Unpublished Draft. Final version available 1/15/20
copyright 2019 Gregory Sparrow
Understanding and Working with Dream Imagery from the Standpoint of
Co-Creative Dream Theory
Co-creative dream theory posits that the dream experience is indeterminate from the outset, and co-determined through the reciprocal interplay between the dream ego and the emergent content. Thus, the dream imagery coalesces in response to the dreamer’s subjective stance interacting with emergent content, and may adjust accordingly through the course of the dream. Consequently, the resulting dream can be seen as one of many contingent outcomes based on the dreamer’s range of possible reactions through the course of the dream, as well as the broad constraints of underlying domains that account for the nature of the emergent content. From this dynamic relational view of the dream, the visual imagery serves as the “interface” (Ullmann, 1969) or “mutable interface” (Sparrow, 2013) between dream ego and emergent content. The purpose of this paper is to extend the co-creative paradigm more specifically into a view of dream metaphor construction and analysis. By viewing dream content as representing broad universal domains of human development that are rendered as specific metaphors during the dream encounter as a consequence of the dreamer’s subjective stance, we can discern where the dreamer stands in relationship to the developmental tasks associated with these emergent domains at a particular point in time. Finally, I will introduce a structured approach to co-creative dreamwork that reflects an approach to metaphors consistent with the theory, as well as a series of questions consistent with this paradigm that can guide the dream worker in deconstructing dream metaphors.
During the dreaming experience, the visual content exhibits an autonomous character, apparently taking its cue from some source apart from the witnessing dream ego. Given the dream’s apparent independent creation, it is natural to believe that the dream imagery is a conveyor of meaning that extends beyond its outward appearance. Given this age-old assumption, the central task in content-focused dream work has been to view the dream images as symbols, defined as “any image or thing that stands for something else” (Literaryterms.com, 2019). Theologian Paul Tillich (1964) believed that religious symbols provide access to deeper layers of reality that are otherwise inaccessible. In a similar vein, Bruce-Mitford (2008) says that “a symbol...is a visual image or sign representing an idea –– a deeper indicator of a universal truth.”
Referring to the a dream image as a “symbol” thus rests on the belief that the image does not stand on its own, but refers to something else. Clearly, one’s theory influences the way that one interprets a given symbol. For example, a dog can be seen as representing something that is repressed and reprehensible (Freud), expressing a broad range of repressed personal experiences and/or emergent archetypal aspects of the instinctual self (Jung), or an aspect of oneself to which the dreamer has become alienated (Perls).
The word “interpretation” was once used universally to describe the activity of discerning the meaning of dreams in general, and symbols in particular, but it has fallen into disfavor because it implies that dream work involves merely translating the dream into an equivalency statement that make immediate sense, much in the way that foreign words are translated into one’s dominant language. Freud embraced this view when he said,
…every dream has a meaning, though a hidden one, that dreams are designed to take the place of some other process of thought, and that we have only to undo the substitution correctly in order to arrive at this hidden meaning.
Interpretation also carries the presumption that objective or expert knowledge can override the dreamer’s autonomy in discovering unique, personally relevant meanings from the images. For instance, Freud believed that the presumed reprehensible nature of dream content made it necessary for a trained psychoanalyst to analyze the dream. In contrast, contemporary dream analysts have favored a less presumptive, more collaborative approach, believing that the dream imagery is not universally threatening, nor can be interpreted apart from the dreamer’s unique associations and current life context. Further, modern dream workers have come to view a dream symbol as more than a stand-in or a sign for something or someone in the waking state. While it may be tempting to believe, for instance, that a snake might represent an unfaithful ex-lover, more sophisticated dream analysts endeavor to assist the dreamer in understanding how the image renders a broad domain of experience in contextually relevant and specific form, and that the dream image is, properly speaking, a metaphor rather than merely a symbol.
Symbols vs. metaphors
The word “symbol” is often used interchangeably with “metaphor,” even though metaphor is defined much differently. A symbol stands by itself and represents something else, and it is up to the observer to know, or to discover, what it refers to. A linguistic metaphor, in contrast, renders an abstract topic for which there is a need for understanding in concrete terms (e.g. Desire is a barking dog). That is, what Lakoff and Johnson refer to as the source domain (dog) and target domain (desire) are both immediately revealed in a language-based metaphor. In contrast, dream images do not, as a rule, announce the target domain to which the image alludes. To illustrate, a client of mine dreamed:
I am floating above a barking black dog, which is jumping up trying to bite my foot. I am desperately flapping my arms, trying to remain safely aloft.
While the dream image was clearly identified in the dream report, any implied equivalency with an invisible “target” had to be discovered through a process of interpretive inquiry. Through such inquiry, it became clear that the dog did not refer to something specific, such as his aggrieved wife, but served as a metaphor that reduced and made more comprehensible a larger domain. Obviously, it required the dreamer’s associations to discern that the barking dog served as a grounding element that rendered the vast domain of emotional need and desire in concrete form. Indeed, the barking black dog captured the client’s unsettled relationship with his own sexual impulses, which he often viewed as shameful.
Langer (1948) says that metaphors emerge in response to a need to understand something that is elusive if not ambiguous from the outset: "When new unexploited possibilities of thought crowd in upon the human mind the poverty of everyday language becomes acute.” Langer goes on to say that this poverty of ordinary language gives rise to efforts to describe the “unexploited possibility” in metaphorical terms. This operation comes at a price, because metaphors render something greater in terms of something lesser, leaving out a more complete array of qualities associated with the broad domain. But metaphors also provide greater understanding of it through the avenue of concrete experiences to which people within a shared cultural and linguistic context can relate. Indeed, Langer (1957) points out that metaphor construction involves an abstract conceptualizing process that paradoxically uses concrete imagery as an instrument for arriving at a deeper understanding of an abstraction.
