To dream the impossible dream

 Dr. Clancy McKenzie sent  his observations about reprogramming dreams to the ISEPP discussion group of which I am a member. Dr. McKenzie has given me permission to reprint his patients’ story, which appears below.

My son, Chris, isn’t the only person in our family who has learned to direct his dreams. Programming dreams is something I’ve been doing in recent yearsto help me take control of my life, to realize that I had greater power to influence positive outcomes than I ever thought possible.  Chris’s crisis left me sleepless and fearful for several years. I would wake up every night from a bad dream and the first person who popped into my mind was Chris, and I immediately felt overwhelming sadness and fear. Today, I don’t worry about Chris during the day or when I wake up at night. I do occasionally have anxious dreams. If my dream is a typical anxiety dream about a math exam, I might think to myself, Well, I know I was about to fail that final math exam because I hadn’t opened the book all year, but here’s what I’m going to do about it to make sure I pass. When I go back to sleep, I’m going to pick up where I left off with that dream. I’m going to hire a tutor and I will pass that exam. (Whether my instructions to myself are realistic about passing the exam at such a late date doesn’t matter. Dreams make all things possible.)

Notice in the story below the way Dr. McKenzie gives general instructions to his patients about the content of the dream. Minds and bodies know what to do with the information given to them.


Six months ago a young family was disrupted when the mother suddenly died in a car crash. Left behind are her young husband, a 7½ year old daughter, and a 4 year old son. They were devastated.

I immediately saw them and gave them “programmed” dreams. I instructed the father to have a dream about his wife, decide the dream would not be upsetting, and decide the dream itself would resolve all upset feelings.

I told the 7½ year old that she would have a dream about Mommy that night, the dream would not be upsetting, and in the dream Mommy would take away all her upset feelings.

With the 4-year-old I just said “You can visit Mommy any night you want, during sleep. Tonight she is gong to visit you and take away all your upset feelings.”

The next time I visited with them, the father tried to comfort them by saying “Mommy is sitting right here with us now.” The four-year-old piped up “she’s not sitting, she’s playing.” The following visit the father told me that his son led him to the laundry room that morning, pointed to the washer and said “mommy said you have to take the clothes out of there and put them in over there” (pointing to the dryer). He was stunned. He did the laundry two days earlier and forgot to put it in the dryer.

During the visits the children are very happy, not showing any signs of sadness. The next visit when the man took his son to the restroom, I asked the daughter what her mommy tells her during sleep. She was beaming with joy as she proudly answered: “She tells me I am going to be a very good mommy some day.” When I tried to question her further, she clammed up as though she wasn’t sure she was supposed to reveal what her mommy had said to her.

Months passed. The children remained very happy, playing together and never fussing or fighting. One day the man came in alone and we just began to visit. He spoke about how well the children were doing, and I mentioned a finding I had just made and was very excited about. I realized two studies I had done were sequential, with no other similar studies in between – which meant they were cumulative. The first data was one over two to the 12th power and the second was one over two to the 15th power. They revealed the same thing, but now it was one over two to the 27th power, or one chance in 134,217,728 by chance alone.

This was exciting, but it was as it should be, because one cannot have delayed PTSD without original trauma–even if it is delayed PTSD from infancy (schizophrenia, depression, etc). I told him I was going to send letters to the Senate and to Congress.

Two nights later the little girl brought the portable phone into his bedroom, saying “Mommy wants to tell you something.” He told her to lie down in the bed, which she did, and then she began to speak “Tell Dr. Clancy to send those letters right out; it’s very important.” (Her mother addressed me as Dr. Clancy, but the little girl always addressed me as Dr. McKenzie.) The father wrote 1½ pages of notes, part of which were her speaking and part of which were her mother speaking through her. It ended with her mother saying “tell your brother I will see him tomorrow night.” She had no recollection of any of this the next day.

