Originally Published in: The Journal of Pastoral Counseling, Vol. XXVI, pp. 97-109. Copyright, Graduate Divsion of Pastoral and Family Counseling, Iona College, 1991. All rights reserved.
Published on-line with permission.
This paper examines the manner in which dream-figures reflect the identity issues of the dreamer. The relationship between the various figures which populate a given dream are explored in terms of a hermeneutic of contextuality. Ideas from the writings of Swedenborg, Borges, and Jung which are supportive of this modern "angelology" of the dream are discussed. The idea of contextuality is then employed to elucidate three dreams. At the end of the paper, implications for individuation are suggested.
We are known by the company we keep--especially in dreams. Marilyn Monroe, Charles Manson, Uncle Sam: the characters with whom we associate in our dreams and fantasies are at least as indicative of who we are as the persons with whom we mix in life. The popular adage, "Birds of a feather flock together," is as true of the imagination as it is of nature. Indeed, twisted around a bit, the adage serves as a law of our imaginal nature: whatever figures flock together are birds of the same or a similar feather. Each particular "person" with whom our dream-self or dream-ego lives, moves and has its being provides a context or field of comparison in terms of which particular aspects of the dreamer's personhood may be grasped and known. It doesn't matter whether these figures are familiar to us from real life or whether they are wholly fictitious. By appearing in our dreams they are also the delineating boundaries of who we are.
Like many secular notions, this adage that we are known by the company we keep has a religious resonance as well. In the gospels, Jesus tells his followers that wherever two or three are gathered together in His name He will be there (Matt 18: 20). If we take this statement symbolically and regard `Christ' as a symbol of that supreme psycho-spiritual factor which Jung called the self (Jung, 1959, pp. 36-71), the implication is that--Christian or not--the characters which populate the soul are constellated by a center of personality which is transcendent to them.
A central importance of the dream is its relativizing effect on the ego-identity. The "I" that will be there when two or more are gathered in a dream does not coincide with our usual ego. Indeed, our usual ego or dream-ego is but one among the gathered number, one character of the dream. No matter how identified we are with our ego-personality, it cannot eclipse the self without remainder. A multitude of characters--let me call them angels--will appear even as the blinding blaze of the corona surrounds the dark orb of the moon during a solar eclipse. The more narrowly we imagine ourselves, the more angels we shall have to wrestle with. The more we hide the light of our being under the bushel of a rigid identity, the more fiery the blaze of its corona. Perhaps dreams are God's way of showing us that the hairs on our heads really are numbered by personifying every strand.
As dreamers we interact with figures drawn from the most diverse regions of the globe and from all periods of history. Since the categories of time and space are relative for the psyche, no span of time or distance in space divides us from our metaphorical kin. So long as they are comparable to us along some dimension of our specific particularity, they may share with us our here and now.
This is not to say that dreamers accept the comparison. Indeed, they frequently find themselves in the company of figures whom they have prided themselves in being unlike. Ironically, we often find it easier to say who we are not than to say who we are. But this is just the point. Even when we pride ourselves in being not like the other figures, these other figures are still the terms of reference we use to establish our identity. With the same lines that we delineate the boundaries of our conscious personalities, we delineate the boundaries of our less conscious personalities as well. Like a drawing by Escher or a painting by Dali, the background to one figure is another figure ad infinitum.
In dreams, as in the works of those artists who imitate dreams, the boundaries between subject and object, self and other, figure and ground, break down. Figures which our conscious personality would purposely leave off its guest-list crash the party. Night after night, the excluded characters appear with their apples of discord. "What is she doing here?" we wonder. "What made me dream of him?" The specific characters which appear in dreams subvert the usual demarcation between self and other that had been implicit to the dreamer's previous sense of identity. The excluded become included, the repressed return. Though as dreamers we may still try to found our identity upon being different from these figures, we can no longer get away from them. The more the dream-ego flees, the more the shadow-figures pursue. The more we insist on contrast, the more they insist on comparison.
Though we may not always be comfortable with our nocturnal companions, and may even protest that we are merely the innocent by-standers of our dreams and fantasies, we are guilty by association. Somehow, though it may not be immediately apparent, we are similar to the figures of whom we dream. Somehow, though we may have to suspend our disbelief in order to find out precisely how, they are figurative of who we are.
