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CHAPTER ONE: Introduction

Kradin, Richard Karnac Books ePub

In an essay entitled the Practical Use of Dream Analysis (Jung 1961), Carl Jung suggests that:

The initial dreams that appear at the very outset of the treatment often bring to light the essential etiological factors (of the neurosis) in the most unmistakable way.

Elsewhere in the same essay, he notes:

Initial dreams are often amazingly lucid and clear cut. But as the work of analysis progresses, the dreams tend to lose their clarity.

To herald means to announce or to foretell. Although dreams may arguably reflect actual precognition, e.g., by predicting a death or a catastrophic event, interpretations based on precognition are generally best avoided in the practice of analysis.1 The herald dream, i.e., the first dream offered in analysis, does not foretell specific events; but it does invariably identify the issues that will subsequently be important in the treatment. By defining the “initial conditions” of the psyche in treatment via an examination of the herald dream, it is often possible with a high degree of accuracy to predict the subsequent “trajectory of the treatment”. Admittedly, psychotherapy is more complex than the motion of a Newtonian particle. But the herald dream reveals archetypal elements that are subject to the rules of the psyche.

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CHAPTER SIX: Chains

Kradin, Richard Karnac Books ePub

The following is the herald dream of a 46-year-old homosexual man, reported six months into the analysis. Ted was a well-groomed middle-aged man who appeared younger than his age. In the first sessions, he seemed anxious and defensive. He reported being unhappy in his heterosexual marriage and expressed an intense hatred of his employer. Despite his chronic disgruntle-ment, he quickly offered a series of reasons why he could do nothing to change his situation. His dream was as follows:

I am at the bottom of the ocean, wrapped in chains. In my right hand I hold a gold key that can open the lock and release the chains. But instead of opening them, I throw the key away.

Associations

“Nothing really comes to mind. I was watching a show about deep-sea diving on television the night before.”

Early in the treatment, it is important to explain to patients that dreams represent a language that is different from conventional discourse. The new patient should be helped to recognize that the information revealed by dreams is likely to assist in the treatment, and reassured that dream interpretation is not meant to be a source of shame. It is understandable that a new patient would be reluctant to participate in dream analysis, if it leads to embarrassment. As Jung noted, the ego invariably views its encounters with the unconscious as a defeat, because these detract from its sense of omnipotence. However, recognizing this expected decrease in self-esteem, it can generally be modulated by the analyst.

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Conclusion

Kradin, Richard Karnac Books ePub

The psyche is a symbolic organ whose referents span the spectrum from the personal to the collective. As it is not possible to penetrate a symbol fully, one can only intuit its implications. The idea of circumambulating a symbol captures the sense of what it means to look at a symbol from all possible directions, and then to look at it yet again. The limits of dream interpretation are imposed by the personal experience of the dreamer, whereas archetypal referents expand the dreamer’s collective awareness. In practice, I aim my interpretations at the intersection of these two domains, what I term the zone of individuation.

There is no single meaning that can or should be ascribed to a dream. Instead there is always a set of potential meanings, some of which will “feel” correct in the context of the treatment. Jung used to say that a dream interpretation was right if it evoked an “ah-ha” response from the dreamer. But in the final analysis, interpretations are largely based on their aesthetic appeal. Theoretical physicists and mathematicians rely on their skills, intuitions, experience, and sense of symmetry in determining whether a theorem should be accepted or rejected. In many respects, the same is true of dream interpretation.

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CHAPTER ELEVEN: The Reptilian Brain

Kradin, Richard Karnac Books ePub

John was a 25-year-old man whose mother referred him to my practice concerned with his inability to engage with the world. John’s own chief complaint was an ill-defined but deeply rooted fear of women. His sexual experience with women was limited and he displayed little interest in either sex. He reported feeling deeply confused about what others expected of him and what he wanted out of life.

Despite being an attractive and intelligent young man, there was something decidedly strange about John. At times, his facial expressions seemed odd and his verbal responses were frequently concrete and tangential. I wondered whether he might have a schizotypal personality, i.e., a disorder with overlap features of schizoid personality and psychosis. But, at other times, his responses were appropriate and his mannerisms unremarkable. John reported the following dream in our second session.

I am in an office that reminds me of my father’s. I see you in the next room doing “family therapy”. I am holding a reptile that has wings. There is a crow in your office. It begins to transform into a dove. I am afraid that the reptile will eat the dove but instead they get along fine and fuse into one another.

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CHAPTER TWELVE: Out of Control

Kradin, Richard Karnac Books ePub

A 28-year-old female physician in training reported the next dream. She came to treatment seeking help for a longstanding eating disorder that had developed when she was in high school. When I first saw Ellen, I thought I was watching a marionette. She did not appear to be ambulating by her own effort but instead appeared to be moved along by a set of invisible strings. Her movements were jerky and tightly controlled, when she entered and left the consulting room. As she sat across from me in my office, she scrutinized my facial expressions for evidence of approval or disapproval. Ellen had been in therapy in another state and had continued to talk to her previous therapist every day on the telephone for months, until her therapist wisely insisted that she find someone else to meet with in person. Her dream was reported in the second session.

I am in an empty auditorium. There is a grand piano in the hallway and I push it onto the stage. As I begin to play, the seats suddenly collapse on each other like dominoes and the sprinkler system turns on. There is water everywhere.

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