Homeopathy Papers

A Glimpse Into the Collective Unconscious: Pre-Puberty and Puberty Dreams: A Period of Turmoil

dream deep in my soul

Homeopath Luc De Schepper discusses the meaning of dreams experienced in prepuberty and puberty.

dream-deep-in-my-soulIt seems to be that the recurrent dreams are the only ones that the homeopathic world has had any encounter with, albeit on a very superficial level and without much understanding. The homeopath might ask his patients about recurrent dreams, but consequently more than not, to the surprise of the patient, he passes over this important information without further paying attention or commenting about them. Other important dreams−series of dreams and archetypal dreams have not yet reached the radar of the homeopathic world, neglecting even more important dreams. In this article, I will discuss pre-puberty and puberty dreams, often presented as archetypal dreams with their mysterious images.

Archetypal dreams are rare and were called the “big dreams” among the primitives as they had an important message for the whole tribe, not just the dreamer. Big dreams have a powerful influence, baffle its possessor who feels compelled to share them as they are mysterious and possessing a feeling of importance, whose message does not only belong to the dreamer but exerts influence on the whole human race. These dreams often occur when important changes happen in life, when we are undergoing major life events or what Jung called, “periods of turmoil.” Typical instances include puberty, menopause, marriage, mid-life crisis, pregnancy, divorce, children leaving home, taking up a new job or moving away, when dying, when looking for meaning of life in the second part of life, when leaving home for the first time at age 18, and going to school for the first time, but unfortunately also in instances of rape, incest or near death experience in murder attempts. Other instances are times of great social, political and religious upheaval, like outbreak of a war or a religious scandal like in the Catholic Church with their pedophilia crisis, often leading to disorientation and confusion but not pathology. As Carl Jung so aptly expressed, “Another situation in which the collective unconscious becomes active is through a crisis in an individual’s life and the collapse of hope and expectations (Carl Jung, Red Book, p210).” For the child under 5 years old, being close to the collective unconscious, we should not be surprised to see such strikingly mythological dreams, which provide us great material and insight for their investigation. When the collective unconscious replaces reality and forcefully tries to assert itself, the danger for dissociation (infantile schizophrenia) is always present. This splitting off of the unconscious can have different triggers: when there is a conflict between the parents of the child (ailments from discords between chief and subordinates; quarreling); when there is a psychic trauma like sexual abuse or incest (ailments from sexual abuse); and when there is a dominant syphilitic miasmatic predisposition in the family and the child. But I want to focus in this excerpt on the pre-puberty and puberty archetypal dreams.

A rational exact definition of archetype surpasses our rational mind but it is clear and visible to all, that the human behavior and experiences back to its very beginnings of mankind are somehow deposited in all next generations, infecting and molding every human being with instincts and situations belonging to humankind, not only to the individual but to the human species from time immemorial and embodies a universal congenital human psychic and physiological heritage. I am not talking here about transgenerational defects or miasms carried over through generations and now acknowledged in allopathy. When it comes to physiological and psychological needs and basic desires, life as we know now is the same as it ever was for the last hundreds of thousands of year. The collective unconscious, made up from archetypes, stands not only for all the psychological contents belonging to the individual, but belonging to many, transcending all differences in cultures and races.

A Period of Turmoil

 

Every parent has witnessed the natural process of transformation in their child during pre-puberty and puberty. Certainly they are puzzled by the “new” child that has come to live with them, as the old child is dead and a new child in a high state of excitation has been delivered to their doorstep. But all transitional periods follow the path of “death” of the old and “birth” of the new, and now the early main infantile manifestation of vital activity or libido that found an expression in sucking, being fed, is now converting itself into a sexual libido. It is as if some evil spirit has taken possession of the innocent child, and although till then the child has shown natural spurts of ego growth and separation from the prenatal ego, the arrival of puberty seems to be able to create states of excitement, pulling such child in a constant moral struggle between good and evil. The arrival of the sexual tsunami has created havoc in more than one such child, and especially in young men, a Kali-bromatum state can be created with the delusion, his mother’s house has been invaded by lewd women, expressing the confusion created in young people as they are overwhelmed by these primitive urges welling up from the deepest of their being. With the social and spiritual separation around puberty “great” dreams appear as this child now starts to grow into a specific human world, freeing itself from the collective unconscious. It is at this moment that the emphasis in dreams lies on instinctuality and sexuality as the Anima has been separated from the mother (Oedipus complex) and is now transferred to the other sex in the outside world. Premature puberty detonates the sexual complexes lying dormant till then. Parents appear confused as they offer long speeches and lectures to what is forbidden and dangerous, but at the same time wonder sometimes why their boy is never interested in girls or vice versa. So it becomes a game of incitement and prohibitions: “Don’t do this and that” and then, “Why are you not interested to go to this party?” And then mom wants her child to be more independent but also expresses her fears about all the dangers out there (fear, something will happen).

