and feeling in the picture and tell what happened before the picture
(what led up to this scene) and what will happen later (the outcome of
the story). Make the story as good and dramatic as you can. Be sure
to include how the people are feeling towards each other. You probably
need to write the stories down, otherwise parts will be forgotten.
Especially if the picture is vague or ambiguous, very different
stories will be made up about it by different people. For instance,
suppose several people looked at a picture of a young boy looking at
an open book. Some people would see the boy studying and going on
to become a great scientist (achievement needs). Others would see
him as dreading his homework because he can't understand it
(insecurity). Others think he is really not reading but procrastinating
and dreaming about playing football. Others speculate he is reading a
story instead of mowing the lawn as he was told to do. Still others
would suggest that there is really a comic book inside the textbook or
that he is reading his first dirty book. Don't you suppose that what
each person sees in the picture reflects something in them? Try it.
Instead of looking at a picture, one can imagine being in a certain
scene and then observe how you react in that situation. Such fantasies
reflect expectations and needs inside of you, some conscious and
some unconscious. Unquestionably cave people told stories and asked,
"What would you do in this situation?" But Max Hammer (1967)
described this as a therapy technique several years ago.
Scenes commonly used by therapists and group leaders include:
being in a grassy meadow on a warm spring day, going deep under
water in a murky lake, climbing to the top of a high mountain,
exploring a strange house or your childhood home, opening the door
to a room that contains something very valuable to you, exploring
inside your own body trying to find where your mother resides,
imagining the layers upon layers that make up your "self," being a
three-weeks-old baby and cared for by your parents, discussing a
personally significant question with a very wise person, having only
three days to live, and on and on.
Interpretations of all guided fantasies are tentative, very
speculative, merely food for thought. For example, how you feel in the
meadow may reflect how you respond to being alone, what you find in
deep water or the basement is supposed to represent your
unconscious, going to the mountains is supposed to represent
approaching God, and so on. No one knows what your fantasies mean.
No one would doubt that your fantasies show something about your
inner most workings.
Here is my favorite guided fantasy. I've done it hundreds of times.
Try it now, as you read it. Relax, get comfortable, allow 15 minutes or
so for this exercise. (1) Imagine it is a warm spring day. You are
walking in the country where you have never been before. You are on