Introduction/ What Are Dreams?/ Understanding Symbols/ Symbols and Metaphor/ Next Discovering the Inner Self
Interpreting the Dream/ Resources & Guides for the Dreamer

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The Importance of Dreams


The Unconscious

And Along Comes Freud

Prior to the nineteen century the concept of an unconscious was merely a fascination those who dabbled in speculative thought. Philosophy was the main area to which any thought of an unconscious was considered. Even those circles the idea was considered vague and without a lot of merit.

In the late nineteen century Freud arrived on the scene and serious thought to the unconscious and conscious motives began to take place. His concepts of the id, the ego, and the super-ego were introduced and soundly rejected by most of his colleagues. His contention that the unconscious was a waste bin for repressed and forgotten contents were at first scorned since there were few who had any idea of an unconscious aspect of the human psyche. The idea that there are such things as unconscious mental states at all is a direct function of Freud's determinism, even with its initial nonacceptance.

As we entered the twentieth century things began to change. Freud's 'Interpretation of Dreams' gained much popularity and soon his ideas about an unconscious were being accepted by many in the field of psychology. His concept of the instincts as being the principle motivating forces of the mental realm were thought provoking and his theory of sexual drives as an importance and centrality in human life provided him the popularity he sought. Sex is always popular and even though Freud took an imperialist stance on his 'sexual' theory he gained fame as a pioneer in the field of psychology and dreams. Our notions of identity, memory, childhood, sexuality, and, most generally, of meaning have been shaped in relation to--and often in opposition to--Freud's work.

Carl Jung

A student and protege of Freud was Carl Jung. Freud saw Jung as the subsequent inheritor to his theories but Jung rejected Freud's heavy emphasis on sexuality as the source of all psychic disorders, and the two soon parted ways. Jung also saw the unconscious as more than just a receptacle for rejected emotions and desires. Jung saw the unconscious as holding all we need to know about the causes of our psychic problems, and as a way to show us remedies to those disorders. And Jung thought that the unconscious provided us with this information through our dreams
Jung saw the unconscious as not only a circuitry of instincts of hunger, sex, desire, and survival but also a passageway to insights to life's meaning. Whereas Freud saw the symbols in dream as concealing the dream's message, Jung saw them as compensating the dreamer's waking condition with information that could provide balance and harmony. Jung never lost sight of the dream and used 'amplification', amplifying each word, person, object and image in the dream and associate it with the dreamer's waking condition. His technique of 'active imagination' helped his patients associate the dream images with what was really occurring in waking life, amplifying the understanding of the patients awareness of hidden aspects within the unconscious.
Jung also saw the meaning of a particular dream as being different from another person's meaning.He also distinguished between younger and older people when interpreting dream symbols. Up to the age of 35 Jung saw a Freudian interpretation as more applicable, but after 35 Jung thought his methods best fit the dreamer's life. The first half of life, up until the age of 35, most people are per-occupied with outward thing; career, raising a family, material things. The second half of life people have a tendency to start reflecting on the past and start to look inward. Death also becomes a reality after the age of 35 and 'meaning' in life becomes a greater concern than in youth.
Perhaps the one thing that distinguishes Jung above all else to many of his followers today is his concept of a 'spiritual' aspect within the psyche. Freud was a dogmatic atheist and although Jung had no time for organized religion he believed that religion was therapeutic and an ultimate cure for the troubled mind. The quest for meaning, for God, and one's own true self were the one and the same for Jung. Jung saw many instances of religious imagery in his patients dreams as well as images related to mythology and rituals - and older people had more of these symbols in their dreams than do younger dreamers.

Personal and Collective Unconscious

Jung distinguishes between the more superficial and deeper layers of the unconscious mind and called them 'the personal unconscious' and 'the collective unconscious'. Those things that have been repressed, rejected, placed in storage so as not to be bothered with made up the personal unconscious. These thoughts and experiences may be brought into consciousness by a simple of act of will, or they may never be brought into consciousness at all.
The collective unconscious operates beyond conscious awareness, and is much older than the individuals experiences, indeed older than consciousness itself. It is the inherited foundation for the structure of personality. In Jung's extensive research of alchemy, anthropology, archaeology, art, dream analysis, history, literature, mysticism, mythology, occultism, religion, he found symbols that seemed to be spontaneous products of collective mankind. These shared imagery could not have been brought about from personal experiences and Jung judged them to be symbolic that evolved with mankind.
The collective unconscious is comprised of archetypes. Jung's concepts of archetypes and the collective unconscious stemmed from his theory that the libido is psychic energy which expresses itself through universal symbols. An archetype is an inherited idea or mode of thought that is derived from the experience of all humankind if not all things within nature and is present in the unconscious of the individual. The shadow, anima/animus {masculine/feminine}, the mana personalities, and the Self are the four main archetypal imagery that are most prevalent in the dream world. Cinderella and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde are common 'shadow' archetypes. When a man dreams of unknown females, or a woman has dream imagery of unknown and sometimes threatening male figures, these are anima/animus archetypes. An Wise Old Man or the Great Mother are archetypal images of power and wisdom, mana personalities that Jung distinguished to be part of our dreams. Dreams of the true self use archetypal images of the sun, of Jesus or the Buddha. These dreams are pointing to your inner self, that aspect for which when realized and utilized will bring about harmony and happiness in life. Mandalas are common symbols of the 'Self'. This is often seen when a person has realized a transformation of consciousness is needed to bring about harmony in life.

The unconscious is a storage bin of sorts, holding all that is consciously known, and unconsciously known about the dreamer. There is also a connection to information that is beyond the dreamer's own personal experience, tapping into resources of the 'collective mind' of nature and mankind. Acknowledging these aspects will enhance the ability to understand the dreamworld and ultimately, with discipline, help one find the meaning in the individual life.

Introduction/ What Are Dreams?/ Understanding Symbols/ Symbols and Metaphor/ Discovering the Inner Self
Interpreting the Dream/ Resources & Guides for the Dreamer

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