22 Chapters
Medium 9781782201601

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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Chapter Five - Dreaming of Conflicted Family Relationships

Bogart, Greg Karnac Books ePub

The next dreamwork example illustrates the process of working through a difficult mother–daughter relationship as well as the developmental stress caused by entry and exit of family members from a family system through birth and death, marriage and divorce. In her first therapy session, Jessica, age forty-one, told me she was depressed and experiencing social anxiety. She was concerned about these symptoms as her job involved teaching and leading groups and required her to step forward as a leader. I learned that her parents divorced when she was seven, and each parent soon remarried. Tragically, when Jessica was eighteen, one of her sisters died, and she felt like a part of herself had died with her. Then Jessica's mother's second marriage also broke up. Emotional upset in the family around these two marriages and divorces dominated her early life.

Jessica told me, “I've always had a tense, conflicted relationship with Mom, and I'm not really close to any family. There was a combative atmosphere in our family, and I tend to be quite combative myself. My husband, Peter, is very sensitive and conflict avoidant. I have to tone myself down around him or he collapses. I could crush him.” She continued: “I'd like to be a force in my profession but I fear being like a hurricane or tornado. People have told me that my power is intimidating. Mom used her force destructively and had berserk temper tantrums, sometimes in the middle of the night. And when I'd tell her that my brother was beating me up, she always told me to just get over it. I'm so angry at her about that. Mom has had lifelong fits of anger, and I also have issues about anger.”

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Chapter One - Symbols of Woundedness in Dreams

Bogart, Greg Karnac Books ePub

This book describes how interpreting and working with dreams can help alleviate depression. In recent decades there have been many changing trends and favored techniques used within the mental health field to treat depression, including cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, narrative therapy, holotropic breathwork, mindfulness-based therapy, hypnosis and regression therapies, bright light therapy, electroconvulsive therapy, and psychotropic medications. What I've found most effective in my own work with clients is Jungian dreamwork—a method of attending to dream symbols with an eye to both their personal significance and their mythic and archetypal dimensions. I use this with my clients because dreamwork is what has worked best in my own life. Dreams spring from an underground stream that guides and heals, and I find them to be a great source of wisdom. I like to imagine that if Carl Jung were alive and practicing during our era of managed care and time-limited psychotherapy, he would work much as he did a hundred years ago, listening to the unconscious and trusting it to provide imagery to assist a client's growth and life transitions. Adopting this attitude, I put dream images under a microscope, magnifying their emotional and spiritual meaning using free association and creative imagination, inviting a catalytic event in the moment of dream interpretation.

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CHAPTER SEVEN: Persona and Shadow in Dreamwork

Bogart, Greg Karnac Books ePub

Dreams perform three functions that are essential to our growth in consciousness. They help us evolve our social adaptation and self-presentation in the world, which Jung called the persona. They illuminate unconscious beliefs, behaviours, and feelings, which Jung termed the shadow. And they reveal the central tasks and challenges of our personal individuation, the process of actualizing our unique potentials and identities.

In the course of personality development, certain aspects of the personality are banished from awareness as we attempt to conform to social conventions. We adopt the norms and values of our families and social group, and develop a socially acceptable presentation of self to the world—a persona, a social mask. It's important to develop an appropriate persona so that we can adapt to our environment; otherwise, we may feel rejected or ostracized. Edward Whitmont (1969) calls the persona “the adaptation archetype,” and he notes that the persona often appears in the images of “clothes, uniforms, and masks” (p. 156). The common dream images of being naked or unclothed, or wearing dirty or inappropriate clothing, suggest “the refusal of the col-lective”—not enough persona adaptation (p. 158). Ted, a man whose new job in business management involved increased responsibilities and required that he dress up a bit, had this dream:

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CHAPTER ELEVEN: Synchronicity and Dreams

Bogart, Greg Karnac Books ePub

The path of individuation is often marked by synchronicities, meaningful coincidences of events that occur in dreams or waking life. Synchronicities are those moments when waking life is most dreamlike. For example, a synchronicity occurred involving the unexpected reappearance of one of my teachers, a mystic from Venezuela named Andrés Takra. I apprenticed with Andrés in 1980, then never saw him again. I spoke to him once by phone in 1989. He never replied to my letters after that. I had no idea what had happened to him. One night in 2005 a friend was visiting me, and I showed him a book that Takra had written. My friend was looking at the book, and we were talking about Andrés. I said, “I don't know what happened to him.” For a moment I casually checked my email, and my jaw dropped when at that exact moment a message from Andrés Takra appeared on my screen. It read, “Never too late to say hello to an old friend.” This experience felt like a dream.

Soon thereafter, a synchronistic event occurred the same week I was teaching a book called Synchronicity, Science, and Soul-Making, by Victor Mansfield (1995). My friend Kaleo came to my house to hold a ladder for me while I did some outdoor painting. Kaleo surprised me by bringing over a blueberry pie. Two days later, I was speaking on the phone with a second friend named Tem. We were discussing an astrological progression I was experiencing: progressed Venus was conjunct my midheaven. And Tem, purely in jest, said “Venus conjunct midheaven. I predict that within three days someone will bring you a blueberry pie.” I couldn't believe it! I felt that Tem had contacted the timeless space of the universal mind where all events intersect.

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