Medium 9781855754508

The Herald Dream

Views: 1048
Ratings: (0)

This monograph focuses on a systemic approach to dream interpretation and the unique importance of the initial dream. The first dream reported in a psychoanalytic therapy session poignantly encapsulates the major issues that the patient brings to the treatment. These dreams 'herald' the trajectory of the treatment and can be interpreted in the service of psychodynamic diagnosis and prognosis.The book melds aspects of Jungian dream analysis, with neo-Freudian analytic thought, current neurobiological concepts, and Buddhist psychology, to yield a rich and powerful understanding of how dreams symbolize the multifaceted aspects of the psyche. Multiple examples of initial dreams are discussed in detail, with suggestions for how they can inform the analytic stance and serve as objects for analysis over the course of a treatment.

List price: $25.99

Your Price: $20.79

You Save: 20%

Remix
Remove
 

14 Slices

Format Buy Remix

CHAPTER ONE: Introduction

ePub

In an essay entitled the Practical Use of Dream Analysis (Jung 1961), Carl Jung suggests that:

The initial dreams that appear at the very outset of the treatment often bring to light the essential etiological factors (of the neurosis) in the most unmistakable way.

Elsewhere in the same essay, he notes:

Initial dreams are often amazingly lucid and clear cut. But as the work of analysis progresses, the dreams tend to lose their clarity.

To herald means to announce or to foretell. Although dreams may arguably reflect actual precognition, e.g., by predicting a death or a catastrophic event, interpretations based on precognition are generally best avoided in the practice of analysis.1 The herald dream, i.e., the first dream offered in analysis, does not foretell specific events; but it does invariably identify the issues that will subsequently be important in the treatment. By defining the “initial conditions” of the psyche in treatment via an examination of the herald dream, it is often possible with a high degree of accuracy to predict the subsequent “trajectory of the treatment”. Admittedly, psychotherapy is more complex than the motion of a Newtonian particle. But the herald dream reveals archetypal elements that are subject to the rules of the psyche.

 

CHAPTER TWO: Dreams in Theory

ePub

In her book Dreams (Von Franz 1991), the Jungian analyst Marie-Louise Von Franz describes how Hannibal, driven by ambition to conquer Rome, misinterpreted the meaning of his own dream the night before a fateful battle, leading to an ignominious defeat. Important scientific insights, like Kekule’s recognition of the configuration of the benzene ring, have occurred in dreams. Kekule described the image of a snake in uroboric configuration, i.e., swallowing its own tail. Upon waking, the scientist recognized that the carbon structure must be a closed ring.

Extraordinary works of art have also emerged in dreams. Coleridge’s epic poem Kubla Khan appeared in complete form in a dream. Coleridge immediately began to transcribe it faithfully upon awakening but the ending was lost when he was interrupted by a visitor at the door.

The importance of dreams has in general depended on their interpretation. But why dreams should be interpreted at all is a question that is rarely addressed.1 As the desire to discover meaning and to dispel uncertainty characterizes human behavior, it is possible that the obscure nature of the dream itself evokes efforts at its interpretation. But before embarking on how to approach dream interpretation, it is worthwhile to examine what is currently known about dreams.

 

CHAPTER THREE: Dreams in Practice

ePub

By virtue of having trained in both Jungian and Freudian theories and techniques, my approach to dream interpretation represents a melding of both traditions. Whereas I adhere to the Jungian viewpoint that dreams are transparent, my application of the insights yielded by dream interpretations tends to focus on personal and developmental issues as well as on their archetypal and spiritual implications. I try to orient my interpretations to the sector where personal and archetypal experiences intersect, what I term the zone of individuation (Figure 5).

Jung justified his emphasis on archetypal images by concentrating his practice on patients who had previously been analyzed and who he believed were suffering primarily from existential crises. In my practice, I have encountered few individuals who have adequately resolved their personal conflicts by mid-life, although many patients can work productively in both the personal and archetypal areas of experience. In addition, as an analysis progresses, archetypal issues seem to arise naturally.

