Dream Sociometry Questions and Answers

These questions and answers provide a short background to various topics associated with creating a Dream Sociomatrix. They are linked to the computerized instructions for creating a Dream Sociomatrix and Dream Sociogram, located here. For longer explanations, see Dream Sociometry, or study various examples of Dream Sociometry at IntegralDeepListening.Com, Examples, Dream Sociometry.

What is Dream Sociometry?

  Dream Sociometry interviews animate and inanimate characters and elements in your dreams, nightmares, life issues, near death experiences, current events, historic occurrences, myth, and fiction. You take the role of first yourself and then various other perspectives that are invested in the experience you are investigating. The result is a multi-perspectival and collective reframing of any experience in ways that address issues of importance to you. Dream Sociometry is one facet of Integral Deep Listening, a transpersonal form of dream yoga and integral life practice that identifies and reduces barriers to balance and inner peace while accessing and amplifying sources of same that are authentic and personally relevant. For an overview of the components of Integral Deep Listening, explore the IDL video curricula on this site or see Dillard, J., Waking Up.

What is the purpose of Dream Sociometry?

  The expansion of our sense of self to embrace wider, more encompassing definitions of who we are is fundamental to development. Similarly, much human suffering and misery is caused by definitions of self and self interests that are too narrow to succeed in our particular circumstances.  Creating Dream Sociomatrices supports development by expanding and thinning identity through incorporating ever broadening, more expansive, definitions of self. This skill drives the cultivation of increasing objectivity, a skill and perspectival framework necessary to transcend personalization, a major source of reactivity and a multitude of mental health issues.

Dream Sociometry also teaches and broadens experiential multi-perspectivalism, a skill that is a pre-requisite for the development of empathy and the tabling of assumptions that stand between us and a clearer understanding of how and why we are stuck. At the same time, Dream Sociometry accesses perspectives which are emerging potentials, meaning that they represent problem solving and perspectival possibilities that we can choose to grow into. 

What is the Origin of Dream Sociometry?

JL Moreno, M.D, the creator of psychodrama and a younger contemporary of Freud, was a pioneer in a great variety of group action therapies. He created sociometry to disclose the preferences of groups in order to reorganize them for  improved individual and collective performance of specific tasks, such as studying and problem solving. Dream Sociometry is based on the question, “What if the characters in our dreams, nightmares, and life experiences were treated as members of a sociometric group, their preferences and tabulated and depicted in a variation of Moreno’s sociograms?”

What are some of the uses of Dream Sociometry?

Dream Sociometry has been used to reduce anxiety, eliminate nightmares, treat PTSD, phobias, teach individuals with personality disorders to take the perspective of others, overcome relationship problems between partners, parents and children, improve confidence in children and young adults, reduce the depth and severity of some forms of depression, interpret dreams, give new, broader meaning and relevance to life issues, generate concrete recommendations for the resolution of life issues, and access new, authentic sources of life meaning and purpose.

Where can I find more examples of Dream Sociometry?

This site contains a growing compendium of examples.

Why choose three life issues?

At the beginning of any IDL interview, whether involving the interviewing of multiple characters via Dream Sociometry or individual characters and elements using the IDL individual interviewing protocols, three life issues are stated by the interviewed subject. Life issues anchor the Dream Sociomatrix and interview to concerns that are relevant to you. They provide a way to test the method. Are your issues clearer as a result of creating a Dream Sociomatrix? Do you see new, promising ways to approach them? Have you received recommendations that you can operationalize and test in your daily life to see if your issues continue to resolve themselves? We sometimes have to dig to get to a third life issue, which means that with three life issues we are more likely to not only find one that is a key to understanding the other two, but to gain clarity as to how all three are related.

Why do I write down my associations to the dream, nightmare, or life issue?

In order to support identifying with the perspective or worldview of another character, it is important to “table” your interpretations and assumptions about why you had the dream, life issue, or your interpretations of a historical, mystical, or fictional event.. Otherwise, your interests, emotions, motivations, and intentions will color and contaminate the answers that characters provide. You accomplish nothing if other characters simply parrot your opinions and preferences. Therefore, writing down your associations helps you to get out of the way so you can more effectively and completely access novel and liberating perspectives.

Is it better to work on a dream, nightmare, life issue, world event, mystical experience, or amazing life experience?

Each has its advantages. Generally, it is best to start with those things that are most troubling or interesting to you and, as you gain experience, to experiment with the other possibilities. Life issues are probably the most common category to interview, because these most concern us. 

How do I interview a life issue?

Approach a life issue as if it were a dream and write an account of the experience as if you were recording a dream or nightmare you remember. Here is an example:

Let us say your issue is arguing with some family member. Think of a common, typical argument and describe it. Where does it happen? Who are you arguing with? Who says what? What are the feelings being expressed? Here’s an example:

“My mother has come into my room, yelling at me. She is very angry because I told her I would do stuff, like straighten my room, take out the trash, vacuum, and do my homework, but instead I am playing video games. She is telling me that I don’t love her and I am ruining my life. I yell at her to leave me alone and tell her she drinks too much, is too fat, and no guy will ever want her. I feel bad because I know I have hurt her feelings.“

This example contains a number of characters, and it can help you to place them chronologically across the top of the Dream Sociomatrix if you first list them: You (Dream Self), Mother, Room, Trash, Vacuum Cleaner, Computer, Alcohol, fat, guys. There are more here than you will probably interview, but they all could be listed across the top of the Dream Sociomatrix. But for your first Dream Sociometry, keep it small and simple. For example, on the left for choosers you could pick Dream Self, Mother, Trash, Computer, Guys. That’s enough. The last chooser is always “Dream Consciousness,” or the perspective that incorporates or contextualizes all elements in your Dream Sociomatrix.  

Next, it will help you if you list the actions in your account: entering (Mother comes into room), yelling, (told her I would) do stuff, playing, (telling me I) don’t love her, ruining my life, yell back, (leave me) alone, drinks (too much), (too) fat, rejected (guys won’t want her).

Next, list the emotions in your narrative: angry, complacent (or enjoying own interests), rejection, worried (ruining my life), anger (yell at her), peace (leave me alone), feel bad.

Once you have created your lists you can list as many or as few as you want across the top of the Dream Sociomatrix. Here is a chronological listing of all elements, just as an example: 

Dream Self, Mother, Room, entering, yelling, angry, Trash, Vacuum Cleaner, Computer, playing, complacent, don’t love her, ruining my life, worried, yell back, anger, peace, alone, Alcohol, drinks, fat, guys, rejected, feel bad.

The three types of elements are color coded to distinguish them in the Dream Sociomatrix and Dream Sociogram.

We highly recommend that for your first several interviews you limit yourself to no more than five choosers total and ten chosen elements from the narrative, total. That would be say, three or four  actions and one or two emotions from the above list.

Also notice that there can be ambiguity in listing elements. For example, while “(telling me I) don’t love her” is an action and can be listed as such, “don’t love her” is a feeling. Typically it is enough to just list the feeling element, as feelings are less common than actions in most accounts and elaborations about them often answer questions about their associated actions. 

Why is taking the perspective of various elements important?

We are stuck in our waking perspective and world view. They act as filters that exclude multiple possibilities for resolving conflicts, getting unstuck, and moving forward. When you practice taking alternative perspectives you expand your sense of self, speeding your development while reframing your life issues in broader, more creative ways. You are also broadening your understanding of your dreams in ways that both make sense and teach you, over time, how misleading your waking assumptions about your dreams can be.

How deeply should I identify with any character?

Do your best to fully embody its perspective emotionally as well as intellectually. Treat it like a Greek muse that you are allowing to possess you, even if it is a vacuum cleaner or spider, yet do not dissociate or go into trance. If you do so you will not remember and therefore block your assimilation or integration of the experience. You need to hear, but not interfere. Park yourself, but be present. Cultivate the status of observer and silent witness. Identification enhances all these very important competencies.