The Swedish scientist and theosopher, Emmanuel Swedenborg, makes the same claim about angels as we are making here about dream-figures. In Swedenborg's (1979) view, angels are organized in heaven according to similarities in the states of their interiors. The proximity of one angel to another is a function of the desire of each angel. In heaven, according to Swedenborg, we move about by desiring, and those souls we find ourselves with, having been conveyed into our presence by similar desires, resemble us.(1) The faces of the angels which greet us when we die, like the faces which the dream shows us while we sleep, delineate the contours of our own faces.
In his essay, "Kafka and His Precursors," Jorges Luis Borges (1962, p. 199) makes a similar point with regard to writers as Swedenborg makes for angels and we are making with regard to dream-figures. While reading Kafka, Borges recognized something of the novelist's voice and writing practices, "in texts from diverse literatures and periods." Zeno, Han Yu, Kierkegaard, Browning, Leon Bloy and Lord Dunsany are all cited by Borges as resonant, each in a particular way, with Kafka's later writings.
If I am not mistaken, the heterogeneous pieces I have enumerated resemble Kafka; if I am not mistaken, not all of them resemble each other. This second fact is the more significant. In each of these texts we find Kafka's idiosyncrasy to a greater or lesser degree, but if Kafka had never written a line, we would not perceive this quality; in other words, it would not exist. The poem "Fears and Scruples" by Browning foretells Kafka's work, but our reading of Kafka perceptibly sharpens and deflects our reading of the poem. Browning did not read it as we do now [having read Kafka]. ... The fact is that every writer creates his own precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future. In this correlation the identity or plurality of the men involved is unimportant. The early Kafka of Betrachtung is less a precursor of the Kafka of somber myths and atrocious institutions than is Browning or Lord Dunsany (p. 201).
It is in precisely this way that dream-figures are selected. The dreamer, no less than the writer, "creates his own precursors." Everything written in the ink of our living resonates with other figures. Its not necessarily a question of influence. Writers do not necessarily need to have been familiar with the works of those whom we recognize as their field of comparison. Their relationship with one another is more angelic, in Swedenborg's sense of that term. They are similar because their desires are similar. They are similar because they write from the same imaginal soil. Though the figures that populate our dreams and fantasies may seem to have nothing whatsoever to do with one another, and, indeed, may never have met one another outside of our dreams, they correlate with our idiosyncrasy and define our identity. The psyche has an infinite number of characters to choose from and yet, in this dream, it has chosen these. Figures we think ought to be there are often excluded entirely while someone of seemingly little account is present. Even the person we thought ourselves to be yesterday--our so-called ego-personality--may be less a precursor of who we are today than the motley crew that shipped out with us in last night's dream. And, then, there are those figures whom we have always tried to be unlike, those rejected, shadowy figures who define our identity by being excluded from it. Strange that we are now in their angelic proximity. Strange that these unlikely souls have now become the metaphors of our desire.
Similar to Swedenborg's notion of the proximity of angels and Borges notion of writers creating their own precursors is Jung's technique of amplification. In Jungian analysis, dream-figures and dream-motifs, as well as external events and situations, may be elucidated by comparing them with cultural parallels drawn from mythology, literature, art, and religion. In this way the transpersonal significance of a dreamer's apparently idiosyncratic dream material is thrown into relief.
While this procedure is associative it is very different from Freud's technique of free association.(2) Free association tends to lead away from the figures which were its starting point to other complexes.(3) While this practice does generate a constellation of associations these associations tend to be neurotic. Compared to the concentrated integrity of the dream, free associations are fragmentary. Far from taking us into the wholeness of the dream, they lead us down the well-worn path of tangential reminiscence to the all-too-familiar onesidedness of our unredeemed identity.
When free associations are elicited in an attempt to elucidate dreams, dreamers are lead to conclude that their dreams are held together by the same associative logic that underpins the way associations spring to mind. But dream images do not stand in the same relationship to one another as do the images which our personal psychology obliges us to associate. On the contrary, they correspond to archetypal patterns which have a necessity that is discontinuous with the arbitrary manner in which our souls have been inscribed by history. Though the associations and historical reminiscences which pop into the dreamer's mind are not irrelevant to dream work, they can, if credited with inordinate heuristic value, dissolve and dissipate the order which has been given with the dream, thereby returning the dreamer back to the personal mess which it is the sacred station of the dream to heal.
