The Logic of Dreams

November 30, 2006

Much of the content of the posts and comments here so far has referred to the use of the imagination for personal growth and healing. So as to encourage a broader discussion, it should be mentioned that becoming aware of the role of imagination should not only not limited to an application in psychotherapy but it has an important role in knowing. As mentioned in a previous post (Role of Imagination, November 9, 2006), Carl Jung posited four functions of consciousness: thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuiting. Knowing through all these functions are a given. However, it is clear that we emphasize some functions over others creating an imbalance in the way we know ourselves and the world around us. Over-reliance on one over another of the ways of knowing will skew a view of the observed toward the method used to observe. This leads to a self-reinforcing loop that can have a profound effect on what we know about ourselves and the world and what kind of choices we make. For example, to use thinking as a predominant way of knowing will tend to filter information that does not fit into the logical system of thinking/rationality. This would tend to leave out feelings, emotions, and intuitions and useful information and would influence a formulation of what is observed.
Knowing ourselves is really the most important issue here. Most people know that dreams have some information that can serve as a way to know one’s self more deeply, shed light on an issue or problem one is facing, help to connect us to parts of ourselves that are usually out the range of our awareness. Dreams are a form of imagination. One way to try to understand dreams is to seek out standard interpretations to be applied to objects that appear. This method may have some validity if the interpretations are based on what analysis of many, many, dreams had by many, many people. But even then the interpretation cannot take into account the personal experiences and images of any single dreamer.
More to the point, the interpretation of dreams should take place through the same logical system in which the dream exists. Dreams can be best understood by using the imagination as a way of knowing. For example, we can dialogue with images that arise in dreams, even after we awaken from the dream, in order to better understand something about the dream. The use of intellectual analysis of a dream as an initial intervention will distort the information available toward the logical system of the intellect, thinking, unless it is used after further knowledge is gained through the use of the imagination.

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