What can I do if I have trouble identifying with the perspective of some element?

You know you have not taken the perspective of a character if you are looking at the character you are interviewing instead of looking out at the world from its perspective, as if you were “Mother,” “Trash,” or “Guys.” Difficulty embodying a different perspective boils down to a desire to be in control, generally by analyzing what is going on from “your” point of view. Character identification requires that you “table” your desire to understand and interpret, and instead play, just as you did when you became a teacher or hero when you were five. You will have plenty of time to analyze and interpret the answers after the interview.

Does it make any difference what characters I choose to interview?

Yes. Some will be “surrogates” that will double your waking perspective and therefore add little in the way of a broader reframing of your dream, nightmare, or life issue. Choose enough characters, including inanimate objects, to make it likely you will get a well-rounded presentation of the dream, nightmare, or life issue. Choose at least three besides yourself and Dream Consciousness. You will normally have more chosen characters listed across the top of the sociomatrix than you have choosing characters listed at the left margin, that state preferences.

How big a Dream Sociomatrix should I make?

It is best to start with a small one, with no more than five choosers and ten chosen elements: characters, actions, and feelings. This will force you to choose key elements out of long dreams or content yourself to work on one small scene in a longer dream, nightmare, or waking life drama. Because the elaborations and subsequent questions asked of the interviewed characters are designed to throw light on broader contexts, this is often enough. However, when you become confident, you can try your hand at creating much larger Dream Sociomatrices.

Why do I interview Dream Self first?

Dream Self represents or personifies your waking perspective within the dream or waking life issue. As such, its preferences and elaborations indicate your current world view or orientation to not only your life issues but your life experience within a dream, nightmare, life issue, or your interpretation of historical or fictional events. Interviewing yourself first generates a perspectival baseline and a context with which to compare and contrast the perspectives of other interviewed characters. 

Why do I interview Dream Consciousness?

Dream Consciousness is the name IDL gives the context, holon, or “set” that includes all invested perspectives and transcends them in a way analogous to how weather includes yet transcends snow, clouds, sun, rain, sleet, or wind. As such, Dream Consciousness represents a degree of objectivity that is rarely experienced in waking life, thereby both teaching objectivity and its uses while framing the dream or life issue in a way that may not be captured by the elaborations of any one individual character.

What are the purposes of the Commentaries?

The order and types of questions that characters answer have been worked out by trial and error over some forty years. While hardly the only or best possibility for questioning, they should be followed in order to evaluate the method. For information about the rationale behind each question see Dillard, J., Integral Deep Listening Interviewing Techniques.

What is the purpose of the Dream Sociometric Commentary?

As each character states its preferences, motives for those preferences arise. The Dream Sociometric Commentary collects those motives, called “elaborations,” so that they may be compared and contrasted to gain understanding of various factors that contributed to the generation of a dream and either maintain some life issue or offer alternatives to your present approach to it. 

What is the purpose of the Dream Summary Commentary?

The series of questions in this commentary are designed to maintain and deepen character identification and interpret the meaning and purposes of the character, its worldview, and the experience itself from its perspective, not yours. The Dream Summary Commentary also collects the perspective of Dream Consciousness.

What is the purpose of the Dreamage?

The Dreamage is a consensual rewrite of the dream or life issue. The dreamage functions as a collective metaphor of balance and integration regarding the dream, nightmare, or life issue that can be used as a pre-sleep incubation, in the innate consensual language of the interviewed perspectives, of higher order problem solving and functioning. If there is no consensus, there is no dreamage possible. If everyone is happy with the dream or life issue as it is, then it functions as its own dreamage.

What is the purpose of the Waking Commentary?

Each interviewed character is given the opportunity to express how it would live your life if it were in charge and how it would handle your life issues. None of these characters are gods; none have all the “right” answers for every issue. Some will be specialists and will have a lot to say about one issue but will not care about other issues that are vitally important to you. However, some characters are very likely to also care about issues ignored by others. Interviewed perspectives are taken under advisement; you are not expected to take them seriously or to act on any of them unless they make sense, seem helpful, and are worth your time and energy.

