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Myths-Dreams-Symbols
The Unconscious World of Dream
intuitive knowledge

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Six Steps To Remember & Interpret Your Dreams
Consult the 'Jungian Termnology' page for a better understanding of terms used in this section.


1. Get a clear and exact record of the dream. Try to wake up right after having the dream and write it down as you remember the dream. If nothing else make detailed notes of the dream. It is best to keep a note pad and pencil by your bed just for this occassion.

Suggestions to help you remember your dreams

  • Before going to bed remind yourself, 'I will remember my dreams, I will remember my dreams'. Discipline yourself and you will be surprised how well you will learn to remember your dreams the next morning.
  • Record the dream as if you are a reporter covering the event in real life. Detailed information will help you understand the symbols and motifs in the dream.
  • If a note pad is not right for you keep a tape recorder by your bed. Recording the dream just as you remember it will be readily available when you wake up.
  • A vivid dream recalled in the middle of the night will not be remembered the next morning. Either write it down or record the dream as soon as you wake up.


  • 2. Personal Associations - What associations do you have with the symbols and motifs in the dream?

  • Are the people in the dream someone you really know in waking life? Known persons often refers to unconscious thoughts or perceptions about those persons. Unknown people in your dreams represent personifications of complexes within yourself.

    Unknown persons in a dream are thought of as the 'objective meaning' of the dream, or meanings that may describe your attitudes toward those persons,which can manifest those attitudes as complexes in your own mind.
    Known persons in a dream are thought of as the 'subjective meaning' of the dream, where all images are a reference to your own unconscious mind. Consider both when interpreting the dream but lean toward the subjective meaning.


  • 3. Cultural Associations - What do you know about the cultural aspects within the dream?

  • Example - A dream with the President of the United States may be referring to the cultural aspect. The President would represent the center of power and authority within your psyche. This could be a reference in a man's dream that 'he needs re-assurance' about his masculinity, thus using the President symbol to represent this complex. For a woman it would be a representation of her relationship with her masculine side (Jung's animus).
  • It could also represent the archetypal self, the spiritual condition. If this is the case it would represent the relationship (or lack of a relationship) with your spiritual identity. Is the authority in your life more of the social being,i.e, materialism, self glory, what the ego wants, or is it your caring, compassionate self, being aware of other's feelings and considering that as important as your own desires?
    Religion represents the dogma of the church, spirituality is the product of the individual psyche.


    4. Amplifications at the level of the 'Archetypal' images.

  • Archetypal images are symbols that represent contents within the psyche that were never conscious experiences. They are the 'universal' symbols that are available to us all even though we have no knowledge of them in our waking lives. They are found within the 'collective' unconscious. Those which are a part of your waking experiences in life are from the personal unconscious.
  • The sun is often an archetypal image. In the personal experience in life the sun would represent a hot, glowing sphere, all consuming. In the 'collective' the sun would represent your higher self (see step #3) or the 'God' image, and/or creative self.
  • Archetypal images would have the same psychic understanding to a bushman in the African jungle as it would an accountant in New York City. They would not be from the personal knowledge or experience. They have meaning to a large number of people over an extended period of time.
  • Archetypal images are 'getting to your higher conditiion', ie, the spiritual self or your creative self, a higher condition psychologically. They reveal a deeper meaning within the dream that goes beyond the everyday waking experiences in life.
  • We experience archetypal images more often as we grow older, especially at the mid-life stage.


  • 5. Place dream in context of your own life.
  • What events or experiences in your waking life 'fits' with what is in the dream. If it is a message from your personal unconscious then the dream images would be compensating what you already know but may not fully comprehend. If the dream 'fits' your waking condition you then can interpret the dream as a personal message of the events in your waking life.


  • 6. Dream Jounal
  • Recurring dreams contain important information about yourself that needs to be acknowledged. Recurring motifs strongly suggest a persistance of structures of complexes that needs understanding.
  • Recurring dreams may not have been adequately interpreted or acknowledged consciously. Once you understand the message of these dreams you will cease to have them.


