Friday, March 13, 2015

Theodor Reik Part 4: Dream Analysis & The Compulsion to Confession

This blog originally appeared on December 21, 2011.

Dream analysis for Reik, as for Freud, was of fundamental significance in self-analysis of the psyche. The emotional and iconic nature of the dream is one that is somehow closest to alchemy and analogical thought.

Described by Freud as "the royal road to the unconscious," Reik proposes dream analysis to be the cornerstone of self-analysis. He offers an analysis of his own dream (known as the "judgement" dream) to illustrate how an analyst goes about analyzing a dream of their own.

Reik remains faithful to classical Freudian dream interpretation and offers an analysis that brings us closer to his understanding of himself as a proud and vengeful person, who might feel somewhat inadequate (or falsely humble) in his contributions to psychoanalysis. The admission, as it were, of Reik's pride and desire to dominate (he takes great pains to point out that this is not physical, but intellectual domination) is repeated frequently. One wonders whom Reik was writing to in this chapter? It is almost a confession in itself. In this way, Reik points out that his dream was a confession, and that confession is a desire to re-experience the "guilty" action. In this way, Reik contends, a confession is way of emotionally reliving the act, and not without some sort of satisfaction.

Reik describes how dream images (emotionally loaded icons) at the unconscious, latent level, resonate with imagery and action in the waking life. Oftentimes the full exposure of the latent content of a dream is not immediate, but rather, unfolds over the course of months and years. Reik explains that the recollection of a dream, or portion of a dream, can be understood in the context of what is happening in the person's life at the moment of recollection. Emotionally charged symbols resonate with the imagery and context of the waking life, which elicits the the dream imagery to manifest in consciousness. Paying attention to the emotional, environmental, and intellectual events, preceding and following the recollection of the dream, will offer clues to its meaning. A dream continues to be analyzed and revised within the context of the conscious life.

The symbolic-emotional nature of dreams are archetypal, emotionally loaded, iconography that takes on general emotional relationships. The everyday interactions of objects in our life are experiences within a certain set of analogical archetypes that are amalgamated at the symbolic level. It is not the icon itself that holds significance in the analogical process, but rather, the emotional and relational phenomenon that comes forth from the interaction between objects. This is the wisdom of the analogical dream -the structure of the configurations of knowing, which is the outcome of dream analysis.

Direct questions, comments, & corrections to Matthew Giobbi.