Dreams and Symbolism in Homeopathic Practice

Homeopath Jane Cicchetti discusses dreams and symbolism in homeopathic practice.

carl jung

Connecting with the Two-million-Year-old Man

Jane Tara Cicchetti

 

Over two million years ago the first humans walked the earth. In the twenty-first century, someone with at least that number of years of cellular memory comes in for homeopathic treatment. The homeopath must, according to classical training, perceive what needs to be healed in this individual and match it to a dynamized substance that will stimulate healing.

What a daunting task! To perceive what needs to be healed in an individual who is the end product of millions of years of development. It doesn’t matter if the individual is 9 or 90 years old; they are still the most recent development in a long and ancient lineage. Carl Jung referred to this as the two-million-year-old man within.

“He is the two-million-year old man in us. And that fellow is by no means a legend, he is a fact which you can see in every detail of your anatomical structure even. Study your hands, your nose, your ears, your brain; in each case it is the result of long differentiation, and traces of all the stages are still there, though of course somewhat transformed. Our nervous system is a marvelous picture of the past, it contains all the stages through which we have come, layer after layer of differentiation has been added. And that is true of our psyche. We don’t know whether our psyche is material or immaterial, because we don’t know what matter is, so we cannot say there is any difference between the psyche and the body, or whether they are the same historically. So the two-million-year-old man is in our psyche too if we count that as the age of man – as long as the tree of life has existed. Traces of this existence are still a part of our reality, contained in the darkness of the collective unconscious; our unconscious is just a thin layer on top of the ocean depths of history.”[1]

Given this, in the relatively short time allotted for the homeopathic interview, how is it possible to understand enough about an individual to perceive what needs to be healed? Contemporary homeopaths are very much aware of this dilemma and have developed various methods to accomplish this difficult task. Depending on the case, it may be useful to look at family analysis, sensation, or other methods. No matter what method is used, knowledge of how to use dreams is an important aspect of case analysis.

Dreams and their symbols connect us to the archetypal realm where the “two-billion-year-old man” can speak with us. They are a portal into the ancient realm of the collective unconscious, and are a wellspring of knowledge that cannot be tapped through the intellect. These symbolic messages must be linked with the totality of symptoms in a case, in order to be useful for homeopathic prescribing, for no dream or symbol will lead to the correct remedy outside of the context of the anamnesis.

The symbolic realm is not a shortcut; it is a rich and complex way to delve deeply into the underlying structure of individual reality and into the collective unconscious. It is the way the psyche communicates with us, but, in order to benefit from these messages, we must learn to pay attention to its symbolic language.

 

Entering the symbolic realm of dreams

In order to effectively work with dreams, it is essential to step out of the way as much as possible and allow the essence of the vital force to emerge in its fullest. Working with dreams takes both the practitioner and client out of the realm of ego and into the symbolic realm, an arena that is bigger than both of them. It connects the individual or ego self with a more universal and ancient reality. Dream analysis when done in a way that allows for intimate and personal exploration of the symbolic content, creates a broadening and deepening of conscious mind, which lets us think outside the box. In this expanded awareness, connections that can’t be seen with our literal minds become obvious.

The opening of this realm can be overwhelming, so it is preferable to take a more linear style case in the beginning, letting the person speak until they don’t have anything more to say, asking “What else?” until there is nothing else.   Get as complete a case as possible. Then one can ask about dreams.   If we wait until there is a fuller understanding of the case, it is then possible to see how the dream fits into the whole picture.

In dream analysis another level of reality emerges. A symbolic but parallel universe is revealed that fleshes out the first part of the case taking. After telling a dream, a person may begin to relate to the homeopath on a level that is much more personal and intimate. It is here that they may tell their deepest desires especially if the dream has been one that has been remembered from childhood. Dreams and visions remembered from childhood often contain some of the most useful symbolic information. Associations to these symbols may lead us to the remedy or to understand the individual more deeply. Many times, however, the symbolic content from these early years is only understood much later in treatment and must be preserved in our notes so it can be used in the future. Such symbolism may actually be a blueprint for the unfolding of an individual’s life. In it, one may see the unfulfilled potential that has been blocked. On seeing this it may be possible to find the remedy that stimulates the realization of that potential.

