Dream Interpretation - Inner Work by Robert Johnson

obyvatel

The Living Force
I have been recently reading Robert Johnson's "Inner Work" which basically deals with the interpretation of dreams from a Jungian standpoint. I would like to share a few key points that he brings out in the book which could help in the general process of dream interpretations. The material here does not have much to do with the so-called "lucid dreaming" but pertains to dreams which come from the unconscious when a person is asleep.

Johnson outlines four essential steps for studying dreams.

1) Making associations from dream images : Every dream is a series of images and our goal is to discover the meaning these images carry for us. This is essentially about the personal significance of the dream image. The same image can evoke different associations or reactions from different people - hence it becomes difficult to interpret dreams of others or picking up a book of symbols to directly read off what an image is supposed to mean. He says that no dream symbol can be separated from the individual who dreams it.

Jonson suggests writing down what comes to mind relating to a dream image - however inconsequential or unrelated it may seem. Dream images are mostly generated from the unconscious where the narrow limits of causality of the ego consciousness does not hold true.

One thing to avoid is to have chain associations - like if image A leads to B and then B leads to C and C leads to D - then the original significance of the starting image A can get diluted. The image Johnson uses to convey what is the preferred method is that of a wheel with the dream image A is at the center and the associations proceeding from it are radiating outward from that center. In other words, always come back to the original dream image being studied and proceed with associations from there.

Once one has a list of associations, one proceeds to see which associations fit in the overall picture of the dream. Johnson recommends using a method to see which association generates the maximum energy inside - that is the one which "clicks" and is taken as the one that fits. His point is that since dreams are composed of energy, to find the essence of a dream image one needs to follow the energy - or "go where is the energy is" - the association that brings up a surge of energy.

Another aspect of dream associations is archetypes. Dreams involving archetypal figures are usually different. Instead of scenes from regular life, one is transported to a magical or ancient place where there could talking animals, larger than life objects and actors etc. If a particular dream figure is recognized to have archetypal qualities, the next step is to go to myths or sources where the same archetype appears.

2) Connecting dream images to inner dynamics : In this step, one looks for parts of the inner selves that the dream images represent. Jungian dream analysis proceeds from the view that characters in a dream, even if they are known to the dreamer in the real world, most often represent certain parts of the dreamer's inner self. The unconscious often borrows images from an external situation and use these to symbolize something going on inside the dreamer. Husband/wife/partner in a dream could thus represent the anima/animus for example rather than the physical person. There are exceptions to this general rule where some dreams, occurring infrequently, could be directed towards things outside of the dreamer. Premonitory dreams of battles, disasters etc fall in this category. Most likely, these are instances when the collective unconscious - rather than the personal unconscious - speaks through the dream images, though Johnson does not delve further into this area.

It would also seem logical that as a person matures on his/her life path on their journey towards individuation, the individual unconscious gradually undergoes more and more illumination as previously isolated areas of the psyche are integrated into the expanding consciousness. Then, perhaps dreams of a more universal character coming from the collective unconscious can more readily find their way into the forefront.

Coming back to the subject of connecting dream images to inner dynamics, each dream image can be taken and through inquiry and analysis, one can find out which part of the psyche the image represents and how it functions and expresses in conscious life. Many time strong images appearing in dreams could be parts of the psyche which are denied conscious expression in life. The degree to which the conscious ego has taken up an extreme position not in keeping with a person's true self matches the exaggerated compensatory image that arise from the unconscious in the dream. A put-up face of glorious idealism and asceticism could be compensated by a ravenously materialistic image in the unconscious. So the question to be asked is "What goes on inside me that this dream speaks of?" And one must try to find the specific inner event that corresponds to the dream image.

3. Interpreting the dream : This is the end result of the work put into the previous two steps. The interpretation ties together all the meanings discerned into a unified coherent picture. At this stage, questions to be asked are "What is the central message that the dream is trying to communicate? What is the dream's overall meaning in the personal life?"

