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  • 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.

    meaning of dreams

    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.


    PHOTO:  AttributionSome rights reserved by Per Ola Wiberg
    1. jamenta


      September 15, 2012 at 10:56 am -

      Excellent post Brian. I admit that it is here I find it most difficult to make progress – as I have a xenophobic tendency toward my dreams – and often find myself floundering when attempting to interpret them.

      1. Brian C
        September 15, 2012 at 12:31 pm -

        I think that very many of us have a xenophobic tendency toward our dreams – it can be extremely hard to really let in what it is that the unconscious is trying to present to us in dreaming states. We mostly have a tendency to try and fit them into a framework that accords with the particular perspective and projects of the ego, and interpret them accordingly. But if we can catch a glimpse of the alternative perspective that the unconscious brings to our life, sometimes that glimpse can be truly transformative. Often, this is one of the great values of working with a psychotherapist with the right kinds of skills, such as a Jungian therapist, who can help open us up to an “outside perspective on our dreams. Thank you for your insightful comment sharing your personal experience, John!

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