A Sensory Practice
Teresa Nowak, January 10, 2018
Developed by clinical psychologist Stephen Aizenstat, Dream Tending ™ is a creative imaginal practice of engaging with dream images, similar to Jung’s use of active imagination. The technique is an effective way to illuminate the shadowed attitudinal functions of personality type, particularly as revealed through the sensing function during the somatic embodiment of animated images. Rooted in Jung’s primary ontological position that the psyche and its psychic images are real, dream tending guides dreamers to evoke embodied dream images and interact with them. The premise is that dreams are intelligent and autonomous—existing both in the past and in the present moment of recall. Additionally, dream tending acknowledges the multidimensionality of the psyche by viewing dream images as part of the world’s psyche, not just the individual’s psyche. Aizenstat has developed this practice over the last forty years, drawing on the dream-walk traditions of shamanic healers and indigenous peoples all over the world, according to which dream images are not fixed but move and interact within the dreamscape and affect each other. This approach entails engaging with images with an awareness of their own “image-body,” or dynamism, by allowing the images to become psychically animated with their unique presence. The dreamer is called to notice the particularities of dream images through bodily sensations such as smells, tastes, sounds, and textures, as well as the movements and feelings of the dream figures in order to enter into a relationship with the living images. In addition, the dreamer is encouraged to physically move the body while relating with the image. The premise is that neither the dreamer nor the guide fully understands the meaning of the dream; as an active system, it continues to unfold and reveal further dimensions of its reality in the eternal now, a concept of omnipresent time perception (Aizenstat, 2011). Experiencing the dream somatically in the present enables the dreamer to touch the shadowed places in the psyche. Jung (1969/1981) said, “Consciousness is continually widened through the confrontation with previously unconscious contents” (¶ 193). One contribution of dream tending as an effective tool for Jungian dream work is the value it places on the sensing function as an imaginal way of knowing. Thus, it de-emphasizes the intuitive and thinking functions many Jungians use in traditional dream analysis and brings sensing and feeling to the fore.
Jung believed in the profound power of dreams, but his approach was largely hermeneutic: to interpret dreams. However, he recognized the implications of such an approach. In his essay “Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams,” Jung (1990/2010) said, “In our efforts to interpret dream symbols of another person, we are particularly hampered by an almost invincible tendency to fill the gaps in our understanding by projection” (¶ 506). Jung’s problem with understanding dreams stems from an interpretive approach where the dreamer and the analyst meet in an ego-conscious state.
Our interpretations of dreams must be filtered through a layer of consciousness. Personality types serve individual preferential needs, leading to an unconscious conflict of interest between dreamer and analyst. As Jung acknowledged, “The dream cannot but skip all those points that are particularly important to the conscious mind. It manifests the ‘fringe of consciousness,’ like the faint glimmer of stars during a total eclipse of the sun” (1990/2010, ¶ 511). Here, he placed emphasis on the quality of the dream image in that it captures something beyond the conscious mind that speaks to the deeper subliminal levels of the psyche. In contrast to dream analysis, dream tending allows the dream images to speak for themselves, only to be beheld by the dreamers for their own deeper understanding, without being muddied by the waters of interpretation through another’s psychological type or psychic state of consciousness.
Aizenstat’s method draws on the example of archetypal psychologist James Hillman who advocated the power of honoring the images of the psyche without interpretation. Hillman (1979) saw the psyche as a lens of potentialities, where there are multiple answers to behold without the urgent need to remedy anything: “We work on dreams not to strengthen the ego but to make psychic reality … to make soul by coagulating and intensifying the imagination” (p. 137). This experiential movement of imagination is Hillman’s way of soul-making.
Aizenstat’s dream tending practice forms part of the process of soul-making: it emphasizes the dreamer’s own insights through relationship with living images as animated and intelligent aspects of interiority. The heart of dream tending work is to animate the images of dreams with curiosity and the intention of entering into a reciprocal relationship. In this way, the images extend beyond the ego realm of association, beyond the transpersonal levels of amplification, arising “from the deepest level of the psyche” (Aizenstat, 2011, p. 21). When animated, the images spark imagination in the dreamer. Dream tending is not simply a practice of observing ideas but an experiential way of interacting with the images. The practice speaks to the capacity of the psyche to bring forth wisdom from the collective unconscious, and the world’s unconscious, to the individual for the benefit of self-revelation in the personal unconscious. In this way, images are a source of wisdom already churning with life and the evolution of consciousness within us. They are hosting us, rather than us hosting them. By simply inquiring into the visitors within, Psyche speaks her subtle wisdom without us clamoring to interpret. Such an approach constitutes a relevant shift away from Jung’s notion of dream interpretation to one that can empower psychological type as a portal to the revelations inherent in dreams (Aizenstat, 2011, pp. 24-59).
