Cars may be a symbol of mobility and potency, and there is a difference depending on whether one is driving (in the driver's seat) or merely a passenger.

Another common symbol in dreams is the sea which usually symbolizes a mother, from whom life springs forth, just as so much life sprung from the sea.

A house or an apartment symbolizes the self.  One of my patients had a recurrent dream of a perfect house which she went to see with her mother who sternly reminded her that she could not possibly afford this home.  You can figure out the meaning of this one!

One of my female patients had a disturbing dream involving a few symbols.  She dreamt she was stepping out of a cab when her purse and her daily diary fell under it.  She desperately plunged to her knees trying to save these items from being destroyed by the already moving vehicle.  In the course of therapy, she talked about being in a very unhappy relationship and an accident that occurred years earlier.  She and her significant other were in a cab accident in which he was injured.  He was quick to blame her, and on more than one level, she believed that somehow she did bear some responsibility for what had happened.  

Her dream became easier to interpret.  Her purse (her sexuality) and her diary (her life) were about to be destroyed by choices she had made as a result of the accident.  For the first time, she understood on a gut level how crucial it was for her to deal with the situation.  Up to that point, she had never fully admitted the impact of that cab accident  on her life. 

Our insecurities are often lived out through our dreams.  Entering a room full of people and being ignored, or wearing something inappropriate or being nude and being laughed at are examples.  Someone fragile may have repetitive dreams of being in danger.

When there is a specific conflict, dreams tend to be repetitive, and when the conflict is resolved, interestingly enough even in our dreams we move on to something else.

I'm Dr. Blokar.

To learn more about common symbols in dreams,  you may want to read the following:

In Your Dreams:the Ultimate Dream Dictionary

The Dream Book:Symbols for Self Understanding 

Dream Decoder:Interpret Over 1,000 Dream Symbols 

Dream Images and Symbols:A Dictionary 

Little Giant Encyclopedia:Dream Symbols 

A Dictionary of Dream Symbols:With An Introduction to Dream Psychology  

Another Look at Dreams

Patient-therapist To understand and analyze a dream, it is necessary to know the dreamer.  So even though dream images and symbols may be common to all humans, dreams still have to be looked at in the context of one's life.

Since in therapeutic situations the therapist gets to know the patient, they can work together to uncover what the patient is afraid of knowing.  One of my patients, shortly upon leaving her country, for example, had a dream that she was climbing a gigantic ladder which leaned against a mountain.  Beneath her was her mother, and further down the ladder was her grandmother.  As she was about to step off the ladder onto a flat mountaintop someone disturbed the balance, and the ladder with the three women started to fall backwards.

Working with me, the meaning of this dream soon became clear to my patient.  While her mother had surpassed her grandmother by marrying an educated man and moving to the city, my patient moved even further.  She became a doctor and moved to what many consider the apex of the world - New York City.  She realized that she felt guilty being in the lead, and just when she was reaching the summit, her ambivalence brought her failure and the fall.

As we continued to talk about her mother's reluctance to set her free, and their close, over-bearing relationship, my patient remembered  her mother's chilling words.  Her mother said that those who fly too high will fall very low.

If my patient had not been in treatment, she would not have accessed the memories that led to her understanding the cause for her fears and ambivalence.  Nor would she have had the sympathetic ear of her therapist to vent emotions and confirm the reality of what led to her neurotic, self-destructive behavior.

In other words, it takes not only an understanding of the dream, but also the richness of the therapeutic process for a full understanding and cure to take place.

I'm Dr. Blokar.

Introduction to Dreams

Dreaming Hello:

I thought you would be interested in exploring the subject of dreams, so today I will give you a brief introduction to this fascinating topic.

Sigmund Freud said that "dreams are a royal road to the subconscious," and, in fact, classic psychoanalysis does rely on an analysis of our dreams to facilitate self-understanding.

While we may suppress our memories and fears, we have no control over what we dream.  Much of what we dream relates to current situations and events in our lives, but dream content is also rooted in the basic nature of our psyches. 

Freud always looked for a scientific explanation to the working of our psyches, and he believed that dreams revealed existing conflicts, anxieties, preoccupations, fears and wishes that analysis can solve.

Carl Jung, on the other hand, went beyond the need for a scientific proof and allowed for an almost spiritual element.  While not disagreeing with Freud's approach, Jung believed that at times dreams can prepare us for future losses, future illness, or even pending death.

Interestingly enough, the symbols in our dreams which reveal our subconscious are common to all people regardless of their ethnic, cultural or educational backgrounds.  Simply put, people from a small village in India as well as people from a large city like New York will find their unconscious anxieties expressed in their dreams through the same imagery. 

So that is even more evidence that deep down we humans are much more alike than we are different.  What we share is greater than what divides us, and in future segments I will describe some of the imagery we all share in our dreams and tell you some of the interpretations of those images.

I'm Dr. Blokar.

Thank you.

To learn more about what Freud and Jung thought about dreams, check out the following books:

The Interpretation of Dreams  by Sigmund Freud

Dreams by C.G. Jung