 

CHAPTER FOUR: Approaching the Dream

ePub

It is helpful to approach dreams systematically. When patients recognize that the analyst can effectively organize and interpret dreams, they gain increased confidence in the treatment. Dreams generally have a well-defined structure that contributes to their interpretability. Aristotle noted succinctly that dreams have a beginning, middle, and an end (Aristotle 1985). Jung (Jung 1952) suggested that dreams, like a play, can be divided into an exposition, (location, time and cast), a peripetaeia (plot development), a crisis (point of maximal tension), and a lysis (resolution).

In practice, patients will often ignore critical details in their reporting of dreams when they first begin working with them. If this continues, it may indicate resistance. After all, when we are truly interested in something, we tend to recall its features in detail. Until that state of mind is achieved with respect to dreams, it is common for the dreamer to report unrelated fragments of narrative that have little coherence. Consider the following dream narrative offered by an intelligent patient who repeatedly expressed doubts concerning the “objectivity” of psychoanalysis.

 

CHAPTER FIVE: The Centrality of Dreams

ePub

The following herald dream of a 17-year-old boy will serve as an initial example. J. was a good-looking, well-dressed, and self-confident young man. He was the son of a powerful local politician and from a large family of brothers and sisters. His mother died when he was a child and his father had subsequently pampered him. His ten older brothers were from previous marriages and his relationship to them was competitive and strained.

He reported the following two dreams that occurred on the same night:

Dream #1: There is a large circle formed by sheaves of wheat. My sheaves are at the center and my brothers’ and father’s sheaves surround mine and are bowing down to it.

Dream #2: I am at the center of a circle and the sun and the moon and ten stars revolve around me.

When more than one dream is reported from a single night, the dreams are invariably related. They may re-iterate the same theme or, alternatively, they may state a thesis and then counter it with antithesis. It is evident that both dreams have similar motifs. In the first dream, the dream-ego’s sheaves of wheat are located at the center of a circle, and his relatives’ sheaves surround them and appear to be paying homage. In the second dream, the dream-ego is located at the center of a circle, and the sun, moon, and ten stars surround him. This is an obvious reference to his father, mother, and ten brothers.

 

CHAPTER SIX: Chains

ePub

The following is the herald dream of a 46-year-old homosexual man, reported six months into the analysis. Ted was a well-groomed middle-aged man who appeared younger than his age. In the first sessions, he seemed anxious and defensive. He reported being unhappy in his heterosexual marriage and expressed an intense hatred of his employer. Despite his chronic disgruntle-ment, he quickly offered a series of reasons why he could do nothing to change his situation. His dream was as follows:

I am at the bottom of the ocean, wrapped in chains. In my right hand I hold a gold key that can open the lock and release the chains. But instead of opening them, I throw the key away.

Associations

“Nothing really comes to mind. I was watching a show about deep-sea diving on television the night before.”

Early in the treatment, it is important to explain to patients that dreams represent a language that is different from conventional discourse. The new patient should be helped to recognize that the information revealed by dreams is likely to assist in the treatment, and reassured that dream interpretation is not meant to be a source of shame. It is understandable that a new patient would be reluctant to participate in dream analysis, if it leads to embarrassment. As Jung noted, the ego invariably views its encounters with the unconscious as a defeat, because these detract from its sense of omnipotence. However, recognizing this expected decrease in self-esteem, it can generally be modulated by the analyst.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN: The Cook

ePub

This is the first dream brought by a 53-year-old woman whose chief complaint was difficulty getting along with her coworkers. Jill was an attractive middle-aged woman who might be described as “animated”. She reported this dream in the third session of the treatment.

I am four years old. I am standing in the kitchen of my parents’ house attempting to cook an egg. My parents are in one corner of the room and they are paying no attention to me. I am intent on cooking the egg. My parents disapprove. The egg breaks and flows down the side of the counter.

Associations

“This sounds like something I might have done. I was always trying to do things by myself that I was too young to accomplish.”

