The Power of Dreams acts as a practical handbook that can be used over the course of a month. Gerard Condon analyses and discusses the scientific, psychological, theological and spiritual sides of sleep and dreaming in this easily accessible and interesting book.
Gerard is a Diocesan Adviser for Religious Education in the Diocese of Cloyne. He is a visiting lecturer in Spirituality at the Milltown Institute and at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. His doctorate on the religious significance of dreams was awarded by the Gregorian University, Rome in 2002
Each night during sleep we enter an altered state of consciousness. Our dreams subject us to amazing switches of time and place. We are engaged by terrifying and enchanting emotions. The mind brings out from its storeroom things both old and new (Mt 13:52). In the course of the twentieth century, science, psychology and theology have developed distinct approaches to oneirology, the study of dreams. By following this four week programme you will gain insight from these disciplines and learn to see a spiritual dimension in your dreams.
Psychology provides the most comprehensive framework for the study of dreams. Todays spiritual dreamwork is largely inspired by the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961). In opposition to his erstwhile mentor Sigmund Freud (18561939), Jung asserted that spirituality is essential for mental health. He retrieved an ancient tradition that, in some cases, dreams are sent by God (1).
The notion that God can communicate with human beings in dreams is clearly affirmed in the Bible and Christian tradition. Jacobs dream of a ladder connecting heaven and earth is exemplary:
Taking one of the stones of the place,
he put it under his head and lay down.
And he dreamed there was a ladder set up on the earth,
the top of it reaching to heaven....
And the Lord stood beside him and said,...
Know that I am with you
and will keep you wherever you go....
Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said,
Surely the Lord is in this place , and I did not know it! ...
How awesome is this place!
This is none other than the house of God,
and this is the gate of heaven.
So Jacob rose early in the morning,
he took the stone that he had put under his head,
and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it.
Jacob had the dream at a time of rivalry with his brother Esau to win the favour of their father, Isaac. The experience resonated with the awe-inspiring numinosity of a divine encounter. It assured him of Gods support. Next day Jacob took the stone he had used for a pillow and set it up as a shrine. He called the place Bethel (Gen 28:19), which means the house of God. Much to his surprise, Jacob considered the dream itself a sanctuary, a dwelling place for the divine.
Among the earliest recorded dreams in Christian tradition are those of St Perpetua prior to her martyrdom on March 7, 203 (2). This account describes dreaming as a charism, a gift of the Spirit. In one dream, Perpetua, like Jacob, sees a ladder leading to heaven. It injures those mounting it that do not keep looking upwards. Perpetua imagined herself and her fellow Christian prisoners steadfastly climbing the ladder. She awoke comforted by the insight that she could and would remain strong in her faith.
A theology of dreams is found in several ancient Christian writers. Tertullian (160-220), the first Latin-based theologian, went so far as to state that the majority of people derive their knowledge of God through dreams (3). Bishop Synesius of Cyrene (c.370-c.414) wrote On Sleep, a substantial treatise on dreamwork and its role in the spiritual life. More than a millennium later, Jeronimo Graci?ín (1545-1614), the confessor of St Teresa of Avila, listed dreams as the tenth in his twelve ways of the Holy Spirit.
The decline of theological reflection on dreams began in the late Middle Ages as Christian spirituality came to be identified with official dogmas and practices accessed through the use of reason. Dreams were viewed as being too personal and irrational to be sources for an orthodox spirituality. Christian theology focuses ocuses on the Christ event as the origin and summit of all revelation about God. It benchmarks any personal spiritual insights, such as those gained from dreams, against the revelation of God in Jesus.
Today, the secular disciplines of science and psychology have replaced theology as the dominant forums for discussing dreams. Yet many people want to look at their dreams through the lens of spirituality. The dream, like religion, is a source of guidance and a gateway to mystery. Spiritual dreamwork is particularly encouraged in that broad church known as the New Age. My aim is to retrieve a sense of the religious relevance of dreams for mainstream Christianity.
We are, as Shakespeare put it, such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.` Dreams engage us on wavelengths far broader than the rational language which dominates theology. In our technological age, people yearn for moments of personal encounter with the divine. Experiencing God has become as important as understanding God. Dreamwork promotes that sense of wonder and personal identity which is foundational for a relationship with the divine. Reaching out to God paradoxically requires us to look into the depths of ourselves. In coming closer to the truth about yourself, you will also find yourself standing more closely with Christ before the Father.
