Psychoanalysis and Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of
Dreams was published at the beginning of 1900 and the 20th
Century. The book was not initially popular and even among psychoanalysts
the techniques were not as well developed as those of transference and defense
analysis. Still, the publication marks the re-entry of dreams into mainstream
culture after centuries of neglect.
It is true that dreams were used by
mystics throughout the ages and even studied scientifically by
aristocratic gentlemen in the 19th Century, but in general, they had
been suppressed as useful or meaningful for nearly a thousand years.
Sigmund Freud saw dreams as protecting sleep, and even more, as
protecting our deepest desires and fears. By connecting dreams to the
operations of the unconscious, he assured their connection to psychology
over the next century of development.
Swiss psychologist Carl G. Jung broke
away from Freud and the Psychoanalytic Society to start a more
humanistic and imaginal approach to psychology. The Jungian
Analytical School saw dreams as part of a natural process of healing and
wholeness that was leading us towards our own individuation and unique
being. They developed a rich body of literature which has deeply
influenced the Dream Movement and continues to explore the meaning and
value of dreams through mythology, symbols, archetypes, personality
types and many esoteric systems that engage us through our imagination
Some say that dreams are
personal myths and myths are cultural dreams. In modern dreamwork myths
are ancient stories from a culture's sacred history that are revived as
modern metaphors which can amplify and deepen our use and understanding
of dream imagery.
For understanding how ancient myths can significantly enhance one's
life, I highly recommend Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces.
It is also a wonderful introduction to mythology and especially as it is
used by Jungians. For a little more his series I suggest the Masks of
God. All these have recently been re-released and are readily
There are two wonderful video collections now on Joseph Campbell, the
most popular is an interview style with Bill Moyers called the Power of
Myth and the other is a longer class like presentation called
Transformations of Myth through Time. They are readily available in
North America at local video stores for rental as well. I suggest with
both of these that you have your dreams ready as you read or watch them!
To begin you online search of Joseph Campbellology, try the Joseph
Campbell Home page. Great for bibliography as well as classes,
seminars and foundation issues.
Another great beginning mythology series is by the late Mircea Eliade, A
History of Religious Ideas which traces the great mysteries from the
Stone age through Christianity. Highly recommended.
Self Guided Field Trip: If you are familiar with how to access Usenet, I
suggest that you take a trip to alt.mythology, where there is an attempt
to re-interpret mythology in modern day meanings. I feel there is a
slight bias toward the light and New Age thought, and often it becomes a
place to argue about Dungeons and Dragons issues, but beyond this is a
developing community of myth concerned individuals focused on the
patterns of meaning and value through myths and mythic symbols.
If you want to explore the world of mythology via the web, I suggest
starting with Yahoo
Mythology. A great place to find a collection of resources on
mythology not only on the web, but individual mail lists dealing with
various cultural mythologies.
For an update on the latest sites and information, be sure to check the
ED Dream Resources as well as the latest issues of The Global
Dreaming News Online Articles on dreams and dreaming are indexed at the
ED Dream Library .
Twentieth Century Dreamwork besides Freud and Jung
The dream traditions of
Freud and Jung seem to have had the largest influence on the modern
dream work movement, but they have not been the only influences. The
idea of the unconscious was not as popular in America as in Europe
and the works that de-emphasized the role of the unconscious gained
popularity and influence. This is especially seen in the Existential
movement which appealed to the American spirit of free will and self
determination. But before the Human Potential movement
and its influence on dream sharing, there where a variety of
Continnental influences that are hard to characterize as a group,
and include Medard Boss, Andre Breton and Alfred Adler.
Alfred Adler & Dream
personality is expressed by night and by day. "
A. Adler , 1929, pg 171
If we can characterize
desire in Freud as erotically oriented, and desire in Jung as
wholeness oriented, then we can say in Adler that desire is oriented
to overcoming early feelings of inferiority. These feelings stem from
the beginning of life, dependent and small, and evolve as we find ways
of overcoming these feelings of inferiority and becoming productive.
Adler made a few mistakes in his
assessment of dreams and the modern Adlerians have tried to correct
these views. For example, Adler felt that the more psychologically
healthy individual would not dream. Now we feel that the amount of
dreaming is unrelated to psychopathology. But in general, the idea
that dreams produce feelings that can lead us to act upon life and
live better is continued. Also, that the inferiorities we suffer in
life are also seen in dreams and thereby create a continuum between
wake and sleep were these issues can be experimented with, safely
played with and changed in cooperation with the waking self.