 

Besides the sexual tsunami, two other issues arise in the adolescent’s life. First there is the flaring up of any latent miasmatic state. Even when there is somewhat a forewarning of the havoc ahead by some unspecified symptoms like occasional violence, aggressiveness, or clinginess among other symptoms, puberty (just like menopause) will arouse the full strength of the sleeping dominant family and personal miasmatic state changing the child often into an uncontrollable person. It is here that homeopaths can achieve excellent work with subduing and exterminating as much as possible the parental inheritage or dominant family miasmatic influence.

Security versus Independence

 

As if this turmoil was not enough, every parent has witnessed their child’s natural struggle of finding a balance between basking in the childish security of the home and the desire of finding increasing freedom and adult independence, a conflict that involves equally the parents who must find an appropriate response to the child’s growing independence. Many teenagers struggle with the issue of finding their life path and are overcome with this alternating state of confusion and assertiveness, never knowing when the sense of security will overtake the desire for freedom, a process that can continue and persist into adulthood. Divorce, financial problems or sudden illness can cause loss of personal independence and necessity for the security and help from home. Such conflict surging in young people is the source of telltale dreams especially in characters like Pulsatilla, Calcarea and Phosphorus. While the first two characters always try to remain close to home even into adulthood it is especially Phosphorus with her tubercular character that struggles with the choice between home and freedom. For Phosphorus, love and empathy for family are outspoken but as the “world is her other home,” so is the desire to connect to the rest of the population. (For more in-depth information about these characters, see my book, “Discovering Life: Homeopathic Portraits).

 

One of the biggest tests for most teenagers is leaving home for entering college or university. Homesickness, so well covered in these instances by the remedy Phosphoricum acidum is a frequently encountered psychic trauma even leading to suicide or at least abandoning plans for future life. For any person there are always two ways of life and much will depend on the true constitution, temperament as well as the dominant miasmatic trait in selecting the path to follow. A Sulphur constitution, who is repelled by the norm and the wisdom of the crowd like charged magnets, seeks individuality and freedom with all its challenges, regardless of failures and successes. A nervous Hippocratic temperament (Arsenicum comes to mind) feels insecure by every new road to be taken while a sanguine temperament like Phosphorus, reacts with, “This might be interesting, let’s try!” And then each such character’s choice will still be further tweaked by his predominant miasmatic hereditary state. Obviously the person immersed in the psoric miasmatic hereditary ground is glued to the home environment from birth till death, eventually wanting to be buried in the family plot. The sycotic person, he who seized the day, is always looking for a thrill and adventure, not hesitating to look over the cliff so to speak, to see if there is something that should give him excitement even just for a moment. Risks are there to take because they pierce the boredom of his life! The syphilitic person jumps over the cliff, as in his self-destructive behavior, he will flaunt all warnings of safety and conformity which are mind numbing to him. Not even possible injury or isolation away from annoying crowds are obstacles to choose this desired risky road. Having absolute power over others and of course over the wimps of his mind is essential. The tubercular person such as Phosphorus remains restless, sometimes indecisive of which road to take but in spite of her many fears, always finally responds to the allure of adventure and novelty. As one can see, constitution, temperament and the dominant miasmatic factors will be decisive factors when roadblocks show up in life and the question is asked: “Can you remove this roadblock, or is this the end of the journey and a retreat to home is the only solution?” Besides the common challenges and stresses in life, such as losing a job, divorce, failing in an exam, not able to find a job, loss of business and financial security as well as suffering from an incapacitating illness, there are those who have suffered from childhood on from ailments from domination. Mind you, not always in the sense of brutal suppression and a loveless environment like a Staphysagria situation, but when children are not allowed to start the journey to growth and independence like in Alumina’s case. Alumina as expressed by its delusions, has no voice –delusion, when he says something, it seems to him as though somebody else has said it, no eyes-delusion, when he sees something it seems as though he saw through somebody else’s eyes and her head belongs to another.