The real shocker came at Thanksgiving. There were twelve family members sitting around the table. None knew of the relationship the children had with their mother, and everyone was taking turns telling what they were most thankful for. When the 7½ year- old girl spoke, she gave a one word answer: “Mommy.” Her brother was next in line and he said: “Mommy.”

No one could speak several minutes. The father’s eyes filled with tears, and he could not speak. He was grateful that he was not the next in line to speak. When the children were not around, he told the other adults that the children dream about their mother.

For 42 years I have had all my patients program dreams, and have not known any to get a wrong answer. There have been more than 400 who programmed a dream about a lost loved one. Usually it is like a visit – geared to help the person overcome grief. There are two articles about miracles of programmed dreams on , listed under “WORKS” – for any who might be interested.


E. Fuller Torrey a texbook case

I haven’t been posting for a while, and thought I should stir the pot a little lest this blog be forgotten. Trolling the Internet today for ideas I came across this article in Salon on Jared Loughner, the Arizona gunman, that dates back to January this year.

I have never liked Dr. E. Fuller Torrey because I think he lacks empathy. He compartmentalizes people at best and wants to institutionalize and drug them at worst. He’s determined to force medicate people, which I know has it’s appeal for many, but not for me. However, I came across this quote from an article in Salon, and it’s so weird that Torrey thinks lucid dreaming is for sickos. It’s not just E. Fuller Torrey. Most psychiatrists think lucid dreaming is a dangerous sign of psychosis. (I’m trying to teach myself how to do it.) What planet do they live on?

Salon: I was struck by his obsession with “lucid dreaming.”

Torrey: When someone comes in and talks about lucid dreaming, drugs are the first thing I wonder about. But with schizophrenia, you can get almost anything that’s weird like that. In itself, it didn’t stand out to me.

Comments to this article

Hepola said that stood out to her, and Torrey seems to see it as a sign of mental disturbance or drug use. Anyone know why? I though lucid dreaming was just an interest of some people. I remember Omni publishing an article, back in the 80’s, on learning to lucid dream. How is it, or an interest in it, connected to mental disorders?


This is the first I read about Loughner’s interest in lucid dreaming. My first thought was: There’s nothing insane about it, and in his case, perhaps he was desperate to try to control nightmares. It’s possible that a normal person’s worst occasional nightmare is the stuff of a schizophrenic’s nightly experience.

—Quiet Type

I object to the characterization that lucid dreaming is the result of a drug addled brain, or something that signals mental illness.

I’ve been lucid dreaming for most of my adult life but didn’t know it had a title until a dozen or so years ago—and I’m a senior citizen.

Lucid dreaming means that I can not only remember dreams and recount them in detail, but I can wake up briefly (for instance, to go to the bathroom or reclaim the covers from under my husband) and return to the dream when I fall back asleep. And sometimes I can change things in the dream when it continues.

It’s a pleasurable experience in general. In fact, I also used to be able to fly in my dreams but that “ability” seems to have left me as the years passed. I miss the feeling of taking off and soaring just as if it were happening in the waking world. In fact, I’ve actually said to people how much I miss flying in my dreams—and I’m far from crazy. Also, when I have the rare nightmare, I actually have to get out of bed, walk around, and do something to wake myself fully before attempting to sleep again because those kinds of dreams can — and have — also continued, and can be a horrible experience.

When I discovered information on the internet about studies done on lucid dreaming, I also read about keeping a dream journal. But that seemed stupid to me because I didn’t feel the dreams were sending me messages (although they are often based on memories of people and places–oftentimes out of their normal context) and I figured they were meant for me to enjoy and not analyze.

Having explained all of that, I need to say that I’ve only been “under the influence” of drugs twice in my life when the doctor gave me something to ease migraines. That was a long time ago and the second time (when I took it before bed) I clearly was able to “talk” myself through the dream it produced. (This is the result of the pill. It will wear off and you’ll be OK…) That drug was eventually removed from the market but not before I flushed my bottle full down the toilet.

