Psychological Self-Help

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sexually inadequate") is transformed into a powerful dream ("I'm a fantastic
gymnast"). Thus, you can always ask about your dreams: "To what degree is
the opposite really true of me?" 
Some analysts think the manifest content of our dreams identify our
unconscious conflicts (Gelman, 1989). Edward Brennan cites a case of a
single woman who dreamed of being chased by a man with a big knife. Rather
than this being an Electra dream, Brennan says it may simply be a desire for
a strong male partner, which is frightening, and, thus, turned into a
nightmare. Such a dream is useful if the dreamer can see that it is her
unconscious conflict, namely, fears and denial of her desire for a successful,
capable partner, which leads her to date inept or good-image-no-substance
men. Brennan says our unconscious conflicts appear in our dreams over and
over again. We can see the conflicts if we look. 
Some therapists say if we try to logically analyze a dream, we will fail.
Dreams aren't logical. Another kind of knowing is needed. Several
investigators (Jung, 1973; Progoff, 1975; Bosnak, 1988; Mahrer, 1971) have
said one has to and can return to the "reality of the dream." You re-enter the
dream. This is how you do it: you realize you are awake but you vividly get in
touch with the dream; the dream continues on without any control from you--
it remains autonomous; you aren't "making up a story" and you aren't
dreaming; you have the ability to focus on both the "real world" and the
"dream world;" you are interacting with a dream that "has a mind of its own"
in such as way as to understand it better. This was called "active imagination"
by Jung. You start this process by observing a scene from the remembered
dream so closely, so intimately that you can join the scene and soon you can
relate to objects and people in the dream. Refer to Johnson (1989) for a
recent description of active imagination. Refer to method #3 in this chapter
for a journal approach to analyzing dreams. 
Another patient of Bosnak (1988, pp. 86-102), George, illustrates this
procedure. George's dream was of a water filled steel bowl with a rabbit in it.
Dr. Bosnak asked George to try "active imagination" by imagining the dream
scene and describing it in detail. The bowl was shiny and silvery-blue,
something like a chalice. He could see (this is imagination now, not the
original dream) the rabbit hopping around, comfortable and happy under
water. It had a bubble of air around it. As George described the changing
scene, he was surprised that the water started to run out of the bowl. This
made the rabbit scared; it seemed to want to be stroked. George longed to
touch the rabbit and although it was hard to put his hand in the water and his
heart felt heavy, he did it... and the rabbit calmed down. The experience
made George feel as though he had re-lived an emotional early childhood
In "active imagination" you remain yourself and interact with things and
people in the dream scene, but Perls (1971) and Mahrer (1971) recommend
identifying with and, in effect, mentally becoming each object or person in the
dream, especially the thing or person associated with the peak emotion in the
dream. Thus, Perls says to "become" the dainty, fragile table or the sports car
or the raging monster in your dream... note how you feel as that object or
person, what do you say or do, what is your purpose (as that object or
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