Jungian Therapy & The Meaning of Dreams, 1: Why Care?
Why does Jungian therapy care about opening up the meaning of dreams? Some think that they’re nothing but the brain clearing up its hard drive.
Can a dream show us anything very important?
This is the first part of a series on why Jungian therapy emphasizes the importance of dreams — and why you might want to, as well.
The Meaning of Dreams… Rarely What You’d Expect
It’s important to realize that the meaning of dreams generally does not accord with the dominant conscious attitude, or what our ego expects. In the vast majority of cases, the perspective that a dream is trying to present compensates our conscious attitude. We can think of the meaning of dreams as representing a commentary on some aspect of the conscious mind’s attitude to a life situation, a relationship, or values held by consciousness.
Dreams are important because they are not what consciousness would expect. We need a perspective that supplements that of consciousness.
A Window into Soul
For Jungian therapy, exploring the meaning of dreams opens up a new window into soul, the inner, unconscious reality of the human being. By this, I am not making a philosophical, metaphysical or religious claim about the existence or non-existence of an immortal soul in humans. As neuroscience is increasingly showing us, the unconscious aspect of the brain is by far the greater part of the brain, and of the psyche. Soul, as used here, refers to connecting with the deepest levels of our psychic being.
The “Dreaming Genius”
Those who explore the meaning of dreams are often staggered by the detail and subtlety in dreams, and the ways in which they speak so powerfully and directly to the life situation of the dreamer. One stands in awe, sometimes, of the blinding intelligence that lies behind these creations of the nighttime hours. There are depths in each of us that contain an incredible wisdom, and, for our health and sanity we may well need what they bring to us.
Jungian Therapy and the Power of Symbols
The symbols which are interpreted by Jungian therapy in determining the meaning of dreams are not shorthand for something that can be readily expressed in English language. They reflect powerful realities in the unconscious mind that cannot be easily turned into simple statements. The process of Jungian therapy includes understanding the meaning of dreams as they present themselves, and using that insight to change the ways in which we relate to our lives.