animus anima

The personal level

     The fourth subjective level is what I would term the personal one and von Franz has estimated that the great majority of our dreams, maybe as much as 85% can be attributed to this level (Boa, 1988, p. 49). Much more often than not, the objects and persons portrayed are aspects of the dreamer him- or herself. Just as an actor knows he is capable of playing a number of roles and a playwright knows he or she can create a whole panoply of characters, each of us has many selves, as it were, and any combination of these can appear in our dreams. This is where we encounter the four categories of dream figures that Jung labeled: persona, shadow, anima/animus and Self.

     The practioners of gestalt psychology like to have the dreamer identify not only with each person appearing in the dream but also with each object, since these also have been generated by the psyche of the dreamer and appear for a specific purpose.

     One could perhaps try looking at dreams on the subjective personal level in terms of their emotional and intellectual content. There are clearly dreams in which obvious emotional or affective aspects predominate. When strong feelings like love, hate, fear and rage are present in a dream, it could be ascribed to the emotional sub-level of subjective personal dream meaning. Of course, more subtle feeling matters like working through past hurts or confusions as well as preparation for future eventualities could perhaps also be classified in this way.

     In the same fashion, there are dreams which seem to deal primarily with intellectual concerns and problems, ranging all the way from working out a chess move combination to deep mathematical and scientific concerns. I think it is legitimate, then, to speak of an intellectual level of subjective personal dream meaning. There are no doubt dreams which deal mainly with sensate and/or intuitive issues as well as those which have combinations of all four sides of ourselves.

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