The Kali-c mother driven by her insane worries about her own health and dependence on rules and regulations is another one who shackles her children with “reasonable (in her eyes) advice,” but clipping her children’s wings so that there is a danger for them to stay in an infantile mode, helpless and unarmed for life’s challenges. A Kali-c mother keeps her children consciously or unconsciously under her wings, bringing new meaning to “too much responsibility.” She does not want separateness between her and her children and decides everything for them in a quasi saint-like manner. She uses her Animus in the wrong way, stubbornly and willfully, forcing her rules and opinions on others. But of course she enslaves her children and makes them amputees for life because under her stewardship, there is no need for individual striving and growing up. Self-reliance is an immediate victim. Kali-c has made enough rules which are supposed to be the shining light for anything that happens in life. Of course the ego of such a child is not fully developed and insecurity, helplessness are the consequences. The first victims are the child’s initiative, self worth, and self confidence, reflected by the formation of an appropriate Animus, and future relationships as the matriarchal protector operates as a Shadowy figure. On the other hand a lack of love and warmth, provided by the parents and the mother in the first place makes the child initially never experience the love and protection so necessary to form an adequate ego as it will result in a bad formation of the Anima. It is a demanding task to strike the ideal balance between guidance and respect for the individuality of the person. To the surprise of these children, this mother will appear in their dreams as a witch that needs to be killed, horrifying them as everyone attests of “how good of a mother they have.”

Examples of a pre-puberty and a puberty dream

 

Here are two of such dreams that are analyzed:

A 13 year old girl, Calc-p constitutionally, not yet in puberty, dreams, when her parents planned to go on a trip a couple of months later, that she is walking on a bridge with her parents and that a wave comes over the bridge and she is separated from her parents who are washed away by this wave.

Analysis through use of relative fixed symbols (Footnote)

Footnote: They are called “relatively fixed” because their meaning, when appearing in a dream is not absolute: the meaning of the same dream symbol is not necessarily the same for different people, not even for the same person at different stages in his life. Indeed this enigmatic language, which has great diagnostic and prognostic value can take on a totally different meaning in the same person, if they appear for instance in dreams before puberty or in dreams in middle age. No dream-symbol has a meaning fixed in every detail but it is possible to have frequently occurring symbols with a general meaning. The specific meaning of these symbols will always be determined on the dreamer’s associations, explanations and amplifications.

Tidal wave: represents the unconscious, its devouring aspect, threatening to engulf the conscious ego and prevent the emergence of true independence. It may also symbolize the surge of sexuality or the sweeping strength of some emotion (in this case fear of abandonment). At this point our ego feels carried along by the experience rather than in control. We must learn how to ride the waves like surfers do but this requires confidence, daring and balance. For this Calc-p girl it still was too much to bear, the thought that her parents for the first time were going on a trip without her (although a friend of the family would take care of her). Anxiety is one of those enormous waves which may threaten to engulf its victim and is one of the tidal waves representing human conditions. This dream had all to do with strong anticipation anxiety about being separated for the first time from her parents at pre-puberty time, a difficulty that is universal, and not only belonging yo this girl, an archaic image derived from ancient human experience. The anxiety stems from not having yet a firm foundation of consciousness, which is still insecure and more childlike and here the wave of the unconscious sweeps over the bridge separating her from her closely needed support of her immediate family. The old still-infantile position has to die in this girl, so the tension represented in this dream between her still insecure and precarious ego and the threatening danger of the unconscious (the tidal wave) can be dissolved.

