The Purpose of Dream Imagery


The two most common responses to dreams are dismissiveness and and pathologizing.  For long stretches of time I’ve monitored various search engines in social media and what I’ve observed has formed this  opinion. ((One of these exercises was held three years ago when for 6 months on Twitter I encouraged dream sharing with the hashtag #dreamlog)) The dismissive attitude is hidden in comments like “thank God it was just a dream,” “I wish it wasn’t just a dream,” or “If it weren’t a dream I’d have to pay more attention to that.”  The pathologizing is found in statements like “Such a crazy dream!” “What a weird dream,” or “That dream was nuts!”

Both these attitudes are defensive, attempting to hold off and stay in control of what the unconscious is attempting to deliver.  What if the source of dreams was neither crazy nor dismissed?  What if the source of dreams had your best interest in mind?  What if each dream were received as a love letter from your soul?

Dreams are most often difficult to unravel, specifically because they challenge the way we are seeing the world. As Carl Jung pointed out,

“They throw on the patient’s situation a singular light, and one strange to the conscious viewpoint, while at the same time an aspect is lent to the banal clinical situation that is uniquely adapted to the dreamer’s whole mental peculiarity, and fitted to stimulate in the highest aesthetic, intellectual, and religious interests.  No better conditions for treatment could be imagined than those thus created.” Carl Jung, Two Essays in Analytical Psychology, CW 7, par 115.

If we can gain some footing with the images that are emerging, we soon come to see how the dream has a natural guiding function with regards to the life of the dreamer.  Soul figures guide us all into the path of individuation.

Author: Richard Reeve

I'm the Senior Director of Development at Panthera, a global conservation organization committed to stemming the population decline of cats in the wild. I enjoy rural living with my wife Judith and our two children in the Catskill Mountains of New York.