Dreaming LifeDreaming Life

Between 1909 and 1913 Carl Jung was a friend and follower of Freud, the famous psychoanalyst and dream expert; and pretty much agreed with everything his mentor said. As Jung grew more competent he became a respected psychoanalyst in his own right and became particularly interested in dreams and their role in analyzing his patients. He agreed with Freud that dreams are an expression of one’s own consciousness, but he had his doubts as to whether all dreams were based on an individual’s personal experiences and memories – what Freud called the ‘personal unconscious’. Jung began to notice patterns and similarities between the dreams of different people he interviewed and treated; he began to explore these correlations more intensely.

Jung observed that the individual delusions of his separate psychotic patients had many startling similarities, that they echoed the themes and myths from all over the world. He became particularly interested in mythology, the occult, astrology, alchemy and competitive religions; he realized that common themes and motifs were threaded through all of these subjects, across different time periods and traditions. He concluded after extensive studies that there must be a ‘collective unconscious’, a myth-making level of the mind that was passed from generation to generation, common to all cultures from all nations.

Jung states that this mental pool of consciousness is home to a range of archetypes; the most basic attributes of the mind that encompass universal experiences and characteristics – unlike Freud who thought dreams were driven by the sexual urges of the id, Jung believed that dreams offer a revelation of our common, universal psychic inheritance.

Jung termed certain dream as being level 3, or ‘grand dreams’, when they involved certain common archetypes; believing they can be interpreted in terms of myth, arguing that Freudian methods restricted dream interpretation to the confines of personal meaning – instead he used ‘amplification’, a process through which the dream experience can be expanded by placing it within a mythical context. Be meditating on the archetypes involved in the dream, one can look at its mythical themes and symbolic significance. He believed that Freud’s methods took interpretation too far away from the dream itself; totally missing out on the dream’s important symbols. To stop from doing this, Jung developed a system called ‘direct association. By this method, each association given by the patient is thought to have been prompted by a specific aspect of the individual dream scenario.

Jung searched for an all-encompassing view of dreaming through the examination of dreams via three main alternative contexts: the personal, the cultural, and the archetypal. If Jung regarded dream interpretation as an essential tool for his methods of psychoanalysis, it was because he believed that dreams represent our common humanity; they can have an almost religious function when viewed this way, with each dream leading us steadily along the path to enlightenment and self-discovery.