What is Active Imagination?
Jungian psychology places a heavy emphasis on dream interpretation and the contents of the unconscious mind. During the process of active imagination, Jungian analysts encourage clients to translate the contents of dreams without adding any analysis from the conscious mind. For example, a woman who had a dream about her father might be encouraged to write down all of the contents of the dream without filling in any gaps, explaining any incongruities or offering any analysis. The goal of this process is to understand the workings of the unconscious mind.
Carl Jung argued that dreams and other unconscious images can be particularly vivid when these images attempt to make their way to the conscious mind. Through the process of active imagination, these images may become less vivid and allow the contents of the unconscious mind to healthily integrate with the conscious mind. Jung cautioned that the process of active imagination had to be done carefully because it could cause a disconnect with reality.
Active imagination is intended to bring about a state of hypnagogia. This is the state in between sleep and wakefulness, where people may be partially aware that they are dreaming. Jung argued that active imagination can be achieved naturally during intense states of relaxation such as when listening to a story or drifting off to sleep.
Active Imagination in Contemporary Psychology
In contemporary psychology, the term active imagination is most commonly associated with a tendency to have a very creative and present imagination rather than with the Jungian process. However, dream analysts may still use the process of active imagination to help people understand the meaning of their dreams, resolve hidden interpersonal conflicts, and work past pressures placed on the conscious ego by the unconscious mind.
- Active imagination. (n.d.). Jung.org. Retrieved from http://www.jung.org/Staples.html
- Jungian active imagination and hypnagogia. (n.d.). The Mystical Experience Registry. Retrieved from http://www.bodysoulandspirit.net/hypnagogia/what/define.shtm
Last Updated: 03-27-2019
Jonathan A.January 2nd, 2015 at 2:42 PM
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