An INTJ Dream-Tending Experience
The hidden psychological type dimensions of dreamers can be made perceptible by applying Beebe’s (2004) archetypal model of typology to the results of a dream tending session. The following case study illustrates how this was done with an INTJ client. By allowing the images to speak without interpretation, the dreamer illuminated the shadows of her personality spine and allowed herself to emerge in new ways. Introverted intuition (Ni), the superior function of the INTJ, enabled the dreamer to naturally gather information from the unconscious, and she tapped into all of Beebe’s eight archetypal positions during the dream tending process. Most notably, she found a deep resonance with those images holding the feeling and sensation functions.
Preparing to Enter the Realm of the Dream
In preparation for the dream tending session, we began with a soothing atmosphere to meet the dream in the way of the dream (Aizenstat, 2011, p. 25). I briefly explained to her the attitude and premise of dream tending as a way to animate images as forms of embodied intelligence via a standpoint of curiosity and awe. The living images should be approached in a dream-like fashion, inviting open spaciousness while dropping the ego mind that tries to reason out what the images mean. In short, the images call for an attitude of marvel and reverence (p. 25).
To open body awareness, we went through a mindfulness exercise, bringing attention to our bodies and breath (p. 26). It is essential to bring awareness to the “animal body” as a way to meet the embodied images of dreams. This animal body is the instinctual essence in the core of being that may have a connection to the mental function of introverted sensation (Si), which “stores sensory references from the past in a subjective internal database” (Haas & Hunziker, 2014, p. 44). With its dream-like style, this technique is a way of meeting the energy behind the images with a like energy, as if the dream images have imaginal animal bodies of their own.
We were seated outside on the deck of a beach house, and the ocean provided a dreamlike quality. I suggested finding the rhythm of the ocean’s waves within her as a part of the natural world and as a way of connecting to the dream in the present. I suggested that she allow the dream to unfold with the fluidity of the waters of the seascape. The dream is continuous and a field of everlasting space and time, always unfolding. This process of becoming present in the here and now is connected to the attitudinal function of extraverted sensation (Se), which “is acutely aware of the people, things, and events in [the] immediate surroundings; is enjoying their colors, sounds, etc. directly; and is striving to engage with them” (Hunziker, 2016, p. 140). Established in present attention this way, listening and witnessing is heightened (Aizenstat, 2011, pp. 26-27).
We discussed the orienting style of not knowing: being open to the possibilities of the dream images without imposing analysis and rational thought onto the dream. Engaging the dream in an attitude of not knowing allows the dream to speak as it is. In this manner, the function is anti-intuitive: the dream is allowed expansive capacity to be original and alive as opposed to imagined. Setting the atmosphere for dream tending with these attitudes cultivates a dynamic space to enter into relationship with the dreaming psyche as it reveals itself (Aizenstat, 2011, pp. 27-30).
Stepping into the Dream
In the next phase of the session, I drew on Aizenstat’s basic skill set (contacting the archetypal ego by using active language to vivify dreams and asking core questions) and relationship skills (hosting the guest and sustaining the relationship with an image using the senses). I used the guided imagery of the waves to begin from the deep sense of archetypal ego, the part of interiority that is aligned with the primal knowledge of the wisdom within to meet the dream. Contacting the archetypal ego is the initial movement of accessing a depth of inner essence; a place that Aizenstat stated is “our true nature, or the authentic self” (2011, p. 30). What he means is to approach the images from the lowered dimension of imagination—from the archetypal level, or what Hillman (1992/2014) in his essay “Anima Mundi: The Return of the Soul to the World” called the “sensuous” realm that allows “our imaginative recognition, the childlike act of imagining the world” (p. 67). It is a way to meet the image from an inner depth of connection, from a place of rich imagination and wonderment, to engage in an active and open way—the same way the image presents itself to the dreamer.
