Dreams Money Can Buy

  • Robert W. Rieber
Part of the Path in Psychology book series (PATH)


We have observed the institutionalization of distress as it reveals itself in several personal and social phenomena. These include the pathology of normalcy, the social breakdown of the mass society, the loss of personal reverence, the decline of the family and the neighborhood, the institutionalization of the value conflict, and the elaboration of the seven institutionalized Stressors. Throughout the preceding chapters, we have examined the extent to which certain degrees of normalized psychopathy have become a part of everyday life, as evidenced, for instance, in the character of various national heroes, spanning the outlaw of the wild frontier and the gangster of the modern metropolis.” From characters like P. T. Barnum to W. C. Fields, Ronald Reagan to Charles M. Keating, Jr., the social conditions fostering the attitude constitute the foundations of American pluralism. The readiness to cast aside the veneer of respectability, exemplified by Mark Twain’s advice to the uncertain, “When in doubt, tell the truth,” makes up an indispensable mark of the American national character.


Comic Strip Serial Killer Grand Jury Star Trek Social Distress 
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  1. 1.
    This lyric, like the one in Thunderball, reveals an important theme in the James Bond movie saga. First, dreams are for sale and you’ve got to pay for them. Second, you make your wishes come true by acting them out. And third, you’ve got to be a “doppelganger,” i. e., dissociate or divide your consciousness, in order to act out your dreams.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    It is of interest to add here the fact that adults acquire—or understand—the more abstract aspects of a natural language, such as syntax, semantics, and pragmatics, while children are better with the acquisition of lexical items and phonological rules. For example, an adult would more easily recognize the meaning in context of a regularly conjugated verb, whereas a child would be more prone to remembering and pronouncing correctly an irregular verb.Google Scholar
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    The Jungian notion of archetypes is very similar to the idea we are introducing of the universal symbol. Our interpretation of dreams, however, does not necessarily coincide with that of Jung.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    The Freudian interpretation of dreams, one of the best-known theories, explains the function of dreams as a way for individuals to express and fulfill certain unconscious wishes that come from repressed thoughts believed by the individual to be unacceptable. This more restrictive interpretation, however, does not constitute the frame of reference we wish to use in our interpretation of dreams.Google Scholar
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    Lakoff discusses how the unconscious metaphor system helps to structure thought processes as well as dream processes. For further information see G. Lakoff, “How Metaphors Structure Dreams,” Dreaming, 3(2):77–98.Google Scholar
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    We may conceive of the dream process, or “work,” as Freud called it, as the type of event that is not so, at least in the form that it is given to us. What the dream language means is to be found or interpreted in the process that was developed first in the dream itself (i. e., the story) and in the unfolding dialectic process, which includes the interpersonal as well as the broader social context involved in the interpretation.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    My interpretation of the collective unconscious does not adhere to specific assumptions made by Jung.Google Scholar
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    “In der ganzen Geschiechte des Menschen ist kein Kapitel unterrichtender für Herz und Geist als die Annalen seiner Verirrungen.” Der Verbrecher aus Verlorener Ehre.Google Scholar
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    E. Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Random House, 1983).Google Scholar
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    T. S. Elliott, from “The Wind Sprang up at Four O’Clock.”Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    It would prove almost impossible to create here a complete catalogue of all social dreams portraying the theme of social distress and institutionalized psychopathy. The following, however, deserve honorable mention as social dreams quite pertinent to but not included in our discussion. The very popular films about the Mafia, from Godfather to the most recent Goodfellas, depict the problem of institutionalized distress quite clearly. The Jack Lemmon film Save the Tiger, about an industrial garment merchant and manufacturer in New York City, also conveys our theme of interest, as the merchant is trapped by social distress into becoming an arsonist to save his business. The film Bonfire of the Vanities, based on the very popular book of the same title, also unveiled the problems related to social distress, especially at the end when a black judge accuses the entire chamber of unethical deeds and irresponsibility. Finally, another social dream we must mention is the film Pacific Heights. It is the story of a young unmarried couple that invests in an apartment only to be victimized by the tenant, a psychopath who drives them to violence. The law goes on the side of the psychopath, forcing the victimized couple to become psychopaths in order to survive. This problem, driving normal people to vigilante tactics, was the main subject matter for the Charles Bronson films. The psychopath uses the law in his favor, and the trusting victims, who try to do the common decent thing, are driven to take the other more violent and unlawful action, only to be convicted in the end.Google Scholar
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    Metropolis was a UFA film made in Germany during the 1920s. It depicts a futuristic ultracomputerized society where the easy manipulation of the masses takes place by means of information media.Google Scholar
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    See Chapter 6 for a further discussion.Google Scholar
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    In Stone’s rather surrealistic and futuristic film, the question as to what the mind understands as real in the world is played with as a theme that interacts with high technology and manipulation of the minds of human beings and the world that they live in.Google Scholar
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    Written in the 1950s, a book by Philip Wiley, The Disappearance, presents a nightmarish social dream about the self-defeating battle of the sexes. On a certain unhappy day, all women disappear and exist in a parallel world to that of the men. In both worlds, the separate sexes must deal with the outcome and devise ways to survive.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    The media has announced that in order to keep up with the times and be politically correct, Superman will be transformed into a many splendored thing—the multicultural Superman. The question still remains, where will it all end? Clearly, a multicultural Superman reflects the spirit of the times, where not only does the hyphenated American claim victim status but also needs its antithesis status—Superman status—to make up for it.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    “Katzenjammer” in German means hangover.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert W. Rieber
    • 1
  1. 1.John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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