  • Other Sites Offering Help In Interpreting Your Dreams
    Working (and playing) with Dreams

    How to Interpret Your Dreams
    by Brlizg from Dreams as Viewed by Freud and Jung


    Introduction
    Although Jung was a pupil of Freud, and one would think they shared the same idea about the interpretation of dreams, that is not exactly true. Freud proposed the notorious idea that dreams are a reflextion of subconsciousness, but Jung expanded on Freud and added another dimension to this relation. In Jung's view, dreams not only lead to personal subconsciousness, but also to collective unconsciousness. This paper attempts to present the two theories of dreams and stress the unique qualities in each of them. I believe the reader will excuse a 'clinical' tone of paper, knowing that originally this text was written as school assignment. In 1995, I wrote this paper under the guidance of Branka Bajgoric, who was my psychology teacher in the high school I attended. I omitted the technical part of the paper: identifying problem and developing the thesis. I also did not include a part in which I discussed the implications of becoming lucid in dream on the interpretation. Not that it would be inappropriate, but I think that subject is so broad that it demands a separate paper in order to sufficiently cover it. I think that nowadays, where there are so much alternative (occult) explanations of dreams available, we often forget about the old thinkers. What is even worse, we tend to think they are out of date or irrelevant in this rush of global spiritual evolution. However, I find the following two scientists, and Jung particularly, extremely contemporary. I hope the following paper will attract some of reader's interest to further study the rich work of both, should I say "big men"?

    JUNG'S ANALYTICAL INTERPRETATION OF DREAMS

    Carl Gustav Jung is a scientist, who assigned more importance to dreams and dream work as perhaps no other of his colleagues. His father studied theology due to financial problems,5 which is why he later began to have doubts as to whether the knowledge he was passing on to others was true or not. Therefore the father influenced on his young son Carl so that he soon started to deal with metaphysical questions. In his writing Jung showed the close parallels between ancient myths and dreams. Jung explained the relationship between the unconscious and conscious in his original way and proposed the now well-known idea of collective unconscious. "Ultimately Jung believed that by understanding how one's personal unconscious integrates with the collective unconscious, a person can achieve a state of individuation, or wholeness of self." (Vered 1997)

    Much like Freud, Jung also emphasised the importance of interpretation of dreams in therapy. The most significant dream is that from the night before a patient visit the therapist. This dream is so called initial dream.

    Initial Dream

    The interpretation of initial dream is so important because there is a good chance that the main problem of patient will be discovered right at the beginning of therapy. Jung, too, claimed that dreams are psychic phenomenon and that they can mirror central conflict of dreamer. All dreams at certain point in our life, Jung held, "reflect our life situation until we seriously start to concern ourselves with it, that is, so long as we do not draw back completely or remove it." (Bras 1977: 206)

    We all know how concerns, problems or excitement can occupy our mind just before we fall asleep. For instance, as we may put it, a boy who is going on a trip tomorrow, will hardly think of anything else because of his excitement. It is also very likely that once he manages to fall asleep, his dreams will contain elements of the trip he is about to have when he will wake up.

    It is not easy to decide to visit the therapist. The state of alert mind, which is caused by the importance of the event, can produce a strong impulse for the manifestation of patient's conflict in dreams. Furthermore, such dreams usually contain a prognosis: ways of resolving the conflict, possible troubles and even final result.

    Jung claimed, that all dreams in certain time frame express most important internal process of person, namely some conflict or complex, even when there is no obvious interconnection between respective dreams. All dreams will be pointing at conflict that the dreamer should become conscious of, and remove it. This of course does not mean that each and every dream reflects conflicting psychic state, nor that people who do not remember dreams do not have any conflicts. Special importance must be put on repeating dreams, which as a rule deal with the same conflict but from different points of view. A series of dreams actually indicates more complex conflict; "dreams show that we rightly hesitate in some situation, or we cannot avoid it, and they always point in same direction – at same solution." (Bras 1977: 206).

    Jung is of the opinion that precise dream record is a basis and a minimum for every dream interpretation. The patient must not leave out, beautify or in any other way deform dream material. Only such material is the real text of subconsciousness. S/he must also tell as many details according to certain dream element as possible (what, who, where, when, why, how…). The therapist's task then, is to carefully write down all these details as they suggest the direction of main dream flow. In case that patient does not remember some part of dream, s/he will be asked to use imagination. The ideas that patient tells are psychotic fantasies, which are coming directly from the subconsciousness and move around the central problem.

    Even when the therapist gathered and processed dream material, s/he cannot know the meaning of dream. It is impossible to adequately explain a dream without patient's cooperation and being acquainted with patient's life situation (e.g. social status, buisness worries, economic and marital status, social aspirations, inteligence…). The therapist begins interpretation with easier and more evident parts of dream. With patient's help, s/he then moves further on more difficult and complicated parts. It is important to notice the sequence of dream events, since they are interconnected, and hence the relation between them reveals the meaning of dream. Jung discovered that a course of events in dreams is similar to that in a stage play.

    Dramatic structure of dreams

    The majority of dreams are composed of four parts or phases, pretty much like in drama. Firstly, we need to figure out the scene and time of dream as well as dramatis personae. In first phase, which can be regarded as the exposition, the initial situation (setting) is represented – already pointing at central conflict expressed in dream. The second phase is the plot and contains something new (essential change), which leads the dream in the third phase: the culmination. In this phase the most critical things happen, which bring the dream to a closure: the fourth phase or denouement. Jung attributed extraordinary significance to the end of dream. The end of dream is so important, Jung held, because we cannot consciously influence on the outcome (i.e. change the end), and dreams so reflect the real situation. "Nature is often obscure or impenetrable, but she is not, like man, deceitful. We must therefore take it that the dream is just what it pretends to be, neither more nor less. If it shows something in a negative light, there is no reason for assuming that it is meant positively."
    6

    According to the end of dream, he discriminated between favourable and unfavourable dreams. If we were to reverse the well-known proverb, then for dreams we may say that a good end makes a good beginning. Favourable dreams have quieting effect and direct us to the most constructive ways of solving problems. On the contrary, unfavourable dreams contain a warning of, perhaps life important, negative changes. Hence dreams can be said to have a prospective function; they warn us about bright or dark future. Favourable or unfavourable end of dream, however, must not be taken as a final and absolute meaning of dream. This can be done only after several interconnected dreams.

    Archetypes

    Dreams are also an expression of collective generic experiences, which refer to basic life problems and manifest in terms of symbols and myths – thoughts and memories shared by all humanity. The interpreter of dreams must therefore be familiar with various myths, religions, cults, rituals and fairy tales in order to fully understand the meaning of dreams. These mythological motifs, which can be found in dreams, Jung called archetypes. Archetypes or primordal images are "specific forms and pictorial relationships, which did not only consistently appear in all ages and in all latitudes, but also appear in individual dreams, fantasies, visions and ideas." (Jung 1978: 396) This observation led Jung to think that there exists collective unconsciousness – the sum of all experiences that human race acquired in its phylogenetic development. The access to collective unconsciousness is particularly easy, when a person has to take an important decision or is in life situation, crucial for his/her personal growth. S/he gets a suggestion from the collective unconsciousness in form of archetypal situation. If that happens in dream, then such dream is called the big dream, which "is expressed in language of universal human experiences, condensed in rich, vivid symbols, in eternal ancient images that [sic] overwhelm us completely." (Bras 1977: 178) Wide knowledge is required when interpreting the big dreams. This knowledge, however, cannot be simply memorized; it can only be an insight into experiences of the person who uses it.

    The gender of dream actors plays an important role in interpretation of dreams. The actor of the same gender is the dreamer's shadow (usually regarded as the dark aspects of the personality) to which Jung ascribed basic instincts, responsible for unpleasant and morally inadmissible thoughts in dreams. The level of consciousness, which is in accordance with the dreamer's social role, is called the persona. "The persona consists of what a person appears to be to others, in contrast to what s/he actually is. That is to say the persona is the role the individual chooses to play in life, the impression and the way s/he wishes to appear to, and makes on, the outside world." (Vered 1997)

    Dream actors of the opposite gender have an interesting role too. Such figures, which had formed throughout millenniums of men and women living together, come from collective unconsciousness as a balancing experience to help the dreamer understand the nature of opposite gender. Female figure that appears in dreams of men is called the anima, while same male figure is called the animus.

    "Every man carries within him the eternal image of woman, not the image of this or that particular woman, but a definite feminine image. This image is fundamentally unconscious, an hereditary factor of primordial origin engraved in the living organic system of the man, an imprint or "archetype" of all the ancestral experiences of the female, a deposit, as it were, of all the impressions ever made by woman - in short, an inherited system of psychic adaptation. Even if no women existed, it would still be possible, at any given time, to deduce from this unconscious image exactly how a woman would have to be constituted psychically. The same is true of the woman: she too has her inborn image of man."7

    The features of anima are expressed in archetype of extremely attractive girl, strict, cold seductress and a beauty… And the features of animus in archetype of a sailor, wise old man, an officer, a doctor… Or to illustrate the two archetypes with Jung's words: "When animus and anima meet, the animus draws his sword of power and the anima ejects her poison of illusion and seduction. The outcome need not always be negative, since the two are equally likely to fall in love (a special instance of love at first sight)."8

    A king, the pope, a commander-in-chief and a dictator symbolize the "big man". A queen or female judge and similar figures symbolize the creators of our faith.

