Dream Analysis Essay
John [customer may change/remove his/her name here] has a military background and has spent his childhood in a boarding school. Overall, his childhood was happy and content and his favorite toys to play were trucks which he sometimes even wanted to build out of stray wooden logs and old tires. For the past couple of days John has been having a few recurrent dreams.
In the following discourse of dream analysis and analysis on the basis of psychoanalytic personality theory, it will be examined how the fascinating world of the unconscious portrays to the conscious world a glimpse of that infinite universe that resides within each and every one of us. Every night John dreams that he is being chased by a figure in a hooded cloak and long hair that suddenly fades into a door which he cannot open.
Bizarre as it may seem, John walks into the door and there is darkness everywhere – but as soon as there is enough light for him to see, he realizes that he is walking on water and there are ships all around him. Without furtherance, the dream ends and John wakes up confused and worried. John can neither comprehend the worry he has nor can he understand the odd turn of events in his dream. It is often said that each human being is a tiny universe within himself or herself.
Each person has within him/her a great constellation of ideas, feelings, emotions, wants, needs and many other such aspects which make the person unique and individual and thus even a single case study can prove to be a study of a lifetime. “The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego-consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness extends. ”
These words belonged to this very noted and lauded psychoanalyst, Carl Gustav Jung, a proponent of Analytical Psychology and the inventor of the famous terms of today such as ‘collective unconscious’, ‘archetypes’ and ‘persona’. In the therapy, Jung’s methodology of treatment worked on the profound principles of word associations, free associations, dream analysis, transference and counter-transference. Dreams remained, however, one of the most significant works of Jung since there had been little work done on it since Freud.
Jung’s therapeutic techniques and analysis of dreams provide a much more culturally rich and avid interpretations that cover a great breadth of subjects and ideas. Whereas Freud would interpret dreams as a ‘royal road to the unconscious’ that mostly leads to sexual discussions of a male-dominated structure, Jung’s discussion would profit the reader more in terms of how rich his theory is with motifs from all across the world. He had the cultural and cognitive openness to absorb ideas and patterns from cultures which belonged to distant lands as well as to designs which were close to his own religion, nation and race.
His theory of personality speaks of not simplistic desires of sex and aggression; rather it takes a comprehensive look at the various types of personality in terms of their functions. According to Jung’s theory, personalities are categorized in both extroverted and oriented toward subjective experiences (Miller 2004). Dreams are not looked up by a codebook, dictionary or even an almanac. You cannot have a standard glossary of dreams (Coolidge, 2006) which can simply pinpoint to you the exact source and destination of your dream.
Even the most simplest of psychoanalysis would require a complete case study of the person and delve into the backgrounds and relationships of the dreamer – rather than arbitrary guesswork. “Nobody doubts the importance of conscious experience; why then should we doubt the significance of unconscious happenings? They are also the part of our life, and sometimes more truly a pert of it for weal or woe than any happenings of the day” (Jung, 1970). Jung wrote a variety of articles, developing and perfecting his theory over a period of time (Adams 2004) which led to the collection of all his articles under a book called Dreams (1974).
For John’s case we will discuss the two basic categories of dreams given by Jung: (1) Reactive (2) Compensatory Reactive dreams are coming as a reaction to some kind of trauma or repression faced by the individual. Most dreams fall, however, in the compensatory category, where the present moment attitudes or compromises of the ego are reflected back. Compensatory dreams present alternative perspectives that have been repressed, dissociated or otherwise defensively excluded by the ego (Addams 2004).
Jung’s theory of personality suggested that there exists the ‘collective unconscious’, a set of influences that we inherit from our own particular ancestors, the whole human race, and even animal ancestors from the past. This collective unconscious is shared by everyone and is displayed by behavior that is shown as common across all cultures. Loving your mother, belief in a supreme being, fear of dark, cold places, and perceiving certain images as positive and certain images as negative are all results of the collective unconscious of which the entire race is a part of.
Jung believed that the collective unconscious has ‘archetypes’ which were the universal symbolic representations of a particular person object or experience (Feldman, 1993). One of these archetypes is the ‘mother archetype’, a symbolic representation of a mother-figure present across all cultures, religions, literature, myths and even fairy tales (Virgin Mary, Mother Hubbard, Kali, fairy godmother etc. ). In John’s case the dreams seem to be of the second kind, which is the most common kind.
Owing from John’s history that was taken prior to analysis (as per rule of psychoanalysis itself), it is seen that John has not been in any kind of traumatic experience lately which could lead to show that his dreams are in any way a reactive phenomenon to some event. It seems as if the ego, which is conducting the job of maintaining the deep secrets of the collective unconscious which tries to seep through our dreams, feelings, premonitions and behavioral idiosyncrasies.
John’s history reveals that his favorite passion as a child was building tracks, as mentioned before, and he would often use his mother’s stray clips and pins while trying to make trucks. Once, he recalls, during his free association sessions, that his mother had gone out for the afternoon for a little while and he was left alone with his toys. John had sneaked into his mother’s room and taken all the clips and pins he could find to build a tiny engine for his truck out of the old cardboard boxes lying around in the attic.
