"Big" Dream 2 (August, 2013)
(from the series of "Big" dreams)
This is a dream of a patient who was involved in a family dispute that was very troubling to him. It involved his extended family. The members of this family are prominent and are used to being respected, listened to, and even obeyed. In the dispute no one was listening to or respecting or obeying anyone else, and the man felt discounted. On the day of the dream, it came to the dreamer's attention that many of the family members, in spite of their outward disrespect, might have been listening to him more than he thought. He devised a plan based on this assumption, but, when he went to sleep, he still felt shaky and weak, feelings that were not usual to him.
The man is climbing up some steps. The climb is a climb but not very difficult. When he reaches the top of the steps, he realizes he is at the top of Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. He had seen films taken by people who had climbed to the top of Everest and had read descriptions. The cold and the wind, in his understanding, had always made it treacherous at the top, however, in the dream, he was amazed to find that the top was large and comfortable. The weather was mild and the top was square and quite large. He went to the edge and looked down and saw a massive temple, like those found in Cambodia or Bali. It was made of dark rock and was square. Suddenly a wave of vertigo came over him, and he realized he had to come down from the mountain, but the dream ended before he found the best way down. It should be added that, at the top, the dreamer was not alone; there were others with him.
Though this dream is, by our definition, a "Big" dream, it is not as big as other dreams. It certainly felt big to him. It certainly had archetypal images (mountain, heights, temple, climbing), and it was very big to the man, but it grew from the family situation in which he was embedded. If he had been president of a country involved in a war and he had had this dream, we would think of it as bigger. If he was struggling with some personal problem, we would say it was big for him, but not for others. This dream took place in the context of a family dispute and seems to be relevant to it, so it is bigger than him but not as big as some dreams.
The dream does not present a solution to the family problem. It seems to compensate for the feelings of weakness and degredation the dreamer had been feeling. It elevated him in spirit. It gave him the feeling that the solution he had developed during the day before the dream may have some validity. However, it suggested that he was in some sort of psychological danger from this elevation and solution, even if it was relevant to the family problem. It would have been more dangerous if he had been alone at the top and could find no way down. Here there was a way down, but the dreamer hadn't found it yet.
Psychological isolation is not a danger in itself. It is a danger in that it can lead to actions that discount others and disregard their feelings and the actual relationships in which the isolated person is involved. He feels alone when he isn't, and this can lead to angry and desperate acts. It is a form of paranoid delusion.
It can help some for the dreamer to be aware of the problem and to use what Jung called Active Imagination to solve the dream problem. In this case the dreamer, upon awakening, "re-entered" the dream and imagined returning down the steps. However, the feeling of isolation persisted for another day until life events absorbed him back "down to earth" and into the everyday relations that were his ordinary life.