Dreams The Royal Road to the Unconscious

Dreams, The Royal Road to the Unconscious

Freud made dream work,along with the analysis of the transference, the centerpiece of psychoanalysis.  His book on dream interpretation served as a bridge to C. G. Jung early in their relationship.  Jung took the dream work and extended it beyond the personal unconscious into the collective unconscious or objective psyche.  For Jung, establishing an ongoing relationship between ego and unconscious resembled a form of yoga, a practice that stabilized and enriched the conscious life.

Remembering dreams is a skill that improves with practice.  First, it is important to get a good and full night’s sleep.  Dreams occur during REM periods of sleep, which extend in length as sleep progresses through the night.  Good sleep hygiene is important: going to sleep at about the same time each night, turning off computers and cell phones at least an hour before sleep, avoiding alcohol and other substances that can affect the sleep architecture (the different stages of sleep), and setting up the room (quiet and dark) and the bed in order to facilitate sleep.  Sometimes a sound machine designed for sleep can be of help, especially with noisy surroundings.

Next, it is important to keep a pad of paper and a pencil or pen nearby so that you can write down the dreams first thing in the morning.  A tape recorder can work, too. Upon awakening, before opening your eyes, rehearse the dream and then write it down.  As you pay attention to your dreams, you will remember more of them.

After you have written down the dream, write down your associations to the different elements of the dream.  The dream and the associations play an important part in the analysis of the dream.  After you have reflected on the dream, create a title for the dream.  A good title will capture the essence of the dream from your own perspective.  You may also be able to identify one or more archetypal motifs in the dream.  Is there a particular fairy tale or myth or legend that resonates with your dream?

The analysis of dreams looks at each dream individually and at the dream in the context of the dream sequence.  A dream sequence can extend over many years. The analysis of the dreams also looks at how the dream may be providing compensation for the conscious or ego position.  Over time, a dialogue can develop between the conscious and unconscious positions, a form of union, or yoga if you will.

Dr. Seth Isaiah Rubin, Ph.D.