The Presentational Paradigm
As I’ve stated, in the conventional content-oriented approach to dream analysis, the dreamer’s report is treated as a given, and the imagery is the carrier of meaning. We might refer to this approach as the “Presentational Paradigm,” wherein the principle aim is to discern the relationship to one’s waking concerns conveyed by the fixed characters, objects, and scenarios depicted in the narrative. The organizing questions supported by this paradigm reflect the assumption that dream images are symbols constructed ahead of time outside of conscious awareness and refer to something else. Along these lines, one might ask, “What is this (fixed) image or dream referring to in my waking life? It should be noted that accepting without question the pre-constructed nature of the image subtly prejudices a search for equivalent specificity in the waking life—that is, it encourages a search for a specific person or situation that “matches” the dream image, rather than a broad domain of experience to which the dream image alludes. While this object-oriented equivalency approach can produce results, a dream symbol may serve more accurately as a metaphor, which by definition is not simply a stand in for something else, but rather points to a vast target domain, which could be expressed with a variety of concrete images, including the one experienced by the dream ego. By allowing for the vastness of the target domain to which a metaphor alludes, it is logical to allow for the malleability and responsiveness of the metaphorical rendering, as well. For instance, the client who dreamed of the barking dog had a subsequent dream:
I am floating above a woman who is trying to reach my foot and pull me down. She is laughing playfully, and saying, “Come on down and play with me.” I feel excited and intrigued, but my anxiety gets the best of me, and so I keep flapping my arms so I can elude her reach.
As I have stated, it is commonly accepted by exponents of the Presentational Paradigm, at least implicitly, that the dream is fixed from the outset by the “unconscious mind,” or some equally autonomous source. However, when the above dreams are considered together, it is parsimonious to conclude that the black dog and the beautiful woman point to a singular domain of experience that can be rendered in diverse forms to capture the “momentary conscious situation” (Jung, 1966) of the dream ego in relation to the underlying “unknown third” (Jung, 1961). Thus, rather than concluding that the black dog is a co-worker, and the beautiful woman a possible new girlfriend, it is far more accurate to say that each image refers to an underlying target domain, the nature of which must be revealed in conversation with the client.
The Role of Metaphor in the Co-Creative Paradigm
Jung was one of the first to articulate the premise that dream imagery derives from the reciprocal interplay of two sources rather than one, when he said that the dream image…
…is the result of the spontaneous activity of the unconscious on one hand and of momentary conscious situation on the other. The interpretation of its meaning...can start neither from the conscious alone nor from the unconscious alone, but only from their reciprocal relationship (Jung, 1966; p. 386).
Jung’s view of the dream image as the product of the reciprocal relationship between conscious and unconscious challenges the position that the manifest dream imagery is formed without the influence of conscious participation. It also implies that if the dream image is not, at the outset at least, in a fully formed state when it appears, but rather in an indeterminate state that assumes a specific form during the dream. Along these lines, Jung asserted that an archetype expresses itself in various metaphors that render an “unknown third thing” into a variety of distinct forms.
…archetypal content expresses itself, first and foremost, in metaphors. If such a content should speak of the sun and identify with it the lion, the king, the hoard of gold guarded by the dragon, or the power that makes for the life and health of man, it is neither the one thing nor the other, but the unknown third thing that finds more or less adequate expression in all these similes, yet – to the perpetual vexation of the intellect – remains unknown and not to be fitted into a formula. [“The Psychology of the Child Archetype,” CW 9i, par. 267]
The generic nature of archetype—i.e. the unknown third thing—corresponds to the nature of Lakoff and Johnson’s “conceptual metaphors,” which comprise a similarly broad and generic metaphorical substrate, which give rise to specific “mapped” metaphors, each of which is a derivative of the underlying conceptual metaphor. Figuratively speaking, Jung regards the archetype as a veritable pattern that provides the contours of the domain’s qualities until conditioned by the observing dream ego that draws from memory to achieve this co-created product. Similarly, Lakoff asserts that the underlying conceptual metaphors provide the foundation for the construction—or “mapping” of specific metaphors—that render the global nature of the conceptual metaphor in concrete, relevant ways. Ullman takes a similar approach to dream metaphors that involves depth and surface components. He describes the depth domain as containing “major metaphors,” which are “mapped” onto the dream interface as “minor metaphors.” Thus, in each of these disparate systems—Jung, Lakoff, and Ullmann—we find descriptions of generic depth domains, and specific surface expressions of the depth domains. But except for Ullmann, who briefly describes the “mapping” of major metaphors in real time, none of these theorists describe the real-time selection or construction of dream metaphors, perhaps because none of them focused on the “anamoly” that accounts for an unfolding creative process in real time—reflective awareness in the dream state.
An Awake and Responsive Dream Ego as the Co-Creator of Metaphor
In the past 50 years, the Presentational Paradigm has come under challenge from those who have observed that the dream ego exhibits the capacity for self-reflection and choice, and that the visual imagery, in turn, often adapts to the dream ego’s changing subjective stance (Rossi, 1972; Sparrow, 2013; Sparrow & Thurston, 2010). Rossi’s seminal statement can be seen as the centerpiece of the Co-Creative paradigm: “there is a continuum of all possible balances of control between the autonomous process and the dreamer’s self-awareness and consciously directed effort" (1972, p. 163).
According to the Co-Creative Paradigm, the dream outcome is co-determined by two somewhat autonomous mechanisms or structures—the dream ego and the autonomous dream content––that interact in real time over the course of the dream. While the case for the Co-Creative Paradigm has been emerging in dream theory and analysis, parallel trends in philosophy, psychology, and quantum physics have moved away from classical Realism, which views the world as independent from the observer, toward Idealism, or the belief that reality is ultimately constructed and mediated by the perceiver.
While it is difficult to appreciate the math and physics that supports an indeterminate view of reality at subatomic levels of organization, one can easily grasp how this principle governs relationships at higher levels of organization. In interpersonal exchanges, for instance, we understand that our beliefs and attitudes influence how we perceive and react to others, and that others will, in turn, react to us from their own subjectivity, thereby creating a unique intersubjective exchange mediated by synchronous feedback. Indeed, in systems theory, reciprocity is the “governing principle of relationships” (Nichols, 2012).
While many disciplines have shifted away from classical Realism toward a reciprocal, co-created view of reality, the conventional fixed-content approach to dream interpretation still assumes that the dreamer is somehow removed from the creation of the dream experience, and is merely a witness to the “received” dream. Thus, dream analysis still labors under the constraining influence of Realism when it treats a dream image as an independent, preconstructed creation. It is perhaps ironic that dream content should be treated as independent from the dream ego when each manifests within, or at least through, the dreaming mind.