Jung's technique of amplification counters this psychologistic tendency to reduce dreams to the personal psychology of the dreamers who have dreamt them. When a dream-figure is compared and contrasted to figures from mythology and religion, literature and art, the dreamer is initiated into an awareness of its particular, transpersonal identity. What had seemed at first to be a merely personal construction fabricated out of the flotsam and jetsam of our daily life, becomes, in this twinkling of the eye, a revelatory "I-Thou" experience. Daimons, gods, and angels visit us each night in the guise of our ordinary friends and acquaintances. It is not that these figures are a function of our personal psychology. On the contrary, our personal psychology is a function of these figures. As Jung (1967, p. 147) put it with reference to the autonomous manifestation in the psyche of Christ and Mercurius, "...we are obliged to reverse our rationalistic causal sequence, and instead of deriving these figures from our psychic conditions, [we] must derive our psychic conditions from these figures."
Amplification allows each figure to associate itself with other, resembling figures. Rather than fleshing out the figures of the dream with the personal psychology which has been gleaned from free associations, amplification initiates us into the recognition that the vicissitudes of our incarnational life (e.g., those supposedly all-important first five years of life) are not the glue which holds the psyche together. The psyche, we come to realize, holds itself together, even as the angels of Swedenborg are held together through the desires they have in common.
Each dream-figure creates its own precursors. While the short-circuited imagination of a freely associating mind will lead us to our fallen angels or complexes, the disciplined imagination of an amplifying mind corrects the desires of our fallen angels by leading them back to the heaven of the imaginal psyche. Once we have imagined our dream-figures among the company of figures whom they most resemble and have noted how they uniquely differ, we can find out how we uniquely differ from the figures we most resemble.
The dreaming psychism is at once a mirror, a prism, and a kaleidoscope. As a mirror it reflects back to us our image. As a prism it refracts our undifferentiated integrity into its myriad colors and parts. And as a kaleidoscope it does all this while rotating upon the axis of our unfolding identity.
The psyche--forgive the mechanistic metaphor--is the ultimate computer. Each night we tap in the letters of our names and see what comes up on the screen. With the intelligence of angels and at the speed of metaphor, the great computer integrates our microcosmic self with the macrocosmic universe and prints a read-out. Everything is cross-referenced to everything else. The personal and transpersonal touch one another in desire. Connections we would never make, but which underpin our very identity, stand clear. What happens in the Anima Mundi or World Soul also happens in us (and vice versa). Our self-concept and sense of importance become a function of the psyche's larger, and at times, less ego-centric, sense of soul. As Jung (1960, p. 226) put it, "Individuation does not shut one out from the world, but gathers the world to oneself." No wonder it is so difficult for our smaller egos to stay with what the dreams are saying.
Let us now examine several dreams in order to illustrate the idea that our identity is a function of the company we keep in our dreams and to draw out some of its subtler implications.
Example # 1
I am back in the city where I grew up and am living with the family of Tina, an old classmate of mine from when I was about nine-years-old. Apparently, Tina has died, and though I wish to express my condolences to her parents, I am unable to do so. They do not realize she is dead. They just think that I am her.
The dreamer was surprised to dream of this old classmate. She had not seen her for many years, and indeed had had little to do with the girl. They were acquaintances at best. Why should she dream about her now? What could it mean that this girl has died and that the dream-ego has become identified with her in the dream?
James Hillman (1978, pp. 177-178) has suggested that we can enter a more particularized awareness of those figures which at first seem simply arbitrary and inane by approaching them through a "fantasy of contrasting." How does this figure contrast or differ from other figures which it most resembles? How was Tina different from other girls at the school? Or more specifically, how does she contrast with other girls at that school who were also mere acquaintances? In order to find out what quality Tina signifies for our dreamer, in order to find out what she considers to be "Tina" about Tina, the dreamer must locate her in her imaginal company.(4)
The contrasting exercise yielded a number of traits which the dreamer saw as characteristic of Tina. Compared to the other classmates with whom she had been remotely related, Tina was a quiet, anonymous, unpopular, bookworm.(5) In addition, the dreamer also recalled an event in which this usually quiet and retreating girl had made herself more noticeable. When the girls were all about nine or ten, Tina distinguished herself by sharing a particularly spicy piece of gossip about another student. The dreamer remembered herself as feeling scornful of Tina's impropriety. Respecting the privacy of others was a important ideal for the dreamer at that time and she remembered feeling an inner superiority and pride in being able to say that she had never spoken behind anyone's back. The evening before her dream, however, she engaged in a conversation in which she betrayed a confidence she had been told by one colleague by disclosing it to another colleague. No doubt it was this conversation that triggered the dream. The fact that the dream portrays Tina as dead and the dreamer as identified with her reflects that the dreamer can no longer define herself by being scornful of another's gossiping. Last evening, while talking to her colleague she, too, had gossiped. With exacting precision the dream shows precisely which aspect of the dreamer's identity had been effected. The experience of betraying a confidence, the experience of doing something that she had always prided herself in not doing, has been--for better or for worse--a transforming experience. Her identity has been altered, if only slightly. She can no longer found a part of her identity on being not-Tina. There has been a little death. "Tina" is no longer a difference that makes a difference. Though she is loath to admit it, they are now similar--so similar, in fact, that Tina's parents cannot even tell them apart. No wonder the dreamer cannot express her condolences; she should really be expressing them to herself. Indeed, it is not so much that Tina has died--her spirit, after all, lives on in the dream-ego. It is a particular difference or ego-boundary which the dreamer had drawn to distinguish herself from Tina which has died.
