22 Chapters
Medium 9781782201601

Chapter Six - Dreamwork Through an Existential Lens

Bogart, Greg Karnac Books ePub

Ifirst discovered Jung's writings when I was in high school in the early 1970s. Imitating the soulful imaginal process described in Jung's writings, I filled dozens of notebooks with drawings and elaborate dream interpretations. Over the years I've undergone decades of Jungian analysis. But my orientation to psychotherapy and dreamwork is also strongly influenced by existential-humanistic psychology, the tradition in which I was trained as a graduate student at Saybrook and CIIS.

The existential-humanistic movement beginning in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s was an outgrowth of existentialist philosophy, which articulated responses to the breakdown of traditional religious worldviews, giving voice to a spirit of protest, an urge to achieve individuality and overcome self-deception, and a willingness to face the difficult facts of life (Kaufman, 1956, p. 13). The writings of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, Heidegger, and others inspired existential-humanistic psychology luminaries such as Viktor Frankl, Rollo May, Irv Yalom, James Bugental, Medard Boss, and Carl Rogers. In this chapter, making no attempt to be comprehensive, I'll discuss a few core ideas. I'm interested in existential principles insofar as they're useful for dreamers, therapists, counselors, and all who support others emotionally in their families, workplaces, and communities. (For in-depth teachings on existential-humanistic therapy, see Schneider & Krug, 2009; Schneider, 2005; and van Deurzen, 2012.)

See All Chapters
Medium 9781782201601

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.

See All 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.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855757585

CHAPTER TWO: Dreamwork and Psychotherapy

Bogart, Greg Karnac Books ePub

Dreams are a potent force for change when we explore them in the context of psychotherapy—or when we explore our own dreams with a therapeutic attitude, seeking healing and emotional truth. Approached in a sacred manner, with an open mind and heart, our dreams begin to guide us, one step at a time, through the labyrinth of change. Dreams illuminate developmental tasks and stir up rich, juicy material for deep exploration. Dreams pinpoint what we need to revisit from the past, what we are feeling right now, and what new directions and possibilities are emerging. They move our lives forward with a powerfully healing influence.

Bob, a man in his mid-forties beginning a course of psychotherapy, had this dream:

I'm six years old. I'm with my mother and we're cleaning out the closets.

As Bob's therapist, I was immediately drawn to the emotional significance of events in the client's sixth year and the need to sortthrough whatever had been hidden in the closet. Many family secrets came out of hiding in subsequent therapy sessions. I learned about the domestic violence and alcoholism that were closely kept family secrets. Bob was currently in a deep depression after the break-up of a relationship. As he began to examine his anger, his tendency to act abusively toward women, his sadness, and his need to accept his solitude, he dreamed:

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855757585

CHAPTER SIX: Unfolding the Complexes in Dreams

Bogart, Greg Karnac Books ePub

Dreams portray images of our central problems and conflicts, which Jung called complexes. Complexes are recurring feelings, thoughts, behaviours, memories, or patterns of relationship with others that become highly charged, points of maximum intensity, and “emotional preoccupations” (Storr, 1983, p. 33). A complex becomes a point of fixation and may be a source of repeated problems or suffering in our lives. When we repeatedly become angry and belligerent; when we practice and rehearse tasks but always fail to perform under pressure; when we're possessed by a need to criticize our loved ones mercilessly—we're in the grips of complexes.

Jung described a complex as “a conglomeration of psychic contents characterized by a peculiar or perhaps painful feeling-tone, something that is usually hidden from sight” (Jung, 1976 [1935], par. 99).

What then … is a “feeling toned complex”? It is the image of a certain psychic situation which is strongly accentuated emotionally and is, moreover, incompatible with the habitual attitude of consciousness. This image has a powerful inner coherence, it has its own wholeness and … a relatively high degree of autonomy, so that it is subject to the control of the conscious mind to only a limited extent. (Jung, (1969) [1934b], par. 201)

See All Chapters

See All Chapters