The idea that the dream’s construction may partake of more than one source has been intimated in the field of neuroscience, as well. The recent debate over the neurological substrate of dreaming has pitted the activation synthesis theorists (Hobson & McCarley, 1977; Hobson et al., 2000)—who originally asserted without qualification that dreams originate in the random neuronal firing in subcortical structures—against the cognitive theorists, who have argued that dreams evidence coherent structure and bear a meaningful higher-order continuity with waking concerns (Domhoff, 2010). Solm’s (2000) finding that dream recall ceases when portions of the prefrontal lobe are damaged has been hailed as a felling blow to those who have held the position that dreams are nothing more than meaningless, random subcortical activation. But the question remains, how do these structures interact in the course of a dream’s formation? Hobson alludes to a systemic, and possibly reciprocal paradigm when he states that we have to treat the dreaming brain as “a unified system whose complex components dynamically interact so as to produce a continuously changing state” (Hobson, et. al, 2000). Such a statement aligns with a reciprocal, co-creative model of dreaming.
Isolating the underlying structures and biochemical mechanisms involved in the co-creative process may be useful from the standpoint of neuroscience, but it threatens to devolve into a reductionistic enterprise. Because of this threat, I have intentionally avoided this line of inquiry in this paper. However, at the level of dream phenomenology, empirical researchers (Kahan and LaBerge, 2010; Kozmová and Wolman, 2006) have demonstrated that dreamers report the same metacognitive capabilities as we do in the waking state, albeit to a lesser degree. Older studies demonstrated that reflectiveness can be enhanced in ordinary (non-lucid) dreams through various pre-sleep exercises (Purcell, 1987; Purcell, Moffitt and Hoffmann, 1993) such as “dream reliving,” or reliving in fantasy a past distressing dream as if one is lucid (Sparrow, 1983; Sparrow, Thurston & Carlson, 2013, Sparrow, Hurd, Carlson, and Molina, 2018). Such studies support Rossi’s original contention that reflective awareness manifests on a continuum in ordinary dreaming. Further, there are abundant studies attesting to the capacity of individuals to induce lucidity (Stumbrys, Erlacher, Schädlich, and Schredl, 2012) through a variety of pre-sleep interventions. Taken together, the discovery that “a continuum” (Rossi, 1972) of reflective awareness characterizes our dreaming activity leads us to consider an even more significant premise: that the dream ego not only evidences reflective awareness and volition, but actively engages and impacts the dream content in an interactive, co-creative process that accounts for the synchronous construction of the dream experience. Once one accepts this premise, our approach to dream analysis must, of necessity, proceed on the basis of new questions and new problems raised by the Co-Creative Paradigm, as stipulated in Kuhn’s seminal work on paradigm change (1962).
The Co-Creative paradigm is based on the increasingly supportable premise that the interactive dream process produces one of many contingent outcomes based on the dream ego’s moment-to-moment exchanges with the emergent dream content. From this standpoint, the dream imagery can be viewed, not so much as the content itself, but as the “interface,” (Ullman, 1969) or as the “mutable interface,” or “moment-to-moment vectoring” (Sparrow, 2013) of the unfolding relationship between dream ego and emergent content. That is, if the dream ego brings an emotional response to the dream content, and the content is malleable and indeterminate, then the encounter renders the domain level content in specific form on a moment-to-moment basis.
The best evidence of reciprocal relationship between dreamer response and imagery change can be discerned in the dream narrative itself. That is, changes in dream ego’s attitudes and assumptions often precipitates immediate changes in the perceived imagery. However, our ability to track this interactive process can be inhibited by the tendency for dreamers to underreport their reflective agency in their original dream report. The relative low frequency of reflective statements in dream narratives may be due, in large part, to the fact that dreamers minimize their own subjective processes in the retelling of the dream because of the traditional emphasis on interpreting the visual imagery alone (Kozmová and Wolman, 2006). From this standpoint, researchers and participants alike may have unwittingly conspired in producing dream reports relatively bereft of reflectiveness and volition. In the future, researchers should endeavor to offset the unexamined demand effects of any dream theory paradigm, and allow dreamers to report the demonstrated agency of the dream ego, or the absence thereof.
The New Role of Metaphors in Co-Creative Theory
Building upon our previous discussion of symbols and metaphors, the concept of metaphor as partaking of surface and depth domains permits the dream image to point to a broad domain of experience. Comprised of two elements—the domain of personal experience and an emergent target domain––we can appreciate that the co-creative process produces, or “maps” specific relevant metaphors in real time.
Ullmann (1969) worked on this angle in a paper titled, “Dreams as Metaphors in Motion.” Similar to Lakoff and Jung, Ullman divided dream content into “major” and “minor” metaphors, in which major metaphors are underlying global concepts similar to archetypes and conceptual metaphors. According to Ullman, the dream “maps” the major metaphor into a series of minor metaphors over the course of the dream, hence his allusion to “metaphors in motion” (i.e. in real time). Just as Jung’s statement about the reciprocal relationship between conscious and unconscious in the (co)creation of dream image could have started a revolution, but did not, Ullman’s paper could have, if taken further, transformed the entire field of dream work by effectively introducing the Co-Creative Paradigm by focusing on the way that metaphors are constructed and modified in real time through the interactive process between the dream ego and the emergent content. In this paper, Ullman expresses ideas in line with co-creative dream theory, but thereafter neither he nor his followers aligned his dreamwork methodology with this radical premise.
In his 1969 paper, Ullman suggested that the dream ego, when encountering the emergent dream content, gives the content specific form based on prior experience. We can recognize this moment-to-moment rendering of a broad domain of experience represented by the dream content is the centerpiece of co-creative theory. Actually, Ullman took our understanding of dream metaphor beyond Lakoff and Johnson (2003)’s, in my opinion. Both sources acknowledge that metaphors synthesize 1) an abstract domain (i.e. “conceptual metaphor” a la Lakoff and Johnson, and “major metaphor” a la Ullmann) which, in its abstractness is difficult to comprehend, with 2) a repository of personal experiences that enables a reduction of the content domain into a concrete, personally relevant representation. Lakoff points out that this process is, at once, clarifying and reductionistic. That is, while it makes the target understandable in concrete terms relevant to the individual’s experience in the world, it reduces the dimensionality of the target domain, thus discarding other ways of experiencing it. For example, if “success” is the domain of consideration, then two discrete approaches to rendering success would be to say, “Success is winning the game,” or “Success is reaching the summit.” Since we all are familiar with playing games, and climbing mountains, both metaphors capture elements of success, the first by introducing competition and failure, while the second points to an arduous process devoid of competition.
