DREAM TRAVEL THERAPY
R – I read somewhere that you traveled the world continuously for
over a decade, and that you brought a big dog with you? That must
have been a great experience!
EC – Yes, Monster and I left our home in 1999 and hit 31 countries on
5 continents in those years-so I can say with confidence that not only
am I one of the most well traveled psychologists in history, but that beyond a
shadow of a doubt, Monster is the most well traveled dog in the history
R – Can you explain briefly what exactly Dream Travel Therapy is?
EC – Time travel. Haha
R – That is brief. Let me ask differently. What do you do and how
does it differ from other psychologists?
EC – I teach dream interpretation to psychologists and lay
people alike and counsel people from all over the world via the internet.
Whether they come to me suffering from depression, or
anxiety, or want to make a positive change in their lives etc.
When I traveled, no matter where I was, I saw first-hand that
folks really do have very similar problems. They are heart-broken.
They are angry. They don’t know what to do. Most folks
are not living out their dreams, but are muddling through life,
oblivious to what really drives them. Freud’s model of the
mind became incontestably real. And the tools he gave us
(free association and dream interpretation) have proven to be
quite powerful. For the first time in human history, we have a means of inquiry
into the subconscious, where the results are both verifiable and repeatable!
R – You’ve stopped your wanderings and for the past 7 years and
have now settled down in China? The New York Times ran a
big story about the incredible growth of psycho-analysis in
China over the last few years. There’s a huge demand for it!
EC – Yes, and not just in China. 20, 30, 40 years ago Freud bashing
was totally in fashion. Actually critics have been trying to bury him for
a century now, but with the latest discoveries in neuroscience
he’s made quite a remarkable comeback. For those interested,
I recommend this interview with the eloquent Mark Holms
Professor of Nueropsychology at the Univeristy of Cape Town
For millions of people across the globe, psycho-analysis
has proven itself over and over again. (In Argentina, for
example, over 30% of the population has reported seeing a
therapist at some time in their lives. Its en vogue.) It has both literally and figuratively saved the lives of countless people. But its one
drawback is that it takes time. Freud himself addressed this
problem when he asked if one suffered from a physical trauma,
would one expect the process of healing to be any quicker? If a
man was shot through the lungs, would he complain that his body
had not healed the wound completely in a couple of weeks? Of course not!
Why should a psychological injury be any less difficult to heal?
So, I started thinking if there was any method of making
this healing period any shorter. Was it possible? It was
during my travels that the idea came to me- would it not
help people to heal themselves in a more efficient manner,
if we could somehow speed up the body’s entire
psychological clock. Outside time would of course,
remain the same, but the bodies inner clock, its
psychological perception of time would hasten all its
psychological processes. I began developing a new form of
pro–active therapy called Dream Travel Therapy. The idea
comes from the simple fact that travel is, in so many ways,
accelerated living. If that premise is allowed, then
it follows logically that any kind of psychological
transformation a subject is going through, will accordingly,
speed up during their physical journey. I mean by this that
(as anyone who has traveled extensively can tell you) one
experiences more during a week long adventure in some
exotic location than one would have had he/she stayed home for a
year sitting in an office staring at a computer 40+ hours a week.
The famous author Henry Miller hit it on the head when he said
“One’s destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things”
And the American author, John Steinbeck,
phrased it even more succinctly when he said “People
don’t take trips. Trips take people.”
So combine the benefits of travel with all the
traditional benefits of psycho-analysis and you can really
begin to understand what an effective strategy this is. Of
course it is not applicable in every case (children for example)
but in most situations it can be just the thing.
But you must understand that it is not simply travel for travel’s sake, only
to return to the same old ugly life situation and negative patterns of thinking.
It is a spiritual journey as much as a physical one. The key thing which
distinguishes Dream Travel Therapy is that the travel must always be done in
conjunction with the psycho-analysis.
R – So its not just getting away for a while to clear one’s head?
EC – Absolutely not. Close communication with the therapist is
the critical element. Dreams analyzed on the road can be quite vivid and powerful!
The value is maximized! Otherwise, you just take a
trip and go home. The vastness of the experience is lost.
Its been common knowledge since ancient times that getting away
can be very refreshing. You go on vacation and leave all your troubles behind,
right? In fact, that’s how I started my travels (and it was so refreshing that
I kept on going and going for over a decade! However its not so convenient for
Everyone to live that way for so very long haha!) So life on the road is great!
However the problem is always the same: You go and you forget your problems,
but unfortunately when you return, your problems are still there waiting for
you (They have not gone on vacation.) Perhaps you feel ok initially, but after
a short while, you fall back into depressio or whatever, and your wonderful trip
seems just like a dream.
R – Yes, that has happened to me! My last trip abroad seems almost unreal to me now!
EC – Its inevitable. It always happens like that, and always will happen like that. The process
is similar to what happens when you get drunk. You go out with your friends and the alcohol
kicks in and you forget your troubles, right? But its nothing more than a temporary escape.
The next morning, nothing has changed. You’ve still got your trouble (with the addition of a hangover ha ha!) Nobody has ever drank their troubles away, and nobody has ever traveled their troubles away.
R- I’ve heard about a popular travel therapy in America. Is that similar to what you are doing?