What is the purpose of the action plan?

Interviewed characters often make recommendations. The action plan collects and operationalizes them so the recommendations and the method itself can be tested. This keeps Dream Sociometry from being a tool for gaining short-lived cathartic insights, quickly forgotten. The discipline of accountability that the action plan creates makes Dream Sociometry into a form of yoga. It is a dream yoga in that it does not differentiate among the reality of dreams, nightmares, waking life issues, and other forms of interviewing. It is a transpersonal dream yoga in that it is a form of experiential multi-perspectivalism. Multi-perspectivalism generates many authentic and useful definitions of self that transcend the various social identities that we take on at home, work, and in our social life. As such, these identities transcend yet include persona, or personal, socially conditioned definitions of self. They also include any potential definition of self, including Self, or identity as one with everything. This is because they are by definition alternative and therefore broader than whatever self definition one currently possesses.

What is the purpose of the Identification Commentary?

Each character is given a chance to share when it thinks its perspective or world view would be most useful to become and identify with in the course of your waking or dream life. This becomes a recommendation that you can include in your action plan and test. What is the result when you “become” your interviewed Trash when your mother criticizes you?

Q&A for Understanding the Dream Sociogram

These questions and answers provide a short background to various topics associated with creating a Dream Sociomatrix. For longer explanations, see Understanding the Dream Sociogram, or study various examples  of Dream Sociometry at IntegralDeepListening.Com.

Purpose of the Dream Sociogram

The Dream Sociogram provides a bird’s eye or disembodied, objective, witnessing perspective on relationships among preferring choosers (characters) and preferred chosen elements (characters, actions, and feelings) in a dream, nightmare, life issue, special life event, current, historical, or fictional event. These groups are called intrasocial, because they are comprised of elements of indefinite ontology. Due to their objectivity and autonomy, they cannot be said to be entirely self-creations; due to the fact that they are indeed self-creations and projections, they can never be said to be completely objective and independent “others.” Intrasocial groups provide subjective sources of objectivity to provide checks and balances to common sense (including conscience and intuition) and the opinions and diagnoses of others (authorities, scripture, family, and friends). 

Construction of the Dream Sociogram

Each concentric circle represents a degree of preference, with positive preferences to the top and right and negative preferences to the bottom and left. Four number lines with positive and negative poles depict choosing characters (the vertical Acceptance Axis), and chosen elements (the diagonal Form Axis, for chosen characters, from positive bottom right to negative top left, the horizontal Process axis, for chosen actions, from positive right to negative left, and the diagonal Affect Axis, for chosen emotions, from positive top right to negative bottom left). The center represents choosers and chosen with no preferences or, at the other extreme, choosers and chosen with equal total positive and negative preferences (3/3, 9/9). 

The Acceptance Axis

The Acceptance Axis depicts which choosing perspectives are most preferring and which are most rejecting.  For an understanding of these relationships, consult the various elaborations.

The Form Axis

The Form Axis depicts which chosen characters are most preferred and which are most rejected.

The Process Axis

The Process Axis depicts which chosen actions are most preferred and which are most rejected.

The Affect Axis

The Affect Axis depicts which chosen emotions are most preferred and which are most rejected.

Types of Patterns of Element Placement

The following pattern types are explained in detail in Understanding the Dream Sociogram, Chapters 14 and 15.

All positive placements

It is possible for all choosers and chosen to be on the positive poles of all axes, creating accepting/accepted (+/+) patterns, or very highly accepting/accepted (+/+)* patterns. These patterns are called synthesis and high synthesis patterns, because they are statements of balance, integration, and interdependent support. These patterns are no more important than any other and the goal of Dream Sociometry is not to attempt to generate all synthesis patterns, because that would indicate an absence of opposition and challenge necessary for growth.

All negative placements

While theoretically possible, (-/-) and (-/-)* patterns, in which all choosers and chosen elements are rejected or highly rejected, do not exist in Dream Sociometry. This is because rejecting characters will generally prefer themselves, their surrogates, actions, and feelings, even if ambivalent. 