One might ask, what determines the specific form that the domain-level content assumes in the dream? That is, what determines the image that becomes manifests on the dream interface? In presentational theory, one might conclude that the construction/reduction goes on outside of conscious awareness, much as Freud contended, and that the dream metaphor arrives as an a priori construction. To use the parallel of website development, web designers work with server-based software that has a “backside,” and a “frontside.” The designer accesses the backside, and builds the textual and graphical features prior to displaying the content on the frontside, viewable through a browser window. The viewer cannot modify the page from the frontside interface, so the website serves as a “view-only” experience. Similarly, conventional content-oriented dream theory treats the dream as fixed from the outset without any backside dream ego involvement. From the perspective of the Co-Creative Paradigm, in contrast, the backside contains only global domain content. As the dream arises in response to the felt dissonance between the dream ego and emergent content, our need to grasp the abstract dimension renders the global content in specific mutable form as we observe its emergence on an interactive frontside interface. In Ullman’s words…
…the dreamer, forced to employ a sensory mode, has to build the abstraction out of concrete blocks in the form of visual sequences. The resulting metaphor can be viewed as an interface phenomenon where the biological system establishes the sensory medium as the vehicle for this expression and the psychological system furnishes the specific content.
If the metaphor is constructed prior to observation, and arrives in consciousness as a fixed image––a la the Presentational Paradigm––then one might ask, What accounts for metaphoric transformations over the course of the dream? Such transformations are commonplace through the course of a dynamic dream exchange. Indeed, the best phenomenological evidence that the dream imagery serves as a mutable interactive interface is the observation that a given dream image often changes dramatically over the course of the dream.
Of course, one can try to extend the utility of the Presentational Paradigm by arguing that the transformed image is actually a second metaphor that was anticipated and created during the “backside” construction process, such that the second metaphor appears according to some prearranged wholly unconscious program. This is the position that traditional linguistics takes in regard to verbal metaphors—that each emerges as an independent creation. Lakoff and Johnson’s Conceptual Metaphor theory challenges this view by positing the existence of underlying conceptual metaphors that account for the construction of specific metaphors.
The phenomenological support for the presence of conceptual metaphors (Lakoff and Johnson), archetypes (Jung, 1966), or major metaphors (Ullman, 1969) can be found in dream reports that illustrate the synchronous relationship between imagery transformations and dreamer responses. That is, imagery often evidences dramatic shifts at the moment or shortly after the dreamer experiences an internal shift in mood, choice or awareness, as if the image effectively mirrors the dreamer’s new subjective state, and then, in turn, may alter the dream ego’s subjective stance. Parsimony favors the obvious conclusion: that the dream ego and dream imagery are tethered in an interactive exchange between somewhat freely responding entities. But the imagery is clearly not enslaved to the dreamer’s whims, but rather reflects an integrity or fidelity that limits its accommodation to the dream ego while it remains anchored in a discrete domain of experience. That is, the dreamer and the dream image reflect both mutability and fidelity. As Tarnas (2006) says, “In a relationship of true reciprocity––the potential communication of meaning and purpose must be able to move in both directions” (pp. 484–485). This “true reciprocity” is evident in many, if not most dreams that evidence the capacity for accommodation (mutability) and resistance (fidelity) within the dream ego and emergent content.
A Systematic Approach to Co-Creative Dream Work: The FiveStar Method
In practice, working effectively with dream imagery within the Co-Creative Paradigm involves a process of deconstructing the dream metaphor by first 1) understanding the dreamer’s global response set (Sparrow, 2013) or “momentary conscious condition” (Jung, 1966) that renders broad developmental tasks into specific form, and then 2) clarifying the broad domain (target domain, major metaphor, archetype) expressed in the imagery. Once the respective contributions of the dream ego and life domain are understood, then the dreamer and dream worker can appreciate the unique metaphorical synthesis that partakes of both sources, and come to an understanding of its relevance.
Effective co-creative dream work first involves understanding the dream ego’s global response set. In order to access this subjective dimension, one must analyze the dream ego’s feelings, assumptions, beliefs, choices, and behavioral responses (if any) during the dream. This preliminary work highlights the response set that, from the standpoint of co-creative theory, impacts and renders the emergent content domain into specific metaphorical form. As an example, consider the following dream that was reported in an online dream group setting by a middle-aged woman. In the narrative, one can observe significant reflective awareness, as well as underlying assumptions that may have influenced the dream’s unfoldment from the outset.
It is night time. I hear a wolf howl, and realize that he threatens my chickens, so I grab a shovel and run out the door into the back yard, where I see the wolf on the edge of the lighted area. At first, I am not only worried about my chickens but also concerned that he might attack me. But as I stand there defiantly between the wolf and the chickens, I then notice that the wolf is actually a coyote, who is missing a leg. While I have compassion for the coyote, and I no longer feel any danger to myself, I am wary because I believe he intends to attack my chickens, nonetheless. I see that the chicken coop has no roof, and that the coyote can see the chickens through the chicken wire. Then I become aware that a raccoon is beyond the fence, as well, and also threatens the chickens. I never see it, but know somehow that it’s there.
Co-creative dream work has been operationalized as a five-step method, known as The FiveStar Method (Sparrow, 2013; Sparrow and Thurston, 2010). It involves three initial steps leading up to the analysis of the dream imagery: feelings, process narrative, and dreamer responses. Let us review these three steps before considering how one should approach metaphor deconstruction in co-creative dream work.
Step One of the FiveStar Method: What are the dreamer’s feelings?
Perhaps the most important initial question one should ask in order to clarify the dream ego’s global response (Jung’s “momentary conscious condition”) set is, What are the dream ego’s feelings? It is tempting to assume that the first recollected “fact”—in this case, the wolf’s howl—sets the stage for the ensuing drama, but according to Ullman, a dream begins as a state of dissonance that gives rise to a visual interface between dreamer and dream content. In Rossi’s developmental model, the awareness of “the new” precipitates a crisis in the dreamer’s ordinary passive and resistant state of unreflective awareness (Rossi, 1972). Thus, the dream ego’s initial feelings about the wolf’s howl establishes the nature of the dissonance, however subtle it may be in some cases, with the emergent dimension of life that stimulates the arousal of the dream imagery. Ullmann, alludes to this state of dissonance when he says that the emergent dream content…
…confronts the individual either with new and personally significant data or forces a confrontation with heretofore unrecognized unintended consequences of one's own behavior. There follows an exploration in depth with the immediate issue polarizing relevant data from all levels of one's own past in an effort to both explore the implications of the intrusive event and to arrive at a resolution.
