Mindful Matters

Dream Analysis

It is important that we work with dream material, as dreams give us access to our own unconscious material.  Dreams originate in the unconscious and have the capacity to lead to individuation.  Jung (1984) stated that dreams have hidden meanings and that we must have a personal context by which to interpret and understand them.  He focused on the individuation process which is both intrinsic and personal.  Johnson (1986) stated that: “Individuation is the term Jung used to refer to the lifelong process of becoming the complete human being we were born to be.  Individuation is our waking up to our total self, allowing our conscious personalities to develop until they include all the basic elements that are inherent in each of us at the pre-conscious level.  This is the ‘actualizing of the blueprint.’” (Johnson p. 11)

The key to unlocking a dream is buried within the dreamer and can be uncovered through analysis—or self-analysis.  An essential element to this discovery is collecting the personal recollections of the dreamer in order to find the true meaning of the dream.

By interpreting the dream within the context of the person’s life, a transcendent function develops.  This transcendent function can lead to individuation.  Yet analyzing one’s dreams can be very confusing to anyone, as archetypal and mythological figures are both confusing and unrecognizable.  Jung (1984) indicated that dreams have a purpose and that by analyzing a dream one can identify particular dream symbology which may indicate that the person is experiencing the process of individuation.  Further, Jung discussed the idea that certain archetypal dreams may elicit an emotional response, and therefore the skill of an experienced analyst is required to guide one through the process of individuation safely (pp. 205-206).

Moreover, Jung (1984) described the compensatory function of dreams and recognized that the symbology of dreams can act as guides through this process (p. 170).  He suggested that because the dream motifs are connected to mythological motifs, the typical motifs permit a comparison to the motifs of mythology.

Through the interpretation of the dream, archetypal information may emerge which has the capacity to not only support individuation, but also to expand one’s sense of self and purpose in life.  Then, Jung (1984) examined the figurative language in dreams, as well as the religious ideas encountered there (Jung, p. 24).  Here he pointed out that religious ideas can aid in dream analysis as they have a psychological construction, such as the circle, mandala, or mandorla, which can be identified and, as a result, give valuable information to the analyst on the stasis of the patient (Jung, p. 141).

It is the symbolic language of dreams, as well as the compensatory function, which has the capacity to enrich and restore a sense of vitality to the dreamer (Jung, 1984, p. 130).  Seeing one’s life through new eyes helps one have a new perspective, which can support individuation (pp. 182-183).  Since dreams have an unconscious function or irrational fragments, the symbolic language of dreams can potentially lead to integration and wholeness.  Hence, dream interpretation gives one the opportunity to become acquainted with his or her own unconscious material, and therefore have the potential to restore balance and harmony to his or her life (p. 21).  In a sense, the dream is the window to the soul, and the journey to wholeness as the process of individuation can lead to a rediscovery of the lost meaning and libido of one’s life (p. 122).  Thus, because the process of individuation is a natural maturation process, one can reconcile an equilibration between the conscious and the unconscious (p. 186).

Through dream analysis, symbology elucidates archetypes that affect one’s consciousness.  It is this material that has the capacity to balance a compensatory life with archetypal forces.  It is because Jung (1984) assigns a compensatory function to the unconscious, which has the potential to bring into balance the one-sidedness which may appear in a person’s consciousness, that dream analysis is so important in the therapy of neurosis.