- Dream characteristics
- Dream Interpretation
“God speaks chiefly through dreams and visions” (Carl Jung, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, 1964).1 All the ancient peoples attributed great significance to dreams and today in some cultures people still tell each other about impressive dreams.2 In waking life we dream beneath the threshold of consciousness3 and visions are dreams in the waking state.4 Another term for God is “the unconscious.”5 Dreams are impartial, spontaneous products of the unconscious psyche, outside the control of the will.2
Value of dreams
Every advance, every conceptual achievement of mankind, has been connected with an advance in self-awareness.6 By concerning ourselves with dreams we can help to increase that awareness.2 Although dreams often seem silly, bewildering or senseless, when we penetrate to their real meaning we find that they speak only of important and serious matters.7 Many dreams concern no more than everyday affairs but some are treasures of psychic experience and remembered for a lifetime.8
Dreams may contain ineluctable truths, philosophical pronouncements, anticipations, telepathic visions, and much more.9 A dream, like every element in the psychic structure, is a product of the total psyche. Thus we may find in dreams everything that has ever been of significance in the life of humanity.6 Moreover, the unconscious can produce contents that are valid for the person concerned and also others, potentially for a great many people and possibly all.10
2. Dream characteristics
Considering that they are messages from God, dreams are like a good friend who doesn’t necessarily tell us what we want to hear but instead always speaks the truth about our unconscious mind. The friend can reveal aspects of our past, present and future experiences, show solutions to difficult problems, pull us down when we over-rate ourselves, lift us up when we are down, and help us to keep in touch with loved ones via the realm in which we are always united.2,9
Theatre of one
The dream is a theatre in which the dreamer is the scene, player, prompter, producer, author, public, and critic, i.e. all characters in the dream represent aspects of our self.6
Dreams portray our unconscious mind in symbolic form using images from our external environment.6
Union of opposites
Factors that cause psychological stress include internal conflict between the complimentary forces known in Chinese philosophy as yang and yin, i.e. positive/negative, light/dark, knowledge/ignorance, good/evil, masculine/feminine, life/death etc. The symbolism in dreams can increase our awareness of such inner conflict and enable more effective management of these forces. This in turn reduces the likelihood of us expressing the conflict in relation to our external world. For example, when we feel torn between aggressive vs submissive tendencies toward others, a dream can point toward a solution of assertiveness (respect for self and other), in contrast to submissiveness (respect for other but not self) or aggressiveness (respect for self but not other).11
Distressing vs uplifting
Everyone is familiar with painful and disturbing dreams. We also know that dreams can have a powerful morale-boosting effect. Sometimes when we are in a difficult situation, suffering low self-esteem and mood, God uses dream to kindle a light inside us and radically alter our attitude.12
Simple vs complicated
Dreams are as simple or as complicated as the dreamer, only they are always a little bit ahead of the dreamer’s consciousness, i.e. dreams are always somewhat beyond our grasp.13
Dreams have a continuity forward. The prospective function can be an anticipatory combination of probabilities rather than “prophecy.”6 However some anticipatory dreams show detailed future situations that are not explainable in terms of probabilities. These dreams might be prophetic.9
3. Dream Interpretation
Caution: Dream analysis does not suit everyone and it can potentially result in severe psychological distress. If at any time you feel over-stressed by attention to your dreams, stop the analysis at least until you feel ready to continue. If necessary seek the help of a good psychologist.
No infallible method
As dreams can only be understood within the context of the dreamer, there is no point in consulting a dream dictionary. The art of interpreting dreams cannot be learnt from books.2 Further, there could never be an infallible method of dream interpretation because there is an infinite variety of dreams.2 Every interpretation is an attempt to read an unfamiliar text.9
Naturally the interpretation of a dream is largely dependent on characteristics of the interpreter: his intentions, expectations, presuppositions, conscientiousness, honesty, personal gain.2
Dreams harbor no intention to deceive but express something as best they can.7 Accept the dream as a specific expression of the unconscious with no prior assumption except that it somehow makes sense.1
The psychological context of dream-contents consists in the web of associations in which the dream is naturally embedded.14 Therefore, if we want to interpret a dream correctly, we need to appreciate the conscious situation at that moment.6 Moreover, as every individual problem is somehow connected with the problem of the age, sometimes it is necessary to view the subjective difficulty from the perspective of the human situation as a whole.2
Isolated vs series of dreams
An obscure dream taken in isolation can rarely be interpreted with certainty. If we have made a wrong interpretation or if it is somehow incomplete, we may be able to see this from the next dream.7 Relative certainty can be reached in the interpretation of a series of dreams, where later dreams correct mistakes made in earlier interpretations. Also, basic ideas and themes can be recognized in a dream-series.9
In addition to knowledge, dream interpretation requires creativity and intuitive guesswork.2 Look at the dream from all sides, carry it about with you, talk about the dream with other people, let your imagination play with it.2 Creative attention to a dream almost always leads to an understanding of it.15
A structured approach
My (Aspects of Mind) approach to dream interpretation as a clinical psychologist was creative, did not follow a strict procedure and was largely guided by the dreamer. However, the following outline may help some people to get more benefit from their dreams.
1. Upon awakening, think about the dream in order to fix it in your mind.
2. Write a description of the dream (paper or electronic).
3. Highlight the main ideas / themes in this description.
4. Write down the main issues concerning you during waking life.
5. Classify the dream according to one or more categories, e.g:
- Worldly — expression of current worldly experiences, e.g. worries.
- Guidance — ways of dealing with difficult situations.
- Prophetic — information about future events.
- Love — supportive encounter with someone who is passing / has passed into heaven, e.g. a farewell visit around the time of passing, meeting with the person (in this world or heaven), encouragement from a person in heaven who continues to love and support you.
6. Note what has been learnt from the dream.
Carl Gustav Jung:
- 1964, Man and His Symbols.
- 1933, The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man.
- 1929, Problems of Modern Psychotherapy.
- 1920, The Psychological Foundations of Belief in Spirits.
- 1962, Memories, Dreams, Reflections.
- 1916, General Aspects of Dream Psychology.
- 1953, On the Psychology of the Unconscious.
- 1960, The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche.
- 1934, The Practical Use of Dream Analysis.
- 1928, The Relations between the Ego and the Unconscious.
- 1970, Christ, A Symbol of the Self.
- 1945, On the Nature of Dreams.
- 1935, Analytical Psychology: Its Theory and Practice.
- 1944, Psychology and Alchemy.
- 1931, The Aims of Psychotherapy.
At the quantum level everything is connected.