A bridge: different possible relative fixed symbols are the following. 1. A place of danger that precariously holds over the abyss. Psychologically it represents the weak spot of consciousness, the place where it might cave in. 2. But also: crossing a bridge is an elegant symbol of a transition between two periods in one’s life: a passage from youth or childhood to adulthood, into a new phase in life, namely puberty (as in this case). It symbolizes a critical juncture in the dreamer’s life, a situation that calls for a definitive decision. There is the saying: “I have a bridge to cross before I get there.” Or, “I will cross that bridge when I get there.” If the bridge is in danger of collapsing this may reflect the anxiety of the dreamer about his transition in life, like leaving home to go to the university, away from home or going from one job to another. The question in this case needs to be posed: “Is this bridge long enough to carry this girl from one developmental stage to the other; in other words has she been adequately prepared to master this next difficulty in life?” This child is still afraid; her unconscious senses the danger and the inability to cope with this new problem she is confronted with. Apparently she needs reinforcement through the indicated remedy and parental reassurance, otherwise this child can fall into infantile regression. Although this dreamer is not devoured by a giant monster she falls prey to another element that scares her: the tidal waves, water is also a symbol of place of transformation, (and a healing power as known in the Christian baptismal water that washes away all the sins), which for her now has a frightening and destructive influence. Contrary to the primitives, we don’t have puberty rites in our society that would facilitate and prepare the young person for the separation from innocent ignorance to adult responsibility. 3. Life is also the bridge between the cradle and the grave, the bridge between the past and the future. A difference between the image of a bridge or a pier in the dream is also obvious. A bridge is a continuity of consciousness, connecting land to land. A pier is an abrupt halt between land (consciousness) and water (unconscious); it is approaching a border between consciousness and unconsciousness, coming to the edge of consciousness, a spot of danger of something alien and possibly devouring, where one can fall in the water, although it has a dual symbol: one of danger where one can drown and one of healing and purifying and an element of rebirth. Standing on a pier versus a bridge could be called standing on shaky, rather dangerous grounds.

An elegant solution besides acknowledging her separation anxiety and not mock it and reassuring she is protected and they will stay in contact (which is easy in this electronic world) is giving her constitutional remedy, Calc-p in a 10M potency once, 1 tsp from a 4 oz cup. To note that according to a study by the CDC, 20% of American children age 3 to 17 experience mental disorders each year. Among the most common emotions/behaviors that engulf these children are: Social problems (9.1%); ADHD 8.4%; and separation anxiety, 7.6%.

As further dreams and physical symptoms appear it will become obvious that Pulsatilla in this case will be needed.

 

A puberty dream of an older girl (17 years old) goes as follows:

“I am in a car with my mother on my way to the train station. She leaves me, while I am crying, at an intersection just before a bridge under which my train is to stop. There are many people and many cars at the intersection and I am trying to be polite and let others go before me, but as a result when I hear the whistle of the train I know I miss my connection. As it is the last train I know that I could not get to college that day. I want to cry but cannot do so.”

Analysis with relative fixed symbols:

Car and train: Busses, trains, airplanes and cars are all vehicles which she has to take to further the path of individuation and become psychologically a more complete and independent person. They all have horse power, representing libido or Vital Force in which one can go from one place to another indicating a transition to something new. Cars appear by far the most frequent in dreams and play a major role in dream content at many stages of life. A scooter is even more particular as it requires even more individual handling when taking turns and stops, indicating a self-steering highly-individual form of transport. Moving in a dream (be it walking or running or being in one of these vehicles) is always good as it shows being in the active process of psychologically becoming an individual! Traveling is moving forward, on a path of individuation, not only to become more whole but also to attain personal goals and take control of one’s life. Movement also represents such notions as ambition, progress and achievements, as well as breaking family ties or fleeing from something, such as a stifling and controlling relationship. Cars, trains and airplanes are also instruments of power and as such stand for the vital energy of one’s impulses, particularly the instinctual sex life. For adolescents cars can express the greatly expanded freedom of movement that comes with becoming old enough to have a driver’s license (age 16 in the U.S.). For adults, cars are multifaceted images of one’s individual Self, with the color, type, age and condition of the car metaphorically mapping onto corresponding aspects of the dreamer’s personality. For instance, driving in a stretch limousine (like at graduation day in the U.S.) could express a desire for more public attention; a dream of malfunctioning brakes could reflect life being out of control; a dream of being stuck in a crowded minivan could relate to problems with one’s family.