From these comments it should be clear that the spirituality of dreams does not involve seeking out spectacular nocturnal apparitions. Christian dreamwork is more to do with ourselves than God. It is based on the claim that Gods Spirit is evident in our unconscious dreams as well as our conscious thoughts. Dreamwork gives a larger picture of the personality than that offered by waking life alone. Its aim is to make us more completely disposed to the mutual truths of personal existence and Gods quietly insistent presence in our lives.
Professional and non-professional dreamwork
The study of dreams has developed in three distinct ways over the past one hundred and fifty years (5). Nineteenth century dreamwork, influenced by the Enlightenment, consisted largely of scientific observation. At the same time, the Romantic reaction against science initiated an artistic approach to dream analysis. This was foundational to the psychological methods of Freud and Jung. In the past fifty years new medical technology has revived the scientific approach. Most recently a movement for the democratisation of dream analysis has emerged. An appreciation for the dreamwork conducted in traditional cultures coupled with the emergence of dreamgroups has promoted the use of dreams in a public setting outside the therapists studio and the sleep laboratory. The present work belongs to this emerging perspective.
Advocates of non-professional dreamwork advise caution. A formal qualification in psychology is a better foundation for dream interpretation than commonsense. Our method uses insights from psychology; however, like a little bit of surgery, such selective reading can be misleading. Amateur dreamwork tends to make premature and facile interpretations. A professional analyst is more likely to see the dream objectively and make reliable connections with the personal and cultural context of the dreamer. In personal dreamwork, the possibility of achieving accurate insight is reduced by a resistance to the generally compensatory message of the dream. In other words, our desire to avoid the challenging truth posed by a dream, may lead to a distortion of its message. Furthermore, the stimulation of the unconscious by dream analysis poses some risk of mental disturbance, something which only the professionally trained therapist can manage. Non-professional dreamwork is only appropriate for individuals with normal mental functioning.
The strategy suggested here is a matter of dream appreciation. We do not aim to analyse ourselves or others in a psychotherapeutic fashion. Jung held that dreams are carefully phrased and relatively transparent messages from the unconscious. Our approach conceives dreamwork as a gateway to a more considered life and a more comprehensive sense of our place in the world. This should enhance rather than threaten mental health. However, the wisdom of limiting dreamwork should be noted. Waking thoughts and decisions are the foundation for responsible living. The Bible warns that dreams can provoke idle worrying or a desire to have knowledge that is reserved to God alone (Dent 13:1-5; Eccl 5:3; Sir 40:5). Theologians from Tertullian to Thomas Aquinas have stated that in dreams the sleeper is sensitive to the voices of demons as well as angels. A Christian approaches the chaotic world of the unconscious with caution and judges the fruits of dreamwork in the light of the gospel.
How to use this programme
This programme provides insights into the science, psychology, theology and spirituality of dreams for each day of a lunar cycle. Set aside a few minutes at a regular time each day to study the assigned input. While each of the daily readings is self-contained, the themes chosen are given in logical succession and are intended to cumulatively contribute to your knowledge, understanding and skills concerning dreams and dreamwork.
You are also invited to begin a personal journal or make additional use of an existing journal. Narrating and writing about your own dreams will best illustrate the principles outlined in the readings. Continue or begin to write about your everyday experience, as dreams are generally a response to your conscious life. You might also react to the assigned reading from this book. To this end a reflection question or activity for each day is suggested in Appendix A.
On awakening each morning try to remember a few key images from a dream of the previous night on a note-pad at your bedside. Later that day use these notes to write out the full dream story in your journal. Out of respect for the dream, it should simply be an objective account and avoid interpretation. Still later set aside some space in your journal to record an analysis of the dream. In your analysis, pay particular attention to the feelings evoked by the images, because dreams frequently portray emotions in picture-form. Also note your personal and cultural associations with the key images. Ask yourself in relation to each element of the dream: What does this represent for me? The people and objects in dreams usually embody aspects of the dreamers own personality.
