Dream Pattern Analysis
I recently completed a Dream Pattern Analysis certification process that changed the way I view and work with dreams, images and symbols. According to Jung, Conforti and others in the analytical community, the Psyche expresses itself in images and symbols that are universal and unchangeable by human experience. The Collective Unconscious or the Objective Psyche, that which is the matrix of existence seeks to express itself in meaningful ways for the individual. Each image has to be looked at for its specific attributes, proclivities, way that it behaves in the natural world. Depending on the context, we can accurately translate the meaning from the image if we stay with the image. The problem is that we cannot always understand what we are being told because the images seem too chaotic and subjective: we ascribe our own personal meaning to what we experience. There is really nothing wrong with associating our experiences to images and symbols, but we can truly miss the mark if we stay with what we think we know versus really looking at what the image really is.
For example, if a snake appears in your dream, we can make any number of associations with snakes. Freudians will assume it is a sexual allusion to the male genitals, others might go with the meaning of transformation or healing. But if we look at the snake and begin to ask questions about the snake, we might find out that the snake is a garter snake in the garden and not a boa in the bedroom. There is a huge difference between the two. The first is a natural occurrence which is consistent with how things are and the other is a dangerous situation which does not occur in the natural world. The context of the garden tells us that we are in nature, that snakes belong out there and that garter snakes perform an ecological function. All is well. The bedroom, on the other hand, is a person's most intimate space, not only for intimacy with a loved one, but where one goes to sleep, to re-charge, where one is the most oneself away from others. A boa constrictor not only does not belong in a house, if it is there, it is saying that something very dangerous that could crush and devour one has entered one's psychic space. The appropriate response to that is to run! And then ask the question: What is in your life that is so dangerous, so close to you that can obliterate you? In addition, we would want to look at the dreamer's response to the boa. Are they aware of the danger?
In this case, we could ask what one's feeling about the boa is in order to determine whether the dreamer has an appropriate attitude toward the image or if it is dissonant. If the dreamer says something like a boa is an incredible exemplar of power and potency, they might want to see the boa in the bedroom as a symbol of their own power. What is missed is that a boa in bedroom represents extreme danger and would point to the dreamer's naivete when dealing with others in intimate spaces who pose a real threat to the dreamer. In addition, it could also point to the dreamer's illusion that they possess those attributes to compensate for a sense of powerlessness. The rest of the dream would provide more information.
On the other hand, if the dreamer says that boas are dangerous and that they were scared of it, that tells us something different. Since they are not ignoring the danger, then we would want to look at what is in their lives that they know is dangerous and needs immediate attention.
There are many other aspects to this image as well that would reveal more about the dreamer's life. Questions to ask would be: what does the dreamer do when she/he sees the snake? What happens next? how does the dream end?
This is a very beginning look at how I am learning to approach dream images or any image that comes up in counseling sessions. Since images are the way that Psyche communicates, it is a good idea to get as close to the objective meaning of the image as we can. When we research how a particular image actually is in the world, a bear, a bee, a shoe, a glass, we can come very close to the meaning it holds for the particular person at the particular time. If there is a bear in the winter eating honey, we know that something is off! Bears hibernate in the winter and there is no honey. So why this image? Is the dreamer engaged in something where the timing is way off and the resources are missing?
This way of approaching images is exciting and exacting work. It takes time and discipline and curiosity. If you are interested in learning more, go to assisiconferences.com
Dr. Silvia Behrend is a Certified Pattern Analyst, educator and mentor