Have you seen A Dangerous Method*, the movie about Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung’s intense relationship from first meeting, through the birth of psychoanalysis, to their professional and personal falling out? Along the way, Jung (Michael Fassbender), shares some of his dreams with Freud (Viggo Mortensen), and you might enjoy, as I did at the cinema on Friday evening, listening to their thoughts and insights from their increasingly different points of view. If you’ve studied the popular literature on Jung, the dreams will probably be familiar to you, but they’re short and sweet on film which makes them all the more accessible.
One of the biggest differences between Freud and Jung’s clinical approaches to dreams was that Freud saw dreams as revealing his patients’ neuroses while Jung saw dreams as revealing a person’s potential for living a bigger life. Freud focused on rigid scientific diagnosis (according to his theories) and cure, while Jung allowed a more spiritual, mystical, flexibility to influence his analysis of dreams.
And of course there’s lots of sex, in Freud’s analyses and in Jung’s relationship with Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightly), the young woman suffering hysteria who became the first patient Jung treated with Freud’s new talking cure (psychoanalysis).
Toward the end of the film, Jung describes his apocalyptic recurring dream, which he believed was precognitive of the coming apocalypse, World War I. Yet as you listen you’ll notice the metaphor of personal apocalypse as he slides into his nervous breakdown from which he later emerged, the wounded healer.
If you’ve followed my work, you’ll know that one of my key approaches is to look for limiting beliefs, reflected in dreams, and to assist the dreamer with dream alchemy to transform such beliefs into ones that allow the person to grow into his or her potential, to live that bigger life. Go see the movie. Listen to the dreams, and have a think about the kind of dream alchemy you might prescribe for each one.
* Directed by David Cronenberg, A Dangerous Method, is based on John Kerr’s 1993 book, A Dangerous Method. The screenplay was adapted by Christopher Hampton from his 2002 stage play The Talking Cure.
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