The dreamer could imagine other ways in which she was similar to Tina. While she had been as high-profile and popular as a school girl as Tina had been anonymous, since moving to a large urban centre and entering her profession, she found that she, like Tina, had become quiet, anonymous, and a bit of a bookworm. Lately, however, she found that she had become interested in office politics and the gossip that went with it. Like the unpopular Tina years ago back in grade school, she had attempted to become an insider by sharing a piece of gossip that would place the person being gossiped about on the outside.
In this example (and the next one as well), it has not been necessary to provide cultural amplifications. This does not mean, however, that the dream is merely an expression or product of the dreamer's personal psychology. Though the dream does address the dreamer personally, it does so from a supraordinate perspective. In Jungian terms, the dream portrays the ego-personality from the point of view of the self. The littleness of the dreamer's personalistic psychology is thrown into relief by the larger personality which stands behind the dream. Though the dream has a human shape, and though "Tina" haunts it as a ghostly reminder of the dreamer's ambivilence of emotion (see David L. Miller's discussion of Freud and ghosts on p.___ of this volume), it is actually angelic. In being compared with Tina, the dreamer is being shown the angelic correspondent to her own action. As Swedenborg (1979) put it in his famous treatise on angels, Heaven and Hell, "people who differ greatly are far apart; people who differ slightly are not far apart; and likeness brings unity" (p. 56). Although Swedenborg refers here to the principle which governs our placement in the afterlife, the same principle can be imagined to govern our spirit in this life as well. Indeed, as Swedenborg divines elsewhere in the same work,
Every single person, even while he is living in the body [before death], is in a community with spirits as far as his own spirit is concerned, even though he is unaware of the fact. A good person is by means of these spirits in an angelic community; an evil person in a hellish community; and each person enters that same community after his death (p. 355).
In the angeological terms of Swedenborg, our dreamer is being shown the spiritual community to which she has become a member. The ugliness which she had once seen in the gossip, Tina, reflects the state of her own soul. The beam which she had once perceived in Tina's eye is now shown to be a spot in her own. If the dreamer can raise the angelic message of this dream into consciousness and change her behavior appropriately, she can free herself from the hellish community of the office gossip.
Example # 2
I am in my father's study with John--my father's old graduate student. He is looking admiringly at a paper my father wrote--just as admiringly as I might look at a paper by one of my heroes. With great conviction and adulation he says," Our dad sure writes well."
The young man who dreamed this dream was as surprised by the importance his dream invested in a figure from the past whom he had never had very much to do with as was our first dreamer. However, as he began to imagine the unique particularity of John, the necessity of the dream's use of this figure and not another became apparent. John was a graduate student of his father's--a bright, hard-working fellow toward whom his father was well disposed. The dreamer recalled that his father had been an advisor of John's Ph.D thesis. But still, why John and not any number of other bright, hard-working students whom his father had mentored? Upon further reflection the dreamer recalled that he was about seven or eight-years-old when John was studying with his father. It was a time in his life when he idealized his father and he recalled that he was quite enamored with John at that time as well. Indeed, like many boys who seize on a friendly exemplar of masculinity whom they then emulate, the dreamer called his father's student, "Uncle John" and was always granted a few minutes to show him a new toy or drawing when he visited.
