Penelope as Dreamer
No matter where it is practiced, the interpretation of dreams is fraught with difficulties, uncertainties, and ambiguities. In contemporary Western society the most common location for dream interpretation is private psychotherapy: A client suffering some kind of mental distress tells a dream to a professional therapist, whose job it is to discover what the dream might be saying about the client’s life situation. The methods used by most psychotherapists are drawn in one way or another from the clinical practices of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. These methods include asking for personal associations, identifying puns, metaphors, and wordplay, and seeking homologies between particular dream images and broader cultural symbolism. Although some psychotherapists report great success in the use of dream interpretation to treat their clients,1 many other healthcare professionals remain wary. One of the major reasons for this wariness is a lack of uniform standards and guidelines to use in the practice of dream interpretation—Freud said one thing, Jung said another, and their followers have gone on to say a thousand other things. With no settled, commonly accepted method for determining how exactly dream image “A” is related to waking life situation “B,” dream interpretation appears inherently unstable, unreliable, and therapeutically suspect.
KeywordsMental Distress Good Interpretation True Meaning Dream Interpretation Dream Image
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