22 Chapters
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CHAPTER FIVE: Archetypal Themes

Bogart, Greg Karnac Books ePub

Dreams weave infinitely varied narratives, yet they're woven from the threads of recurring themes. In dreamwork, we not only access a wide range of feelings and personal memories, but we also access mythic, archetypal layers of the unconscious. The archetypal patterns of human transformation were brilliantly illuminated by the work of C.G. Jung, whose dynamic insights provide the basis for the chapters that follow.

In Jung's model of the psyche, the ego (seat of personal consciousness), and the personal unconscious (derived from forgotten or repressed biographical memories) both rest upon the deeper strata of the collective unconscious, a reservoir of timeless images derived from the universal experience of humanity, across cultures and historical eras. The collective unconscious is a matrix of archetypes, images of the typical experiences of humanity—primordial patterns of behaviour that are expressed in dreams, fantasy, free association, art, literature, and film. Archetypes form the deep structures of the psyche and the mythic background of our lives. We live, over and over again, the universal themes and primordial experiences —birth and death, mother and child, the hero's quest, the martyr, the king or queen. Jung wrote that “every individual life is at the same time the eternal life of the species … . [T]he archetype … reveals the hidden, unconscious ground-life of every individual” ( Jung, 1969 [1938/1940], par. 146). Elsewhere, Jung said:

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CHAPTER ONE: Introduction

Bogart, Greg Karnac Books ePub

Dreams are healing symbols of the unconscious. They make emotionally charged material accessible to consciousness quickly and safely, give focus to inner work and the therapeutic process, and provide clues about the origins of symptoms and core life issues. Dreams activate our capacity for intrapsychic and behavioural change. They have a unique capacity to promote healing from within.

Dreams are like icebergs rising out of the deep waters of the unconscious. Some are icebergs of the past, helping us understand early traumas and undigested memories, and thus are retrospective. Dreams are integrative when they enable us to perceive and reconcile our many conflicting feelings and subpersonalities. Dreams can also be prospective or anticipatory, harbingers of the future, depicting what is emerging, and what we have the potential to become. Looking backward and forward simultaneously, the dream's function is to expand the aperture of consciousness, the circumference of perception, the sphere of identity. The often humorous and paradoxical messages revealed by dreams jog loose new perceptions. Received reverently, each dream becomes a pearl from the depths of the ocean of the unconscious. Reflection on the dream's mystery oftenevokes a feeling approaching religious awe; we become filled with amazement at the psyche's capacity to portray its own condition.

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Chapter Eight - Dreams of an Elder

Bogart, Greg Karnac Books ePub

This chapter describes my work with a client who spoke to me openly about some challenges of aging. Before introducing her, it will be useful for us to consider some insights about the transition into old age discussed by Lionel Corbett (1987), who begins by reiterating Jung's view that whereas the first half of life concerns the ego, career, and family development, the second half concerns the pursuit of meaning, wholeness, and the further creation of consciousness.

[There is] the potential for widening of identity, brought about ultimately by reconnecting with more of the latent potential of the Self which was present at birth…. [Some people] may depreciate old age and ignore its specific meaning…. A major difficulty facing the individual about to move into this period is that there are no adequate social provisions to help with the transition…. Successful initiation is essential for spiritual rejuvenation and the attempt to attain a “sanctified mode of being.” When this process is successful, the new status has meaning to the person…. Without such cultural sanction and protection the move into old age may exact a heavy emotional toll; the individual may be unable to emerge from a state of chronic liminality…. When such outside help is lacking, the developmental imperative may come from within. (Corbett, 1987, pp. 372–373)

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CHAPTER THREE: Dreamwork and Relationships

Bogart, Greg Karnac Books ePub

Dreams provide a source of relational intelligence. As a marriage and family therapist, my work often involves working with clients experiencing stress and conflicts in their personal relationships. Dreams help us identify the origins of these conflicts, illuminate feelings and behaviours that we repeat in our interactions with others, and aid us in creating healthier relationships. Dreams also illuminate core issues and conflicts regarding sexuality, which I'll explore further in the case study in Chapter Thirteen.

Dreams provide healing insights about our relationships with spouses, children, parents, and friends. Abby, a woman whose teenage son was sick with cancer, dreamed:

I saw Chris's essential being, his Higher Self. It was luminous and unchanging.

This dream helped Abby find strength as she saw Chris through his chemotherapy treatments.

A woman named Cassandra, who felt her boyfriend James was too physically clingy, dreamed:

A dog jumped on me and started biting me, and wouldn't let go.

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Chapter Three - A Dreamer's Quest for Love and Self-Acceptance

Bogart, Greg Karnac Books ePub

A gay man named Allan, age fifty-five, had been suffering from dysthymia for many years, mostly because he was discouraged about love and had never experienced a lasting relationship. He also felt somewhat blocked creatively as he'd stopped working on an idea that had long intrigued him—to write and produce a documentary film. He convinced himself it was too ambitious a project, and he couldn't seem to find the time to work on it. In this chapter I explore seven of Allan's dreams that were powerful catalysts for his self-unfoldment and emotional healing.

The dream of the mountaintop and the naked hairy man

At the beginning of therapy Allan dreamed:

I'm at an event. I've left my car parked up at the top of a large hill or mountain. I climb up there to retrieve the car, but to get to it I have to encounter a large, naked hairy man. Whoever comes this way has to deal with this guy and get past him. He has a big potbelly and his balls are hanging out.

The dream began with climbing a mountaintop, which reminded me of embarking on a mythic hero's journey. To find his vehicle, his autonomy, Allan has to encounter a large, hairy man, forming a connection to the biology of manhood and the physicality of men—the naked truth of it. The image suggested to me that it was important for Allan to achieve some degree of nakedness or openness in therapy and also to find the hairy man in himself and to learn to live boldly, balls out. The dream strongly implied that Allan's relationship with the father and with other men was wounded and a source of anxiety. For a man to let his balls hang out is to take risks, to give his all and make a full effort, to make himself vulnerable. The image of the hairy man reminded me of Enkidu from the ancient epic of Gilgamesh, a story about male bonding, men engaging in combat and comradeship with one another, men loving one another and touching one another's souls, as well as a story about mourning, loss, and the need to accept mortality.

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