It did not thus struck as odd to the therapist when John responded with the word ‘road’ with the word ‘pins’. Word association technique, also propounded by Carl Jung, was a technique where the individual is given a list of words. To these set of words, the individual is asked to respond to the first response that comes to the mind. In modern day interpretation, reaction time and expressions are also noted. In Jung’s original version the main practices were focused on the response the individual gave to the words.
In John’s case, the response to the word ‘road’ came as ‘pins’ which could have explained his recollection of his childhood methodology of building trucks through borrowing the pins from his mother’s dresser. John also remembers being scolded by his mother very sternly regarding the stealing of pins. He remembers his mother telling him that although what he stole was not of much significance, it did however matter that he stole something which was wrong on every account. John remembers crying and repeating the word ‘sorry’ many times and considers this to be one of his more memorable events in his childhood.
The military set up, of which John is a part of, also establishes a certain emphasis on rule-abiding and a formidable outlook on immoral practices. Discipline and control are a big part of John’s life, so it is not surprising that such an event in childhood where his moral qualities were called into question continue to remain vivid in his memories. Although John’s energies have been channelized constructively, he does report feeling more inclined towards construction and manual labor oriented tasks, which speak of his childhood pastime of building trucks.
In his dream John is chased by a figure which has long hair and a cloak, easily represented by an evil mother archetype. John may be harboring feelings in his personal unconscious, which is different from the collective unconscious. The personal unconscious is the combination of the residue of the personal events and experiences of the individual’s life, whereas the collective unconscious is the collective residue of the events and lives of the ancestors’ of the individual which is shared by all members of the society.
Here since the archetype is professed as the evil mother archetype (given in the form of various myths and religions such as Kali, the Death Goddess, Evil Enchantress, Vivien and the Witch in Hansel and Gretel (Fox, 1994), we can understand John’s residual and unconscious fear of his mother. The dream can be further interpreted in terms of his fear and overall overpowering sense of moral code and ethics which guides his childhood memories as well as present day ambitions. This fear of childhood and present day fear of judgment may be symbolized as the evil mother since the ‘shadow’ may have a will of its own.
The concept of ‘shadow’ by Carl Jung is synonymous to the concept of ‘id’ by Sigmund Freud, which represents all the carnal and basic desires of the person. The Greeks separated the mother archetype in both good and bad ways, whether it was the sexual version of Aphrodite, the virgin Artemis, the motherly Demeter and the dominating Hera (Fox, 1994). The mother figure symbolized as evil in John’s dream does not necessarily mean that John hates his mother or considers her as evil.
It is simply a symbolic representation and interpretation of ideas and themes that are considered as overwhelming or powerful which have taken the connection of childhood memories, themes and ideas. The door and the sea both represent an initiation into a world that is unknown and thus a voyage into the unknown is found in this particular sequence of the dream. The sea has various interpretations in terms of archetypes and expresses a vast majority of meanings including an initiation, a voyage, an uneasy division between order and chaos, the eternal mother, etc (Carlson, 1986).
A study was conducted on the archetype of doors and it was found that doors represent safety and keep bad things from getting in or help in escape if danger threatens. A door may represent a way out, a way to safety (Hatala, 1992). This dream could possibly mean that the door symbolizes a certain escape and balance that was brought from the uncertainty in life. The uncertainty that could have arisen from the difference in ambition and the difference in the current profession is absolved through the doorway of channelizing the energies into a positive way, for example, by joining the military.
For the process of deindividuation, which Jung called the process of discovering the deepest of potentials of a person, dreams provide as powerful tools and cues in order to discover and fulfill the calls of the inner psyche. In John’s dreams the call of the unconscious seems to be towards the ego and the persona (synonymous to the Freudian ‘ego’ or reality principle) which absolves the conflicts of the ego. John seems to doubt his ego which the ego in turn does not want it to do. It wants John to make peace with the investment of his energies.
The dream starts with the evil mother archetype and seems to end with the ‘sea’ or the eternal mother archetype. This means that there is peace within the system of John’s unconscious, yet this peace needs to be maintained, accepted and realized by the individual himself. Works Cited: Addams, M. V. (2004). The Fantasy Principle: Psychoanalysis of the Imagination. New York: Brunner-Routledge. Carlson, P. A. (1986). Literature and lore of the sea. Costerus, new ser. , v. 52. Amsterdam: Rodopi. Coolidge, F. L. (2006). Dream interpretation as a psychotherapeutic technique.
Oxford: Radcliffe. Feldman, R. S. (1993). Psychology. [New York]: McGraw-Hill. Fox, R. (1994). The challenge of anthropology old encounters and new excursions. New Brunswick, N. J. , U. S. A. : Transaction. Hatala, L. J. (1992). Incredibly American releasing the heart of quality. Milwaukee, Wis: ASQC Quality Press. Jung, C. G. (1953). Psychological reflections an anthology of the writings of C. G. Jung. London: Routledge and K. Paul. Miller, C. A. , & Miller, C. A. (2004). Nursing for wellness in older adults: theory and practice. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.