Although Jill’s associations to her dream were limited, I sensed that she was at ease working with imaginal material and that she displayed a degree of ego-objectivity that would help in building the therapeutic alliance.

Jill had previously been in treatment with another therapist for several years. She described her experience as pleasant but not very productive. It is advisable to determine a patient’s prior exposure to psychotherapy, and to inquire as to whether it was helpful, as well as to why and how it ended. At times, it may become apparent within the first sessions that the patient has prematurely left a previous treatment, in order to avoid working through unresolved issues, and might benefit by returning to it. However, I do not contact previous therapists unless this issue begs for resolution and then only with the patient’s express permission. Inquiries may reveal rigid negative transference responses that predictably will be repeated in the new treatment and that could lead to its premature disruption.

 

CHAPTER EIGHT: Bombs Away

ePub

This was the herald dream brought by a 34-year-old man in the first month of therapy. James was a rock musician who had achieved modest recognition while playing in local bands. He was a physically imposing man who seemed uncomfortable with his large size.

I am riding in an open Jeep. It is a beautiful day and I am looking at the flowers along the side of the road. Suddenly I hear a loud blast and see a mushroom cloud rising in the distance. I realize that a nuclear bomb has been dropped and that everyone is going to die.

Associations

“I was watching a program on television the other day about the end of World War II. I like driving in the country. That’s all that comes to mind.”

Freud noted the role of the “day residue” in dreams (Freud

1901).1

I must at once express the opinion that some reference to the experiences of the day which has most recently passed is to be found in every dream.

The day residue represents perceptions registered while awake that appear in the dream of the same night. Recent sleep research has demonstrated that patterns of neuronal firing associated with task-specific learning in rodents are specifically re-activated during sleep (Jouvet 1999). This suggests that memory traces encoded during wakefulness can reappear in dreams. In turn, dreams may be recollected upon waking, so there is evidence for bidirectional communication between waking and dreaming modes of consciousness.

 

CHAPTER NINE: Shadowlands

ePub

This was the first dream of a 38-year-old man who presented with panic attacks and depression. Bob appeared modestly disheveled, and was nursing a beerbelly. He oscillated in his demeanor from shy and retiring to overconfident and overbearing. He had been referred to therapy because of difficulties with unexpressed anger. He reported his initial dream approximately one year into the treatment.

I am at college but I am trying to go home. I get on the wrong train and wind up in a black neighborhood. A black man approaches me and begins to take small things out of my pockets. An elderly black man advises me to say the word “ebonic” and that it will help me avoid being robbed. At first I ignore him, but then I take his advice and it works. Next, a large crowd of angry black people surrounds me but I am afraid to antagonize them with the magical word. They take my wallet and my power tools but somehow I get them back.

Associations

Bob was a defensive and frequently argumentative patient who expressed little interest in his dreams. He offered the following associations.

 

CHAPTER TEN: My Big Fat Greek Wedding

ePub

A 42-year-old woman presented with concerns about her inability to make commitments in relationships. She reported the following dream in the first session. Toni was a modestly overweight but attractive and energetic woman. She had previously been in therapy but quit because “I wasn’t learning anything that I didn’t already know and I’m not in a position to waste money”.

I am with a friend in Greece. We are at the top of a hill descending to the sea. She is in front of me. I suggest that she leave her baggage behind but she loses her footing, falls, and the baggage pushes her down the hill towards the sea.

Associations

Toni prided herself on her keen intellect. After reporting the dream, she quickly added, “Now I guess you are going to tell me that I am moving too fast and likely to have an accident. But, she quickly added, “I didn’t fall; it was my friend, not me”.

Some patients instead of offering associations to their dreams rapidly reel off interpretations. But these are rarely on the mark. They are meant to short circuit inquiry and to ward off feelings of envy of the analyst, who they fear knows something they do not.

