Carl Jung's Dream Theories - Creating A New Personal Mythology
Dream Studies gives us the basic idea behind Jung's dream theories:
The basic idea behind Jungian dream theory is that dreams reveal more than they conceal. They are a natural expression of our imagination and use the most straightforward language at our disposal: mythic narratives. Because Jung rejected Freud’s theory of dream interpretation that dreams are designed to be secretive, he also did not believe dream formation is a product of discharging our tabooed sexual impulses.
And surprisingly enough, Jung did not believe that dreams need to be interpreted for them to perform their function. Instead, he suggested that dreams are doing the work of integrating our conscious and unconscious lives; he called this the process of individuation. It’s easiest to think of individuation as the mind’s quest for wholeness, or that quality of applied wisdom that separates elders from grumpy old men. While not required, working with dreams and amplifying the mythic components can hasten along the process.
The Third Eve outlines Jung's theory that dreams are like a drama:
Carl Jung taught that the structure of a dream is similar to that of a drama, comprised of four different stages:
Exposition: The opening scene, which introduces the place, characters, and situation that the dreamer will face–the issue or problem as expressed through metaphor.
Development: The emergence of the plot.
Culmination: Something significant occurs, and the main character responds.
Lysis: The result or solution of the dream’s action. The lysis signifies how the dreamer might deal with the problem or issue that was expressed during the exposition stage. In effect, the work of the dream has produced a solution or result for the dreamer.
The Third Eve post also talks about using amplification to interpret dreams.
Psychology Campus gives alot of background on Jung's thoughts on dreams and starts with an outline of how Jung thought people should analyze their own dreams:
Carl Jung regarded dreams as a reflection of psychic activity. A dream, he felt, should be regarded seriously and analyzed to see how it would fit into a person's conscious living. He felt that people should analyze their own dreams, think about them and meditate on them in order to get something out of them.
They also go into Jung's approach with a client:
The dream is of value in analytical practice because it gives a picture of inner, and also often of outer conditions of which the dreamer is unaware. The first dream that a patient brings to analysis often gives a striking summing up of his or her problem, and even a hint of how it may be solved. It is this forward-looking aspect of dreams that, among other reasons, leads Jung to insist that dreams should not only be used for reductive purposes. Dreams do not only uncover forgotten memories and present difficulties, but appear, especially in the case of individuation dreams, to have a goal in view. Dreams at the beginning of analysis are often relatively clear and simple, and have an immediate effect. As the analysis proceeds the dreams usually grow more complicated and difficult to understand. It is at this stage that mythological themes often occur and that a wider framework than that of the dreamer's personal experience and associations becomes necessary. Sometimes the dreamer has no meaningful associations and can find no relationship to the dream situation; it is here that mythological parallels can be helpful. These will usually throw light on the collective meaning of the dream, and its relevance to the dreamer can then be worked out.
Jung never imposes an interpretation on a patient. He looks on it as even more important for the dreamer to understand his own dream than for the analyst to do so, while ideally the interpretation should be the result of mutual reflection and agreement. Much of his work lies in helping patients to deal with their own unconscious material, and they are encouraged to record their dreams carefully, and even to illustrate them either with pictures or models in wax or clay.
Dream Semantics talks about the main symbols Jung saw in dream work which included the Persona, the Shadow, and the Animus or Anima. Here's the description for the Shadow:
The Shadow is the underdeveloped part of the human psyche, containing characteristics of a person that evolves based on the life experiences one encounters. This presents the unconscious dream meanings that imply a person’s instincts and weaknesses. In Jungian dream psychology, the Shadow contains the unconscious desires and experiences that the mind keeps which is basically rooted in childhood. The irrational instincts involve a projection of one’s flaws to the incapacities of others, forming an illusion with reality and symbolisms encountered in dream interpretations.
Dream Tribe talks about how Jung saw how critical the archetypes were in helping a client change their dream story and heal:
Jung drew heavily from Medieval texts and described his psychology as alchemy.
This mythic world of Jung’s is the realm of the archetypes, which are the universal energies of every human who is not only in conflict with society but also with him or her self. Jung suggested that the archetypal images that come through dreams may be derived from different organs and thought centers in the body, and as such represent evolutionary drives.
Despite all the conflict, order is where it’s all headed from Jung’s perspective. The quicker we can balance all these ancient needs, the more productively we can live. The psychotherapist’s role is to provide hope for this order by helping the client make sense of their night visions and how they relate to waking life.
In Jung’s reckoning, the psychotherapist is like a modern shaman or priest who helps the individual create a personal mythology that works by throwing out maladaptive patterns and establishing healthy ones in their place.
Image from Asako G M on Flickr