When working with dreams it is essential that we depend upon the dreamers association because a true symbol, as opposed to a sign, has no fixed meaning and can never be entirely understood by the rational mind. This is the problem with most, so called, dream interpretation books. They reduce the symbolic content of dreams to signs, that is, something that can be known in a literal way and whose meaning is pretty much the same for everyone. Using symbols and dreams in this way is not at all helpful for the homeopath. A more useful method is to reveal the meaning of a dream, by asking the dreamer about each symbol. For example, if the dream is about elephants bathing in a waterfall, ask what elephants mean to the dreamer. Then ask about the waterfall. Do this for all of the symbols in the dream.

Because most dreams indicate the dynamics within an individual psyche, it is also helpful to explain that the symbols may be about the dreamer’s inner self. Then you can ask for his or her comments on the dream contents from that perspective. This method will provide very personal information from the dreamers psyche and avoid the pitfall of interfering with outside interpretation.

 

The Dreaming Body

Dreams lie outside our ability to manipulate them so we cannot create a false reality in our dreams or influence them with our will. Mental states that are hidden from consciousness, physical symptoms, suppressed through medication, or the very early stage of disease, are frequently expressed through the dream state. Because the dream is an attempt on the part of the organism to heal itself, when analyzed accurately, the resulting material can lead to some of the most reliable symptoms in a case. Although they seem ephemeral, dreams are actually objective facts about a person’s mental and physical state.

carl-jung

Carl Jung

Carl Jung has said that the most likely reality is that there is no such thing as body and mind but rather that they are the same life, subject to the same laws. This relationship is already quite clear to homeopaths on one level, however, we often use dreams in a way that misses this connection. We use the dream as if it were a separate symptom out of the context of the entirety of the case. We need techniques that will help us use dreams in a way where they enrich the “red thread that runs throughout the case”. When the dreamer’s associations to her dreams are seen as an integral part of the whole case, it is possible to get a symbolic representation of pathology on the physical as well as the mental and emotional levels.

Dreams can also be a rich source of information for prognosis. At some point during therapy what Jung referred to as an initial dream may appear. So called because it indicates the beginning of deep change within the individual; it predicts a change that may come at any point during therapy. This could be in a week or in years of work. Whenever it comes, the initial dream indicates the beginning of deep healing and can be very helpful in determining that the correct remedy was given.

Three Parts of Dreaming

It has been said that the patient in therapy dreams a dream for the therapist. The psyche of the client knows what symbolism the therapist will understand and when it is safe to dream it. An individual in Freudian therapy will have dreams a Freudian can understand, someone in Jungian analysis will have symbolic and archetypal dreams that are a part of that school and a homeopathic client will have dreams that are related to homeopathic remedies and processes. The more the homeopath is in tune with dreams and symbols, the more likely the client will share their most intimate dreams during the interview. A helpful method of getting comfortable with the dream state is to keep a dream journal. It is interesting how having a dream journal along side of one’s bed, with the intention of recording dreams, will activate dreaming. Writing down a dream is similar to telling it to someone; it stimulates associations that can bring meaning and awareness to what the dream is trying to tell us. It is even better if it is possible to tell the dream to someone. A dream has three parts, the dreaming, the telling of the dream and the analysis. As long as our dreams are not analyzed they are incomplete and represent some part of us that remains unfulfilled.

 

Dreams and Homeopathy

Dreams and their symbolic language are an essential part of the anamnesis. While Hahnemann recognized the importance of dreams in the homeopathic interview, he predated the modern understanding of the psyche. His view, therefore, did not include an appreciation of symbolic language. Just as contemporary homeopaths have updated their knowledge of physical medicine, it is essential that they bring the knowledge of the psyche into the twenty-first century.

Learning to use dreams as a vehicle for listening to messages from the patient’s psyche provides the homeopath with a powerful tool. It allows him or her to access deeply hidden information that can help lead to the discovery of the simillimum in complex and suppressed cases.

 

References

[1] Jung, C.G., Foote, Mary, Visions: Notes of the Seminar Given in 1930-1934 by C.G.Jung, Volume 1. Princeton University Press, 1997, p.1015

About the author

Jane Tara Cicchetti

Jane Tara Cicchetti has been a consultant and teacher of homeopathy for over 30 years. She is the author of Dreams, Symbols and Homeopathy, Archetypal Dimensions of Healing, an integration of Jungian psychology and homeopathy. As well as working in private practice, in the United States She has had a life-long interest in meditation and transpersonal psychology, and has studied Jungian psychology under the mentorship of several Zurich trained Jungian analysts. Jane currently practices in Asheville, NC

1 Comment

  • It’s clear that Jane Cicchetti has a deep and intuitive knowledge of Jungian philosophy and draws on it to enhance our knowledge of homeopathy. Thank you for publishing her articles.

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