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On Dreams and Dreaming

Posted by Yvonne Dunetz

5 Nov
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We spend approximately ⅓ of our lives asleep. In sleep, approximately 25% of our time is spent in a state commonly associated with dreaming. It is estimated that the average adult – 75 years of age – will have spent approximately 50,000 hours or nearly 6 years dreaming.

And yet the dream as a common human experience remains an enigma. Over epochs and across cultures the dream has been alternately revered and reviled; accepted and explored for its depth of psychological and even sacred meaning, and dismissed as random and chaotic neuronal firings which meaning is a fiction and product of waking consciousness.

Carl Jung, Swiss psychoanalyst and originator of analytic or archetypal psychology, understood the dream to be the expression in symbolic form of the “emotional truth” of the dreamer at a given point in time. His formulations on the topic generally accord well with more recent scientific research which suggests that the dream functions to process emotion and organize memory, using the as if language of symbol and metaphor to express the situation of the dreamer in relation to his or her inner and outer world of experience. Moreover, Jung observed that if one follows one’s dreams over time, one can discern patterns and themes which both reflect developmental trends and point the dreamer in the direction of his or her psychological growth and maturation – a process which he named individuation.

In this seminar, Jungian analyst Stuart Sherman leads participants in surveying various theories concerning dreams which range broadly over time – from ancient to modern – and across disciplines – from religious or spiritual to psychological and neuroscientific. Against this background he leads us in exploring further Jung’s appreciation of the dream as a natural occurrence in the human psyche which nightly bridges our conscious and unconscious minds, and with the ultimate purpose of helping us to develop a more wholesome relationship to our inner and outer worlds of experience. Tools for remembering and working with our dreams are discussed. Opportunity is also taken to follow several dream series over time and as they occurred in the context of psychotherapy. There, they are seen to variously supplement, guide, and at times comment upon the therapeutic encounter.