I guided her to step into the dream in the present tense and to vivify the language. Speaking in the present tense is a way of stepping into the dream as it is living now, keeping the dream animated and fresh. Aizenstat (2011) suggested speaking of dreams using “-ing” verbs, which rouse action and immediacy, forming another connection with the extraverted sensation function. For example, “the ocean beckoned me” becomes “ocean is beckoning me.” Also, removing articles such as “a” or “the” is effective in sharing the dream, treating each image as distinctive. Lastly, personifying the dream images with a capital letter, as a proper noun, to further bring them alive is valuable, so the sentence becomes, “Ocean is beckoning me” (pp. 36-38).
Two core questions distinguish dream tending from all other methods of dream work: “Who is visiting now?” and “What is happening here?” (p. 33). In other words, Dream leads the way through its voice. This shift of engagement ensures that we not inquire into what the dream means, or why something is taking place, but instead notice which images arise as autonomous visitors of the dream (pp. 33-36). As we stepped over the threshold into the dream, I began by asking “Who is visiting now?” followed by “What is happening now?”
The Telling of the Dream
The 37-year-old INTJ Dreamer responded from memory:
I am alone. I am on a residential street at night outside a house. I go into a house, and there is a party with loud music and people sitting on the floor. There is little or no furniture, and it is too crowded. I recognize a few people I know from high school. I go into the backyard and find a large group of people. There is a party tent with loud music and disco lights, with people wearing glow necklaces, and dancing for a celebration of a girl. She has a bouffant hairdo and wears a prom dress. I am surprised she invited me because I thought she didn’t like me. I see my husband in a corner of the yard, talking to another girl who I don’t know. A police helicopter hovers overhead and shines a bright light on the yard—on me. I want to leave, but my husband won’t come with me. He wants to stay and talk to the girl. He says, “If you want to leave, go ahead and leave.” I leave feeling upset. I walk in the house, and people are drunk and doing drugs, and they try to get me to stay. They say, “Chill out. Don’t worry about the helicopter.” I go outside, and my college roommate is waiting to drive me to swim practice. I am sick with anxiety. I am late, and my husband stayed with that girl. (Author’s notes, August 29, 2016)
Tending the Living Images
From the perspective of the dream tender, I closely observed what was said and recounted in the dream imagery, and also what was not said but experienced somatically by the dreamer and me, noticing what brought the most emotional affect and psychological response in the dream journey. The practice of hosting the guest (Aizenstat, 2011, p. 40) is a way of imagining dream images and attending to them as welcomed and important guests that is most closely aligned with the extraverted feeling function (Fe). According to Hunziker (2016), people using Fe well “would probably make for gracious and conscientious hosts, exuding warmth as they actively seek to connect with other people. Their concern for others’ needs would probably be obvious, and they would make those around them feel accepted and validated” (p. 41). In this way, the dreamer graciously approaches the images, shifting perspective to attend to their needs and comfort. Hosting extends an invitation to a sacred space, offering the special visitor a pleasing atmosphere as if at home. This way, the dreamer may communicate with the image better, befriend it, and responsively listen in order to develop a lasting bond (Aizenstat, 2011, pp. 40-43).
Sustaining the relationship with an image using the senses (Aizenstat, 2011, p. 43) draws on the function of introverted sensation, which “uses an external stimulus in the present to stimulate an internal experience: the recall of the past” (Haas & Hunziker, 2014, p. 44). Using the senses in the imaginal space is one way for the dreamer to deeply notice and experience dream images. By engaging in the imagination in the use of sight, taste, scent, sound, and touch, the relationship with the image intensifies, and the image becomes multi-dimensional and alive. When images are noticed through the senses, more attention to their unique characteristics develops, and an embodied experience opens, creating an experiential interaction (Aizenstat, 2011, pp. 43-46).
Setting the Stage for Revelation
I guided the dreamer back into the dream and suggested she slow the pace to notice the images more closely. By approaching the dream as if still in a dreaming state, the dreamer shifts to a mode of listening and seeing at a deeper level of knowing. Aizenstat (2011) contended, “As Dream Tenders we can set the stage for revelation by bringing qualities of subtle perception and deep listening into our interaction with images. … When we do this, the living image often will reveal its innermost self, its soul” (p. 48). Shifting the gaze to the image with deep listening and a subtle, peripheral way of seeing lends a quality of soulful connection. With greater imagination, one might look gently into the eyes of an image to access its wisdom, wherein the dreamer may find a deeper unfolding of personal truths in the mystery of the dream (pp. 46-51).
