Private Myths: Dreams and Dreamingby Anthony Stevens
Every night we enter a mythic realm, a dark, primordial world of fear and desire. What this world offers, Anthony Stevens suggests, may well be the key to understanding our waking mysteriesourselves, our society, and our history. A prominent psychiatrist and practicing Jungian analyst, Stevens views dreaming from both psychological and neurological
Every night we enter a mythic realm, a dark, primordial world of fear and desire. What this world offers, Anthony Stevens suggests, may well be the key to understanding our waking mysteriesourselves, our society, and our history. A prominent psychiatrist and practicing Jungian analyst, Stevens views dreaming from both psychological and neurological perspectives to show how dreams owe their origins as much to our evolutionary history as a species as to our personal history as individuals.
A work rich in symbolic and scientific insight, Private Myths traverses the course of dream interpretation from distant hunter-gatherer times to the present. This analysis is as authoritative as it is wide-ranging, including discussions of the biology of dreaming and the discovery of REM sleep, elaboration of the latest neuroscientific techniques in sleep research, and an assessment of the century-long legacy of analytic practice to dream interpretation. In a close look at the actual processes of dream formation, Stevens relates "dream work" to other creative capacities such as language, poetry, storytelling, memory, play, symptom-formation, magic, and ritual. He draws on his many years of experience to analyze key historical dreams, such as Freud's dream of Irma's injection and Hitler's dream of being buried alive, and enriches this discussion with analyses of his own and his patients' dreams.
Remarkable in its breadth, Private Myths makes the principles of dream interpretation accessible to scientists, the findings of dream science accessible to analysts, and the discoveries of both available to anyone intrigued by the mysteries of dreams and dreaming.
Stevens (Archetypes: A Natural History of the Self, 1982, etc.) sees dreams as having the function of myths and religion, that is, the integration of old wisdom with new knowledge. Through dream work, he explains, we can get in touch with the primordial selfwhat Jung called the archetypal realityand develop our capacity for consciousness. Stevens traces the development of theories about dreams from ancient writings to current work in neurobiology. Jung's theory of archetypes, which he discusses here at some length, is "remarkably compatible" with modern neuroscientific findings, especially in connection with the dreams of young children, which are full of archetypal implications. He discusses the capacity for the human psyche to fabricate images in a chapter on symbolism and describes his own three-stage approach to dream analysis (looking at the personal, cultural, and archetypal contexts) in a chapter on dreams in therapy. For those inspired to try their own hand, he offers practical advice and recommended readings. Besides relating his own dreams and those of his patients, he touches on the probable functions and origins of such common experiences as anxiety dreams, dreams of falling or flying, and sexual dreams, and he analyzes some famous dreams by Freud, Hitler, and Descartes. To Stevens, the findings of psychology, analysis, ethology, and neuroscience have now come together to produce the most exciting period in the history of the study of dreams. The enthusiasm that Stevens has for his fascinating subject is infectious. Not everyone will be persuaded that dreams and dreaming hold the key to the future of our planet, but it is an intriguing idea.
Erudite and engaging.
- Harvard University Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.44(w) x 9.55(h) x 1.13(d)
Meet the Author
Anthony Stevens is a distinguished analyst, psychiatrist, and author of many books, including Archetype: A Natural History of the Self, The Roots of War, On Jung, and The Two Million-Year-Old Self.
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