The 9th episode in John Betts excellent series on Jungian Analytic Psychology is reviewed and is freely available here. In this episode Betts talks about compensatory dreams. By compensatory dreams he is referring to those dreams in which the unconsciousness communicates a message through the dream medium which if acted on should restore balance if necessary. He describes three types of compensatory dreams – those in which the ego has a one-sided stance and the dream provides an opposing stance, one in which the ego has the ‘correct’ stance and the dream affirms this and the last type in which the middle stance is adopted. The example of a one-sided stance by the ego is given where a person focuses exclusively on their work and the compensatory dream provides them with an opposing attitude which if accepted will restore the balance. Betts also quotes Jung on the difference between compensatory and prospective dreams. What is interesting here is that Jung talks about prospective dreams as something akin to intuition whereby a person is able to anticipate future events. However this concept does not invoke a supernatural explanation but rather Jung refers to ‘probability’ and in essence is referring to the brain as a computational device (although not using these terms!) which utilises information and analysis to make reasonable predictions which are likely to occur. He thus warns against comparing his concept with that of the premonition. Thus I would argue that Jung’s concept is consistent with a number of modern studies which provide evidence for dreams playing a role in the process of learning about the environment. Additionally the ability of the brain to make predictions would seem to be an important evolutionary adaptation that would be expected to be conserved across species. Betts also distinguishes between objective dreams which focus on aspects of the external world particularly relationships with other people and which have characteristics of the external world including adherence to the laws of physics (this is particularly interesting as there was a study where people were immersed in virtual reality environments for an entire day. Their subsequent dreams were in polygons! Thus the dreams adapted to the laws of the novel environment). Betts compares this with subjective interpretation of dreams which represents the personal relations to the dream material. Again Betts provides us with clearly narrated material and an eloquent exposition of Jung’s Analytic Psychology.
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