The Unconscious World of Dream
Six Steps To Understanding Dreams
Consult the 'Jungian Termnology' page for a better understanding of terms used in this section.
1. Get a clear and exact record of the dream. Try to wake up right after having the dream and write it down as you remember the dream. If nothing else make detailed notes of the dream. It is best to keep a note pad and pencil by your bed just for this occassion.
Suggestions to help you remember your dreams
Before going to bed remind yourself, 'I will remember my dreams, I will remember my dreams'. Discipline yourself and you will be surprised how well you will learn to remember your dreams the next morning.
Record the dream as if you are a reporter covering the event in real life. Detailed information will help you understand the symbols and motifs in the dream.
If a note pad is not right for you keep a tape recorder by your bed. Recording the dream just as you remember it will be readily available when you wake up.
A vivid dream recalled in the middle of the night will not be remembered the next morning. Either write it down or record the dream as soon as you wake up.
2. Personal Associations - What associations do you have with the symbols and motifs in the dream?
Are the people in the dream someone you really know in waking life? Known persons often refers to unconscious thoughts or perceptions about those persons. Unknown people in your dreams represent personifications of complexes within yourself.
Unknown persons in a dream are thought of as the 'objective meaning' of the dream, or meanings that may describe your attitudes toward those persons,which can manifest those attitudes as complexes in your own mind.
Known persons in a dream are thought of as the 'subjective meaning' of the dream, where all images are a reference to your own unconscious mind. Consider both when interpreting the dream but lean toward the subjective meaning.
3. Cultural Associations - What do you know about the cultural aspects within the dream?
Example - A dream with the President of the United States may be referring to the cultural aspect. The President would represent the center of power and authority within your psyche. This could be a reference in a man's dream that 'he needs re-assurance' about his masculinity, thus using the President symbol to represent this complex. For a woman it would be a representation of her relationship with her masculine side (Jung's animus).
It could also represent the archetypal self, the spiritual condition. If this is the case it would represent the relationship (or lack of a relationship) with your spiritual identity. Is the authority in your life more of the social being,i.e, materialism, self glory, what the ego wants, or is it your caring, compassionate self, being aware of other's feelings and considering that as important as your own desires?
Religion represents the dogma of the church, spirituality is the product of the individual psyche.
4. Amplifications at the level of the 'Archetypal' images.
Archetypal images are symbols that represent contents within the psyche that were never conscious experiences. They are the 'universal' symbols that are available to us all even though we have no knowledge of them in our waking lives. They are found within the 'collective' unconscious. Those which are a part of your waking experiences in life are from the personal unconscious.
The sun is often an archetypal image. In the personal experience in life the sun would represent a hot, glowing sphere, all consuming. In the 'collective' the sun would represent your higher self (see step #3) or the 'God' image, and/or creative self.
Archetypal images would have the same psychic understanding to a bushman in the African jungle as it would an accountant in New York City. They would not be from the personal knowledge or experience. They have meaning to a large number of people over an extended period of time.
Archetypal images are 'getting to your higher conditiion', ie, the spiritual self or your creative self, a higher condition psychologically. They reveal a deeper meaning within the dream that goes beyond the everyday waking experiences in life.
We experience archetypal images more often as we grow older, especially at the mid-life stage.
5. Place dream in context of your own life.
What events or experiences in your waking life 'fits' with what is in the dream. If it is a message from your personal unconscious then the dream images would be compensating what you already know but may not fully comprehend. If the dream 'fits' your waking condition you then can interpret the dream as a personal message of the events in your waking life.
6. Dream Jounal
Recurring dreams contain important information about yourself that needs to be acknowledged. Recurring motifs strongly suggest a persistance of structures of complexes that needs understanding.
Recurring dreams may not have been adequately interpreted or acknowledged consciously. Once you understand the message of these dreams you will cease to have them.