Dreams are normally quite difficult to remember. However, the decision to follow this course will undoubtedly improve your dream recall. Do not be surprised if you have one or two really significant dreams during the next month. Jung noticed that spectacular dreams sometimes occur at the beginning of dreamwork.6 Such dreams outline a grand vision of your life that will provide key insights into its meaning. So called initial dreams tend to be transparent in meaning in contrast with the obscurity of many others.
This book can be used with others in a dreamgroup. Each member of the group agrees to follow the programme day-by-day, while the weekly meeting provides a forum for the sharing of insights and dreamwork. The dreamgroup is a non-professional forum. It should have the friendly atmosphere of storytelling at a family gathering rather than the serious tone of group psychotherapy. The leader is responsible for the formation of the group and efficient running of the meetings. His or her role is enhanced by background knowledge of oneirology.
Participation in a dreamgroup stimulates dream recall and gives practice in the skill of dream analysis. It fosters accountability in the discipline of examining ones dreams. The circumspect language of dreams facilitates self-disclosure in a safe and oftentimes humorous way. The exercise builds strong ties of community as dreams concern those fundamental joys and sorrows where we all find common ground.
When conducted in the context of a faith community such as a parish or theology institute, spiritually themed dreams are likely to be contributed. Many of the insights provided in this book will make for discussions based on the Bible and Christian tradition. The meetings could well begin or end with some time in prayer. Exemplary vocal prayers are given in Appendix B. Jesus of Nazareth frequently brought people to new life simply by gathering them together in innovative ways (Lk 5:29-32; 7:3650; 8:19-21; 14:7-24). Group dreamwork may provide one such forum for spiritual growth today.
Ideally the dreamgroup should be made up of six to nine people and meet on each occasion for sixty to eighty minutes to discuss a dream presented by one or two members, depending on the size of the group. Before the dreamwork, the leader can facilitate discussion on the previous weeks readings from this book and offer some additional insights from his/her own back-around reading. Then a dream is shared by one of the members according to the ground rules and procedure outlined in Appendix C. When two members have agreed to contribute a dream, the leader might briefly preview the following weeks readings in an interval between the two cases. In most dream-groups the leader does not contribute a personal dream so as to preserve his/her role as a facilitator throughout the programme.
I suggest that the dreamgroup meet on five occasions as follows:
Meeting 1: Orientation Meeting
The leader distributes this book to the group, explains the procedure of the meetings and reviews this introduction. A sample dream from an anonymous source is provided by the leader and analysed according to the method in Appendix C. At the end of this and each of the following gatherings, one or two members pledge to share an upcoming dream at the next encounter.
Meeting 2: At the Conclusion of Week One
Most of the readings for the first week concern scientific findings about sleep. Participants might share their own experiences of sleep hygiene issues and their ability to manage dream retrieval. Days 5 and 6 are based on a Jungian approach to remembering the dream and telling its story in a dedicated dream log. The final input for the week links the ability to fall asleep with religious faith.
Meeting 3: At the Conclusion of Week Two
In the readings of the second week the key insights of psychology on the nature, function and interpretation of dreams are summarised. An introduction to Sigmund Freuds theory of dreams is provided on Day 1. All subsequent inputs are based on Jungs approach to oneirology. The leader might prepare some additional information or illustrations on the life and times of Carl Jung.
Meeting 4: At the Conclusion of Week Three
The readings of the third week are theological reflections on the question of dreams as a vehicle for Gods presence. The perspectives found in the Bible and Christian tradition are summarised. The leader might use the Bible to elaborate some of the scriptural references included.
Meeting 5: At the Conclusion of Week Four
The final meeting reviews the spirituality of dreamwork. The focus here is on putting dreamwork at the service of religious living. The programme examines the potential of dreams for determining your myth or personal vocation from God. Members might also share any inklings of their ownmyth. The last event of the programme could well conclude with some celebratory refreshments.
The theological method of this programme is inductive. We begin with the human experience of sleeping and dreaming and look therein for traces of Gods presence. Much of the Reformed or Protestant tradition has been deductive, beginning from revelation about God in the Bible and setting the natural and supernatural orders in a confrontational dialogue. The Catholic imagination, on the other hand, thinks that the very commonness of everyday things harbours the eternal marvel and silent mystery of God and his grace (7). Following this model, dreams can be considered among the countless opportunities for contemplating the Creator that fill creation.