Dasien-analysis as developed by
It is the *surface* of the dream
image itself that is presented to us in our waking memory that Boss
find so interesting. And in his Dasein-analysis he sticks with the
surface of the dream and allows the patient to unfold his or her
process as it unfolds. The most famous example, and the one that is
used by one of Boss' modern proponents, Erik Craig, is the dream
series of an engineer. The dreams evolved over a three year period
from near dreamlessness, to prisons, to mechanical dreams of
turbines, cars and planes, to plants and animals to real human
beings. All of this by "simply" having the patient bracket
out thoughts and feelings and imaginings that are not directly
presented immediately in the dream and returning to descriptions of
the image itself.
Surrealism and Dreams
For many of us, when Surrealism is
mentioned the image that generally come to mind is the liquid melting
clocks of Salvador Dali. But In Europe, Surrealism was also a social ,
political, and poetic human liberation movement that championed the
Like the Romantics before them, the
Surrealists saw that the reasonable and rational held out a limited
view for mankind, and that rationality, reality and religion had so
choked our options for experience that all the marvels and
significance of being were missed. Andre Breton, the father of
Surrealism within the Modernist movement, drew together this Romantic
spirit with the new leftist politics and the discoveries of
psychoanalysis. "(Reality) revolves in a cage from which from
which release is becoming increasingly difficult." (Brenton as
quoted by Kelly, 1994)
The solution was the development of
practices that challenged the old order and offered the new in the
cast out forms of madness, social anarchy, disobedience, the shocking
and the absurd. However, this anarchy was never anything more than a
temporary technique for merging the social and the aesthetic, the
dayworld and the nightworld the sane with the insane. Waking and
dreaming reality were to come together in Surreality.
From Couch to Culture
The middle of the twentieth century saw
great wars and destruction. Therapy shifted from long term inner
exploration to ways of reconstructing the individual in his/her
society in a meaningful way. Well know names in social
psychology emerged, including Horney, Kelman, Robbins,
Fromm, Sullivan and Erickson. In dreamwork, the most active social
therapists included Walter Bonime and Montegue Ullman. Bonime
rescued dreams from mere biological instincts and placed them within
the context of human relations and Ullman released the interpretation
of them from the therapist's office and placed the task within the
context of general social relations.
The re-assessment of imagination in
psychotherapy had been developing for sometime.
This trend may be seen in the proliferation of research and articles
on the value of manifest over latent dream material. This came from
and combined with the larger re-evaluation of the primary process, or
imaginative thinking as a useful adaptive tool rather than as a
defensive maneuver. With the social psychologists, imagination and
creativity at the level of group and social interaction is explored.
These psychologists set the stage for
the explosion of dreamwork that would occur in the 1960's.
Gestalt and Dreams
At the now famous 1960's Big Sur retreat center in
Esalen, California, there developed in the 1960's a whole set of
techniques that are now part and parcel of the dreamwork movement. From
taking every part of the dream as a piece of one's self to putting the
dream on an empty chair and asking it directly what it was about, Perls
and the Gestalt movement made dreamwork popular in a way it had never
before seen. Although much of the work has now been toned down, the
dreamwork movement continues to make contact with its past and draw
strength from a time when groups were struggling to get through the
layers of "bullshit" to the core and essence of a full life.
Many of the popular techniques used in grassroots and peer group
dreamwork have evolved in part from the body based psychologies of
people like Arnold Mindell and Eugene Gendlin. Each of
these therapists have developed techniques that can be useful outside of
therapy for insight and life enhancement.
By the 1960's ideas and practices were
emerging that were taking the dreamwork beyond its role as a healing
tool for therapy. Anthropology was reporting that indigenous
cultures shared dreams naturally as a part of everyday life. Shamanic
and esoteric religious practices were aligning themselves with dream
traveling to places beyond the commonplace. Parapsychologists were
finding dreams were a useful way to explore telepathy and other psi
events. Lucid and conscious dreaming were emerging as a new sub-field of
dream studies. Transpersonal groups began exploring dreaming beyond the
ego. Churches began having dream groups. Groups were experimenting with
a wide variety of practices with dreams in these social, psychic,
spiritual and imaginal realms that would in turn begin influencing the
ways dream therapy would be conducted in the late Twentieth
Century. For more on the development of grassroots dreamwork
see the Dream Library's Dreamwork page.
and issues in Psychology and Dreams
Nightmares: see Dreamwork/Nightmares
REM and Dream Science: see Dream Science
Ethics: see Dreamwork/Ethics
Non-clinical dreamwork: See Dreamwork
Education and Training: see Education
Organizations : See Organizations
Learn more about all of
these therapy schools and how they worked with dreams in the online course
from DreamGate : The History of