I advised the dreamer to consider the images as guests of her dream,visiting her by their own design, offering their own unique intelligence. On the discovery of sentient images, Aizenstat (2011) said, “The intelligence of living images is perhaps the most surprising and important revelation” (p. 51). Honoring the embedded intelligence in the images, as well as allowing images to speak on their own behalf, leverages the power of the expansive, ancient, natural world. When such wisdom is shared, the dreamer is encouraged to express gratitude for the gift, perhaps by creating a ritual or enacting an embodied expression of an image as a follow-up to the dream (p. 54).
She began again and made personal associations. At the beginning, the associations were pleasant. She revealed she was comfortable in the dream house with the people she knew. She told me one of the guys was her high school boyfriend whom she loved. The house looked very small and old, and it reminded her of her childhood home. The girl in the party tent resembled the wife of a childhood friend who lived across the street from her growing up. She was an acquaintance, but she knew the girl had struggled with drugs and gone to rehabilitation. The Dreamer revealed that this reminded her of her college raves where she took ecstasy drugs. She felt happy and free in this space and named it a “techno feeling.”
However, when the light shined on the yard, she saw her husband talking to a girl, and this upset her. The Dreamer unconsciously placed her hand on her heart as she described the girl as younger, more petite, and childlike. [Author’s note: The dreamer is also petite.] She noticed her husband had his arm around the girl, comforting her. She noticed the girl had an oven mitt on her left hand; she was burned.
Establishing Relationships with the Images
At this point I invited her to dialogue with the image of Husband. Right away, she described a somatic reaction of burning sensation in her chest, throat, and lungs. She asked Husband, “What is it about her that you like better than me? What about us? Why aren’t you trying to fight for us?” She said, Husband replied, “She is easy; she doesn’t take a lot of work.” The Dreamer began to notice the yard was chaotic with people running from the helicopter, and the light was too bright. She noticed a nervous response in her body. She had a strong feeling there was a bad guy hiding from the police at the party, as if someone were in the shadows, so she sensed it was time to go. She revealed she also felt pressure to leave because she had swim-practice. She described a feeling of sickness from anxiety.
In the course of engaging with dream images, they evolve and dissolve, continuously changing shape. Through active imagination, the dream images may appear in a certain form one day and in another the following day. This fluctuation imparts movement to the process. Aizenstat (2011) contended,“Images themselves evolve first and our experience with them can be seen as a consequence of their individuation process” (p. 55). Thus, the images connect to the core of ancestral intelligence and energize the dreamer’s development. As the images evolve, dreamers witness their own evolution. Dream images show the way on the path of inner personal discovery (pp. 55-57).
In addition to engaging with objects and people in the dream, dreamers can engage with the emotional states in the dream. I suggested we talk to the emotion of Anxiety. She asked it, “Why do you keep coming to me?” She told me Anxiety replied, “I am your performance. I am part of you.” She told Anxiety, “I won’t ever perform at that level again. I don’t need you.” Then she said aloud, as if to herself, “But that’s who I am” (Author’s notes, August 29, 2016).