In reaching back to the figure of John, the dream connected the dreamer to a time when his relationship to his father was more positive. Not long after that period, and, indeed right up until very recently, the dreamer had a particularly negative relationship with his father. It had been hard to be the son of so accomplished a man, especially since he had been virtually an absent father. (Perhaps this is another reason that the dreamer had emulated "Uncle John" and, hence, another reason the dream employs this figure. In order to get more fatherly attention as a youngster, the dreamer may have felt he needed to be like John, the "son" with whom his father seemed more intensively involved.) In any case, recent professional achievement on the part of the dreamer had seemed to bring about a rapprochement between the father and his son. Blessed by a word or two of praise from his father, the dreamer was in fact considering whether or not to go back to university for a Ph.D. This outer event, as the dream reflects, had already shifted the valency of his father-complex. No longer did he feel that his way was barred by a critical father. On the contrary, he was now in his father's study with John gazing admiringly at his father's paper. Now that he, like John, had received a modicum of admiration from his father he could begin to give his father more credit as well. Significantly, in the text of the dream, John refers to the dreamer's father as "our dad." Birds of a feather flock together. The dream-ego, and by extension the dreamer himself, is now like John. Indeed, the two are now brothers. No longer is the dreamer simply the biological son of his Oedipus-complex. On the contrary, like his dream-brother, he is the admiring adept of a mentoring father. Where once he had been expelled from the study where John and his father were working as if he were an interference, now he, too, is doing his Ph.D with his dad. The red light that had hung over his life had turned green--at least for the moment. The dreamer can now think through the pros and cons of doing a Ph.D with less interference from his Oedipus-complex.
A young, thin, blond, bird-like biker--a hell's angel with a chicken wing for a leg--leans up against the back wall of a gas station in his black leather pants and jacket. His side is cut open and his internal organs have been completely removed. In his throat, exposed bones make a kind of necklace. His penis is also missing, though his testicles are still attached. For all this he has an aura of masculine strength, power and calm. I stand before him with a group of dark-skinned tribal boys. All of us are naked and have several penises. The biker is our leader. He is initiating us somehow. At one point I lean back and rub my chest. As I do so semen is secreted from a million pores of my chest.
This dream differs from the previous dreams we have examined by being the most explicitly archetypal. Though the other dreams could all be amplified in terms of mythological parallels to bring out the transpersonal elements of their psychology (Artemisian consciousness in example #1, the puer-senex pattern in example #2), this dream supplies its own parallel. Archetypally speaking, the young, blond biker is a shaman. Though the dreamer did not realize it, this figure contains several aspects common to shaman throughout the world. Not only has he been dismembered and regenerated as are almost all shaman, as a motor cycle gang member, a "Hell's angel" with a chicken wing for a leg, he has also made the flight to hell which shaman are known to experience during their ecstasies. The dream-ego is being supplied in this dream with the initiation rite that had been so lacking in his outer life. But why this specific shaman and not another? Again we must ask the contrasting question. While prior to this dream-rite, the dreamer's identity, could be said to be based, in large measure, upon the exclusion of precisely those shadowy elements which characterize the blond biker--submission to the pain of life, lawlessness and daring, independence, autonomy, aggression and masculine power), now he is initiated into these excluded possibilities by a figure who precisely embodies them. Standing before this emasculated biker, who has managed to retain his phallic power despite his dismemberment, the dream-ego feels a pervasive sense of potency welling up in him. Indeed, when he rubs his chest, semen is secreted from it. He has entered into his masculinity.
Though in outer life, the dreamer's identity was largely a function of how he included his mother and excluded his father, this dream reaches past his Oedipus-complex to the archetypal figure of the shaman. Significantly, though the shaman-biker seems to have suffered much of what the dreamer has hidden behind his mother's skirts in order to avoid, as well as embodying many of the qualities she had tried to discourage in him the better to bind him to her, he does not resist the shaman. His desire to be initiated, has, as Swedenborg said of the angels, placed him in the proximity of the archetype necessary to this process. The shadow integration which could not be achieved on the personalistic level available to the dreamers in our previous examples is attained with the assistance of the shaman and the initiatory archetypes. Imbued with the numinosity of these archetypes, the disowned parts of the dreamer's self could initiate him into a new attitude, an attitude from which they were not excluded.
