Excerpt: ‘Dreams: A Portal to The Source’

Excerpt: ‘Dreams: A Portal to The Source’

Sep 06




Dreams, A Portal To The Source
By Edward C. Whitman and Sylvia Brinton Perera
Compiled by Wesley Ray Wyatt

“Each dream can be seen as aiming toward a widening of awareness. It offers comments, correction, and contributions toward problem solving. Thereby it strengthens, coalesces, or balances the dreamer’s (and/or analyst’s) waking views, and, thus, it serves as an important vehicle to support psychological development. It can also be seen as giving evidence of a source within the dreamer that does see and present metaphor and symbol for the sake of potential psychological insight — a source which comments, corrects and teaches.

dreams-portal“Indeed there is much evidence to suggest that dreams are manifestations of the guiding and ordering center of the personality, the Self, in Jungian terms. Both dreams and outer events can be fruitfully related to as symbolic messages coming from a source that sustains and directs the individuation process throughout the dreamer’s life. The art and craft of dream interpretation, whether the interpreter is aware of it or not, is an act of reverence toward this transcendent guiding power. Working on dreams in therapy serves to provide access to this source.

“The process of dream work over time can convey an extraordinary sense of containment within a constant, supportive, guiding matrix, which supplies the dreamer from an unceasing source. Thus, while frames help to clarify and teach, they also help bring about the creation of basic trust and of an ego secure enough to be able to be responsive to the changing messages of the Self. At varying times they support every aspect of psychological development — including those of object relations and ego-building as well as those of relating to unconscious dynamics and outer and inner figures and issues. In psychotherapy they even serve to assist in the resolution of the transference to the personal analyst, by pointing constantly to the dynamics of the transference relationship as well as toward an inner authority — a sustaining and ordering center encompassing personal identity, or ego.”

“Not only does the dream inevitably address the dreamer’s and analyst’s blind-spots, it also, to use Emerson’s phrase, is ‘an answer to in hieroglyphics to the question we would pose.’ It presents its message in the language of metaphoric/allegoric and symbolic images. For both of these reasons, work on one’s dreams is fraught with difficulties. The dreamer is invariably unable to see those blind spots or to realize the nature of the ‘questions’ he or she needs ‘to pose.’ Too often the dreamer identifies only with the dream ego’s perspective and its emotional responses to the images presented. At other times the dreamer fails to sort which aspects of the dream refer to objective ‘outer’ reality and which to projected or ‘inner’ subjective states and complexes.

“Dream work, thus, requires a witness, someone to provide a perspective coming from other than the dreamer’s context, with whom the dream can initially be encountered. Working with dreams, to be most effusive, requires a dyadic or group setting. Further, a mirroring and calling other can serve as a screen on which to project the dreamer’s reactions. The witness or therapy group helps to elicit associations and explanations, and to ground the dream’s message by drawing attention to relevant areas of the dreamer’s psychology and behavior that are visible to others but fall into the dreamer’s blind spot.

“…even among experienced therapists themselves, dream work needs dialogue with another person. In spite of extensive experience with dreams, such collegial checking and confrontation usually reveals essential details and personal applications that were overlooked. The saying popular among doctors, ‘the doctor who treats himself has a fool for a physician’ applies here, for the dream brings us unconscious dynamics, and we cannot, by definition, be aware of them easily.”

— From pages 7-9

“With every dream it is for the therapist to find the level and focus of interpretation which can be most meaningful assimilated by the dreamer. When resistance occurs it often means that the approach is inappropriate or outrightly wrong. Then, either the interpretation does not apply or it has missed the point and is wrong in itself or in terms of how it is presented. In all probability the resistance itself is a component of the complex or problem area with which the dream concerns itself. When resistance occurs it is usually most helpful to back off and to start work on the dream again, staying carefully with the dream’s image descriptions of psychic dynamics, and waiting until these metaphors can be assimilated. Sometimes work on a particular dream must be dropped for a time. In no case is pushing warranted. Competition and domination merely reflect a countertransference issue to be dealt with.”

— From page 10

“In clinical practice, while careful scrutiny of each dream is important and rewarding, there is often not enough time in sessions for every detail to be explored or interpreted. As Jung put it to his dream study seminar, one does not have to ‘tell him [the dreamer] all that I have told you, only hints.’ The numinous force of the dream itself will aid and support the therapeutic process, working in the deep levels of the dreamer’s psyche both before and after the analytic session. Indeed some dreams may be returned to at different times throughout the dreamer’s life to be mined again for their rich and freshly relevant image patterns.