The only “mental illness” I’ve experienced is SADD (seasonal affected disorder–a form of depression resulting from lack of sunshine in winter months).

Moreover, there are probably millions of us lucid dreamers in the world. We are of danger to no one. I think it’s unfortunate that the “respected psychiatrist” didn’t challenge the questioner. Lucid dreaming (I believe Loughner called it by another name in his YouTube ramblings) is not responsible for the actions of that young on Saturday.


Di Caprio’s subconscious just another action film

Chris and I just got back from seeing Inception, the latest Hollywood foray into lucid dreaming. The twist here is in planting an idea by hacking into some else’s mind and manipulating their dream state.

My dream state is pretty tame compared to all the machine guns, car chases and explosions that go on in Hollywood’s sleep. “Chris,” I said, “are your dreams like this?” Apparently they are. Is this a guy thing? Mine are less like Playstation games and more like Alice in Wonderland. I am too female and too old to enjoy car chases and machine guns.

The plot was convoluted. Ellen Page, the spunky tiny teen of Juno fame, played her latest spunky tiny post-teen rather poorly. She was there simply as a prop to restate the complex plot to the confused viewer – “So, tell me again what you are planning to do?”

There were two things that I pulled from the movie that I found interesting. The first is when the dying rich father says to his son – “no, you are wrong I wasn’t disappointed that you weren’t like me, I was disappointed that you tried to be.” That was decently deep for an action film.

The other nugget that perked me up was the repeated comment that if you think people are staring at you (paranoia) you are actually in a dream state. The script claimed that you can get a better handle on knowing which state you are in by carrying with you a talisman. If you check and it’s there, you know you aren’t dreaming. (Can anyone out there in bloggerland validate this idea?)

Since Chris earlier today claimed that people were staring at him for some trivial way he wore his belt, I simply reminisced with him about the comment from the movie and left it at that. I am learning to plant ideas with someone else and slowly let them germinate. In the past, particularly in relation to Chris’s crisis, I was inclined to immediately take up a point, discuss it and use it as a jumping off point for broader lessons in life. Now I prefer to keep my mouth shut and let ideas grow.


I was planning to do a longer post on body and soul, but then had my own out-of-body experience in the early hours of this morning that captures my frustrations with the slow pace of the way things are going. I was drifting between sleeping and being awake, thinking about my conversation with Chris last night that left both him and me frustrated. From my perspective, nothing is happening with him, he is going absolutely nowhere, confining himself more and more to the apartment while eating everything in sight. A high school friend who is getting married this summer was in town and Chris didn’t feel up to meeting him. Perhaps even more frustratingly, if that is possible, Chris seems to look at paid employment or going back to university as an intellectual exercise, something best thought about but never actually achieved. He is stuck in his own mind.

Under scrutiny, he appears to think that Ian and I somehow need him to be with us, as if we would completely crumple up and die if he wasn’t there to support us in our declining years. The situation is becoming once more intolerable. What do we have a headshrinker and an occupational therapist for? The OT has been working with him for a year, and still he is shedding more and more activities.

So, I put it to Chris once again: Chris, maybe you are not so concerned about us as you profess, maybe you are angry with us and this is your best revenge. Do you think you are doing guard duty by hanging around the house to protect me from Ian or Ian from me? I posed the last question, because it is a time-honored tradition to be angry with one or both parents. People who mature beyond the anger move on, people who don’t are stuck. Chris mumbled something about maybe he was sticking around to make sure Ian and I don’t divorce. As if!

That line of reasoning was getting us nowhere, so we all went to bed. Eventually, after trying out several dreams, I saw my chance to end it all. Like some kind of manic cartoon character (a woodpecker or a buzzard with attitude), I was hovering in the air, getting a bead on a some acreage down below. I started to back up and take a run at it. At first I hesitated, because I thought I knew what was coming, then I thought “what the heck, go for it.” As the land came up and tilted towards me, I hit it full on — and immediately morphed into another dream.

There is never an end. There are only beginnings.