    "Archetypes are complexes of experience that come upon us like fate, and their effects are felt in our most personal life. The anima no longer crosses our path as a goddess, but, it may be, as an intimately personal misadventure, or perhaps as our best venture. When, for instance, a highly esteemed professor in his seventies abandons his family and runs off with a young red-headed actress, we know that the gods have claimed another victim."9

    Objective and subjective level of interpretation

    It is often observed that in dreams, people who we otherwise know good, behave differently than it is typical for them. Objective level of interpretation enables us to discover the dreamer's true relation to these persons. In other words, in dreams the dreamer expresses his/her relationship to the person s/he knows. When we connect dream content with everyday life situation, we discover that dream relationship is not necessarily the same. For instance, our relationship to person, who we overvalue in wakening state, may be undervalued in dreams. This is to understand as suggestion that less respectful relationship could bring a better social intercourse.

    When however, the relationship is not apparent to us, namely does not connect with the dream story, then we interpret dreams from subjective level. In this case, we search for dreamer's qualities projected into other dream persons. The dreamer is shown his/her own tendencies of characther, to which s/he did not devote enough attention. Hence, the subjective level of interpretation helps to recognize the dreamer's own points of view.

    Conclusion

    Jung's and Freud's interpretations of dreams are similar as they both stress importance of dreams in therapy and are based on premise that dreams reflect conflicts. The process of acquireing data from the dreams told is similar too. Both interpretations repose on dreamer's associations, which come from subconsciousness and are therefore determined.

    However, an important difference can be observed in use of information acqueired with interpretation of dreams. For Freud, dreams were merely a mirror of conflict (suppressed unsatisfied desire), which needed to be discovered, whereas Jung searched for solutions already expressed in dreams. Jung did not agree with Freud that all dream themes are only a subject to repressed sexual traumas. He claimed that we can also repress things like "the problem of social adaptation, tragical life circumstances, a need for respect, and so forth." (Jung 1989: 162)

    Jung started to doubt in Freud's sexual theory at the very first meeting with him, when he realized they had different views on interpretation of dreams and psychology in general. Despite that, Freud helped Jung (The Interpretation of Dreams, 1900) a great deal to understand the resistance of interpretation of dreams. Jung was then a young doctor, who shared many of the Freud's ideas. However, Jung soon realized that certain parts of Freud's interpretation (e.g. dream symbols) were conformed to verify the sexual theory. Rather than accepting the sexual theory as the only truth, Jung started to accumulate his knowledge through experiences he had with various patients. Jung's methodology thus prefered the induction over deduction. Or rather, as he put it:

    "I have no theory about dreams, I do not know how dreams arise. And I am not at all sure that - my way of handling dreams even deserves the name of a "method." I share all your prejudices against dream-interpretation as the quintessence of uncertainty and arbitrariness. On the other hand, I know that if we meditate on a dream sufficiently long and thoroughly, if we carry it around with us and turn it over and over, something almost always comes of it. This something is not of course a scientific result to be boasted about or rationalized; but it is an important practical hint which shows the patient what the unconscious is aiming at."12

    I am inclined to think that the differences in approaches of both scientists, which eventually separated a pupil and a teacher, originate from social and perhaps political circumstances.13 Freud developed his theory in harsh times. We can readily understand that the sexual theory was the last thing society wanted at that time. The most shocking of all was Freud's concept of the libido, what at the bottom meant that all creative impulses and the entire motivating force of human behaviour are an expression of repressed sexuality. His theory was on the brink of ruin as the conservative scientists fought with all their might against it. However, the young generation of scientists saved Freud along with his theory. Jung's association experiment proved that there is some truth in Freud's theory. He defended Freud in almost all scientific debates despite the fact that his career was at stake. Freud realized that his theory was spreading around the world. As soon as international psychoanalitic association had been founded, his theory would be preserved. Therefore Freud viewed Jung as his pupil, successor and a leader of such association. Jung, however, knew that he was not "able to do that correctly, that is, in his way represent his standpoints, because [Jung's] main ambition was not personal reputation, but to research the truth." (Jung 1989: 171, 172) Jung decided to leave the psycho-analysis and start analytical school of psychology after first meeting he had with Freud. In 13 hours lasting discussion, Freud passionately said: "My dear Jung, promise me you will never abandon sexual theory. It is the most important thing. You see, we have to make a dogma out of it, a dam that will never become loose." (Jung 1989: 164) When saying that Freud had occultism in his mind. Jung could not accept to reject the relevance of occultism and especially mythology as his concept was based on them (e.g. collective unconsciousness). He understood what Freud wanted to achieve, to set psycho-analysis as "belief, which cannot be discussed and is put in practice only where you want to remove doubts for ever." (Jung 1989: 165)



    Links
    Understanding Dreams
    Who Is Carl Jung
    Sigmund Freud

    1-03-05


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