The felt dissonance, and the commensurate need to resolve it, also concurs with Hartmann’s view (1998) of the dream. He argues that the dream imagery contextualizes unintegrated emotion with the purpose of facilitating its association with previous emotional experience that has been effectively resolved. In the case of the sample dream, we can sense the dreamer’s perceived dissonance with the dream content when she reports feeling threatened at the beginning of the dream.
Step Two of the FiveStar Method: The Process Narrative
The broad relevance of the dream may be lost to the dreamer if he or she becomes fixated on interpreting specific visual content too soon in the process without regard to the generic process or structure of the dream. Relational therapists are trained to recognize the importance of analyzing how people interact vs. what they are saying to each other, because the solutions that clients need depends on changing the ways they view and relate to each other vs. eliminating the problem as it’s initially framed. Extracting the process narrative in the FiveStar Method (Sparrow, 2013; Sparrow and Thurston, 2010) similarly clarifies the relational process by temporarily setting aside the consideration of the specific imagery. In the case of the sample dream, the process narrative could be stated as: Someone becomes aware of a threat to something vulnerable and for which they have responsibility, takes action to protect the vulnerable, and briefly perceives the threat as less than before, but nonetheless still significant. This generic analysis allows the dreamer to treat the process narrative as a template through which to consider parallels in various areas of one’s life, and lays the groundwork for the next step, which involves analyzing the dreamer’s specific responses to the emergent content, and the impact the responses seem to have on the mapping of underlying content as mutable dream metaphors.
Step Three of the FiveStar Method: Dreamer Response and Imagery Change Analysis
What the dreamer feels, thinks, believes and does in the dream—that is, the global response set— is considered the centerpiece of dream analysis from the standpoint of co-creative dream theory. While we elicit feelings in Step One, we proceed to a more thorough analysis of the dreamer’s response set in this stage, wherein the dream work revolves around these questions: 1) What are the dreamer’s responses to the emergent content, 2) How do the responses impact the imagery? and 3) How does the dream imagery change in response to the dreamer’s response set? In the example above, the dreamer’s bold defense of her vulnerable chickens seems immediately to precipitate a transformation of the central metaphor from a healthy wolf to an injured coyote. It is parsimonious to conclude that her courageous response accounted for the transformation of the wolf into a less threatening predator; but all that one can definitively say is that the dream ego response and the image change were correlated.
Obviously, the word “cause” presumes a degree of functional autonomy between dreamer and dream (fidelity), along with sufficient linkage between the dream ego and the observed content to allow for reciprocal mirroring (mutability). But interestingly, the dreamer then imagines, without any justification, that the threat is, once again, at a high level due to the presumed presence of a raccoon in spite of the absence of any evidence to support of this conclusion. According to the Co-Creative Paradigm, dreamers often do this. That is, they project their emotions and expectations, however unsupported, into the dream, and the dream content often mirrors this subjective attitude (mutability) within a certain range permitted by the underlying domain (fidelity). In this dream, while the dream content accommodates the dream ego’s firmness by precipitating a less threatening predator, it does not go on to mirror her secondary state of alarm. That is, the dreamer’s resurgence of anxiety does not precipitate the appearance of the imagined raccoon. This imperfect correlation between dreamer response and imagery change demonstrates that the emergent content of the dream is not enslaved to the dreamer’s subjective state, but in this case resists the dreamer’s expectations, even in the presence of an active and reflective dreamer. Why the imperfect accommodation? The correlation is never perfect in the dream or in the waking state, because the interacting parties are, to some extent, functionally autonomous and operating with fidelity according to different agendas. As Jung once said, “the individuation urge is, in part, autonomous.” That is, the emergent content may override and thwart the dream ego’s subjective fear, conveying implicitly that the fear is unfounded. A different explanation might be that the “resistance” of the dream imagery to the dreamer’s renewed state of alarm could be due to the robustness of the dream ego’s original courageous response. That is, her original response may still hold sway over content alterations.
At this point in the process, the dream worker engages the dreamer in order to assess the quality of his or her responses over the course of the dream. As I have stated elsewhere (Sparrow, 2014), the dream worker (and group member) should not presume to know whether a response is new (and thus facilitative of integration), or chronic and regressive. By drawing on the dreamer’s waking life values and goals, however, the dream worker and dreamer can explore whether the responses in the dream were developmental (Rossi, 1972), or chronic responses (Sparrow, 2014) that may have arisen earlier in life as reasonable adaptive strategies, but which may have lost their utility in one’s present life context. The dreamer is the ultimate authority on the desirability of his or her responses in the dream, and needs to determine if new responses are called for in future dreams of a similar nature, and in parallel waking relationships. In the case of this specific dream, the dream moves toward integration as the threat initially subsides, but then escalates once again as the dreamer imagines that there is a second source of threat.
Step Four of the FiveStar Method: Working with the Dream Imagery
In previous articulations of co-creative dream work (Sparrow, 2013; Sparrow and Thurston, 2010), we have recommended traditional non-intrusive methods for analyzing the dream imagery, including Jungian amplification and Gestalt dialoguing. While they are not derived from the Co-Creative Paradigm, they offer effective methods that reveal elements of the co-creative model, without embracing it fully. For instance, Jung’s method of amplification allows the dreamer to access the ways that his or her associations provide insight into the dream ego’s unique contribution to the specific imagery, but stops short of viewing the dream image as a real-time, evolving coalescence of archetypal domain content with the “momentary conscious condition” of the dream ego. Similarly, Perls used dialoguing between the client and dream images to facilitate integration, and he placed the responsibility for the dream on the dreamer; but he worked only with the reported dream without revisiting the real-time co-creative process as a way to understand the impact of the dreamer’s response set in real time. To be fair, he believed that achieving greater awareness through interacting with the dream characters and objects would activate integration through “organismic self-regulation” without any need to analyze the imagery from the standpoint of understanding them cognitively.
An In-Depth Approach to Step Four of the FSM: The Deconstruction of Dream Metaphors. Over the course of the last several years, my own dreamwork methodology has emphasized the investigation of the reciprocal relationship between response and imagery change, with an eye to modify chronic responses that may have preserved an undesirable status quo. This, of course, is imminently useful from the dream ego’s side of the equation. However, two questions must be considered in order to complete the picture is: 1) What lies on the other side of the dream interface? Are there stable categories or domains of content that define and constrain the range of phenomenal expression through the imagery? And 2) Why does the dream ego’s interaction with the emergent content render it principally as metaphor?