“In no case, however, is it enough to simply gain insight about the meaning of a dream, nor to take the dreams’ messages as indications that the unconscious always knows best. . . impairing the power of conscious decision. Understanding the dream’s messages as fully as possible on all levels of consciousness is only a preliminary step. Beyond ‘insight’ we need to actively ground the healing symbolic image patterns within the individual dreamer’s personal experience, where she or he can practice or realize the insights. This implies choosing to live and test their meanings seriously and responsibly in daily tasks and relationships. Such realization helps to bind together the various aspects of psychological functioning, coalescing the dreamer-actor-sleeper-waker into the whole individual she or he ‘is meant to be.’

“Since dream images are symbolic, not semiotic, the clinician must beware of premature ‘understanding’ of the dream ‘meaning’ a well as of reliance upon any kind of fixed equivalencies (i.e. a stick is a phallus; a cave is the Great Mother; an attic is the intellect or the future). Knowing immediately what a dream purports to mean rests usually on a projection of the therapist’s own bias or countertransference, rather than on genuine, and often necessarily mutual, understanding. Like all utterances from the ‘other side,’ the dream tends to be multi-leveled and oracular, hence ambivalent (even polyvalent) and resistant to a rational, black-white, simplistic approach. A quick knowing, or a knowing without adequate associations from the dreamer, even if partially correct, tends to miss subtle implications.”

— From page 12

“Compensation and complementation are overlapping concepts. They refer to a balancing correction of the one sidedness of the conscious position and viewpoints. In compensation this occurs by bringing forth, often in exaggerated ways, the polar opposites of our conscious views. A situation of which we happen to take take too optimistic a view may, for instance, be presented as quite dismal. Thereby, the dream may imply that the situation is dismal; or it may simply show the ‘other’ side, namely that such a potentially dismal aspect is being overlooked or not sufficiently taken into consideration.

“Complementation adds any missing pieces, not necessarily the polar opposite ones. It tends to complete or at least widen our views. It says: look also at this and this and also that. The functions both of complementation and compensation serve to correct our blind spots. Both work for a widening of awareness and for the overcoming of fixed positions in favor of change and growth of the personality.

“It may appear as though the Guiding Self ever and again were bent upon challenging our existential positions and, particularly, our unawareness of our ways of being and of the implications of our behavior. Challenge is offered when the ego is confronted with unexpected views that threaten to overthrow a false or counter-productive sense of stability…

“In trying to improve and extend our awareness, a dream may confront and challenge us with images of present situations, personal affects, and character tendencies which we happen to overlook because we are not able or don not care to see. It may expand our views by bringing up past feeling experiences which were repressed, and developments likely to arise in the future from our present stance. All of these, however, are to be considered in their effects and significance upon the here and now.”

— From page 57


“To begin to do adequately deep work with a dream, the therapist must revere the dream’s image material carefully in its context and with open puzzlement until a corresponding associative affect-response emerges from the dreamer. Thus it is not enough, in associating to a particular dream figure, to find that she was ‘a friend from high school.’ Persistent questioning needs to find the current, emotionally charged, personal quality, event or memory ascribed to that person… Since it is all too easy to get trapped prematurely in the apparently obvious interpretation, it is imperative to heed Jung’s warning: ‘The analyst who wishes to rule out conscious suggestion [must] consider every in interpretation invalid until such time as a formula is found which wins the patient’s assent.’ The only reliable criterion is the dreamer’s assent — not necessarily conscious assent, for that may be colored by rational conviction, wishing, fear, or resistance. If assent is to be reliable, it must come from what might be called an embodied or ‘gut’ sense of ‘Aha!’ ‘Yes!’ ‘Touche’. This kinesthetic validation presents a deep confirmation for ‘the Self in the body’ which knows even when the conscious ‘I’ cannot. Unless this response is forthcoming, the analyst’s views of the meaning of a dream can only be considered hypothetical possibilities still awaiting confirmation or disavowal from the Self of the dreamer. Inevitably, too, following dreams will confirm, modify, or challenge an interpretation and the dreamer’s understanding of a dream. Specifically, inadequate interpretation by the therapist or understanding by the dreamer is likely to call forth repetitions of the same dream theme, often in a more numerous, more drastic or more dramatic form.”

— From page 14



Dream Basics
Pulse on Dreams
The Alchemy of Dreams


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