Thursday, 8 October 2015


Bad dreams show us our dark side.

And this can be useful.

British cabinet ministers may dream of beating young boys dressed in girls underwear.

White fascists in South Carolina may dream of shooting dead their annoying neighbours.

Sam Wolfe has written about bad dreams being related to the unconscious mind.

Sam Wolfe points out that, according to Carl Jung, the unconscious mind consists of both the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious.

A Jungian Perspective on Nightmares and Bad Dreams

Hitler apparently used symbols and instincts from the collective unconscious to win over the masses.

Advertisers reportedly do the same thing.

Sam Wolfe reminds us that Jung claimed that humans want 'wholeness'.

In other words, humans don't want their minds to be full of conflicts.

The Sunni Moslem does not want to be one minute seeing Islam as the religion of peace and the next moment wanting to kill a lot of Shias.

Individuation is the name Jung gives to the process of achieving wholeness.

Individuation involves dealing with 'the dark side'.

Jung said that "the individuation process…forms one of the main interests of Taoism and Zen Buddhism."

Jung also believed that this idea of becoming 'whole' is referred to by Jesus.

Jesus said: "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"

Some supporters of Jung believe that the faults that Hitler saw in the Jews were faults that Hitler himself also possessed.


Sam Wolfe points out that "Individuation is difficult because it involves giving up ... the mask we put on..." 

According to Sam Wolfe: "One way that the personal shadow manifests itself is through psychological projection."

A Jungian Perspective on Nightmares and Bad Dreams

For example, the gay homophobe will be constantly accusing other people of being gay.

The bad driver will blame other motorists of getting it all wrong.

The American general will blame the dead Iraqi children of deliberately getting in the way of his bombs.

Sam Wolfe writes: "If we despise someone for being lazy, cowardly, mean or deceitful or if we are constantly annoyed at someone for being arrogant, greedy or sluttish, this perception reflects a despised part of ourselves."

Herman Hesse, in his novel Demian, wrote: "If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us."

Sam Wolfe writes: "In order to integrate your shadow into your personality, you first must recognise and accept that these despised traits are a part of your self ..."

A Jungian Perspective on Nightmares and Bad Dreams

You must DETACH yourself from the bad traits.

Both Jesus and Buddha pointed out that we should see our own faults and then detach ourselves from these faults.

In our bad dreams there are symbols that represent the bad stuff.

We might dream about threatening creatures whom we are having to shoot at.

When we waken up we may realise that the dream is about our own faults and failings.

The psychologist Paul Tholey suggests that the dreamer should try to engage in dialogue with the hostile dream figure, with the goal of achieving some kind of reconciliation. 

A Jungian Perspective on Nightmares and Bad Dreams

Sam Wolfe writes: "Ugly and terrifying characters in our dreams can be transformed into beautiful and friendly characters. 

"The shadow, therefore, is really hidden treasure...

"As the German psychologist Kuenkel said, 'The true way to healing' is to seek out the 'barking dogs of the unconscious' and reconcile with them." 

As Jesus said, love your enemies.

Sam Wolfe writes: Greet your demons and monsters like a long-lost friend and so too will your enemies in real life cease to be enemies. 

Continued here: A Jungian Perspective on Nightmares and Bad Dreams

Not all dreams are bad.

I once had an employee who believed that while she was asleep she could leave her body and go off to visit her relatives some hundreds of miles away in Sumatra.

Australian Aborigines believe that people leave their bodies during sleep, and temporarily enter the Dreamtime.

Australian Aborigines believe that in dreams dead relatives communicate their presence. At times the departed relatives may bring healing.

Australian Aborigine Dream Beliefs

Some Indigenous American tribes believe that dreams are a way of visiting one's ancestors.

Alice in Wonderland.

Today, about one-third of hospital patients over the age of 70 have 'hallucinations' which they think are real.

Hallucinations in the Hospital.

One patient I know sees her departed father.

The Sumerians in Mesopotamia (Iraq, Syria, Kuwait) believed that the soul, or part of it, actually visits the places and persons experienced in dreams. 