A holistic dilemma

This morning before going to work I knocked on Chris’s door while clutching a bottle of Omega 3 in my hands. I was pleased to reinforce to him the report published in the February issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, that patients who took fish oil capsules had fewer symptoms of psychosis and better functioning than those who took a placebo.

“But, according to Olga Kharitidi in The Master of Lucid Dreams, I’m supposed to embrace my psychotic episodes,” he objected.

Does he not get the idea or do I not get the idea? I also gave him that book. I realize there is a contradiction here, a double message.

Going where nobody else is headed has its drawbacks

Yesterday evening, Ian and I had our quarterly meeting with Dr. Stern, Chris’s psychiatrist. We hadn’t had a chance to meet since Chris was released from the hospital in May. We spoke about his overall good progress, how Ian and I were pleased to have him home with us and how we are content to let things unfold at the pace Chris was setting. Then Dr. Stern dropped the bombshell. She leaned forward, and in a clearly worried voice, said “what’s this about Chris having an out-of-body experience? Chris’s occupational therapist told me about this and she also told me about a lucid dream.”

It has been my policy all along not to tell Chris’s psychiatrists about what outwardly kooky looking things he is undertaking in the world of holistic healing. I have learned, as this experience shows, that it only worries them and they want to put a stop to it.

Most, if not all, psychiatrists would not want their schizophrenia patients having an OBE, because to them, it is exactly what you don’t want them to have. Dr. Stern said she wanted Chris “in” his body and grounded, not out-of-his body and floating in space looking down at himself. It is exactly the sensible sort of thing a cautious psychiatrist should say, except that what has changed is that energy medicine has opened up a whole other realm of healing possibilities. I tried to handle this as best I could, knowing that Chris and I were headed to the sound shaman the next day for another go at it.

I tried to reassure Dr. Stern that actually, the meditative state that he achieved was a grounding state, not an excitatory state. I told her that an OBE for someone with a history of psychosis was actually a good thing, but it was counter-intuitive, because most people would think an out-of-body experience can lead to the person becoming destabilized and this was not in fact what was happening. Please note that this way of thinking is not only not widely shared, but not widely known. There’s me, and there’s the sound shaman, and beyond the two of us, who else knows about this counter-intuitive way of looking at schizophrenia? There must be a secret society somewhere, or maybe this is well-known in Eastern mysticism, but with Chris’s Western diagnosis of schizophrenia I was treading on very thin ice with Dr. Stern. Come to think of it, Western medical diagnoses are not included in Eastern mysticism texts.

Do you do yoga, Dr. Stern? I enquired brightly. “Keep in mind that yoga is used in many programs for schizophrenia patients.” Dr. Stern was more inclined to feel that yoga was more of a physical workout than a mental one, and that deep meditation is not something recommended for someone like Chris. Dr. Stern is a good psychiatrist and an excellent Family Constellation psychiatrist, but she is not a yoga person, nor all that familiar with energy medicine. Dr. Stern doesn’t “do” energy medicine, and this is where it gets tricky with a psychiatrist. What I am doing with Chris is clearly out of most traditional psychiatrists’ comfort zones. I only later thought about Chris’s former holistic psychiatrist, who taught us about energy medicine and got Chris to practice visualizations. Where is the line drawn between lucid dreaming and say, visualizing you are a shining ball of light in space with giant meteorites bouncing off you?

The out-of-body experience and the lucid dreaming were all news to Ian, who thankfully didn’t jump in and punch the air with “let’s put a stop to all this nonsense now!” I told Dr. Stern that lucid dreaming was something Chris does and it didn’t start recently. I was praying hard that the session would soon be over. I needed more information from the shaman to bolster my weak case in Dr. Stern’s eyes. “I understand your concerns, Dr. Stern, and if I were you I would feel the same way. I will look into this some more and share further information with you.” Inside me, I am really just hoping that all this will not be raised again.

