“Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s questions. ” — Edgar Cayce
I just led a workshop on dreams that went very well. Yet when I sit down to write a blog post about dreamwork, I get stuck.
This site is primarily devoted to group psychotherapy. The style of group therapy that I’m inspired by is Modern Analytic, based on the work of Louis Ormont, who learned from Hyman Spotnitz, who learned from Sigmund Freud.
The style of dreamwork that I’m inspired by is Jungian, based on the work of Carl Jung.
Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud disagreed profoundly on the nature of dreams and the Unconscious.
From what I’ve gathered, Freud believed that dreams were more or less personal events. They came to the individual and were comprised of elements of the individual’s experience and psychology, originating in whatever had been repressed in the person’s lifetime. He focused on sexual urges and believed that the manifest content of the dream was an elaborate cover for the truer, latent or hidden meaning of the dream.
Jung believed dreams came from a transpersonal source. Instead of being strictly limited to the individual’s experience, dreams were messages from the Collective Unconscious, a sort of unified psychic field that encompasses all of humanity and ultimately all of life. Jung believed that the images of the dream were in and of themselves the essential message, expressed symbolically.
Where this difference leads is to the degree reverence attached to a dream. It seems to me that many people more influenced by Freud consider a dream not significantly different from other communication. Especially in the group world where the emphasis is on the transferences evoked by other group members, sharing a dream is generally considered an indirect interpersonal expression–the group member shares the dream as a way of communicating something about their state of mind and emotional life towards other members and the group as a whole. The other members are invited to share their associations and interpersonal reactions and in this way the dream becomes grist for the primarily relational project of group.
In contrast, the attitude that has grown in me from my Jungian studies is to treat a dream almost like prophecy. It is a gift from the gods, a message specifically designed to assist me in my growth and development. It is something to be meditated on, leisurely mulled over and slowly digested. Sharing the dream and receiving others’ reactions can interfere with this contemplative practice. Making the dream interpersonal distracts from and dilutes the inherently intrapsychic import of the dream.
The workshop I led focuses on the intrapsychic. It’s an introduction to a simple, powerful method for drawing profound personal meaning, inspiration and insight from our dreams and the dreams of our clients. If you’re interested, I invite you to join me for an online course in which each member will apply the method in its entirety to a single dream: