Dream Work

Working with dreams is a vital aspect of Jungian psychotherapy. According to Jung, dreams are purposive. The purpose that they serve is to compensate “attitudes which,” as John Beebe says, “are not truly adaptive” (1993: 84). Dreams emerge from the unconscious in an effort to compensate some maladaptive attitude of our ego. This is what Jung calls the “compensatory function” of dreams. (In addition, Jung says that some dreams have what he calls a “prospective function.” These are dreams that anticipate some probable eventuality in the future.)

A dream offers potentially valuable alternatives to the attitude of our ego. These alternatives appear in the dream as images, which emerge spontaneously and autonomously from the unconscious. Because our ego has a maladaptive attitude, it has difficulty appreciating the potential value of these images. All too often, our ego experiences these images as a threat, and it reacts defensively. If, however, our ego can respond receptively to these images and engage them appropriately, the dream can transform our consciousness.