We have looked in previous posts at how our dreaming subconscious mind may be more in touch with what is going on with our bodies than our conscious waking minds, but I feel this deserves a little more attention.
While science has not been able to prove a definitive link between dreams and the diagnosis of illness, individual experience can be quite convincing. Often referred to as “Prodromic Dreaming,” is when we dream of something before it becomes apparent, and is most commonly used in the case of detecting a sickness before any other symptoms are obvious or before it has been officially diagnosed.
We need to exercise caution when approaching our dreams for diagnosis. Remembering that dreams are often symbolic, dreaming of having cancer may be more a sign of some “cancerous,” behaviour or relationship in life that is damaging and harmful, rather than an actual sign of illness. However, there are anecdotal cases of people who have dreamed of things such as spots on their organs or shadows in their bodies that have actually turned out to be cancer. The important thing is not to panic, and to look carefully at all the different things a dream may be saying. Dreaming of taking medicine for example, could be an example of us learning a lesson in life, of having to “taste our own medicine.” Dreaming of a heart attack can be a symbol of a “broken heart” after a relationship ending, dreaming of not being able to breathe can be a symbol of feeling “suffocated” in a relationship or job and so on. (See the various entries for “Dream Symbols: Body Parts” for some other suggestion.)
To understand how symbolism may be linking to a body part in order to communicate an illness, it is important for us to recognise our own personal symbols. For example, to dream of blocked pipes might be a symbol of kidney stones or a urinary problem to someone who thinks of that part of the body as being like pipes, but to another person it may refer to a possible clogged artery, if that person thinks of their vascular system as being like a network of pipes.
Key symbols to look out for when trying to assess if a dream may be about sickness include images of things rotting, breaking, crumbling or fading away. Dark spots or patches, shadows, ghosts, imps and demons can also indicate a sickness in a dream. In some cases, we won’t dream of our body so closely, but may be informed by a guide that there is something wrong. This advice may come from an angel, a departed relative, a doctor or medical person, or some wise stranger or animal. These dreams may also have other symbols of the medical profession, such as x-rays, potions or pills, ambulances, a red cross, hospitals, beds or surgical knives. Yet still other dreams of illness have no medical symbology whatsoever, remember we all dream uniquely, so it is up to us to learn to recognise the signs.
Another way to recognise whether a dream relates to illness is the feeling we get from it. Dreams of impending sickness may start as a whisper, like a headache before a full blown flu. We know something isn’t quite right, even if we aren’t feeling really bad. These early dreams are often warnings to slow down and rest, to eat healthier, to exercise, or stop some sort of bad habit. When we are left with a feeling of urgency or are quite troubled, this may be a sign action is required quickly.
If you suspect a dream may be indicating an illness that has not yet been diagnosed, I would suggest seeking professional advice as soon as possible. It is not necessary to advise your doctor you are there because of a dream. Some doctors may be sympathetic, but others may be skeptical, and it is worth making sure you are at least being taken seriously. Only you can make the call how much you wish to share. If the dream has come after a negative diagnosis, and you still feel troubled, seek a second opinion. No human is perfect, and it is worth checking to see all possible angles have been covered. Sometimes a dream of sickness after a negative diagnosis may just be our subconscious mind working through our feelings of anxiety, but at other times it could be a warning that the first diagnosis was wrong. Again, no-one will know this better than you yourself.
From anecdotal evidence, it seems many dreams that warn of impending illness and that are accurate, are fortunately able to be treated because they have been identified so early. If we suspect something is not quite right, it is usually best to catch it early. Our dreams can be like an early warning system that metaphorically gets us out of the burning building in time.
Sometimes though, these dreams themselves contain the cure. They may contain advice to stop eating a certain food or using a kind of cleaning product that we didn’t know we were allergic to, or they may indicate a herb or combination of foods that will help us feel better. These kind of dreams can be really insightful in helping us to heal ourselves, and often on more than simply the physical level.