Inverted “nightmare” placements

Nightmares, wars, personal and historical catastrophes do not necessarily create nightmare Dream Sociogram intrasocial collectives. In these patterns rejecting choosers are in the majority, placed on the positive pole of the Acceptance Axis while normally preferring choosing elements are in the minority, placed by their preferences on the negative pole of the Acceptance Axis. Nazi Germany provides a classical example, but on a personal level, this pattern often depicts addiction. Nightmare patterns will generally be a subset of ( / ) or (-/ ) patterns.

Oppositional or conflictual placement patterns

Most Dream Sociograms are of this type, because we tend to be most interested in working on problems or conflicts that interfere with our lives, or the loudest patterns that catch our attention, and these are typically oppositional in one way or another. These are synthesis patterns, in which choosers are all on the positive end of the Acceptance Axis but one or more element line has both positive and negative placements. These create (+/ ) patterns and are very common. The other option includes opposition on the Acceptance Axis as well, generating ( / ) patterns. Both are quite common. Their frequency could be an artifact of our subjective preferences themselves rather than evidence that most dreams depict conflict or that life is basically about conflict. 

These patterns tell you which perspectives are in conflict with each other, whether the conflict is essentially about clashes of world views (Acceptance axis bipolarity), attitudes (Form Axis conflicts), behavior (Process Axis conflicts), or emotions (Affect Axis conflicts) or all three. These relationships, clarified by the various elaborations, can help you pinpoint your blind spots and the recommendations can provide you with possible avenues for amelioration to explore. 

“Impossible” patterns

Some patterns can conceivably exist in waking life or in our imaginations and therefore be portrayed in fiction, but do not show up in intrasocial groups. These are noted above in the chart and explained in Understanding the Dream Sociogram. 

Q&A for the Dream Sociogram Commentaries

These questions and answers provide a short background to various topics associated with creating a Dream Sociogram Commentaries. For longer explanations, see the final chapters of Dream Sociometry, or study various examples  of Dream Sociometry at IntegralDeepListening.Com.

The Sociogram Commentary

These elaborations are your interpretations of the Dream Sociogram, including what you make of the placements of the elements on their various axes and their relationships to their fellows on an axis as well as to other elements on the other three axes. Its purpose is to generate objectivity regarding those issues associated with your interviewed narrative. 

The Dream Group Dynamics Commentary

The Dream Sociogram doesn’t just represent you and your interests, but those of each of its members.  In this Commentary, the various interviewed characters are provided with an opportunity to express their thoughts on their relationships with their fellow interviewed characters as they are depicted in the Dream Sociogram. Looking at the entire pattern from their individual perspectives expands your own interpretation of the Dream Sociogram and thereby your understanding of the life issues with which it deals. 

“What I am saying to myself is…”

This Commentary summarizes the core messages you are getting from all of these interviewed perspectives, their elaborations, and their relationships. You can then use this information to improve your action plan. Look back over the various elaborations for statements that you have underlined when they were made, to indicate their particular significance for you. Collect them and write them as “I” messages – statements you are making to yourself about yourself. For example, “People need to stop picking on me!” changes to, “I need to stop criticizing myself.”  “Everything is meaningless,” becomes, “I think everything is meaningless.” “I love the way you dealt with that difficult situation,” changes to, “I love the way I dealt with that difficult situation.” I messages emphasize ownership and responsibility, since these interviewed perspectives in part represent aspects of yourself.

The Dream Group Feedback Commentary

What do the members of the group think of your interpretations? Do they share the same life issues or do they have different ones that they think are more important? What do they think about your action plan? Is it realistic? Do they think it will succeed? How do they think it can be improved? The purpose of this Commentary is to solicit and integrate the support of the entire group in making those life changes that you want to pursue as a result of your experience with Dream Sociometry.

For more information, contact joseph.dillard@gmail.com. While IDL does not accept advertising or sponsored postings, we gratefully accept donations of your time, expertise, or financial support.