From an inductive perspective the science and psychology of dreams constitutes a legitimate starting point for theological reflection on the subject. Science, to paraphrase Albert Einstein, is lame without religion. The science of psychology, and in particular Jungian psychology, has a profound sympathy for the religious instinct. However, scientific disciplines are essentially not well disposed to a Christian reading of dreams. They remain focused on what is natural and cannot fully engage with the supernatural images of God which Christians derive from Jesus. It is not surprising that Jungs psychology of religion, because it is based on human experience more than divine revelation, contains many elements that are contrary to Christian doctrine.
I have adopted the dispensation given to the people of Israel and since used by all theologians who are inductive in outlook. God allowed the Hebrews to plunder gold from pagan Egypt as they set out on the journey to the Promised Land (Ex 11:2; 12:3536). Similarly, this study uses insights from science and psychology in an aggiornamento (updating) of the ancient Christian respect for dreams. Not only are we looking for spiritual jewels in the natural sciences, but bringing the light of the gospel to bear on the chaotic world of the dream.
This is in keeping with an important principle of Christian theology which states that divine grace does not destroy nature but makes it perfect (8). Christianity seeks not to radically alter creation, but recognise its innate potential and bring about its fulfillment. We are already made in Gods image, but we can still grow in divine likeness (Gen 1:26). May this months dreamwork advance Gods vision in you.
Day 1: Getting to Sleep
The Encyclopedia Britannica defines sleep as a normal, easily reversible, recurrent and spontaneous state of decreased and less efficient responsiveness to external stimulation (9). It is a basic human need. Signs of sleepiness include yawning, stretching and a drooping of the eyelids. After eighteen hours of wakefulness the average adult strongly feels the need to be asleep. Reaction time slows, much as if alcohol has been consumed. Unexpected microsleeps begin to occur, whereby the train of thought is momentarily lost (10). After twenty four hours of being awake the need for sleep becomes overwhelming. The record for the longest period of continuous wakefulness in a sleep laboratory setting is held by Randy Gardner of San Diego who remained awake for 264 hours in December 1963.
The Stanford Sleepiness Scale is a self-rated instrument which indicates the degree of tiredness averaged over one hour. What number are you at the moment?
Feeling active and vital
Functioning at high level and able to concentrate
Relaxed and responsive
A little foggy, not functioning at peak
Beginning to lose interest in staving awake
Fighting sleep, would prefer to lie down
Reverie, struggling to remain awake
The onset of sleep is usually effortless when a person is physically tired, mentally relaxed and in a comfortable bed free of distraction. Sleep naturally occurs in harmony with the circadian rhythm, an internal clock that effects a twenty-four hour cycle of fluctuation in body temperature, urine production and blood pressure. This biological timekeeper facilitates sleep in the evening and alertness in the morning. In laboratory experiments, where subjects are held in complete isolation from external indicators, a cycle of rest-activity consistent with night-time and daytime still persists. However most of the time signals (Zeitgebers) for the circadian rhythm are derived from the environment and especially the succession of light and darkness.
The circadian clock is about one hour slow in evening types or night owls while it runs a little faster for morning types. A variation of the rhythm known as Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome prevents the natural onset of sleep until around 3.00 am and makes it difficult to awaken before mid-day. This typically occurs in adolescence and young adulthood. The corollary condition, Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome, is more common in the elderly. It is identified by an overwhelming sleepiness in the early evening with awakening at 3.00 or 4.00 am.
Todays world provides significant disruptions to the natural tendency towards daytime alertness and night-time sleepiness. The existence of electricity is a crucial factor in being able to achieve a 24/7 lifestyle. However, night workers are prone to sleepiness during work and generally do not get adequate sleep. Evening types are more adapted to nocturnal working hours. The use of daylight levels of artificial light at night shift-work and total darkness during daytime sleep can somewhat compensate for the disruption to the circadian pattern.
Jet lag involves a short term circadian rhythm disruption which lasts until the biological clock catches up with its new environment. It is most evident in eastwards travel which goes against the direction of the circadian clock. To allay the discomfort, it is recommended that a person begin to adjust from a home-based to a destination-based schedule a day or so before travel. On arrival the local day-night cycle should be adopted as soon as possible.