 

CHAPTER ELEVEN: The Reptilian Brain

ePub

John was a 25-year-old man whose mother referred him to my practice concerned with his inability to engage with the world. John’s own chief complaint was an ill-defined but deeply rooted fear of women. His sexual experience with women was limited and he displayed little interest in either sex. He reported feeling deeply confused about what others expected of him and what he wanted out of life.

Despite being an attractive and intelligent young man, there was something decidedly strange about John. At times, his facial expressions seemed odd and his verbal responses were frequently concrete and tangential. I wondered whether he might have a schizotypal personality, i.e., a disorder with overlap features of schizoid personality and psychosis. But, at other times, his responses were appropriate and his mannerisms unremarkable. John reported the following dream in our second session.

I am in an office that reminds me of my father’s. I see you in the next room doing “family therapy”. I am holding a reptile that has wings. There is a crow in your office. It begins to transform into a dove. I am afraid that the reptile will eat the dove but instead they get along fine and fuse into one another.

 

CHAPTER TWELVE: Out of Control

ePub

A 28-year-old female physician in training reported the next dream. She came to treatment seeking help for a longstanding eating disorder that had developed when she was in high school. When I first saw Ellen, I thought I was watching a marionette. She did not appear to be ambulating by her own effort but instead appeared to be moved along by a set of invisible strings. Her movements were jerky and tightly controlled, when she entered and left the consulting room. As she sat across from me in my office, she scrutinized my facial expressions for evidence of approval or disapproval. Ellen had been in therapy in another state and had continued to talk to her previous therapist every day on the telephone for months, until her therapist wisely insisted that she find someone else to meet with in person. Her dream was reported in the second session.

I am in an empty auditorium. There is a grand piano in the hallway and I push it onto the stage. As I begin to play, the seats suddenly collapse on each other like dominoes and the sprinkler system turns on. There is water everywhere.

 

CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Dreams in Supervision

ePub

Working with herald dreams in supervision can be a rewarding educational experience. Working in group supervision tends to yield a greater number of potentially illuminating associations. There is a certain infectious enthusiasm that tends to enhance the joy and excitement of working with symbolic material. There is also less concern about being criticized than in one on one supervision, so that the spontaneity of responses is enhanced.

A trainee in a supervision group reported the following herald dream of a 42-year-old woman who she had been treating in therapy for several months.

I am going to visit my mother. She is in a nursing home. It is a stormy night and I am afraid. Two girls accompany me. I run to a cemetery. There is a mausoleum there. I lie in a coffin and feel safe.

When I supervise dream work, I generally ask not to be told anything about the patient at first. This allows me to convey directly to the group that there is an objective aspect to dreams that allows one to intuit accurate information concerning the dreamer without associations or knowledge of the developmental history. After the group has formulated a first impression of the dream, I invite the supervisee to tell us about the dreamer as well as the dreamer’s associations. At that point, the initial “hypotheses” are modified appropriately.

 

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Conclusion

ePub

The psyche is a symbolic organ whose referents span the spectrum from the personal to the collective. As it is not possible to penetrate a symbol fully, one can only intuit its implications. The idea of circumambulating a symbol captures the sense of what it means to look at a symbol from all possible directions, and then to look at it yet again. The limits of dream interpretation are imposed by the personal experience of the dreamer, whereas archetypal referents expand the dreamer’s collective awareness. In practice, I aim my interpretations at the intersection of these two domains, what I term the zone of individuation.

There is no single meaning that can or should be ascribed to a dream. Instead there is always a set of potential meanings, some of which will “feel” correct in the context of the treatment. Jung used to say that a dream interpretation was right if it evoked an “ah-ha” response from the dreamer. But in the final analysis, interpretations are largely based on their aesthetic appeal. Theoretical physicists and mathematicians rely on their skills, intuitions, experience, and sense of symmetry in determining whether a theorem should be accepted or rejected. In many respects, the same is true of dream interpretation.

 

Details

Print Book
E-Books
Slices

Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Sku
B000000020533
Isbn
9781780495316
File size
1.24 MB
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata