The Language of Dreams
Dreams of the Children
Dreams of the World
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. . . recurring lessons in dream analysis . . .
Objective Vs. Subjective Level Of Dreams
When we dream of something or someone familiar to us in our real waking life, we need to focus on the question of whether the dream object should be analyzed on the objective or subjective level, or both.
It is unusual for the dream to have meaning on the objective level, although one should examine that level first. Some people find warnings or affirmations in their dreams often. This is rare.
It is much more common for all the elements in the dream, even the familiar, to speak symbolically. Therefore, every dream about the familiar should be looked at closely by the dreamer on the subjective level. This means that the dreamer should do associations with the familiar element, and substitute those associations along with the other associations for key elements in the dream to find the dream story that is being told symbolically. In other words, the dreamer should ask, "What do I associate with my husband? What kind of masculine is he? What are his qualities?" or "What does this dog mean to me? What does he remind me of? Does he have any cultural or archetypal associations that are significant?" or "What does this job mean to me? In what sense is it my work? Are there clues in what is going on in the dream job that speak to me about the symbolic nature of this job?" This is the process that should be applied to any familiar element in a dream as well as the unfamiliar to find the symbolic, subjective level of the dream.
The message of a dream can vary dramatically, depending on whether the dreamer pays attention to the objective or subjective level of a dream. It is my experience that the real richness in a dream can be found by examining both levels. Even when my dreams are most meaningful on the subjective level, I often find that I have learned something I didn't know consciously about the familiar element that appeared in the dream.
Our first videotape, Understanding Your Dreams: The Method, gives more illustrations of how to examine dreams on both levels. Each tape in our series allows the viewer to observe dreamwork done by individuals in one on one work with a Jungian analyst and in workshop settings.
Elizabeth Strahan, Jungian analyst, discusses the steps of this analysis in more detail and with numerous examples on Tapes One and Two of the videotape series, The Language of Dreams.