Polarities in Dreams
By: Layne Dalfen
The philosophy that respects all the parts of the dream beings parts of ourselves begs a discussion of how polarities appear in our dreams. In fact, establishing the polarities in a dream often leads to the 'answer' or strength therein.
In my opinion, the solution to an issue is very often found by helping the dreamer explore a reaction somewhere in the middle of two polarities. Carl Jung and Frederick Perls believed humans are self-regulating. We regulate ourselves through our dreams. For example, if we are experiencing an extreme feeling or idea, the complete opposite will often appear in the dream. In essence, just the appearance of the complete opposite forces the reaction to "pull" itself towards the middle.
In Dream Power, Dr. Ann Faraday says, "...the dream may act as a compensatory mechanism to balance lopsided feelings about a person or event...Whenever we are faced with an obscure dream, Jung suggested, we should ask, 'What conscious attitude does the dream compensate?'...Jung came to believe that the human organism has an in built tendency toward psychological health, comparable to the body's in built capacity to heal wounds or recover from disease, and he frequently found that dreams seemed to reflect the workings of this inner drive toward health and maturity, with which the conscious mind can cooperate."
So, let me translate this into plain English...If your dream tonight is related to the fact that somebody hurt your feelings today and that you stood there not saying even one word about how it made you feel....You didn't speak up for yourself AT ALL. You stood there and "took it", don't be surprised if you go to sleep tonight and the person who you associate as having the biggest, most assertive mouth in the world, appears in your dream!
And if that happens, we would be looking at a polarity. The very assertive person you dreamed about is the antithesis of how you behaved when someone was rude to you today.
And the solution? Well we don't change our behaviours overnight. It does take a little work....but if you're someone who has difficulty expressing yourself, you dreaming about a very assertive person is your subconscious' way of tapping you in to the potential you have to speak up! You're not going to turn into that personality type overnight, but the polarity can help you reach towards more of a balance. Maybe the dream will even inspire you to speak up say, just a little!
In his Interpretation Of Dreams I love that Freud said, "Dreams are quite incapable of expressing the alternative 'either - or; it is their custom to take both members of this alternative into the same context, as though they had an equal right to be there."
So when you are trying to say to yourself either I'm going to say nothing or I'm going to blast that person, your subconscious brings people (or a plot) that create a polarity. And hopefully, the solution lies somewhere in the middle of the two.
Harriet dreamed her brother-in-law was murdered. In waking life, he had just telephoned the day before. Actually, she almost didn't answer the phone when he called because she was busy. Now, in the dream, Harriet felt so relieved that she had spoken to him. "If I had not taken the call, she said, I would have felt so guilty!"
(This dream was a day or two after Mike Tyson had bitten someone's ear off. In the dream, he was the murderer.) Her brother-in-law's wife had to tell their mother the sad news.
Although Harriet felt complete panic because her brother-in-law was murdered, in the dream she also felt a sense of relief that she had answered the phone the previous day. She described her brother-in-law as sensitive, loving, caring, and added, "He is also extremely organized and efficient."
She described his wife as easy going and carefree. "She is more loose and relaxed. She keeps her house messy." Already, we see two polarities present themselves. One is of "panic" versus "relief" and the other is "orderly" versus "messy".
The dream was about Harriet's husband's recent decision to move to downtown Seattle, Washington, from their home in rural Maine.
On the one hand, Harriet felt "relieved" to move back to city life, after being bored where they lived. Then again, "panic" was setting in because, like her brother-in-law's wife, her house was in a state of "disorganization". She felt panic because the move was coming up very quickly.
In a metaphoric way we could say that the ability to be organized part of her personality was murdered.
She figured out the solution to the dream herself!
Here is how I illustrate polarities.
"The solution", she said, "is if I get busy organizing my house, and become more like my brother-in-law, it will serve two purposes. First, I'll be so busy, I won't have time to think about being in such a nervous panic. Secondly, by getting organized, I'll literally be more ready for the move!"
The solution is for the dreamer to move off and away from her state of panic and disorganization more towards the middle of the spectrum.
"Now, if we are willing to stay in the center of our world and not have the center either in our computer or somewhere else, but really in the center, then we are ambidextrous. Then we see the two poles of every event. We see that light cannot exist without non-light. If there is sameness, you can't be aware anymore. If there is always light, you don't experience light anymore. You have to have the rhythm of light and darkness. Right doesn't exist without left." Frederick S. Perls