When it was time to leave, I excused myself to make a phone call from Dr. Stern’s inner office. As I entered, I noticed a large jagged quartz crystal on top of the table near the door. Now, what was that there for if she is not a proponent of energy medicine and the healing power of gemstones and vibrations? Is this just a decoration that psychiatrists put in their offices now to show solidarity with the holistic crowd in the same way all companies claim they are eco-friendly? Or, is it just a nice decoration with no other meaning? All of this I ponder.

Chris’s second visit to the sound shaman

“I was in a good mood that day and was happy to head out into the country. I was well rested and alert, but was slightly irritable, perhaps at the memory of our first trip out where we were delayed and nearly had to turn back. Having already undergone the therapy once before, I knew how it mattered that I be attentive but relaxed, to keep my body open, because this time around I had the tendency to become somewhat passive, which spoils the therapy as it works on the mind especially, and I think partly through the mind then the body.

The therapy lasted less than one hour, but I felt many changes. I tried to dissociate better my feelings about a color, red or green say, and allow the color to dominate my perception with as little judgment as possible. There were flies in the room, which at first I found irritating but later I found this a silly reaction to have, after I became more present in the room. The “sound/colors” themselves aren’t like anything else you’re likely to hear, because they’re pure sounds, they’re as natural as breathing. Once you hear them they take up the room. Listening to a color is much different from listening to Mozart; it’s the difference that having an author makes to the sound, as you follow music in Mozart but hearing the color red for example is like a mosquito bite and not “interesting” per se.

However, I began to fall into a sort of trance, which wasn’t quite sleep, or it was rather an aware sort of sleep that instead of relaxing into my body and dreaming I left my body and begun to experience the room while my body “powered down.” First I began to say to myself, this is just a sound, a basic unrefined sound but just a noise really and then my head refused to make any noise, any comment or utter any “thoughts” as I was released into the space or “aura” around me. I could see my body lying down from four feet away in any direction, and it was the best impression or image of myself that I’ve found in a long time, better than any mirror image can give. Those flies which I found irritating I realized were in harmony with my feelings of irritability which I had carried in with me, and I could fly around the room as if the flies were part of me. The only pain I felt was at the head level, when I could see that a big dark block at my head masked or obstructed this free flow of energy I experienced. To stand up in that state would have been impossible. Just as I was about to fall asleep the music stopped and it was time to go.

The sound technician explained that adepts at yoga, monks or shaman masters train for years to enter such a state, and that I was very lucky to enjoy it so early. That night I slept soundly and experienced a lucid dream in the morning, but this one was much clearer and longer than any I had previously experienced. The dream was pure fantasy or very close; actually it took the form of an episode of The Simpsons! I had been thinking about skiing the night before, and in this dream the Simpson family went skiing high up in the mountains, and Bart and Lisa got involved in the dangers and thrills of racing and jumping. When I felt scared at the outcome, and the dangers posed to the characters was too great, the story changed, based on my emotions. I suddenly had the power to create a dream and change it based on my emotions. The next day as I was reading on my bed in the afternoon I saw a woman wearing white enter the room and tap me on the shoulder, I could feel the touch but the woman I didn’t know, it was still a dream. My head was telling me to get off the bed and do something else, and here was this woman who appeared also compelling me to get up.

However, I don’t believe that this “awareness” the therapy opens within me should be relied on as a permanent change. There are many habits built into me that must be recognized first if I want to avoid becoming a “ghost” that just reacts to every little breeze or stimulus. From a personal point of view, emotion is more important or as important for a person, but mind can increase awareness and therefore enrich the emotional experience. The therapy has made me more aware of the physical manifestations of mental blocks: My head was quite unwilling to leave this form and it stayed there, while my body which has been through countless ordeals was more flexible. It’s interesting to know just how much my body has priority over my head, the sounds reaching all my cells without interference from my mind. The next step would be to train my mind to listen to my body first before the noise of the outside world, and to calm the tensions existing in the body which cause the mind to have fear and to shut down.”