Conventional methods of dream imagery analysis depart from co-creative dream paradigm by removing the images from the phenomenal context, and working with them without regard to the way that they are tethered to, and modified by the dreamer’s responses. It also overlooks how the images may be derived from underlying content domains that become relevant and specific only when encountered.
Thus the next step, and final piece, in the development of co-creative dream theory and practice, is 1) to identify the range of possible content domains that the dreamer encounters and perceives on the visual interface, and 2) assist dreamers in understanding how their responses to these content domains precipitate metaphors that reflect both the developmental challenges of the content domain and the dreamer’s current state of relationship with it. The content domains can be understood as broad a priori constants, or archetypal domains that lie “behind” the changing interface of the dream, and which constrain the range of expression of the imagery along predictable themes. While these content domains may represent generic constants, the specific imagery can be seen as the sequential “mapping” (Lakoff, Ullman) in real time into resultant images conditioned by the dreamer’s “momentary conscious condition” (Jung, 1966).
The Nature of the Content Domains. The delineation of content domains can be done from the top-down, or from the bottom up. That is, we can draw from systems that delineate essential domains of human experience, or we can derive them through phenomenologically by examining dreams with this in mind. Or, of course, we can do both: That is, one can approach the dream with an open mind, endeavoring to avoid reductionistic assessments while acknowledging the accumulated wisdom available from several related traditions. As for top-down theoretical systems, we have Jung’s archetypes and the chakra system of Buddhism and Hinduism, to name two respected systems that delineate broad content domains. Lakoff and other advocates of conceptual metaphor theory have proceeded to compile lists of common conceptual metaphors. Ullman’s view of major and minor metaphors posits two levels of metaphorical expression but he does not offer a structured system that delineates systematically the major a priori domains of human experience.
Identifying the Nature of Dream Content. Beginning with Jung, the identification of the underlying “deep structure” of the dream has occupied us. Jung drew a distinction between the archetypes of the collective unconscious—shared by all peoples everywhere—and the accumulation of personal experiences, some of which remains conscious and some of which becomes the personal unconscious. This categorical distinction between a priori archetypal components of the deep psyche and the historical record of the individual—conditioned by idiosyncratic belief, experience, and cultural context—has had the effect of assuming that there are mutually exclusive categories of dream imagery in the analysis of dreams. It is common to hear dream workers deliberate over whether an image is personal or archetypal, as if they are mutually exclusive. And yet, Jung’s statement that the interpretation of the image “...can start neither from the conscious alone nor from the unconscious alone, but only from their reciprocal relationship” (1966), conveys a different picture, at least potentially, in which a given dream image partakes simultaneously of two independent sources or “feeds.” From Jung’s formulation, it is a small step to assume that the dream image is, as I’ve asserted, a mutable interface between conscious and unconscious, personal and universal, such that the convenient distinctions of personal and archetypal, conscious and unconscious, are convenient but ultimately inaccurate distinctions. As Jung often said, one cannot talk about what is unconscious. So, the dream image is, from the standpoint of the Co-creative Paradigm, not so much a product of the unconscious as what manifests on the dream interface during the encounter between the dream ego and the emergent content.
Lakoff, in his analysis of dreams, suggests that there are “supraordinate” or generic conceptual metaphors that are derived from our embodied experience and stored within the mind. According to Lakoff (1993), these overriding, broad linguistic metaphors are “mapped” through the course of the dream into contextually appropriate, specific representations of the supraordinate metaphor. While Ullman (1969) wrote about dream metaphors before Lakoff and Johnson (2003) published their first works on conceptual metaphor theory, he alludes to the same general-to-specific mapping process of the dream, and refers to the dream imagery as the “interface,” which is a word that I have also used in co-creative dream theory—more specifically, the “mutable interface” and of the encounter between the dream ego and the emergent dream content. (Sparrow, 2013).
Hartmann (1998) does not allude to embedded generic metaphors, or archetypes, in his dream theory. Nonetheless, he observes that the dream serves to “contextualize” unintegrated emotional experience into a generic metaphorical image that captures both the emotional content of the immediate experience, as well as an array of previous, similar emotional experiences that have already been integrated and resolved. The central image thus works by uniting past with present through associative neural networks, thus enabling the self to integrate the current distressing experience with similar experiences that have already been dealt with successfully. Hartmann reveals his psychoanalytic background by overlooking the dreamer’s metacognition or response set as a facilitative factor in this process, and he does not mention the changes that the dreamer perceives in the imagery through the course of the dream. By implicitly dismissing the dreamer’s metacognition as a possible accelerant in the process of integration––or the existence of underlying domains that are mapped through more specific imagery/metaphors as Jung, Lakoff and Ullman allow—Hartmann’s theory cannot resolve the problem of where the contextualizing imagery originates, nor why some dreamers successfully integrate traumatic memory, and others do not.
In contrast to Hartmann, who leaves the dreamer out of the equation, Ullman anticipates the emergence of co-creative dream theory, when he states;
Our main thesis is that dreaming involves rapidly changing presentational sequences which in their unity amount to a metaphorical statement (major metaphor). Each element (minor metaphor) in the sequence has metaphorical attributes organized toward the end of establishing in a unified way an over-all metaphorical description of the new ideas and relations and their implications as these rise to the surface during periods of activated sleep.
Clearly, Ullman sets the stage for the role of dreamer metacognition, but does not embrace an approach that acknowledges the dream ego as the catalyst in the “rapidly changing presentational sequences.” Although he remains lightly tethered to the Presentational Paradigm, he distinguishes between major metaphor (similar to Lakoff’s “suprordinate metaphor,” and arguably Jung’s “archetypes”) and minor metaphor, which raises the question of how the major metaphor is translated “downward,” or mapped into a series of minor metaphors. Of course, co-creative dream theory offers a solution: The dreamer’s overall response to the emergent novelty of the dream content precipitates the spontaneous production of metaphorical imagery, some of which may seem more obviously impactful or universal in nature.
