Friday, January 12, 2007

Social conscience

When I was in uni, I was told that to be a good clinical psychologist, I had to be able to distance myself from my patients. If I cared too much about them and became too involved in their lives, I would be the one who would need help. There was also the issue of transference, where I take upon myself the problems and issues that the patients presented. Because of this, I thought to myself that clinical psychology wouldn't be a good field for me to go into. I would become anorexic, bulimic, depressed and suicidal all at the same time if those were the patients I was seeing at that time.

I was recently reminded of this when a therapist that we work with remarked that I had an incredible amount of empathy, that I cared so much about other people that it could sometimes become detrimental to me. I agreed with him and told him that's why I, even though it makes me feel like a rotten human being, don't like being near sick and old people, people who are mentally or physically handicapped etc. It's also the same reason why I had issues reading about animal abuse or human rights abuse as seen recently with the Blood Diamond post.

And last night, this tremendous wealth of empathy welled up in me and featured powerfully in my dreams. I read yesterday about the US were considering putting polar bears on the endangered list because the melting of the polar ice caps were causing them to die out, often by drowning. I felt extremely sad about that one. I have an affinity for polar bears, not because of Inuka like many other Singaporeans but because when I first moved to Melbourne and was terribly homesick, my flat mate introduced me to Lars, the little polar bear and bought me the Lars and his daddy in their stuffed toy versions. This gave me great comfort and I've been attached to Lars ever since.

Anyway, last night I dreamt about being at a resort and there were dolphins and polar bears swimming in the ocean (ok, I know in real life, polar bears DO NOT live in the ocean) but who said my dreamscape was normal? Anyway, a friend of ours found a baby polar bear and kept it in a giant bowl of ice. It was extremely cute but in my dream I knew I had to release it because we were checking out and it was a little baby. The entire dream was my journey to release it. One, I couldn't find the right ocean. The oceans I found were all too warm and I was getting increasingly panicky because the bear was growing bigger and his fur was getting warmer and I didn't want him to die. So search and search, eventually I realised that the ocean was just in front of the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore where we were staying. And I heaved a sigh of relief when I got there, especially because there was air conditioning for the bear that was now living on my back and getting increasingly droopy from the heat. But at the hotel, I couldn't get anyone to point me to the ocean. They kept pointing me to the river and I knew I couldn't let him go in the river cos it was dirty and it was too warm. There I was, running round like a headless chicken, feeling extremely anxious about the bear, whom I had grown extremely attached to and there was no ocean to be found! At that point, I woke up. When I realised that I hadn't fulfilled my mission, I tried very hard to go back to sleep so that I could release the bear, but I couldn't.

Up to now, I still feel some guilt at not having freed my little polar bear. Never mind that polar bears don't live in oceans nor is there an ocean at the mouth of the Fullerton Hotel, I failed in doing my part to save the endangered species. Packrat thinks I'm crazy, as he usually does when I tell him about my dreams. But it truly and really is the first time I've dreamed about trying to save animals.

Any quirky dream interpreters out there that want to hazard where this dream is leading to?

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 08:06

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