The Babylonians and Assyrians in Mesopotamia divided dreams into "good," which were sent by the gods, and "bad," sent by demons.

Ancient Egyptians believed that dreams brought messages from the gods.

In Chinese history, some people wrote of part of the soul leaving the body during sleep to travel in a dream realm.

The Indian text Upanishads, says that dreams can be expressions of inner desires, and, can involve the soul leaving the body and being guided until awakened.

The ancient Greeks believed that the Greek god Morpheus sent warnings and prophecies in dreams.

The Greeks borrowed the idea that souls leave the body during sleep.

The Roman philosopher Cicero believed that all dreams are produced by thoughts and conversations a dreamer had during the preceding days.

Jacob's dream of a ladder of angels, 1690, by Michael Willmann. Jacob's dream of a ladder

Most of the dreams in the Bible are in the Book of Genesis.

The ancient Hebrews believed that dreams can be the voice of God.

The Hebrews differentiated between good dreams (from God) and bad dreams (from evil spirits).

St. Augustine and St. Jerome claimed that that they gained useful insights from their dreams.

Martin Luther, however, believed dreams were the work of the Devil.


Some philosophers and scientists believe that the "physical world" may be an illusion.

In the Taoist book Zhuangzi, by Zhuang Zhou, we read:

"Once upon a time, Zhuang Zhou dreamed he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting about happily enjoying himself. 

"He did not know that he was Zhou. 

"Suddenly he awoke, and was palpably Zhou. 

"He did not know whether he was Zhou, who had dreamed of being a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming that he was Zhou. 

For the Hindus, Brahman (God) is everything, and is both in the world and not in the world, at the same time.


In the 17th century, Descartes wrote that a mind can exist without a body.

Meditations on First Philosophy.


Freud taught that the content of dreams is the result of unconscious wish fulfillment.

Freud saw dreams as a "road to the unconscious."

Freud argued that important unconscious desires often relate to early childhood memories and experiences.

Freud thought there was a possibility that dreams can be linked to telepathy.

Carl Jung wrote that dreams are messages to the dreamer and that the messages can help the dreamer to solve emotional or religious problems.

Jung wrote that recurring dreams mean that the dreamer is neglecting an issue related to the dream.

Jung believed that memories formed throughout the day also play a role in dreaming.

The unconscious deals with these when the ego is at rest.

Jung wrote that while dreaming we may tune in to the collective unconscious.

Jung also wrote about symbols in dreams.

For example, in your dream your wife might be represented by Britney Spears, or your boss might be represented by Adolf Hitler, or your workplace might be represented by Disneyworld.


Jie Zhang proposes that the function of sleep is to process, encode, and transfer the data from the temporary memory store to the long-term memory store.

Deirdre Barrett describes dreaming as simply "thinking in a different biochemical state" and believes people continue to work on all the usual problems in that state.[71]

From the 1940s to 1985, Calvin S. Hall collected more than 50,000 dream reports at Western Reserve University.

Hall's studies indicated that participants from varying parts of the world demonstrated similarity in their dream content.

Hall found that in dreams different locations and objects continuously blend into each other.

In the Hall study, the most common emotion experienced in dreams was anxiety.



Hall found that sexual dreams occur no more than 10% of the time and are more prevalent in young to mid-teens.

Daydreaming can be useful.

There are numerous examples of composers, novelists and filmmakers, developing new ideas through daydreaming. Similarly, research scientists, mathematicians and physicists have developed new ideas by daydreaming about their subject areas.


