Monte – The Incomparable!

by Sven Hedenrud

That this appointment was about to mean so much to me, I had not the faintest idea. An American psychoanalyst in Gothenburg - O.K.. For years, I had met many people from the Big Country in the West, wanting to spread ideas in our country. "You just have to meet him," said a friend, a student of his. "I know he would just fit at your place." The year was 1978 and I was the director of a Psychotherapy Centre, St. Luke's, Gothenburg.  

I decided to invite him. The staff agreed. Monte came and had a dream group with us. I remember I myself shared a dream. It was a great experience. Unpretentious and with his unique ability to relate, he started. Everybody was engaged. His ways were just genial! Humorously, and without a lot of fuss, he revealed more and more of his immeasurable knowledge and skills.

All agreed: We had gotten a new means to understand dreams. It became just obvious that he should be invited, as often as possible, to continue to educate us through lecturing and dream group work.

As early as 1981, our centre invited the public to a "Dream Week".   (It has since become a yearly tradition). We chose to locate it at a well known church centre. We wanted to give space for spiritual experience and look into how faith metaphors were expressed in dreaming. Monte was delighted. Maybe he all the same had some doubt of the use of his method in a religious context?

The summer of 1983, I visited Monte in Ardsley for the first time. It was my first stop on a long journey in the US. What a warm welcome by Monte and his wife, Janet! She was a great hostess - and cook! The seminar consisted of Americans, among whom I remember Bill Stimson. Monte started by letting me lead the group. I had just to jump in there. It went well. Monte had a remarkable ability to infuse trust.

Monte restructured the dialogue part of the process, 1986, I think. In the beginning I found it a complication. Why? The old model had been working so well! Of course, I had to give up my resistance. "Montague Ullman's method" now included this change. Experience has shown, it was a great improvement.

In Sweden, we were many who had the privilege to meet Monte on his "dream mission journeys" through our country. Quite a few of us wanted to spread his thoughts in an organized form. We prepared and founded the "Dream Group Forum," Monte's beloved grandchild.

From a visit to Ardsley, 1991, I remember Monte, in a little speech to the group, made a teasing remark on my being a pastor as well as psychotherapist. Janet stepped in and protested. As I was confident both in my faith and as a dream group leader, we could continue our work together, without tensions. Later, Monte trusted me to make a contribution in the second edition of The Variety of Dream Experience, written out of my experience as a pastor and a teacher of pastoral care. I felt very honoured to do so.

Now, we are many in sorrow over the loss of a great friend and inspiring mentor, but above all, we are grateful he was among us for so long. His impressive, many-sided scholarship, his humbleness and generosity will continue to inspire. His method to work with dreams is a rich heritage to pass on.

Sven Hedenrud (e-mail: s.hedenrud[at]telia.com)

Sven Hedenrud wrote "Dream Work and Pastoral Counseling – Steps toward an Educational Program." Chapter 9 in "The Variety of Dream Experience" edited by Monague Ullman and Claire Limmer.