It is significant to note that neither Ullman (1969), nor Lakoff and Johnson (2003) seem to share Jung’s seminal view that the unconscious or “backside” repository consists of pre-existent indeterminate patterns. That is, while Jung insists that the archetypes are innate a priori patterns, rather than images, Ullman refers to the backside repository as if contains fully formed “major” metaphors, while the dream presents “minor” metaphors that reflect a personal conditioning or moment-to-moment mapping of the major metaphor. It is not clear how the major metaphors come to reside within the self. Similarly, Lakoff and Johnson (2003) refer to “supraordinate metaphors” to describe what is stored within memory, and which then are “mapped” into our experience as more specific, personally relevant metaphors. The problem with referring to supraordinate, or major metaphors as fully formed background or unconscious components is that the construction of a metaphor by definition partakes of two sources. That is, a metaphor is defined as an implied synthesis of a generic target realm of experience with anchoring experiences derived from one’s personal history. How can there be an “unconscious” metaphor if the metaphor, by definition is forged in the crucible of personal anchoring experience? Indeed, it is difficult to conceive of metaphoric creation without considering, at least in its original construction, the reductionistic contribution of consciousness. Thus, Ullman, as well as Lakoff and Anderson (2003) does not explain the way that the repository of superordinate metaphors assumes metaphoric form in the first place. Only Jung tacitly acknowledges the possibility that the metaphors assume form only in relationship with an observer, not independently, thus leaving open the possibility of a real-time co-creative view of dream metaphor construction. Rossi alone as a modern theorist alludes to the parallels between dream imagery and quantum mechanics, which explains the way that the dream phenomenon only becomes manifest in the presence of an observer.
Ultimately, Ullman leaves the door open to the Co-Creative Paradigm when he says,
We have offered very little thus far concerning the laws governing the movement and development of the global or major metaphor of the dream. It is likely that the full exposition of the developmental aspects of the dream process will have to await further investigative effort.
Seven Content Domains
There are a number of developmental frameworks that have been proposed by a variety of psychodynamic (e.g. Freud and Erickson), humanistic (Maslow), and transpersonal/theorists (Wilber, 1996; 2007). These disparate theorists describe a hierarchy of sequential stages in the maturation, actualization, individuation, or enlightenment of the individual. As stated, the psychoanalytic theories focus on psychosexual development (Freud) or the mastery of psychosocial developmental tasks (Erickson). In contrast, the teleological systems of transpersonal/religious thinkers point toward a higher state of self-actualization or individuation to which we are inexorably drawn. Wilber, in particular, describes the process of evolution according to Hegel’s notion, in which each successive domain of development is transcended through the “death” of the current dominant mode of consciousness, and then recapitulated or encompassed as a mastered component within the next higher, more differentiated level of consciousness.
The premise that universal content domains produce categories of dream imagery is by no means new. In particular, the ancient chakra system has become a familiar framework in recent years. These sources have drawn from an ancient system that has been thoroughly delineated in Hinduism and Buddhism. Compared to modern Western systems of hierarchical psychological development, the chakra system arguably wraps all of them into a comprehensive system. Indeed, the Western systems can be subsumed within the larger framework of the chakra system, and the symbology associated with these Western systems, including Jung’s array of archetypes, can be mapped onto the chakra system with minimal conflict. While comparing the systems would be a valuable enterprise, it is beyond the scope of this paper.
From the standpoint of the Co-Creative Paradigm, whatever emerges as domain-level (or chakra-level) content to the witnessing dream ego coalesces in the form of imagery as it felt or perceived. And from the first moment onward, the dream ego’s subjective attitude and response to it precipitates its specific appearance. The reciprocal exchange accounts for the dynamic mapping of the content onto the dream interface, and becomes, from the standpoint of the dream ego, the “received” dream content. Manifesting as metaphorical imagery, the mapped content incorporates the respective contributions of broad domains and the observing dream ego, and progresses through time as co-created dream images that reveal the moment-to-moment dynamic state of the relationship between dream ego and content agenda.
An important question pertains to whether the content domains are passive arenas for virtual engagement, or have their own independence, autonomy and thrust. This question fueled the debates over the ethical and psychological advisability of trying to control one’s dreams. Some lucid dream authorities advocated early on for a no-holds barred experimental approach to dream content manipulation (LaBerge, et. al, in the Lucidity Letter), while others urged caution, given that the nature of the dream content can never be conclusively ascertained (Bulkeley, Sparrow, et. al, in the Lucidity Letter). Theory aside, the phenomenology of the dream regularly reveals that the dream content has an intrusive, surprising quality, and cannot justifiably be reduced the a mere “part of the dreamer,” at least from a subjective, or felt-perspective. Ullmann once referred to the “intrusive novelty” of the dream imagery (Ullman, 1978), and Rossi once asserted that the development of personality as evidenced in the dream process, is “in part autonomous.” Jung, too, saw the individuation process as a teleological process, inherent within each individual as, in the words of Hillman, the “soul’s code,” and working its way into consciousness through the agency of dream and through active waking imagination. For Freud, the dynamic nature of the dream derived its intrusiveness from the bound-up energy of one’s past; but for Jung and Wilber, the process is prospective and endpoint driven, and draws the psyche forward toward a destiny that can be rendered symbolically in dream, vision, and myth, but cannot be fully understood from the ego’s current level of partial development. While Jung declared that “consciousness is the unnatural thing in nature,” and that “nature cares nothing for a higher state of consciousness,” he also asserted that the ego is by no means the center of our evolution, but that the archetypes have an energy and destiny of their own, drawing us into them. Hence every dream image retains an underlying fidelity to its source domain, and its developmental agenda.
The Incorporation of Content Domains into Co-Creative Dream Theory and Analysis
The concept of content domains is, as countless dream workers have discovered, a useful supplement in dreamwork, whether one practices from the Presentational Paradigm or the Co-Creative Paradigm. In other words, dream imagery can be conveniently and accurately associated with various content domains, and the meaning to the dreamer can thereby be enhanced by understanding the nature of the developmental tasks at each domain. However, by downplaying the influence of the dreamer upon the unfolding imagery, the Presentational Paradigm constrains our assessment to an array of static images unrelated to the dreamer’s subjectivity. In contrast, the co-creative model treats the dream imagery as an elastic, mutable interface that coalesces and mirrors one’s relationship with particular content domains. By examining how the dreamer’s initial response initially “maps” the domain into a specific image, and then tracking the changes in both, we can obtain a contemporary view of the dreamer’s relationship with that level of development, and help the dreamer to troubleshoot current responses, and define ways to accelerate one’s development at that level.
Returning to the dream of the fox and chickens, one might say that the content domain involves an encounter with primitive power, or the third chakra, in the form of the various predatorial animals. In the first moment of the dream, the dreamer perceives power as threat, and takes action to protect what is vulnerable:
I hear a wolf howl, and realize that he threatens my chickens, so I grab a shovel and run out the door into the back yard.
