Dream Interpretation (part 1)
What are Dreams for?
The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.
Dreams may sometimes announce certain situations long before they actually happen. This is not necessarily a miracle or a form of precognition. Many crises in our life have a long unconscious history.
Dream interpretation is a science and an art. It is not easy to understand the message of a dream. Sometimes a mistaken interpretation may lead us in the wrong direction. Beware of the history of King Croesus. He consulted the Delphic oracle – not a dream, but a vision. The oracle told him that, if he crossed the Hallys River, he would destroy a mighty kingdom. He went ahead with the war and, after his army had been utterly defeated, he discovered that the kingdom the oracle referred to was his own.
Freud´s method of dream interpretation involved the free association to the images of the dream. The desired result would be the unveiling of the unconscious background of the analysand´s complexes.
Jung called Freud´s process of dream interpretation the causal approach. Without negating its validity, Jung proposed that we could get more from our dreams, looking for its ultimate goal – the finality approach. In other words: what does the dream want to tell us? Why did we have this particular dream?
Jung also states:
The general function of dreams is to try to restore our psychological balance by producing dream material that re-establish, in a subtle way, the total psychic equilibrium.
According to Jung, we all carry inside our psyches an archetype - the Self - that Jung also called the Image of God inside our psyche. This archetype acts as a football coach that gives advice and plans the strategy of our lives. In other words, our dreams also have the intention of orienting and guiding our lives. Therefore dream interpretation may ease our lives.
Jung mentions in his writings several examples to illustrate this function. He mentions the case of a client involved in some shady deals in his waking life that developed a passion for dangerous mountain climbing as a sort of compensation. He was seeking to “get above himself”. He dreamed of stepping off a high mountain into empty space. Despite Jung´s warning that the dream was pointing to the mortal danger he was exposing himself, he did not heed the advice and insisted on his climbing. Six months later, he died stepping off into space.
If we accept that the Self – the Image of God inside our psyche – orients our life, we have to pay attention to the messages it sends us through dreams, visions, sudden insights and inspirations. This does not mean that we should follow these suggestions blindly because our interpretation may be wrong. Remember King Croesus.