Moving From Relationship to Revelation
Jung (1966/1993) said to “stick as close as possible to dream images” (¶ 320), so dream tenders observe the details of the image through a technique of following its spontaneous flow in the dream. Moreover, “Stick to the image” (Hillman, 2013, p. 19) is also the axiom of archetypal psychology. This method implies that the primary starting point is the image, which reveals infinite potential for discovery in the depth of its complexity. Therefore, we discussed insights that the images revealed in the dream. For example, Dreamer INTJ was overcome with emotion, particularly around the interaction with Husband. I called her attention to the unconscious hand gestures she made when she spoke. She moved her fingers in a way that looked like typing. She wasn’t sure why. I asked her what that sensation reminded her of, and she replied, “Playing the piano,” which came to her as a vivid introverted sensation that flooded her with childhood memories. She shared that it occurred to her she no longer found time for piano, or ballet, or other creative activities she used to enjoy. She spoke of initial jealousy of Petite Girl that Husband seemed interested in, but when she gazed at them closer, she realized it wasn’t a sexual interest. Husband seemed protective. INTJ Dreamer expressed insecurity that Petite Girl was so petite and attractive. I inquired what spoke to her in this image, what was behind Jealousy. She said she had continuous anxiety that she would never be in as good a shape as she had been in college. She linked that insecurity to her feelings of under-performance at work as the young junior partner in the firm. Moving back to Husband, I drew her eye to notice when she had placed her hand on her heart and the motion she made when she crossed her left hand over her right. I suggested she repeat the motion three times. She did, and then she started weeping. We sat in silence, allowing the soul space to emerge. She cried deep, heaving sobs for several minutes as she clutched her chest in this position. Finally she said, “I haven’t cried like that in many years.” I asked her what the body movement evoked, and she said, “Holding my baby and hugging myself.” She said she realized the depth of the work she had carried trying to conceive and that she and her husband shared a gift of love in their children. She then expressed feeling a lift of the heaviness, as well as an easing up on herself in her feelings of anxiety and inferiority.
The lower attitudinal position of introverted sensation was illuminated through this expression and brought the Dreamer’s self-realization, as evidenced by a floodgate of blocked emotion. Jung (1921/1990) explained that the fantasy image that arises from the creative psyche “fashions the bridge between the irreconcilable claims of subject and object, introversion and extraversion. In fantasy alone both mechanisms are united” (¶ 78). By sticking to the image and noticing closely what happened with her somatic response, the Dreamer gained a deeper psychological perception of herself.
As dreamers experience working with living images in this sacred regard, a deepening of experience is often found—as if the images themselves are tending to both the dreamer and the dream tender. Like portals to creation itself, the images may appear illuminated, vital, and enlightened, offering gestures of compassion and love, which further develops the relationship bond in soulful connection (Aizenstat, 2011, pp. 57-59). The practice of dream tending encourages Dreamers to develop a psychic relationship with images beyond the initial dream by returning to the image with ongoing creative acts like active imagination, artistic expression, or ritual creation in homage to the dream. In this way, dream images remain psychically alive and their potential in future psychological revelation may develop over time. Here, the dreamscape of the imaginal realm becomes a well source of fluid and dynamic participation to return to time and again.
Illuminating the Conscious Aspects of the INTJ Psyche
The Dreamer intuitively grasped the idea of dream tending and quickly relaxed into the exploration of her visions. The INTJ Dreamer’s primary conscious psychological attitude is introverted intuition (Ni), “an information-gathering process … [that] wants to discover underlying significance, systems, and meaning” (Haas & Hunziker, 2014, p. 63). This subjective, “big picture” function manifested in her overarching understanding of the dreamscape as another point in time where she was freer and more at ease. Within the dream itself, her dominant function was not on display initially, except in the sense that dreaming itself is an Ni activity and perhaps in the knowing that her heroic function had to step aside. Instead, her other functions took precedence. Her auxiliary extraverted thinking (Te), Beebe’s secondary archetypal position, defined as “living up to the model of the idealized parent, focuse[d] on taking care of others” (Haas & Hunziker, 2014, p. 178), was evidenced by her direct questioning of Husband and of her asserting the need to leave the party because of Police presence: “Extraverted Thinking is a decision-making process … [that] wants to evaluate, decide, and complete a task using a system of logical binary judgments” (p. 73). The Dreamer made decisions about the scene and decided to leave based on the environment. She was not inhibited from saying what needed to be said. Her dream tending supported this as she consciously asked the hard, personal questions in an effort to sway Husband to leave with her—she sought clarity. She tried to care for Husband by imploring him to leave. She acted like the archetypal mother by making the choice to leave when the police arrived and by urging Husband to do the same.
Her jealousy of Petite Girl with Husband indicates the INTJ’s puella aeterna function of introverted feeling (Fi). Any function in this position is “less mature and more irresponsible” (Haas & Hunziker, 2014, p. 178), and she felt wronged by Husband, almost pouting to get his attention. In the dream images, the Dreamer enjoyed the techno party although she was childish in her display of jealousy over her Husband’s attention to Petite Girl. Introverted feeling “focuses on the subjective, internal world of absolute personal value systems and assesses all things based upon whether they uphold the values, conflict with them, or have no impact” (p. 103). The Dreamer expressed surprise that Party Girl invited her; she had thought the hostess did not like her and was delighted with the notion that she could be wrong about that. The Dreamer felt like Husband’s attention to Petite Girl was platonic, yet she was jealous of his attention to her. High School Boyfriend told her to “chill out,” and stay at the party. “Fi wants to make choices and act in ways that create and maintain inner harmony” (p. 103). In this case, in the dream image, the Dreamer made decisions based on her internal feelings, leading her to assess the party situations from internal processing systems.