There is so much to be gained by analyzing this initial statement. By identifying the content domain in generic terms, and then examining the dreamer’s subjective felt stance, we can assist her in seeing how her assumptions “map” the domain into a threat, thus justifying her fear. But the mere howl of a wolf does not, in itself signify a threat, so we have to explore why she “rendered” the domain issue as threatening. As it turns out, she literally raises chickens, so her life experience predisposes her to interpret a predator’s presence as threatening to what is precious to her. Her robust response signifies the courage that she needs to intervene at some risk to herself, which is an issue worthy of consideration. That is, it reveals a great deal about the dreamer’s assumptions and willingness to take action. The wolf synthesizes her assumptions and the domain into an image that captures the elements of power with a certain beauty, nobility, and suffering (given the threat of civilization to the wolf), as well. But of course, the connotation of “nobility” and “suffering” has to be ratified by the dreamer. Her own associations will help us understand why the wolf captured her “momentary condition” in a form that perfectly expressed her lived experience with the realm of power.
This may seem overly complicated, so let’s look at how the dream worker’s use of language can translate the first four steps of the FiveStar Method into a brief, effective intervention that opens up a conversation with the dreamer. The dream worker combines step 1 and 2 of the FSM, showing how the method unfolds in a seamless fashion.
Dream Worker: (Process Narrative) So in this dream, you are initially alarmed (feelings) by the presence of something powerful, and it created a sense of dissonance, and then alarm. Then you feel protective (feelings) of something vulnerable that, without your help, could be hurt or destroyed. You are also concerned (feelings) about your own wellbeing. As you confront the threat, it seems to become less threatening, and weakened, and you experience compassion; but then you imagine that it still represents a threat, and that there is even a new threat that is not fully evident, as yet. Does this summary (Process Narrative) capture your feelings and your sense of the dream process?
Dreamer: Yes. I went from fear to relief and then back to fear again, although to a lesser extent. I raise chickens, so this scenario is a familiar one, but I don’t think I would have felt personally threatened by these animals in real life.
Dream Worker: You certainly countered the perceived threat without hesitation, with firmness and courage. Is that like you, I wonder? I noticed how your fear returned, and wondered if it accounted for your suspicion that a new threat lurked. Do you get a sense that this resurgence of fear made you think that the raccoon was lurking the darkness?
Dreamer: Yes, I think that I usually respond quickly and fearlessly if something or someone I love is threatened. But it was if I snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory. I mean, the wolf was no longer a threat, and the coyote needed help more than he threatened my chickens or myself. I am puzzled as to why I inserted more fear into the picture.
Dream Worker: I’m wondering what would have happened if you’d stopped short of imagining more threat. Do you think the dream would have ended on a more positive note? What could you imagine having done differently?
Dreamer: Yes, I wish I would have reached out to the coyote. It was a wild animal, but sometimes wild animals come for help. It could have brought about a very different outcome if I’d reached out to the coyote.
Step Five of the FiveStar Method: Applying the Dream Work
The final step of the FSM involves encouraging the dreamer to imagine new responses in the dream as a way to 1) resolve the unfinished conflict in the dream, 2) prepare for future dream encounters with this content domain. It also includes a free-ranging exploration of where this kind of encounter may be occurring in the waking state, and whether new responses are called for. Of course, the dreamer leads the way in determining any course of action, but is encouraged to overturn chronic ways of responding in favor of implementing new, more creative and functional ways of relating.
Useful Questions To Use
I have found that there are several effective questions that can be implemented into the framework of the FSM to facilitate the analysis of the dream metaphors:
What is the dreamer’s first emotion? This will reveal the initial dissonance that gives rise to the dream, and how the dreamer’s felt sense sets the tone for the dreamer-dream encounter and the coalescing of metaphors.
What are the most significant moments of dissonance between dream ego and emergent content? The points of dissonance indicate places where the dreamer is resisting the intrusive novelty of the dream, and thus resisting integration of what the dream content represents. The co-created imagery is likely to map the underlying agenda of the archetypal/target domain into metaphors that reflect the merger of the underlying agenda with conscious reaction. The manifest imagery often reflects dream ego/domain dissonance by awakening a sense of insecurity in the dream ego, and showing the emergent domain-level developmental need as a threat to the dream ego.
What is the first significant perceived image? The first significant image reveals the initial metaphor that captures both the content domain and the dreamer’s unique rendering of it.
What is the dreamer’s first response? The first response usually determines the appearance of the domain level content.
How does the imagery change? The imagery alterations reflect how the content domain is adjusting to the dreamer’s response set, and reveals whether the dream process is moving toward dream ego-dream content synthesis, or not.
How do changes in imagery mirror changes within the dreamer’s responses? This consideration helps the dreamer become aware of his or her agency in influencing the dream imagery, and demonstrates the extent to which the dream imagery is tethered to the dreamer’s reactions, or acting somewhat independently of them in fidelity to its underlying developmental agenda.
What is/are the content domain(s) depicted by the context and category of metaphor? It’s important for the dreamer to understand what life domains are being constellated in the dream. Often, the specific domain is activated by parallel waking concerns, but not always.
Does the dreamer/dream content relationship move toward, or away from integration? By assessing the trajectory of the dream process, the dream worker can assist the dreamer in determining if he or she is working in concert with a discernible developmental process, or thwarting it through non-facilitative responses.
What is chronic in the dreamer’s response, and what is (or would be) a creative and facilitative response? This analysis can trace dreamer emotional responses to earlier experiences, which made sense at the time, but are no longer serving a developmental need.
What would you like to do differently if a similar dream should occur again? And how can you carry this response into your waking life. Reliving, or re-imagining the dream is an important part of co-creative dream work, and encourages the dreamer to “dream forward,” imagining more fulfilling encounters of a similar nature, based on more facilitative responses.
In summary, my global intention in this paper has been to articulate how we can work with metaphors more effectively within the Co-Creative Paradigm, viewing their creation as a real-time synthesis of generic content domains with the dream ego’s subjective stance in relation to it. My specific intent has been to work toward finalizing the dreamwork methodology that I have previously introduced as the FiveStar Method (Sparrow, 2013; Sparrow and Thurston, 2010). By adopting the approach to metaphor co-creation and deconstruction included in this paper, I believe that a dream worker can assist the dreamer in understanding the broad content domains expressed through the dream imagery, and how a dreamer’s “momentary conscious condition” (Jung, 1966) renders and reduces the broad domain into personally relevant, and imminently understandable metaphorical images.
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