Greg Bogart’s book Dreamwork and Self-Healing: Unfolding the Symbols of the Unconscious
is a rich and detailed contribution to the study of dreamwork from a Jungian perspective. Bogart’s scholarship is derived from the extensive study of the literature on dreams, both Jungian and non-Jungian, from which he quotes liberally throughout the book. He demonstrates a facility in integrating various schools of thought and connects the principles of dream theory with accessible clinical material. The result is an intimate portrayal of the interplay among clinical process, healing, individuation, and dreamwork.Bogart’s approach to the dream is expansive. He recognizes the reductive aspect of dreamwork whereby the unconscious holds unmetabolized material until the dreamer has developed the necessary skills and competencies needed to integrate difficult past experience. He equally gives voice to the prospective meaning of the dream, particularly to its spiritual and healing capacity.
Bogart has organized his book in three sections according to topic: therapeutic dreamwork, Jungian dreamwork, and a case study. Bogart begins the first section with a series of vignettes through which he illustrates the relationship between clinical process and the dream. He does an excellent job of briefly sketching the clinical situation and the dreamer and then relating both to the dream. He includes typical dreams whose function is coping with difficult situations such as the end of a relationship, loss of a loved one, and the healing of childhood wounds.
In the second section, Bogart takes up core Jungian constructs – archetypes, complexes, persona, shadow, anima, animus, individuation, and synchronicity – and amplifies major elements of Jung’s theory with illustrative dreams. He does an excellent job of presenting Jung’s basic constructs, and he chooses dreams that enable the reader to grasp the way theory appears in real, personal psychological material.Finally, in the third section, he elaborates on a therapy case from his practice, “a man in his late forties… [who] was grappling with a recurring pattern of having affairs” (267). As Bogart writes about a series of dreams in this particular case, he includes his own responses to the client’s dreams. This deeper exploration of a single case, rather than a brief vignette, gives us a picture of the way Bogart. as therapist, interacts with the client and the dream material. Although Bogart’s passion for dreamwork is evident throughout the book, I found that his more detailed exploration of one particular case was especially rich and satisfying to me, the reader. In his narrative, Bogart describes the process that occurs between him and his client, the dreams that are triggered in response to sessions, and the unfolding of the client’s process.
Of particular interest to me was Bogart’s innovative addition of the dream mandala
. He describes how he took Jung’s notions about the mandala form and applied them to dream interpretation. He includes the details of technique, how to construct the dream mandala, and how to use it for interpretation and reflection. By using the dream mandala as a tool for meditation, he also helps the dreamer deepen his or her experience of the dream. Essentially, by drawing this associative map of the dream, he shows how one is able to visualize the relationships between the various parts of the dream. This method of objectifying the way in which seemingly disparate, and often numerous, dream images are related to one another gives the therapist and client access to the complexity and dynamism of the dream without diluting or simplifying the intricacy of the dream. My view is that Bogart has made a unique, significant contribution to dreamwork by propping this original, creative activity.