Neurobiology, Metaphor and Dream Interpretation in Jungian Analysis

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The International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) and the Asheville Jung Center are pleased to announce a joint presentation on Carl Jung and Neuroscience. Part 1 of this 2 section event features Murray Stein (supervising training analyst at the International School of Analytical Psychology) presenting from Zurich and Margaret Wilkinson (member of the editorial board of the Journal of Analytical Psychology) presenting from Northern England.  Part 2 features the presenters from the 29th Annual IASD International Conference held in Berkeley California (June 22 – 26, 2012). The IASD presenters include Ernest Hartmann, David Kahn, and Stanley Krippner with moderator Robert Hoss and Sonoma State University host Laurel McCabe.

David Kahn’s presentation covers aspects of the self, disorders of the self, brain structures responsible for self and its disorders, and how the self may be an emergent property of on-going brain activity.

Stanly Krippner will present on dreams. Carl Jung brought the topic of mythology into psychotherapy, and he wrote about his own “personal myth.” One approach to dreamwork is the identification of the functional or dysfunctional personal myth (or belief system) embedded in the dream. This personal myth usually is implicit or explicit in what Hartmann calls the “central image” of the dream. In addition, it typically serves as the “chaotic attractor” that self-organizes material drawn to it by the sleeping brain’s neural networks. Jung’s perspective on dreams is remarkably congruent with many findings in neuroscience as well as the self-regulatory processes that typify contemporary dream theory and research.

Ernest Hartmann and his collaborators and have been studying what Jung called “big dreams” for some time. For various research studies they defined “big dreams” either as “memorable” dreams, as “important” dreams, as “especially significant” dreams, and as “impactful” dreams. In each case they found that the “big dreams” were characterized by significantly higher Central Image Intensity than control groups of dreams — thus more powerful imagery. They did not find clear differences in Content Analysis scoring of these dreams. We discuss these studies and also present a possible neurobiology of “big dreams.”

Moderator Robert J Hoss presents on neurological studies supportive of Jung’s theories on Dreaming. This presentation highlights a number of theoretical statements regarding the nature of dreaming and the human psyche that are found in the works of Jung. For each theoretical concept a number of recent neurological studies or findings will be summarized which are suggestive of biological support. This is further augmented with dream case examples to demonstrate how the findings might be observed in the dream story and imagery.


Robert Hoss, MS, is a Director and past President and Board Chair of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, Director of the DreamScience Foundation for research grant funding, and advisory board of the Soul Medicine Institute. He is on the faculty of the Haden Institute and former adjunct faculty of such institutions as Sonoma State University. He is author of Dream Language (2005), the Dream to Freedom Technique (2013 pending) and has authored various book chapters or journal articles, related to dream color research, Jung and neuroscience plus the synergy of dreams and energy psychology. He hosted the VoiceAmerica Dream Time Radio series and has lectured on dream studies for over 30 years. Before retiring early to pursue dream studies full time, he was a Corporate VP at American Express and IBM. As a former scientist, his approach to understanding dreams blends the science and neurology of dreaming with his Gestalt training and background in Jungian studies.

Ernest Hartmann, M.D., is Professor of Psychiatry, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, USA. Dr. and (retired) Director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Newton Wellesley Hospital. Hartmann has done research on daydreaming, dreaming, nightmares, sleep, sleep disorders, and personality. He is a past president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, and the first editor-in-chief of the journal Dreaming. His recent book, “The Natures and Function of Dreaming,” deals not only with the psychology of dreaming, but also its neurophysiology, endocrinology and biochemistry. He has developed the recent Contemporary Theory of Dreaming, and is also known for his work on boundaries in the mind. He is the author of 350 published articles and eleven books, including The Nature and Functions of Dreaming (2011), and Boundaries: a New Way to Look at the World (2011).

Stanley Krippner, PhD, professor of psychology at Saybrook University, San Francisco, is a Fellow in four APA divisions, and past-president of divisions 30 and 32. Formerly, he was director of the Kent State University Child Study Center and the Maimonides Medical Center Dream Research Laboratory. He is co-author of Extraordinary Dreams (2002), The Mythic Path, 3rd ed. (2006) and Haunted by Combat: Understanding PTSD in War Veterans (2007). He was also co-editor of Mysterious Minds: The Neurobiology of Psychics, Mediums, and Other Extraordinary People (2010) and Perchance to dream: The frontiers of dream psychology (2009) and many other books.

David Kahn, PhD in Physics from Yale University, is an Instructor in Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Adviser to the IASD Executive Committee. He is a past president and former Board Chair of the International Association for the Study of Dreams and was a visiting professor at the Konrad Lorenz Institute, Altenberg, Austria. He has published a number of articles on self-organizing systems; subjects include urban transportation, eusocial societies, embryonic development and the dreaming brain.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe recent advances in neuroimaging and the resultant theoretical thought has provided potential support for certain of Jung’s theories regarding dreaming.

  2. Discuss what neuroscience has to say about the brain basis of the self and how the self may be an emergent property of on-going brain activity.

  3. Explain how the the self-regulatory processes that typify contemporary dream theory and research are congruent with Jung’s perspective on dreams.

  4. Discuss the possible neurobiology of “big dreams

Outline of Talk:

  1. David Kahn
  2. Stanley Krippner
  3. Earnest Hartmann
  4. Robert J Hoss


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