Writing down various interpretations in paper and following the previously mentioned method of evaluating the energy associated to decide "what clicks" helps in consolidating the interpretation. Johnson provides some more guidance towards making the choice between different possible interpretations.

a) Choose the interpretation that shows you something that you did not know rather than confirming ingrained opinions and prejudices. This makes sense if the main purpose of the dream is to communicate something that the dreamer is not consciously aware of. If however, the message of a dream is not understood, the same dream or motif can come up repeatedly until the issue is resolved.

b) Avoid interpretations which are self-congratulatory or lead to ego inflation. Dreams are about showing what an individual needs to learn or resolve - so inflatory interpretations are not very likely to be correct.

c) Avoid interpretations that shift responsibility away from the self. Blaming other people is not the likely purpose of a dream - rather it is the need to become conscious of things going on in external life in the context of other people having an effect on the self.


4) A conscious symbolic action or ritual : This step requires a physical act that affirms the message of the dream - it is the physical representation of the change in inner attitude that the dream had been calling for. Small, subtle actions often have much more power than extravagant and elaborate ones in this regard.

Johnson says that ritual and ceremony in general are ways of using small symbolic acts to set up a connection between the conscious mind and the unconscious. Rituals provide us a way of taking principles from the unconscious and impressing them vividly on the conscious mind. But rituals also have an effect on the unconscious. A highly conscious ritual sends a powerful message back to the unconscious, causing changes to take place at a deeper level where our attitudes and values originate.

The key point in the use of "ritual" here is that this is a conscious symbolic action which an individual comes up with rather than mechanically following a set of steps which somebody else has prescribed.

The importance of this step is immense. Johnson talks about Toni Wolffe, a colleague of Carl Jung who was a "holy terror" as far as doing something concrete with a dream is concerned. She would meet her patients at the door, and even before they got to the chair, she would demand what they had done about the dream from last week. If the patient had done something specific, concrete and physical, he was safe from her wrath. But if they could not answer the question to Wolffe's satisfaction, she would turn them around and steer them out of the door saying "come back when you mean business.". Wolffe's idea was that dreams existed as an abstraction in people's heads while the rest of the body was not even aware of what was going on and one needed to notify the rest of the body of what came out of the dream. She said "People can analyze for 20 years, and nothing below the neck is aware that anything is going on. You have to do something about it. Do something with your muscles."

Johnson writes that to really register the meaning of a dream, the body, the feelings and the intellect have to be simultaneously involved so that the ideas and images from the dreams enter into the emotions, muscles and cells of the body . It is interesting that Jungian analysts - most likely unaware of Gurdjieff's 4th Way material - came up with the exact same conclusion as far as effecting real change in the psyche is concerned.

To reiterate, this fourth step in dream work does not consist of dramatically confronting people one is angry with, breaking up relationships or doing destructive things. It does not consist of trying to straighten things out with a lot of talk. It should be a personal physical ritual that affirms one's own responsibility for the dream and the issue that the dream portrays.
 

loreta

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thank you very much for this text, I think dreams are a very important part in our lives and reading about them is always rich and educational. I always look for serious books about dreams. I have always with me "The Dream and the Underworld", and when reading it I always dream a lot. But it is not an easy book, indeed.

Thanks again, Loreta.
 

cubbex

The Living Force
obyvatel said:
Johnson writes that to really register the meaning of a dream, the body, the feelings and the intellect have to be simultaneously involved so that the ideas and images from the dreams enter into the emotions, muscles and cells of the body . It is interesting that Jungian analysts - most likely unaware of Gurdjieff's 4th Way material - came up with the exact same conclusion as far as effecting real change in the psyche is concerned.

I understood it as suggesting yourself to do something, how can we be sure? what if the dream is just a dream, and then you change your attitude and suggest yourself that something important is happening?

Thanks for sharing this, clues about our unconscious is there, and that maybe Freud wasn't a psychopath or esquizoid or whatever, I think sometimes people exaggerate about it, maybe the real psychopaths are those who use wrongly the Freudian theories, for example, those who say that psychoanalysis can be used as a therapy when as I've been said from my teachers and been reading bits of it here and there that psychoanalysis is considered a method to investigate the unconscious and a personality theory.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Prometeo said:
obyvatel said:
Johnson writes that to really register the meaning of a dream, the body, the feelings and the intellect have to be simultaneously involved so that the ideas and images from the dreams enter into the emotions, muscles and cells of the body . It is interesting that Jungian analysts - most likely unaware of Gurdjieff's 4th Way material - came up with the exact same conclusion as far as effecting real change in the psyche is concerned.

I understood it as suggesting yourself to do something, how can we be sure? what if the dream is just a dream, and then you change your attitude and suggest yourself that something important is happening?

My understanding is to treat dreams as another possible but not infallible source of learning more about ourselves. It takes a lot of introspection and work to figure out what possible lesson could be presented by any dream. So "thinking with a hammer" still applies. Only after this process is completed to one's satisfaction and a lesson is identified does the step of a symbolic action become relevant.

Prometeo said:
Thanks for sharing this, clues about our unconscious is there, and that maybe Freud wasn't a psychopath or esquizoid or whatever, I think sometimes people exaggerate about it, maybe the real psychopaths are those who use wrongly the Freudian theories, for example, those who say that psychoanalysis can be used as a therapy when as I've been said from my teachers and been reading bits of it here and there that psychoanalysis is considered a method to investigate the unconscious and a personality theory.

Johnson's work has to do with Jungian psychology, not Freud's.
 

EmeraldHope

The Living Force
Prometeo said:
obyvatel said:
Johnson's work has to do with Jungian psychology, not Freud's.

Nor did I say that.


Unless I am misunderstanding, in bringing up a defense of Freud here, it would imply that you think that is so based on the validity of what you are reading about Johnson, whose work was actually based on Jung. Freud and Jung are miles apart from each other in their views of the subconscious and what psycho-analysis is.


So I guess the proper question is, what is it that you read here leads you to the conclusion that Freud was not a psychopath or suffering from a pathology in his theories and application of psychotherapy?
 

cubbex

The Living Force
No it wouldn't because I wasn't defending Freud, my point was that he did tell something similar, and of course the Jungian type of psychology was created by Jung who based on some based first on the psychoanalysis created by Freud.

And I think this is of track, but now that you ask; "I" see that Freud has important insights about our psyche (not the whole banana) and because of that, I don't think a psychopath could create such a thing (as I understand, a psychopath would use some kind of psychology to be able to predict others) as the psychoanalysis and all related to it; also I've been reading here on forums about the sexual energy, and some users posting that we have to reach the control or complete use of that energy, and Freud said that sexual energy was an important energy from humans. And this is not being on defense, of course not, could you please explain me why you believed I was defending Freud Emerald?

Sorry if I looked like relating Freud's work with Johnson's like if Johnson is basing on Freud theories, I know that Jungian's and Freudian's psychoanalysis are far away.

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Oh, and by the way, I don't deny that Freud had some pathologies.
 

EmeraldHope

The Living Force
Prometeo said:
No it wouldn't because I wasn't defending Freud, my point was that he did tell something similar, and of course the Jungian type of psychology was created by Jung who based on some based first on the psychoanalysis created by Freud.

And I think this is of track, but now that you ask; "I" see that Freud has important insights about our psyche (not the whole banana) and because of that, I don't think a psychopath could create such a thing (as I understand, a psychopath would use some kind of psychology to be able to predict others) as the psychoanalysis and all related to it; also I've been reading here on forums about the sexual energy, and some users posting that we have to reach the control or complete use of that energy, and Freud said that sexual energy was an important energy from humans. And this is not being on defense, of course not, could you please explain me why you believed I was defending Freud Emerald?

Sorry if I looked like relating Freud's work with Johnson's like if Johnson is basing on Freud theories, I know that Jungian's and Freudian's psychoanalysis are far away.

------------------------

Oh, and by the way, I don't deny that Freud had some pathologies.


Prometeo,


Sorry for the delay in answering this- I did not see your post until just now. To answer your question, in the context o what Obyvata had said, Freud was not applicable. Freud's work has been quite damaging to quite a few people. I think perhpas the issue is that you think that Freud discovered the subconcious, based on your post from this thread:(http://cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php/topic,22451.msg298825.html#msg298825):


Or psychologist? The point is not which favoritism you have to someone, but what we take from their contributions. Freud psychopath or not basing on Charcot discovered the subconscious, and Charcot based on a con-man Anton Mesmer created the hypnotism.Look, no offense, but this thing about psychopathy is important, really important, but there's a point when we start being a little paranoid about everyone that commits a mistake, I like to remember that this is a STS world, errors could be made towards someone causing them pain, like the useful idiot or like the phrase "the road to hell is paved with good intentions". Physicians from the past didn't believed to Semmelweiss that without washing their hands they caused diseases to a woman giving birth, I'm sure they were just ignorant and not "psychopaths".


