Help us sharing our research, consultation and experiences

Donate Now

The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

AM22-PP14: The Psycho-social Dream Group: A New Dream Group Paradigm?

Parallel Papers Session 4
Saturday 2 July 2.45pm-4:00pm (14.45-16.00) CEST
Paper Code: PP14
CE credits available

The Psycho-social Dream Group: A New Dream Group Paradigm

Presenter: George Bermudez


Lawrence’s “social dreaming” paradigm widened our dream lens to embrace the socio-centric aspect of our unconscious mental lives—encouraging us to see dreams as belonging to all of us, reflecting our inter-connectedness. Dreams shared are associated to by everyone in the group and the emergent themes are regarded as reflecting a shared cultural unconscious. However, “social dreaming” practice divorced us from the dreamer’s subjectivity, which, while embedded in historical, inter-generational, institutional, and intersubjective dynamics, remains a personal, private , and often dissociated self-experience. There is a need for group dreamwork that addresses the intersection of communally shared experience and intimate subjective experience.

This presentation will describe and provide an experience a new type of group dreamwork, “the psycho-social dream group”, and its relevance for the non-binary exploration of the “implicate order” (Bohm, 1995), the social unconscious, and of the socially "implicated subjectivity” outlined by Rothberg ( 2019).

Bohm proposed that human experience and consciousness was enfolded in an implicate order which was best represented by the metaphor of a hologram—in which the whole is contained in each sub-region or element of the hologram.

Rothberg has persuasively proposed that, in order to comprehensively grasp our personal and historical embeddedness in group and cultural experience, we need to expand our vocabulary beyond the traditional language and develop new categories which may help us collectively and individually reflect and act in more creatively responsible ways beyond the conventional binaries. This presentation will discuss the “psychosocial dream ” process, suggesting that it provides a uniquely generative pathway for embracing , witnessing, and working through the nexus of the implicate, the social unconscious , and intimate but dissociated socially “implicated subjectivity”.

My intuition has led me to experiment with new type Dream Group process—a Psycho-social Dream Group which would integrate elements from both the “Social Dreaming Matrix” (SDM) pioneered by Gordon Lawrence at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (Manley, 2014) and the “Dream Appreciation” dream group approach developed by Montague Ullman (Ullman, 1984). The Dream Group experience could then facilitate learning about the unconscious organizing impact of historical, inter-generational, community. institutional, intersubjective, and intrapsychic dynamics.

In contrast, Ullman’s prescribed process, focusing on the personal unconscious, encourages each participant, seeking help from others in the group, to share a dream, then group members offer their interpretations of the meaning of the dream as if it were their personal dream—with the presenting member always retaining the option to end the process at any stage, if he or she feels unsafe. The dreamer always has complete authority over the meaning of his or dream, over privacy, and over meaningful application to his or her life.

Learning Objectives:

After this session participants will be able to

  1. apply a group dream work approach integrating both personal and social unconscious.
  2. distinguish between generative new thinking and traumatic processing in dreams.
  3. apply techniques to facilitating group dreamwork that enhance safety and containment.

Biographic Summary

George Bermudez, Ph.D., Psy.D. is a Psychologist/Psychoanalyst, Training & Supervising Psychoanalyst, at the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis-Los Angeles; Director of the Child /Family Studies Specialization at Antioch University-Los Angeles (AULA). Dr. Bermudez has presented on social dreaming, the social unconscious, and collective trauma at regional, national, and international professional conferences. Author of the article, “The Social Dreaming Matrix as a Container for the Processing of Implicit Racial Bias and Collective Racial Trauma” (International Journal of Group Psychotherapy), Dr. Bermudez is developing a synthesis of social dreaming and community psychoanalysis that contributes to the engendering of “deliberative democracy”.