EC – I’m not very familiar with it, but I believe it is merely an entertainment show, heavy on the travel and quite light on therapy. Perhaps their therapy should be in quotations ha ha! I’ll give you an example. One patient I had, who was suffering from anxiety, told me about one strange dream she had that really perplexed her. Outwardly it did indeed seem very strange, but for anyone familiar with the language of dreams, it was not very hard to interpret at all. And from that sole dream, I strongly suspected that she had been abused at one time in her life. During successive dream analysis, my suspicions were confirmed. It turned out she had been assaulted when she was younger, and the attacker had fled through an open window. The whole episode had been repressed (truly, she could not ‘remember’ any of it until it came out during the psycho-analysis) and her anxiety, which was especially acute near open widows, turned out to have nothing to do with a fear of heights, falling etc. So obviously in these types of situations, the problem isn’t going to disappear by itself. Nor is it going to disappear by taking a relaxing vacation somewhere. And any ‘travel therapist’ who does not have a working knowledge of dream analysis is a therapist in name only. According to Freud (and confirmed by neuroscience) over 90% of your brain activity is unconscious. People may understand this theoretically, but its hard for them to really accept that these desires etc run their lives on a day to day basis. Very few people are living the lives they want to. And most are suffering to a certain extent. Travel without the psycho-analysis is merely a paper tiger. At the same time, psycho-analysis without the travel is very time-consuming. That is why my method is so revolutionary. It captures the moment when your psychological clock is speeding and
freezes it, allowing you to preserve the feeling. Real healing and real growth occurs
so it will not make any difference whatsoever if you return to the same physical location
because psychologically, you’ve already moved on.
In addition to the physical relocation, there is often an extra dimension
added to the formula – some task that needs to be
undertaken- planting a tree or buying a fish at the local
market and releasing it into a nearby lake etc. One of the main goals of my
therapy is to break down the barriers between the self and
community (whether it is the local human community, or the
global environmental community with all its myriad creatures.)
The thing not to lose sight of is that the travel is steeped
deep within the framework of psycho-analytic
methodology and nobody should pack their bags until a
sufficient amount of the ground work has been laid. Dreams are indeed the ‘Royal Road’ to the unconscious, and
it is only under the microscope of dream analysis that
the road to recovery always presents itself. And the travel
is in fact, always directly related to the latent dream
thoughts, and not its manifest content. This is the critical mistake
made by all those who think taking a trip can cure them. They have failed to realize the vital role that their subconscious plays in their unhappiness, anxiety etc. They don’t really understand that less than 10% of their problems are from conscious causes. Its normal to be sad if your boyfriend leaves you, but if the pain is to great, or if you can’t get over it, there is some subconscious forces at work. Perhaps we learn through analysis that it has more to do with your father having left your mother when you were young, – well that’s something to consider. There are issues you have to work through, right? Its so common and yet folks are so skeptical!
R – You mentioned latent dream thoughts and manifest content- maybe you could explain those terms a bit for the readers?
EC – Well, you see, after all, what we are really trying to do
here is come to terms with the emotions trapped deep inside
of us. So we must first identify what the real source of the problem
is. To take a simplistic example: If you go to a doctor because of a pain in your left arm, it does no good to operate on your arm if the real threat to you is an imminent heart attack.
So then, the real problem is identified (latent dream thoughts) and the main idea is that this psychologically supervised travel acts as a catalyst for healing because of the amount of new and different
experiences packed into such a short span of time.
A secondary benefit of Dream Travel Therapy is to help empower
people giving them a sense of self-worth and accomplishment.
The trip is a life affirming event where the person can say ‘yes
I did this. I was successful. I accomplished something’ (besides
the obvious temporary physical escape from a poisonous environment.)
The person immerses themselves in a completely different
atmosphere and receives a fresh, invigorating and
even exhilarating change of perspective. This works especially
well when the subject moves across cultures, either
from a more closed, conservative society into
a more open one, or in the exact opposite direction, from a
modern and progressive society to a more traditional one. (It is equally effective to go from a big city life to a small village or into nature, or to cross into a culture with a different religious tradition.) This is
not to say the person should stay there indefinitely. Nietsche’s Zarathustra must come down from the mountain right? Running away from a problem is by no means ever a solution, and that is
not what I am advocating here- but the person can bring back
the power of the experience with him. He can bring back
a new sense of inner peace, and a feeling of community with
R – It sounds wonderful, but isn’t it prohibitively expensive for some?
EC – Well, first of all, it isn’t always necessary to travel halfway around the world.
That is one effective scenario but even a weekend’s getaway to
a new place can certainly help. The valuable thing is to put oneself
in a new circumstance. So for example, if you are a couch potato
who doesn’t get out much, a camping trip in the middle of the wilderness
would be a good prescription. Or if you have a white collar office job, take
off a week to work on a farm, etc. The idea is to undermine the proverbial
Second, the cost of travel is often used as a self-defense mechanism-
and this is something I’ve lived from my own personal experience. During
my ten years of travels, I sent off many letters to friends, describing
my adventures. Almost all of them responded by saying something
like “Oh you’re so cool! I wish I could do that!” or “You’re living my dream
trip ” etc etc. But the funny thing was that whenever I invited anyone to join
me, down to the last one, they always came up with some reason why they
couldn’t do it. Either, they didn’t have the money, or their families would
worry, or they couldn’t get time off from their job/studies or something like this.
But actually those weren’t real reasons, they were just excuses. Its always
very easy to find a reason not to do something. But the real reason was that
they were afraid and ignorant of their own fears. Its a perfect
example of Freud’s unconscious causing suffering, even to the point of giving
up a dream trip that they would actually love to go on!
Finally, concerning the so-called cost of travel. First, one must consider
the substantial savings you get by reducing the time spent in therapy from
many months/years to just weeks. And in fact, travel costs only as much as
you spend on it. For example, during my travels, I didn’t
stay in any hotels at all. But in calculating the cost of Dream Travel Therapy there is only one critical thing
which has to be considered – the cost of the suffering! In this regard, if
you are really suffering, it becomes absolutely priceless!
R – That’s great! Thank you for your time.
EC – Thank you! I enjoyed it!
Enrique Crow is a psychologist, author, and creator
of a rock opera.