Insomnia is the experience of regularly having difficulty falling or staying asleep. It is the most frequent sleep disorder affecting up to twenty percent of the population each year for one to two weeks. However the condition tends to be over-reported, since people usually get more sleep than they realise. Insomnia results in fatigue and irritability during the day. Insomniacs are found to have higher levels of depression, physical pain and stress than the general population. These factors may explain the causes of insomnia and point to the focus of primary treatment. The anxiety of not being able to fall asleep can itself contribute to sleeplessness.
For people with adequate mental and physical health, fidelity to the following sleep hygiene practices promotes normal sleep patterns:
Have a regular bedtime. Spend about thirty minutes winding down before going to bed. This serves to relax the body and signals the mind that sleep-time is approaching.
Foods that are high in L-Tryptophan are conducive to sleep. These include milk and milk based products, as well as turkey, rice and peanuts. This amino acid is a precursor to serotonin, a sedative chemical in the brain.
Low levels of light in the environment before bedtime stimulates the production of the hormone melatonin. This also has a calming and sleep-inducing effect.
Limit napping. A short nap after lunch is invigorating. However, too much sleep during the day reduces the significance of the night sleep. Excessive napping can create a harmful cycle of night sleeplessness, followed by a tendency to sleep by day.
Restrict the time for sleep. For the average adult seven and a half hours is the optimal length of sleep. If your sleep is too long, it will be lighter and more disturbed. A consolidated sleep time makes sleep deeper.
Daytime exercise promotes sleep onset by creating physical fatigue.
Early morning exposure to light will advance the biological clock, leading to drowsiness by evening.
Restrict caffeine and other stimulants. Afternoon or nighttime consumption of caffeine or nicotine typically prevents sleep onset.
Have a peaceful bedroom. Insomniacs are often found to have cues for being awake (TV, telephone, food) rather than asleep in their bedroom.
Do not wait in bed for sleep. After ten to twenty minutes, get up and go to another room to sit quietly and read or listen to some gentle music. Go back to bed when you are sleepy. Returning to a cooler bed will also promote sleep as a small reduction in body temperature is a precursor to sleep.
Be relaxed in mind. Extreme joys and sorrows prevent the onset of sleep. In the time before sleep engage in some journaling or quiet conversation with a friend so as to purge your
Forget yourself. Telling bedtime stories to children or even counting sheep were all intended to move mental attention away from oneself. Some light reading in bed can also effect a distraction and so facilitate the letting go of sleep.
Day 2: The architecture of sleep
Twentieth century sleep research was revolutionised by the development of the electroencephalogram (EEG), an instrument which produces a graph of the electrical activity of the brain. Characteristic patterns of the brains activity such as sleeping, a coma or an epileptic seizure can be recognised by this apparatus. Using a specially adapted EEG at their sleep laboratory in Chicago during the 1950s, Aserinsky, Kleitman and Dement identified dreaming as a distinct part of an elaborate sleep cycle.
Sleep is essentially a state of reduced alertness. The process of going to sleep is often accompanied by simple mental images of descent, literally of falling asleep. The senses gradually become less connected to external reality and the ability to direct thought diminishes. This transitional period is sometimes characterised by involuntary muscular spasms (known as hypnagogic jerks) whereby the conscious mind nd momentarily resists its diminishing self-control. It is followed by four successively deeper stages of sleep. These together last up to ninety minutes and are distinguished by a progressive decrease in the frequency of brain waves and the rates of pulse and respiration.
In the average adult, Stage One sleep lasts just a few minutes and can easily be disturbed. In addition to characteristic EEG wave patterns it is identified by a slow rolling movement of the eyeball. Stage Two sleep is distinguished by its EEG pattern alone and has no physical characteristics apart from a higher arousal threshold. Stage Three sleep is marked by slower EEG brain waves, the absence of eve movement and a further deepening of sleep. Stage Four sleep is also characterised by slow waves on the EEG and the person is most deeply asleep. Stage Three and Four sleep are often grouped under the umbrella term slow wave sleep. This type is especially evident in the sleep of children and young adults and less so in the elderly. In other words, the depth of sleep is reduced with aging.