  1. probably preaching to the converted here, but search on "Lucid Dreaming" learn the technique to become aware you are dreaming, then you can take control of your dreams! (avoid the spammy/scammy sites trying to sell you these techniques, search until you find a decent free site there are a few)

    I was having night terrors a few yrs ago, terrifying stuff, searching led me to Lucid Dreaming (can't remember which site) I learnt how to ask myself if I was dreaming during a dream, I practiced an awake technique of asking myself if I was dreaming (while awake) and then trying to push my finger though my hand; obviously this is impossible while awake, but practice asking the question and checking with the finger though hand thing; next time you are dreaming you can ask yourself the question and your finger will go into your hand, then you are lucid, i.e. "awake" inside your dream, once you realise that you can take charge of it, you fly in a dream or do anything you like. It's well worth practicing, no night terrors since I started a few yrs ago, and I've had some amazing experiences while dreaming :)

    1. I went through a period of frightmares once, where you fall asleep but part of your mind was still awake. I was very depressed at the time. A very miserable part of my life. When your asleep the brain stops your body from moving so that you don't become active while dreaming.

      I sort of knew when I was in a frightmare but I couldn't do anything about it. There was always a strange kind of eerie silence before it all started. Once a giant insect type creature crawled on the bed and started lashing away at me, but I couldn't move. Another time I found myself walking down a street when I heard a drum behind me bang three times. I knew something terrible was about to happen. I turned around and looked but there was nothing to see, and then another giant insect type creature pounced on me hacking away.

      I used to get these out of the body experiences too where I would go flying downwards from my bed into hell, but i would always struggle straight away to come up again which wasn't easy. Then one day I thought, heck, nothing can go wrong, I'm fed up about being worried about this, so i let myself fall and down and down I went, except it seemed to go on for ages and I started to get really scared, worried that I was really was going to hell. So I struggled to get back up again and it was really hard because there was such a long way to go, but as I approached my bed a load of hands tried to grab my body to stop me from getting back and I was terrified but eventually I woke up safe in bed. Phew!

      In another dream I was in a back of a taxi with a beautiful young woman, she was ghostly white and pale. Then she turned around and started to strangle me; her eyes were without any emotion looking serene. I struggled to wake up and I eventually managed to open my eyes but I could still see her with her hands around my throat. Shit! I thought, and in a panick I fully woke up and she finally disappeared. As I lay there dead beat, I saw this mist forming, twirling around in front of me and i was too tired to care, but then her face started to reappear again. Fuck! I promptly got out of bed and started walking around the room. I had never hallucinated before. I think that was probably the last frightmare I had, thank god.

    2. I tried lucid dreaming after reading a lot Carl Jung stuff. It must take a lot of practice, as I was not very successful at it. Every now and again I would realise that I was dreaming and then I would try to direct it, only I found that the more control I had on it, the more awake I became. I gave up when I started to believe that you couldn't have full control over a dream and be asleep at the same time.


  3. Jung thought that dreams come from the unconscious in an effort to compensate some maladaptive attitude of the ego. He called this the "compensatory function" of dreams.

    In your example of a British cabinet minister who dreams of beating young boys dressed in girls’ underwear it’s hard to imagine what maladaptive attitude of the ego his dream would be compensating for. Calvinist-type prudery (the obvious one) probably vanished with John Cleese’s send-ups about half a century ago.

  4. "クズリ. Do you know what that means?"


    There is maybe no area of study that is so fundamental to understanding the meaning of your existence in this endless continuum of sentience.

    So fundamental to understanding the nature of reality and of this life.
    And to knowing what we are and why we are.

    The human being as a sentient entity is something unique, privileged.
    An eternal archetype, transcending specific form:

    The fierce creature crossing the bridge from animals to immortals.
    Torn between the opposing forces of fear and love.

    Fear: the need to dominate others, manipulate them like instruments, to feel nothing for them. Like some viper.

    Love: to feel for others, to protect them. To have the peace of a purified heart.

    Aangirfan, you mentioned someone who said something about the "plank in your own eye".

    Maybe what he meant was that the battle against external evil is easy.
    But the real battle is the fight against the evil in your own nature.
    To even acknowledge that these monsters in your dreams are part of you.

    And once you see this, as a being endowed with free will, as someone who is not a robot, you have the power to change yourself.

    Then the feared monster becomes a friend. Who will protect you as you sleep in your bed.

    "But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

    1. Many thanks for the thoughtful comment.

      - Aangirfan

  5. "クズリ. A vulnerable and haunted being, hidden under adamantium claws?