The little dream that doesn’t mean anything (part 2 of 4)

Part 2  “My Teeth Are Falling Out, The Bathroom is Filthy and I Cannot Find My Class!”

my_teeth_were_falling_out_by_brokenopenseed-d30wxkyThen there were dreams that seemed to be dismissed entirely.  “Oh, that is just an anxiety dream.  That didn’t mean anything because I was thinking about my traveling yesterday so that is why I dreamed I was at the airport.”  End of dream work.  Yet, certainly the dreamer thought of many things the day before so that particular image is of utmost importance, and the ego has only been tricked one more time by the elusive dream image hiding as a “meaningless dream”.  Since we dream about things of which we are unconscious, it is imperative that an association to an image in a dream not be an excuse to dismiss its symbolic significance.

The ego is a mighty organism within the matrix of the psyche.  It demands dominion and omnipotence when it has next to none.  It seems to beat on its chest like a bully after a fight.  I will not remember!  My dream is not important!  This is stupid!  This is only a wish!   Our ego development clearly contributed to the advancement of the human race, but still the instincts and the archetypes are dangerous left completely un-integrated.

Additionally, our dreams hide in the smallest cracks.  They are elusive, wily and mercurial.  They still, no matter how long a person has worked with her or others’ dreams, will find a way to be forgotten, ignored, dismissed and laughed at.   I call this The Little Dream That Doesn’t Mean Anything.

And one category of dream that is especially disregarded is the ubiquitous, repetitive, common dream.  It is both collective, as in the tribal dream cited above, as well as considered a small, unimportant dream often edited out of one’s dream journal as well as one’s analysis.  Yet just as personal dreams, meant only for the dreamer (if there is such a dream) are an intention of correction, compensation, awareness, etc. so do ubiquitous common dreams intend to correct, compensate, etc. the culture or collective consciousness.  They are not necessarily limited to the dreamer himself.  We dream to heal our world, just as our ancestors have for millenia. Therefore they seem to me to be extraordinarily important.  Let me give an example:

I go to college only to discover I have arrived very late, I have missed all of the semester, and now must take the final.

There are a number of variations of this dream, not finding the classroom, not having the books, etc.  All have the same setting, theme and emotion in the dream.

“Oh that is just a little anxiety dream.  I have it occasionally so it doesn’t mean anything.  Day residue. Maybe I am worried about the presentation I have to give”

Once more, end of dream work for the dreamer.

And yet, we as analytical psychologists have failed to notice that this dream is far too common to be ignored—rather than dismiss it because it is common, the remarkable data is that so many people have such a common image it must garner more of our curiosity, rather than less.  In a classroom often over half the people in it have all had this dream, a question I have asked many groups, from all over the world.  One reference stated this dream is had by 40% of the adult North American population.  I have no idea if that is accurate.  It fits with my spotty research.  And to add to my curiosity, in the summer semester at the Jung Institute this year, I asked this question of our international students, including those from Korea, Croatia, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Japan, and others.  Nearly all raised their hands.  Clearly it is a common dream that many people have.  It is my thought that this dream is about our world zeitgeist, it is trying to correct or compensate or illuminate some aspect of our “spirit of the times” that wants attention, consciousness, change, and energy.

These dreams are collective dreams—at least to some extent.  That does not mean they do not have significant personal guidance for the dreamer—but they are so similar, specific and prevalent that they must also be seen as information for all of us—not just the individual.  In some ways they are like fairy tales, which Marie Louise Von Franz termed “collective dreams”. To summarize, she theorized that fairy tales, like myths, represented the core, crystallized psychological imprint of a culture.  After details that proved to be unimportant faded away, what was left was a story that represented a truth about a group of people.  In the Grimm’s Tales one sees many terrible witches and evil stepmothers. One might surmise that feminine power and strength in Germany circa 1500 was manifesting in a destructive manner.  The ever-present male hero counterbalanced the female antagonist.  Or one could see this pattern as congruent with the emergence of the “masculine” modern era conflicted with the long-standing “feminine” medieval era. Similarly, in current dreams that are repeated in our modern culture we see broad, prospective issues actively and energetically being “talked about” by the dream maker.

What do you think, feel, imagine or see about this type of dream?


1 Responses to The little dream that doesn’t mean anything (part 2 of 4)

  1. Lizzie says:

    Each type of dream is specific to a specific group/life style.
    Student matters for scholastic types…missing classes, incomplete homework. Same would be for Bakers – flour not rising, not enough salt. We are missing the “wholeness” of our life experience…the Touch.
    Personal dreams are meant for the Dreamer…what the Dreamer does as a result, is meant for the world.
    Let us tickle our dreams, make them role over on their backsides, expose themselves for what they are. Really rub those Buddha Bellies.

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