According to one psychiatrist in California “dreams do have meaning.” But what does he mean?

David Hoffman a retired psychiatrist writes a “dear doctor” column dispensing advice and answering questions through the “La Jolla Light.” One recent column was rerun within the Mammoth Times.

After recounting his personal history Hoffman eventually answers a reader’s inquiry about the meaning of dreams. He says, “Much of my life is guided and directed by [dreams].”

But the doctor’s column really raises more questions than it answers.

Hoffman discusses his “exploration into what was called ‘New Age Psychiatry,'” which might be more objectively seen as his odyssey through the world of “cults.”

The doctor admits he has studied with “Rajneesh, Shirley McLaine, Kevin Ryerson, Edgar Cayce, Ramtha, and Yogananda.”

These controversial sources are hardly what medical doctors would typically rely upon to form any clinical opinion. And it certainly is questionable that any mental health professional would base an opinion on such specious and subjective sources.

Never-the-less Hoffman concludes, “From all that, I learned to adapt the value of dreams to my own life.”

But such statements only raise more questions.

It is understood that people seeking help from a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist or professional counselor are typically at a time of personal need often also accompanied by stress, depression and/or anxiety.

This means that the patient is frequently very vulnerable and suggestible. And the helping professional occupies a position of power and influence in that person’s life during the course of their therapy/counseling.

Unfortunately, some mental health professionals may see this as an opportunity to express their personal beliefs. Perhaps even proselytizing for a certain group and/or belief system.

Thankfully this is apparently a very small minority. And exercising such an influence over a patient is most often seen as a violation of the ethical code prescribed by most State Boards and/or mental health licensing organizations.

So where then is the proper place for the practice of “New Age psychiatry”?

It seems that there would be no proper place for such a practice amongst ethical psychiatrists, who should remain objective and not project their personal beliefs into the lives of their patients.

Doctors like Hoffman may believe whatever the want, but such personal beliefs should not be passed off as part of the practice of medicine. That is, unless you are a “witch doctor.”


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