Some Dreams Save Lives: A Case Study of a Heart Attack

by Ron Masa Ph.D.

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Here is the last dream JT recorded before her heart attack:

The Dream:

Approaching a stop sign... I see... a small deer. Unsure if it has been hit, I decide to stop and see. Pulling over on the narrow shoulder I find a place to park, hopefully out of danger. We are no more than 6 feet from the highway. The fawn... is laying down, heaving breaths. I have to choose whether to leave him in this dangerous place or take him. I choose to take him to a clinic just a short drive from here...

One of the surprising secrets of professional dream interpretation is how often dreams predict life challenges and prepare us to meet them. This dream foreshadowed JT's upcoming heart attack, without spelling it out, and it prepared her to survive it.

Research shows that if you were to practice making free throws in your imagination you could improve your scoring average just as much as you could by actually shooting free throws! Rehearsals in imagination are powerful.

Within this dream she practiced 1) interrupting her plans while driving near where her heart attack was going to occur, 2) pulling the car over and 3) seeking medical help. Since the dream's victim is a fawn and not the dreamer she need not panic but can calmly seek medical care: precisely the attitude JT exhibited in her upcoming crisis. It worked.

The dream demonstrated how ready and able she was to stop and take someone (soon to be herself!) for medical help in a crisis after she approached a stop sign. Is there any more effective "stop sign" than a heart attack?

Our dreamer, JT, is a kind hearted animal lover who takes animal rescue workshops to heal and care for animals in danger. In this dream, the animal kingdom repays her efforts. I suspect that the best way to motivate JT to take care of her physical self, would be to elicit her response to a vulnerable animal.

Dream Exploration:

  • The dream's phrase: Unsure if it has been hit, now seems a reference to her own heart. When the "unusual sensations" began she was not convinced that her heart had been hit and her first thought was "I don't have time for a heart attack, I promised to meet a co-worker's client soon." This dream greased the skids of neurological probability and made it easier for her to do the right thing.
  • We are no more than 6 feet from the highway might allude to being 6 feet under, as a reminder of the serious stakes involved. Or is it being 6 feet from the "High Way" in the sense of going to heaven?
  • The fawn... is laying down, heaving breaths, which anticipated her first symptom of the heart attack and paired it with the need to lay down and rest.
  • After JT decided she should stop and see what was going on, she realized that I have to choose whether to leave him in this dangerous place or take him. So in the dream JT is forced to deal with a medical emergency and practices the right choice. Fortunately, she did choose to get help and not to leave her body in the dangerous place of being in seizure! Instead, she assumed the role of the fawn and asked her daughter to take her to receive medical help.
  • I choose to take him to a clinic just a short drive from here which is exactly what happened and when she arrived at the nearest clinic she was immediately hospitalized! JT was rescued by one of nature's training films: our dreams.
  • JT's heart is now healthy and she is doing well, just as in her dream the fawn got a clean bill of health!

The last sentence in JT's dream read: I am torn between keeping him in captivity, but safe, and letting him go face his destiny, taking with him only my heart.

This case includes a life saving dream that offered guidance for the heart both psychologically and physically! Dreams are visionary dramas that help us master our lessons in advance. Every night our dreams improve our lives and sometimes even save them.

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Ron Masa, Ph.D. taught and wrote about dreams while in private practice for 25 years. He and Debbie Hart co-lead the University of Yourself (

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