At the conclusion of Stage Four sleep the body turns and the depth of sleep gradually lessens through Stages Three and Two. With the recurrence of Stage One, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep begins. The closed eyes show bursts of rapid darting movement beneath the eyelids as distinct from the slow rolling motion of Stage One sleep. During REM sleep the brains electrical activity assumes a similar pattern to being awake. The pulse quickens, there is greater variability in breathing. The physiology of sexual arousal occurs. REM is accompanied by the greatest lessening of muscle tone during the entire sleep cycle. Muscular activity is almost suspended even though the sleeper is effectively awake in other respects. For this reason the REM period is sometimes labelled paradoxical sleep.
The scientific research linked REM sleep to dreams. It was originally hypothesised by Dement that the eye movement of REM is synchronous with the visual imagery of the dream. There is a high probability that a sleeper awakened during REM will report having been in a dream. Sleep laboratory experiments showed that people awoken in Stage One-Four sleep also report mental activity, but this generally lacks the narrative quality of a proper dream. However other research casts doubt on Demerits theory. For example, REM is also observable in the dreams of the congenitally blind whose dreams lack visual imagery.
In a sleep period lasting six to nine hours, four to six sleep cycles of ninety minutes can be anticipated. REM normally makes up twenty to twenty-five percent of adult sleep. Over the course of a nights sleep the time spent in Stage Three and Four Sleep decreases while the time dedicated to REM in each cycle proportionally increases. The length of dreams increases from about ten minutes to about twenty five minutes per cycle as the night progresses. In an average nights sleep of seven and a half hours about five dreams totalling ninety minutes can be anticipated.
Scientific studies have shown that REM or dream sleep is necessary for mental health. Whereas the deprivation of non-dream sleep results in physical tiredness, the loss of REM sleep makes people anxious, irritable and less capable of problem solving the following day. Those completely deprived of REM for an extended time tend to entertain dream-like fantasies when awake. This may explain the incidence of delirium tremens in alcoholics as alcohol consumption effects a reduction of REM sleep. As a result of ongoing REM deprivation dreams may, in compensation, erupt into the waking life of an alcoholic. Research has further demonstrated a REM rebound effect whereby a REM sleep deficit is recovered in subsequent nights sleep. Finally, the discovery that REM sleep accounts for half of infant sleep, but just one-fifth of sleep in the elderly, suggests that dreaming plays a role in socialisation. Dreams help identify our place in the world and this need is more urgent in the young.
The transition from sleep to wakefulness is not instantaneous. A majority of adults in Western society rely on alarm clocks to awaken at the desired time. The loudness and meaningfulness of a sound determines its ability to arouse. A mother may hear the cry of her child, but sleep through a louder environmental noise that evokes no personal response. The circadian rhythm includes a sleep terminator, principally through a rise in body temperature. Self-suggesting the time of awakening prior to sleep is a partly effective means of waking up at that time.
Animals have patterns of sleep resembling those of human beings. Large and long-living animals generally need less rest. The elephant sleeps for only four hours a day, mostly while standing. By contrast, small and short lived animals such as the hamster sleep for fourteen hours. This may be because small mammals have little fat reserves and their sleep functions for energy conservation.
Water bound animals such as the dolphin sleep while swimming, resting half the brain at a time. The active hemisphere of the brain controls breathing and one eye keeps watch for danger. Birds have been shown to exhibit patterns of quiet sleep followed by active sleep that is analogous to non-REM and REM. Their sleep is also unihemispheric. Fish exhibit patterns of sleep-like behaviour alternated with activity. However, evidence of slow wave or REM sleep in fish has not been established. Even insects exhibit regular cycles of activity followed by rest when responsiveness to external stimuli is reduced. There is a debate as to whether reptiles actually sleep. Like warm blooded animals they show decreased alertness at times. However, their brain activity does not show the characteristic cyclical patterns of slow wave sleep followed by REM.
REM can be readily measured and observed in the sleep of some animals. While just twelve percent of a rabbits sleep is spent in REM, some thirty percent of a dogs sleep has characteristic REM patterns. The observer of a sleeping dog will note many characteristics of dream sleep such as irregular breathing and passing enactments of the dream imagery. Animals that are born helpless (dogs and cats) have more REM sleep than those born in a developed state (horse, giraffe), demonstrating the role of dreams in socialisation. However, even with this evidence, it cannot be assumed that animals dream, since they cannot communicate the experience to us.