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Review of Dreams in Clinical Practice by Marcus West

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Review of Dreams in Clinical Practice by Marcus West
   Journal of Analytical Psychology ,  2012 ,  57 ,  679 – 690 Book reviews Edited by Lucinda Hawkins and Patricia Vesey-McGrew W EST , M ARCUS .  Understanding Dreams in Clinical Practice.  London: Karnac Books, 2011 . Pp. Xii + 140 . Pbk. £ 17 . 99  /$ 26 . 95 .Within the Jungian community, books about dreams must certainly be the mostfrequently published, so much so that one wonders whether there is a need for yetanother book on dreams or whether there is anything new to say about dreams.However, in this instance, Marcus West capably sets aside those concerns with thisnew volume in the  SAP Monograph Series.  For those readers unfamiliar with West, heis on the Editorial Board of the  Journal of Analytical Psychology,  is a previous winnerof the Michael Fordham Prize, and has previously displayed a capacity for srcinal,integrative thought in his  2007  volume  – Feeling, Being and the Sense of Self. His current book,  Understanding Dreams in Clinical Practice,  is clearly written fora psychologically sophisticated reader but West takes time to build his points clearlyand deliberately without introducing an overabundance of jargon from the analyticvocabulary. He provides concise definitions of concepts in terms the average readercan understand but weaves them into the overall narrative in a seamless manner.In the early chapters of the book West nicely lays out a basic understanding of both Jung’s and Freud’s fundamental perspectives on dreams, but goes beyond a simplerecounting of their theories of dream formation, developmental processes, and centralorganizinginfluences.Heoutlinesthedifferencesbetweenthetwoperspectiveswithoutbecoming disparaging of Freud’s perspective, nor overly aggrandizing in his assessmentof Jung’s position. West offers up Ignacio Matte-Blanco’s conceptual formulation of ‘unconscious symmetry’ as a theoretical bridge between the two perspectives ratherthan falling into a dichotomization of the positions. Periodically, West engages in aneven-handed critique of Jung’s approach to dreams; for example, Jung’s tendency toshow preference for interpreting archetypal themes over relational patterns. As thissection develops, West revises and extends the theories of both founders by exploringthe modifications offered by contemporary object relations theory, especially in termsof the organizing activity of relationships, both internal and external. By adopting aposition firmly grounded in analytical psychology but open to other influences, Westonce again illustrates his comfort with a poly-theoretical approach to psyche and hisrespect for other analytic perspectives.As you can see, West is not presenting us with a restatement of the classical Jungianperspective on dreams, but rather is offering a well developed evolution of the Jungianmodel with insights from a variety of sources, including contemporary dream research,infant observation, developmental theory, neuroscience and his own srcinal ideas.West carefully selects from these related fields to highlight the interwoven relation-ship between the central psychological activities of association, symbolization andemotion. 0021 - 8774  /  2012  /  5705  /  679  C   2012 , The Society of Analytical Psychology Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd,  9600  Garsington Road, Oxford OX 4 2 DQ, UK and  350  Main Street, Malden, MA  02148 , USA.DOI:  10 . 1111  /j. 1468 - 5922 . 2012 . 02009 .x  680  Book reviews BeginninginChapterSix,‘BeginningWorkwithaDream’,Westprovidesanin-depthand useful window into the workings of his mind as analyst as he engages a patient’sdream. He carefully walks us through the various stages of reflection, deliberation,interaction, and ultimately interpretation. This chapter includes an interesting look attheinteractionbetweenarchetypallevelinfluencesandobjectivelevel(i.e.,outerworld)experiences. West also makes a distinction between implicit patterns of relating (i.e.,patterns outside of awareness but not repressed) and unconscious knowledge and thendiscusses the implication of this distinction for dream interpretation.In Chapter Seven, West offers a number of useful reminders regarding our attitudetowardsdreams.Inthissectionhepointsoutthehealingpotentialofdreams,thatis,thepotential to move beyond the creation of consciousness through understanding to heal-ing via a reliving and detoxification of traumatic feeling states which, when engaged,support the containing function of mentalization. West also reminds us that whiledreamsareimportant,providingthe‘richestsource’ofrawemotionalmaterialavailableto us, the emphasis on dreams should not eclipse the main focus of an analysis –the patient’s life – and that the analyst should remain aware of the danger of becominga ‘dream-interpreting functionary’. In addition, he points out that the dream ‘vitallylocates’thepresenceoftheissuesasemergingfromwithinthedreamer,nottheanalyst’smind.In Chapters Eight and Nine, West reviews some common themes and elementsof dreams. These chapters will be familiar to most experienced depth psychologistsbut are informative for the less experienced therapist. In Chapter Ten, he outlinesvarious interpretive perspectives that can be taken with a dream – subjective, objective,transference and archetypal. Here, West offers a broader and more differentiateddefinition of archetypal experience, indicating that the term archetypal can refer toa general/typical pattern, early functioning patterns of the individual, or universal,numinous patterns of the collective unconscious.Chapter  12 , ‘The Wolf –Man’s Dream’, is perhaps the most intriguing chapter in thebook. In this chapter, West provides a close examination of Freud’s interpretativework with the Wolf-Man’s dream – a dream which is seen as foundational tothe development of psychoanalysis and which Freud presented as a refutation of  Jung’s criticism of his work. Following the exploration of Freud’s interpretive work,West offers his own Jungian interpretation of the Wolf-Man’s dream. Here Westmakes an appeal for the reader to consider the validity of both interpretations,that is, that each interpretation addresses different aspects of the Wolf-Man’sexperience.In summary, West has come up with something unique in terms of bringing apost-Jungian approach to dreams. He invites the reader inside his thought processes,emotional reactions, and the interactions with his patients as they work throughto an interpretation. In a refreshingly open manner he presents the Freudian and Jungian perspectives as necessarily existing side-by-side. This volume will be a valuableasset to the practitioner who is just becoming exposed to dream work and theanalytic candidate who desires an understanding of how dream work and theoryhave evolved since Freud and Jung. In addition, West has accomplished exactlywhat he states on the back cover of the book – he provides an opportunity forexperienced practitioners of all persuasions ‘to re-evaluate and re-invigorate theirpractice’.Mark Winborn Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts
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