Late for class
A complex of anxieties
BY MACHIEL KLERK
This month we will look at a dream from a CATALYST reader, a successful middle-aged woman. She has had this dream repeatedly for the past few years with only slight alterations: “There is a feeling of panic and anxiety in my body because I know I am late for class. I am walking fast up grassy hills. Suddenly, I am on a bike but still not getting there fast enough. Magically, I am in my car now racing towards the school, but I can’t find a parking
place. I find a tight parking space towards the top but am not sure if it’s a legal parking place, but nothing else is available, so I take it. “Then I run through the school doorway and into the halls feeling disoriented and unorganized. Everything looks unfamiliar. I begin quietly opening classroom doors, door after door, trying to find my class but none are the right ones. I feel like I will fail the course if I miss my class. “I decide I have to find the main school office to get a copy of my
class schedule, but the school workers are slow and incompetent. Time passes, and I miss my class .” In general, a repetitive dream indicates that a complex has been triggered; the dreamer falls into a standard way of operating that isn’t optimal for life. In this dream, the experience of meeting demands and the fear of failure have become too intense, taking on a larger-thanlife
importance. By changing her way of handling the demands and fears in her life, the dreamer may find the frequency of the recurring dream going down or even disappearing. Looking at the dream’s locations reveals three places with a similar disposition to the storyline. The dream shows three ways this dreamer tries to achieve her goals, and her anxiety and fear at not accomplishing the task. In the first substory, she speeds up her life,
from walking to bicycling to racing a car, trying to get to the top and to her class. Here the dreamer could reflect on ways she speeds things up in daily life. Perhaps she has increased her reliance on technology, or maybe she just works faster, trying to achieve greater efficiency. How is that working out? In the dream, it seems that these methods do not help her reach her goal. Also, in the dream,
to get enough done beforehand. The feeling of running out of time and that life is a series of accomplishments is very strong in this dream. This woman is very successful in her life and has already accomplished many things that she had put on her “to do” list. This dream shows a clear drive for success; at the same time it holds a fear of missing out on life and a fear of failure. In the dream, everything
When a dream recurs repeatedly, it’s important to pay attention to the situation in waking consciousness in the days before. Carl Jung said that nightmares show up when people have too much or too little anxiety—either way, some imbalance is likely to blame. she wants to get “to the top.” The dreamer could reflect on what “the top” means in her daily life and about the importance of reaching the top. In the second substory, the dreamer is lost. She repeatedly opens doors, which could be an expression of new possibilities or doors to success, without finding what she seeks. In the third substory the dreamer asks for help from others, whom she finds too slow and incompetent. The old saying that if you want to get something done, you need to do it yourself might here be taken too literally. When a dream recurs repeatedly, it’s important to pay attention to the situation in waking consciousness in the days before. Carl Jung said that nightmares show up when people have too much or too little anxiety—either way, some imbalance is likely to blame. I asked the dreamer how important it was to her that she reach the top, as that is the direction she is moving in the first part of the dream. She said she wanted to accomplish a lot before 2012; she thought she might die and wanted
depends on what the dreamer is doing right now—all or nothing (which might just be a set up for failure itself.) These factors are all parts of the same complex driven by anxiety. Anxiety drives the dreamer to the top; however, it also hinders her from achieving what she wants. She is under time pressure; she wants more time and has less. Her beliefs have created anxiety about failure and the feeling that time is running out, and this anxiety has become her motivation and driving force. The dream shows that maybe these beliefs have moved a little too far on the spectrum; the driving force and friend may be working more like an enemy. “All haste comes from the devil” is an old alchemist saying. The devil may make us successful, but at the same time steals a little bit of our soul from. We all have these devils, demons, shadow sides; that is normal. They will always influence some parts of our life, so we need to recognize them and find a way of relating to them that allows us to experience life, achieve goals and not feel so rushed that we actually miss life. u Machiel Klerk, LMFT, is a Jungian-oriented therapist with a private practice in Salt Lak e City and founding president of the Jung Society of Utah. WWW.MACHIELKLERK.COM, MACHIEL@MACHIELKLERK.COM.
In the next months, Machiel will be working with readers’ dreams. Email your dreams to MACHIEL@MACHIELKLERK.COM—if yours is selected, he will help you work on it free of charge, and it will be featured in CATALYST, keeping your name and personal information confidential.
CATALYST Magazine February 2011 issue