The INTJ Dreamer’s function of extraverted sensation in the dream was expressed through the party scene itself. Extraverted sensing “focuses on the current objective, external world to fully experience the details of the environment through the five senses. Se draws energy and enjoyment from people, objects, and events” (Haas & Hunziker, 2014, p. 33). Here, the Dreamer depicted a colorful, Dionysian display of people doing drugs, dancing, and enjoying music. Her Se animus transported her to a time when she partied to excess: she remembered her college raves and past drugs consumed. High School Boyfriend and Party Girl’s husband from her childhood represented repressed dimensions of herself (Author’s notes, September 27, 2016).
Illuminating the Attitudinal Shadows
The riot of extraverted sensation images, her animus, dropped her down into the shadow of her dominant attitude, extraverted intuition (Ne), the INTJ’s fifth or opposing personality function. Extraverted intuition “focuses on the objective, external world to find substantive connections and relationships between the objects, people, and events in the environment. Ne wants to generate real-world possibilities” (Haas & Hunziker, 2014, p. 53). The chaotic scene with its oversupply of sensory stimuli incited an oversupply of mental stimuli that overwhelmed her and blurred her ability to trust what was going on.In addition, the challenge of Husband distorted what she trusted in their relationship. She had a hunch Bad Man was there and that Police were looking for him in the shadows. This interior strife was the confusing state that brought Spotlight to attend to her relationship with Husband, and with herself. Anxiety brought its own intelligence in the image to illuminate the dreamer’s own inner strife. Seen in this fifth, shadowed attitudinal position, Ne serves to carry the opposing personality as either a “passive or aggressive adversary … often throwing us off balance” (p. 179). In this case, the INTJ distrusted her Husband, and also the Bad Man sought by the police.
The archetypal witch carries the sixth function, which for INTJ Dreamer is introverted thinking (Ti). Introverted thinking “focuses on the subjective, internal world of underlying principles and truths by creating original systems and categories and assigning all information to a place within the appropriate framework, based on logical analysis” (Haas & Hunziker, 2014, p. 83). In this way, the dream images were very self-critical, leading her to claim that she would never be in “as good of shape” as she once was. In the dominant position, “Ti wants to attain internal precision through logical evaluation and decision making” (p. 83). In the sixth position, Ti often has “an authoritarian, stern, and arbitrary” aspect … [that] gives very bad advice” (p. 179). This showed in her critical self-talk, in her Anxiety about being late to swim practice, and her perceived under-performance inferiority complexes. She compared herself to Petite Girl that Husband tended to, feeling pale in comparison and overcome with self-doubt about her place in Husband’s life.
In the seventh position, the place of Beebe’s archetypal trickster, the INTJ Dreamer experienced trickster extraverted feeling in her inability to connect with others in the dream. Extraverted feeling “wants to make choices and initiate actions that create and maintain harmony in the outer world” (Haas & Hunziker, 2014, p. 93), and Fe dominant types can confidently charm others, but those with Fe in the trickster position do not always trust this process. So it is not surprising that the Dreamer was unable to persuade Husband or move him emotionally to come away with her. However, her Fe trickster had a constructive effect, too: It tricked her into examining how others feel. She was forced to look at Petite Girl that Husband was favoring. She noticed Petite Girl’s burned hand and saw that there were no sexual feelings involved. Her attention to Petite Girl disclosed where she was “tricked” in the dream to misunderstand Husband’s attraction to her. With a closer look, she understood he cared for the girl the same way he cared for their children—parentally. The Fe function “focuses on the objective, external world through using cultural value systems and assigning all things to a place within an appropriate system, based on qualitative value” (p. 93), and in the dream the Dreamer learned to use it appropriately, processing decisions based on her cultural value system to assess the image of Husband’s actions. Further, as an aspect of dream tending, she noticed the evolving images and their reflection of her own evolving nature in the dream experience. In sum, her trickster Fe helped the Dreamer to “overcome arbitrary or unreasonable obstacles” and “compensate” for the “vulnerability of the eternal child” (p. 179).
