There are many theories about the nature of dreams. Freud believed that dreams are created to protect sleep, which could be disrupted by socially unacceptable wishes. Carl Jung argues that dreams are windows to our unconscious, a way for the conscious and unconscious mind to communicate. Others theorists believe that dreams regulate our mood or communicate something that we aren't saying outright.
Carl Jung's Theory of Dreams
Carl Jung disagreed with Freud's belief that dreams were trying to conceal our true feelings from our waking mind. Instead, he took an opposite view that dreams serve our waking mind as a guide to achieve wholeness. Dreams offer us a solution to problems we're facing in our daily life.
Jung described the ego as our view of ourselves, how we portray our self to the world. Jung viewed the world as a collection of paired opposites (i.e. light/dark, think/feel or masculine/feminine). Therefore, when we're working with the ego, we also need to work with it's opposite- the shadow. The shadow embodies rejected aspects of ourselves, aspects we don't want to acknowledge. It contains primitive and animalistic instincts. Jung thought of dreams as a way to shed light onto this shadow aspect of ourselves in order to become more whole.
Carl Jung thought dreams were important; key aspects of ourselves, our relationships and our situations could be revealed to us through our unconscious mind. Dreams are another tool we can use for personal growth and to achieve spiritual happiness.
Jung suggested discussing and analyzing current situations in our lives and that would help unlock the symbolism and imagery in our dreams. He said that we have all the information and tools we need to analyze our own dreams and there is not one correct way to do so. The interpretation is individualistic, whatever we feel is the correct meaning or interpretation of the dream is the most significant and meaningful interpretation for us.
An important part of Jung's influential approach to psychology was his concept of the archetype. Archetypes are symbols that have occurred in every culture throughout history. They are universal because they belong to the collective unconscious. Archetypes are helpful symbols to understand when attempting to analyze our dreams. Our dreams often mirror, interact with or reflect universal themes. There are many archetypes, but the following are some of the most important:
Self or Ego - The part of ourselves we show to the world. It's a public mask. It's the person it our dreams that we think is us. He may not look physically look like me or behave like I would, but I intrinsically know it's me.
The Shadow - The unwanted part of ourselves; the part that is ugly or unlovable, our repressed and negative self. The shadow symbolizes anger and fear. In our dreams, our shadow aspect is the person we don't like, someone who makes us feel angry or scared. The shadow could be represented by a murder, nightmarish figure, bully or even a close friend.
The Anima / Animus - The female and male aspects of ourselves. Everyone has both feminine and masculine aspects. The anima appears in dreams as extremely feminine and the animus is highly masculine. How our anima and animus is expressed or behaves gives us clues to how well our waking self integrates male and female qualities in waking life. For example, while dreaming females find themselves growing facial hair or males are clothed in dresses. This type of imagery reminds us to express our feminine and masculine energies equally in our daily life.
The Divine Child - Symbolizes innocence, ability to be vulnerable, and helplessness. It also represents our aspirations and potential. The child is represented by a baby.
The Syzygy - The divine couple, the perfect pairing of anima and animus. They can be represented by an actual couple or a single person (usually sexual ambiguous). The syzygy symbolizes power.
The Wise Old Man - The wise helper. He offers guidance and sage advice and can by symbolized by a father or teacher.
The Great Mother - The nurturer. In dreams she is usually our mother or grandmother. She can be a figure who provides us with reassurance and love. Interestingly, the great mother can appear as a witch or homeless lady. Then she represents power or dominance, death and seduction. This juxtaposition comes from the idea thatmothers give life but are jealous and angry watching the children grow and move away.
The Hero - The heroic persona, fighting the shadow. He symbolizes the ego. He is brave and fearless but is also unintelligent and ignorant of the ways of the collective unconscious. The hero can show up as an actual superhero or strong male figure.
The Trickster - A subtle and changeable figure. He can take many forms. He plays tricks and jokes to point out when we've overreached a situation , misjudged something or when we're taking ourselves too seriously. The trickster often makes us feel embarrassed.