Freud did not "discover the unconscious", in my opinion. It is clear to me that unconcious was alive and well inalchemy , gnostic teachings,shamanism, etc. Freud took something valuable and gave it a shizoidal twist, not much different from from what most pathologicals have done to valuable things down though the ages, then infected a large portion of humanity with it.

Now since you mentioned Freud and not Jung, who did clue in to the older versions of work with the unconscious, it made no sense to me. Freud may have clued in on sexual energy, but so did Reich. That does not mean that there are not different ways to uses it, or abuse it, and teaching of that starting from a " twist" to begin with do more harm than good, regardless of intention. OSIT.
 

cubbex

The Living Force
Well I said he discovered the subconscious as a way to say it, didn't mean that subconscious exist because of him. But if you want to see it in that way, nor even the alchemist gnosticist or whoever did it before him discovered the unconscious (because the unconscious was before them, and was always there... or maybe the unconscious was just created by the meaning we gave to it) and made the concept public, or presented it in a concrete way. If they have I want to read about it, it would be interesting. I know there were lot of people talking about the human being, but never seen that they said, ok here it is, this is the unconscious.

Also I mentioned Freud because I wanted to write that I don't think he was a psychopath, a little pathological but not a psychopath, that's why I didn't mention Jung or Reich, that if wasn't for Freud they wouldn't expand the concept as they did, so of course Freud had an idea but not he complete idea :)

Then you posted that "but so did Reich", but what about him? I mean, not just him, a lot of people did talk about sexual energy. The point was that he described the sexual energy, weirder than a green dog of course, and just because of it I don't think he was a psychopath. If his ideas have hurt a lot of people, also helped Jung and others as some source so they could create their own ideas and improve the concept of the unconscious. You know, you create the prototype of a medicine that would help people but as it is at that time is a lot toxic too, the others come an use that prototype to create a better medicine, but there are those followers of the prototypian movement (yeah just like football or politics or chose an example) who still use that prototype without caring if the other versions are better and that they can help a lot of people using it.

Who do I think are real psychopaths, are those like Pavlov, Skinner and Watson, who helped the behaviorism to help the capitalism to keep us in this situation, and anticipate any try of revolution from the people. So psychology can be used to keep us in infinite circuits.

So I'm just saying, I know there are better concepts than Freud's, but still I don't think that he was a psychopath that's all.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Prometeo said:
Well I said he discovered the subconscious as a way to say it, didn't mean that subconscious exist because of him. But if you want to see it in that way, nor even the alchemist gnosticist or whoever did it before him discovered the unconscious (because the unconscious was before them, and was always there... or maybe the unconscious was just created by the meaning we gave to it) and made the concept public, or presented it in a concrete way. If they have I want to read about it, it would be interesting. I know there were lot of people talking about the human being, but never seen that they said, ok here it is, this is the unconscious.

William Carpenter , William Hamilton and Thomas Laycock described the "adaptive unconscious" before Freud came up with his ideas about the unconscious. I found their reference in Timothy Wilson's "Strangers To Ourselves".

Prometeo said:
Who do I think are real psychopaths, are those like Pavlov, Skinner and Watson, who helped the behaviorism to help the capitalism to keep us in this situation, and anticipate any try of revolution from the people. So psychology can be used to keep us in infinite circuits.

Psychological knowledge has been used against the masses for a very long time in history. The works of the people like Pavlov may have helped to make such knowledge more available to the mainstream. Whether they were psychopaths or not is a different question though.
 

cubbex

The Living Force
I agree obvyvatel, everything can serve for some negative purpose, law of three isn't. I just mentioned it because I didn't know really what point we were discussing :P, if Freud or who did the best contribution or something else.

Thanks for the link, I'll check it.
 

alkhemst

Dagobah Resident
Do you know whether Jung had any notion of psychopathy? From my knowledge of Jung it seems that psychopathy and Jung are like oil and water. My feeling is psychopathological behavior when it can't be traced to childhood damage could have it's roots in prenatal painful emotional imprinting. Dr Arthur Janov has done a fair bit of work and research into that. Mind you I haven't looked at much of the research into psychopathy, so at this stage it's my understanding that such things are not predetermined.
 

alkhemst

Dagobah Resident
Did some more research and thinking on this one. Found something from Wikipedia on this:

"Jung's theory of etiology of psychopathology could almost be simplified to be stated as a too rigid conscious attitude towards the whole of the psyche. That is, a psychotic episode can be seen from a Jungian perspective as the "rest" of the psyche overwhelming the conscious psyche because the conscious psyche effectively was locking out and repressing the psyche as a whole."