At the root of Beebe’s shadow “personality spine” lies the eighth, archetypal demon/daimon position, carrying the INTJ Dreamer’s introverted sensation: The Si function “focuses on the subjective, internal world of past experience by comparing current sensory experiences to similar past experiences through a vivid and detailed internal database of memories” (Haas & Hunziker, 2014, p. 43). Those with a preference for Si “want to relive the past and selectively explore the impact and significance of current events, people, and experiences” (p. 43). When Si is demonic, it focuses on negative memories “in a manner that is undermining to others and to oneself” (p. 179). In this case, the Si process undermined the INTJ Dreamer’s guarded personality by bringing up a flood of sensate memories. The despair of the demonic shows in the end of her original recitation of the dream: “I am sick with anxiety. I am late, and my husband stayed with that girl.” This deep place of the archetypal demonic became daimonic, a portal to soul. The Dreamer uncovered repressions and blocked sensations in the form of forgotten memories. Her fingers played the piano and returned her to the time of her youth. Her hand covered her heart, and the repetitive motion of hugging herself and holding her baby transported her from the love of image so natural to the Ni dominant type into the domain of constructive introverted sensation via positive memories of the past: self-care, the reminder of her husband’s deep love for her, her home, and the gift of their children. Tapping into this place, she released her ego-consciousness, thereby opening the floodgates of insight, emotion, and self-awareness, and transformed a potentially destructive encounter into a generative numinous experience. (Author’s notes, September 27, 2016).
During a follow-up assessment in July 2017, the INTJ Dreamer revealed that the imagery and profound experience of the dream tending session still resonates with her, and she repeats the self-hugging motion (truly a movement of self-love, gifted by the image) many times each day now. This ritual reminds her of the deep feelings she felt in the presence of the awakened introverted sensation function. She said the dream tending experience was “shocking, mesmerizing, and cathartic. I came away with a renewed outlook on my most personal and intimate relationships and my own psyche.”
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Thank you for your comment, and for sharing your dream work experience in Jungian analysis. I agree that coming into full awareness of a dream is a bodily experience, which lends to a deep visceral understanding. As an ISFJ, your dominant trait of Si would take you right into the memory as a natural way of perceiving dream imagery for you, drawing on your bank of experiences and other images for relatedness. I appreciate the way you describe how your body reacts until a dream interpretation “feels right,” as if the place of understanding is felt deeply in the psyche/soma connection. I have experienced that as well.
As the dream tender, I follow the images and listen closely to what is happening in the dream, particularly when there is affect and unconscious body movements from a dreamer. These clues help me see the places to dive down for a closer look. Since I lead with Fe and Ni preferences, I relate to the harmony and emotional needs of the dreamer, and look for patterns emerging in the unconscious that present a larger vision of possibilities.
In your case, I wonder how you might experience a dream more fully using the dream tending practice without placing an interpretation on the dream, but rather by a self-discovery journey based on your interaction with the images? In this place, it would shift from waiting for the right articulation of a dream, to understanding its deeper message from a embodied perspective. I suspect you would find an innate ability to walk through an animated dream, given your dominant Si to guide you with vivd recall. Dropping down into your shadowed Ni attitudinal function might bring great revelation of how you visualize the dream image patterns with an open perspective to see how psyche speaks to future potentialities.
Thank you so much for taking the time to engage with the article, and for keeping your dream images psychically alive.
This piece has made me more aware of the role of introverted sensation in working with dreams. As someone with ISFJ preferences, I’ve always thought of dream work as being in the realm of introverted intuition, and have worked to get better at using that function. Now I am noticing that the part of dream work that involves associating to dream material is really an introverted sensation process–comparing and matching the dream material to other images and experiences stored in memory.
I’ve always been aware that there is an Si component to knowing whether the dream interpretation is accurate and complete or not. When discussing my dream with my Jungian analyst, I notice that my body holds tension until the meaning and import of the dream is correctly articulated, and then all those muscles relax. For a dream interpretation to ‘feel right’ for me is entirely a bodily thing.