Jung (1959a, p. 275) used the term "`individuation' to denote the process by which a person become a psychological `in-dividual,' that is, a separate, indivisible unity or `whole.'" Dreams, as the above examples show, reflect this process, though in a highly divisible fashion. While in each case the dreamer may have founded his or her identity on being different from other beings, an identity derived in such a manner is hardly an indivisible unity or whole. Though the ego-personality may feel itself to be a unity, its particularized existence is a function of its having polarized out from other figures which, taken together, would constitute a more comprehensive sense of self. The process of self-realization or individuation (for Jung--1953, p. 266--these terms have an equivalent meaning), like the process enacted by the dream-figures in our examples, is a process of converting an identity based on exclusion to one based on inclusion (and an identity based on identification to one based on differentiation). The indivisible self is achieved, in theory at least, when the various one-sided stances of the polarized ego becomes relativized by the realization that nothing human is alien to us. As Jung (1960, p. 226) put it, "...the self comprises infinitely more than a mere ego...It is as much one's self, and all other selves, as [it is] the ego." Each night, kaleidoscopically, the psyche shifts its personifications. Though the kaleidoscope is a mandala, seldom is it an empty one, devoid of personification, fully individuated. After all, who know themselves so well that they no longer cast a shadow? Though we may each be "one in a million," there are over four billion people on this planet. Can any of us claim that our identity is so indivisibly established that it can no longer be divided into our larger, more comprehensive self without leaving a personified remainder, which is to say, a figure which resembles someone else? The analysis of the self is an interminable endeavor. Though we are each one in four billion we shall never achieve a completely individuated awareness of this fact. Indeed, we will dream until we die, each morning greeted by new figures. "Hello, who is this now," we will continue to ask. "Why did I dream about her?"
Greg Mogenson, M.A. is a Jungian Analyst practicing in London, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of God Is a Trauma: Vicarious Religion and Soul-Making (Spring Publications 1989) and Greeting the Angels: An Imaginal View of the Mourning Process (Baywood Publishing, 1992), and numerous articles.
E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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1. An experience Jung (1965, pp. 289-296) had following his heart attack in 1944 may serve of an example of Swedenborg's notion of angelic proximity. While hovering on the brink of death, Jung had an out-of-body experience in which his ego-personality seemed to be stripped away in preparation for a transformation of his soul into a more objective form of existence. However, just before Jung could complete this development, the heart specialist who was treating him appeared in Jung's vision and told him through a "mute exchange of thought" (p. 292) that he must return to his life on earth. Jung writes that the heart specialist appeared to him "in his primal form, as a basileus of Kos." The fifth century B.C. physician, Hippocrates, whose medical school was located at Kos, was, according to Hannah (1977), "the first Basileus of Kos" (p. 57). This title, which means prince of medicine, was "given to the greatest doctors who were thought to be divinely appointed" (p. 57). Significantly, Hannah reports that following his illness Jung told her that the primal form which he assumed in his vision was also that of a basileus of Kos (p. 57). According to the Swedenborg's angeology, Jung and his doctor were near to one another in Jung's vision because of a similarity in the state of their interiors. They were both great doctors, princes of medicine, like Hippocrates, that "first Basileus of Kos." When Jung got well enough to get out of his bed, the heart specialist who had been his physician became critically ill and died very soon thereafter.
2. Free association is the practice of saying whatever comes into the mind. It differs from the practice of having the dreamer provide personal associations. Personal associations circumambulate the actual dream images and are crucial for dreamwork.
3. Jung (1931) makes this point as follows: "Free association will get me nowhere [in interpreting a dream], any more than it would help me to decipher a Hittite inscription. It will of course help me to uncover all my own complexes, but for this purpose I have no need of a dream--I could just as well take a public notice or a sentence from the newspaper. Free association will bring out all my complexes, but hardly ever the meaning of a dream" (par. 320).
4. Hillman notes that contrasting differs from "associating, which edges off into personal reminiscences," on the one hand, and "amplifying which...moves away from the image...toward universal symbolism" on the other (Ibid., p. 178). Rather than losing the actual image to our associations about it or to the cultural amplifications, we can contrast it with the productions these methods yield. It is by noting how and image differs from associations and amplifications, as well as how it differs from what it most resemblances, that we get a thorough and particularized awareness of it. Often, where this work to establish the uniqueness of the figure is neglected, the associations to the image that are given may be only tenuously connected to the figure which the dream took the trouble to cast into the dream. Dreamers can associate the same list of traits to a number of figures. The point is to establish why this figure is deemed by the psyche as the most appropriate for the role it plays. When the essence or soul of the figure is not imagined, the dream may degenerate into a word list, much like the word list Jung used in his complex experiment. Although much of psychological import is elicited in this manner, as with the complex experiment, the precision of the dream may be left behind.
5. This list of traits are not the product of free association, but of disciplined imagining. The subsequent association--the dreamer's scorn at Tina's gossiping--is not free, but focussed by the prior move of individuating something of the figure's uniqueness through the fantasy of contrasting (Hillman).