Sigmund Freud as the father of the theory of the unconscious wrote the first description of dreaming and dreamwork in his series of lectures to the University of Vienna from 1915-1917, A General Introduction to Psycho-analysis. In it he explained that dreams are the “means of removing, by hallucinatory satisfaction, mental stimuli that disturb sleep” (P. 122). He believed dreams have meaning as wish-fulfillments and these come from instinctual drives- e.g. to have sex, to have power, to kill, to create and to die. He asserted in Totem and Taboo that pre-literate humans had taboos within their clan against incest and marrying within the totem. A totem is defined as the extended family beyond the nuclear family who share the same veneration for an animal for which they identified and revered, (e.g. the Bear Totem, the Wolf Totem). For these ancestors there was in their unconscious, when their instincts compelled them to outwardly act (to kill an enemy or to have sex with a woman of the clan), a conflict within due to the social taboos within the clan. Freud and Jung theorized for post literate peoples living at the time of their popularity that when obsessive, recurrent or highly emotional dreams occur which are not normally associated with the personal associations or experience of the dreamer, then these they believed to be ‘archaic remnants’- thought forms whose presence cannot be explained by anything in the individual’s own life but seem to be aboriginal , innate and inherited patterns in the human mind. (The Undiscovered Self, Jung, 1957, p. 107).
Now 100 years later, we revisit their theories of dream interpretation, symbolism and how to work with dreams that have relevance to our current level of civilization. The hypothesis that complexes of opposite tendencies exist within the unconscious is a well known tenant of psycho-analytic theory. A conflict exists in modern humans- to act out feelings, drives or thoughts vs. to suppress/repress them. One only needs to see the prevalence of sexual assault, crimes of passion, murder and other criminal acts to see that we are not so very far removed from our ancestors in psychic disposition and many have acted on these impulses.
Furthermore, Carl Jung hypothesized that dreams had an additional purpose than just quelling the agitation that occurred during sleep due to instinctual conflicts. Dreams, he theorized, had a teleological purpose too- to bring one into contact with the Self or that concept of wholeness that achieves self-awareness and self-actualization. Jung asserted that dreams change the identity of the dreamer and motivate her to wholeness and completeness by reconciling opposites within her unconscious. For example, if Jane submits to another person such as a male co-worker at her daily job, her dream that following night may have a compensatory effect and she could dream that she is big, powerful and strong- capable of asserting her dominance over males. Jane’s behavior could then change the next day to asserting herself more at her job, if she had a good sense of self-esteem. Extending his theory of the unconscious and dreams beyond Freud’s description of it as a source of conflict, Jung hypothesized that dreams had the effect of resolving inner ambivalence by changing our identities and motivating us to change our behavior. Later on in Jung’ life near his death, he conceded that dreams may also have a way of getting us in contact with a field of consciousness in which deceased people exist and that we should investigate parapsychological phenomena objectively. (The Undiscovered Self, p. 26). Furthermore, Jung believed that man’s self knowledge today is rather limited knowledge, most of it dependent on social factors of what goes on in the human psyche. (The Undiscovered Self, p. 5).
Jung goes on to assert: “I have spent more than half a century investigating natural symbols, and have come to the conclusion that dreams and their symbols are not stupid or meaningless. On the contrary, dreams provide you with the most interesting information if you only take the time to study their symbols”, (The Undiscovered Self, p. 143)
Dreams’ symbolic meanings and the amplification of dream images can be correlated with developmental tasks that challenge us along the whole continuum of the life cycle from birth to age 72. In my new book, Life Passages: Where Dreams and Age Point Progressions Coincide (2017), I give volunteer examples of dreams that are pre-cognitive, reflect developmental challenges, and represent visitations from deceased persons. I use the technique of Age Point Progression along with planetary transits (see Joyce Hopewell’s book on Using Age Progression, 2013; ). I base my work on Huber methodology practised in Astrological Psychology which pinpoints life tasks that reflect the psychological crisis as the Age Point and transits aspect sensitive parts of the horoscope. (Bruno and Louise Huber’s Life Clock, Huber, 2006, p. 67 Figure 2.4 for the 36 Life Phases as expressed through houses of the horoscope.) A dream occurring at these points in time symbolizes the issue that may need to be resolved based on developmental life tasks.
My hypothesis is we have a dream and its Age Point/Transit coincidences on sensitive points in the horoscope signify important developmental events in the life cycle and the crises that induce the age old conflict: inner tension to act or to suppress or not. That tension is what innervates an unconscious complex made up of contradictory emotional feelings as it stimulates our awareness of the consequences of acting on either one set of opposites. This psychic tension is the creative matrix out of which dream imagery occurs. And as its psychic energy gains momentum or valence in the psychic system and is brought to consciousness (or not), it actually changes the dreamer’s ego-identity for the time that it ‘captures’ the individual. Then her behavior changes as her identity is infused with feelings of conviction and ideas for carrying out in action what the dream image represented on an emotional level.
Age Point progression paired with sensitive points in the horoscope provides the background for the developmental theme behind the dream and illuminates the psychological task to be performed at a critical time in the life cycle in which it occurs. Huber’s technique has allowed us to provide a context for interpretation of dreams that has been the developmental conflict used in most dream interpretations. Consider the Beatles song in St. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (Beatles 1967) which illustrates developmental conflict occurring at ages 18-24 about going out on one’s own vs. going with the concerns of the parents and their values:
Wednesday morning at five o’clock as the day begins
Silently closing her bedroom door
Leaving the note that she hoped would say more
She goes down the stairs to the kitchen clutching her handkerchief
Quietly turning the backdoor key
Stepping outside she is free
She (We gave her most of our lives)
Is leaving (Sacrificed most of our lives)
Home (We gave her everything money could buy)
She’s leaving home after living alone
For so many years
Father snores as his wife gets into her dressing gown
Picks up the letter that’s lying there
Standing alone at the top of the stairs
She breaks down and cries to her husband Daddy our baby’s gone
Why would she treat us so thoughtlessly
How could she do this to me
She (We never thought of ourselves)
Is leaving (Never a thought for ourselves)
Home (We struggled hard all our lives to get by)
She’s leaving home after living alone
For so many years (Bye Bye)