So the mechanisms of repression are so tight that they look like they can't be undone. Because this thread is on Robert Johnson, I reckon his book "Transformation" says something on this. He describes 3 progressions of consciousness from "simple", to "complex" to "Enlightened" and represents these through the protagonists of Don Quixote, Hamlet and Faust in the same order. Simply Don Quixote has a feeling-based child-like consciousness; Hamlet an overemphasis on intellectuality (almost cut-off from the simple consciousness); and Faust has faced his shadow (the devil) and is transformed by the holistic integration of his whole psyche (like a synthesis of simple and complex becomes enlightened). The result is the person behaves like a child but with a fully matured free-will (unlike a child) but is also no longer subjected to the blocks of over-analysis on every decision (like many of us). Because Casteneda’s seems popular here, I had a thought that Casteneda and Don Juan where on those last two stages. Don Juan, enlightened who guides Casteneda struggling through complex consciousness and through the various pitfalls of that stage out to the other side.

So what if the psychopath had the extreme version of complex consciousness, like Casteneda who early on wanting to understand everything from an social anthropologist perspective before doing anything. Say that was taken to the extreme form where you could say the ego is completely rigid to the point that nothing gets through, kind of like the difference between a young coconut that’s relatively easy to penetrate and a rigid old one. So can a person be stuck in extreme forms of repression, due to a lethal combination of a certain personality type with possibly the worst corresponding childhood or prenatal injuries / emotional trauma (for that personality type)?

What I’m thinking is it’s a certain mix of personality and early emotional injury that might cause this complete shutdown of our psyche’s healing potential that Jung describes. So what happens is a type of concentration within a very limited aspect of the psyche that deals for example on seeing the whole world purely in material terms. And in that sense things get frozen on what’s called here a purely service-to-self worldview where everything is seen in terms of how it can be manipulated for one’s own benefit.

From what I know of Jung, he saw the “self” as relentless because it never seems to stop seeking the full integration of an individual’s psyche. If the similar thing operates past physical death, then maybe it’s just a matter of time for an individual to heal and move passed the pitfalls that have taken humanity through many dark turns. I guess for me in the absence of knowing anything for sure (like I’ve been guided to see on this forum), I cannot know for sure either if a person is beyond repair. So it comes down to a choice of faith, do I have faith in humanity and everyone in it or do I not. Right now I do - so if there’s an agenda about me, it’s to do with that faith.
 

thevenusian

Dagobah Resident
Hi alkhemst,

You might want to spend some time looking into what the research that has already been done describes about psychopathy.

These books are from the recommended reading list here.

Psychopathy

The Sociopath Next Door - Martha Stout
Women Who Love Psychopaths - Sandra Brown
Snakes in Suits - Robert Hare and Paul Babiak
Without Conscience - Robert Hare
The Mask of Sanity - Hervey Cleckley
Political Ponerology - Andrzej Lobaczewski

Another article you might find informative is here.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Hi alkhemst,
Jung's model is not applicable to genetic psychopaths - the ones who are simply born that way - with different wiring compared to normal humanity. Current scientific evidence - which is referenced in the books that Venusian has mentioned above - points to that.

You are not alone - neither the first nor the last - to try to explain psychopathology from the fundamental neurosis model which Freud put forward. Jung started with that model from Freud and built on it and had some important points of departure regarding the nature of the unconscious. Finally, Jung's model encompassed more area than Freud's and could expand into certain borderline grey areas between science and spirituality. But still, Jung did not appear to have deeply considered a fundamentally different type of psyche which is what a psychopath seems to have. So expanding Jung's model into the area of psychopathology is most likely an error.

To understand the difference between neuroses (which perhaps affects the majority of the human population to greater or lesser degree) and psychopathology directly, you may want to read George Simon's "Character Disturbance". The book is easy to read unlike some of the more academic works on psychopathology and is very useful in getting a low down on what a person affected by psychopathology does different from a person with neurotic character suffering from emotional wounding.

My 2 cents
 
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