Da Vinci's vitruvian man

The somatic and instinctual levels

     It is important to remember that although dreams may be felt to be pleasant or unpleasant, dreams are neither "positive" nor "negative". Like a rock or any other natural object or phenomenon, they just are as they are. Despite our feeling reaction (which can be repugnance or horror), even unpleasant and frightening dreams can be helpful and extremely meaningful.

     There are a number of levels or dimensions of meaning in dreams. These can be collected, though, into two groupings which might be termed inner and outer, or subjective and objective. Looking at the subjective group first, the deepest level might be said to be the physical or somatic level. Dreams occur that seem to directly bear on the body, its health and ailments. Coming physical problems are often presaged by dreams which hint at or even sometimes baldly state what is wrong or going to be out of order. At the same time, the body often provides us with signals that can be used to access unconscious states (Mindell, 1985) and the so-called "felt sense" in the body can be used to indicate whether the interpretation of a dream is accurate or not (Gendlin, 1986).

     A second subjective level of dream meaning has to do with our instincts. There are clearly dreams in which our drives play a large or even dominant role. When a person experiences inordinate amounts of hunger or thirst, his or her dreams will often reflect this state of affairs. They will either try to provide what is missing on an imaginary level or work on trying to solve the problem of realistically obtaining satisfaction for these needs. The same holds for sexual needs, obviously. I think one would be justified in considering our needs for attention, recognition, tenderness and closeness as also being instinctive.

     Jung sometimes used the term "psychoid" to refer to the somatic and instinctual levels of psychic reality. He borrowed the term mainly from Bleuler, but gave it a different emphasis (Jung, CW 8, par. 367 - 368).

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