Life is a journey involving constant movement and progress and one is in trouble if one is stopped too long by the side of the road or on a parking lot. Do you like to be the driver or being driven as is the case in this dream? It is better to be the driver than the passenger of the car: when one is at the wheel, one directs the course of his life. When someone else is the driver and the dreamer is a passenger, someone else is controlling your life, with or without your permission. In this dream, her mother is the driver, reflecting still at this age the dependency and search for the motherly protection and nourishment and the hesitation of separation. Driving a convertible car: it is open to the sky, the air, the wind, the elements and represent often the sense of adventure and liberation and is associated with youth, vigor and speed. When there is no driver in the car it might reflect terrible fears about the passage from life to death (Ars, Plat, Phos, Calc-c). “The type of vehicle in a dream illustrates the kind of movement or the manner in which the dreamer moves forward in time, how he lives his psychic life, whether individually or collectively (Jung, 1953, par153). If it is a car or tram or train they are collective vehicles which anybody can ride in, so he behaves just like everyone else. Trains, buses and airplanes: public ways of traveling, not like a car, showing the dreamer is controlled by the collective as opposed to the individual.

Bridge: Explanation: see before in previous dream. The car is stopped before the bridge under which the train will pass. It reflects the fear of transition in life in this dreamer, of leaving the shelter of home to go to college.

College or classrooms: represents learning and lifelong importance, to achieve new steps on the way of individuation. It is a succession of many different schools to go through, a “lifelong lesson.”

Intersection: It reflects a crossroad with many different options. What road should I take? “One is at the crossroads to take a decision, which way do I go, freedom or dependency?” That many people and many cars are at this intersection points to the fact that the choice between independence and freedom is a collective problem, belonging to mankind from ages on, not just a personal one.

What does this dream tell us?

It is obvious that this dreamer was ambivalent, not ready to leave the home and motherly protection. Just before the bridge to cross (the transition to be made) she steps out in tears reflecting her fears and despair. By not taking this train though, she misses the next opportunity to grow, to advance on her individuation path as she has a sense of inadequacy and is held back by her mixed emotions. But in reality she was not ready, not mature enough to leave home, hence her “politeness” to let everyone else go in front of her. She can’t cry as she realizes that the failure to catch the train was on purpose as she is still too much tied to the motherly security and love. This was the dream of a Pulsatilla girl.

 

“The wounder shall heal” (Delphic oracle)

In this Delphic oracle quote I refer to the unconscious as the wounder who creates suffering and pain but when acknowledged and integrated informs the patient (his inner Healer) and the homeopath adequately of the true nature of his illness. All depending on the willingness to integrate and acknowledge the existence of dark elements, to take the unconscious figures seriously, the unconscious can be a life-bringer or a death-dealer. Most people live life like it is, only controlled by consciousness, only having a one-sided faith in their conscious mind, and unwilling to look at the fact that they conduct life with one minimal part, half of their conscious (as unfavorable and forgetful things are immediately disappearing from the conscious screen). Most people remain unaware or ignorant that the control of life is also steered by a vast continent, called the unconscious or subconscious, as it seems to lay under the radar of consciousness and plays a primary, important role in the stability of the psyche, just like the foundation of a house is built upwards from the basement and not from the attic downwards. It is painful to see how most people unable to escape from the clutches of the unconscious, stumble from one mishap to another as a strong foundation necessary for any house (the Self) was never formed. Indeed, the unconsciousness with its ceaseless activity is the ever-creating mother of consciousness. Similar to the need of taking his own simillimum, the homeopath finally sees the necessity and finds the courage to apply the same perseverance to investigate the unconscious on himself as he heaped on his patient rather than remaining in the dark while claiming he enlightens others! And lo and behold, such discovery might remain very unpopular as he might discover that he himself is not able to live up to the standards he demands and expects from his patients! But who claims to be enlighted when he remains in the dark? Who educates others if he himself remains uneducated? Who can act as the analyst when he has never resolved his own complexes? The man who suffers from a contagious disease is not fit to treat others! Rather than clinging to his conceit of authority and intellectual bluff, the homeopath must have the courage and drop his professional mask to not only take his simillimum and understand the long hard way to recovery full of vicissitudes and dead ends, finally understanding that “Knowledge increases suffering,” and that “only the wounded physician heals.”

About the author

Luc De Schepper

Luc De Schepper

Luc De Schepper, M.D., Ph.D., Lic.Ac., C.Hom., is a licensed physician and acupuncturist in Europe (since 1971) and the US. (since 1982). He studied and practiced homeopathy extensively for many years, wrote 15 textbooks of homeopathy, alternative medicine and acupuncture and has the largest school of homeopathy in the US. He spends part of his time helping the poor in South Africa, Kenya and Sri Lanka and teaches all around the world, lately bringing homeopathy to China. For more information visit www.drluc.com

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