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Journal of Analytical Psychology, 2005, 50, 127153

Art, dreams and active imagination: A post-Jungian approach to transference and the image
Joy Schaverien, Leicester, UK
Abstract: The term active imagination is sometimes applied rather uncritically to describe all forms of creative activity that take place in depth psychology. Whilst there are many forms of expression that evoke or are evoked by active imagination, they cannot automatically be classed as active imagination. In this article investigation of visualized mental imagery, dreams and art reveals three distinct forms of image-based psychological activity. Integrated and mediated within the transference and countertransference dynamic, it is proposed that the engagement in active imagination reflects and is influenced by the transference. Distinctions between sign and symbol, simple and big dreams as well as diagrammatic and embodied imagery clarify the differences. Examples from clinical practice demonstrate each mode in action within the analytic frame. Key words: active imagination, art, countertransference, dreams, free association, Jung, sign, symbol, transference, visualization, waking dreams.

Active imagination, like transference, mobilizes the psyche. Many forms of creative expression experienced within the analytic frame are sometimes rather loosely regarded as active imagination, or generative of it, but closer observation of their specific nature reveals significant differences. Just as words can be applied in many diverse ways, so too can images. Therefore the intention in this article1 is to question the use of the term active imagination in order to differentiate it from other forms of imaginative and creative activity. It was Jung who proposed that a number of different art forms could give expression to inner images, through active imagination as he explained:
I . . . took up a dream image or an association of the patients, and with this as a point of departure, set him the task of elaborating or developing his theme by giving

An earlier version of this paper was given at the First International Academic Conference of Analytical Psychology held at the University of Essex, UK, in July 2002.
2005, The Society of Analytical Psychology


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free rein to his fantasy. This . . . could be done in any number of ways, dramatic, dialectic, visual, acoustic, or in the form of dancing, painting, drawing, or modelling. (Jung 1947, para. 402)

Many present day analytical psychologists apply particular forms of creative expression in their work with patients. These include: dance movement therapy (Chodorow 1991), sandplay (Kalff 1980; Mitchell & Friedman 1994; Amman 1991; Steinhardt 2000), and music (Williams 2001; Skar 2002). Each of these might be the spark for active imagination or be generated by it but they cannot be considered to be active imagination. The art form is not itself active imagination, although it might at times reflect it. It is the experience of the person, rather than the medium, that is active imagination. This is the reason why analysts and art therapists sometimes declare their interest to be in the process rather than the product [i.e., art] created within analysis. However that is to limit the potential import of active imagination. The process of active imagination is highly significant but the end product, the vision, dream or picture, as a shared image or object within the therapeutic relationship, is of analytic interest because it influences both the transference and the countertransference. The scope of this article is limited to those areas of expression with which I am most familiar from my own experience and from clinical practice. The focus is on three specific forms of imaginal activity: waking dreams, in the form of visualizations, dreams and art. Observation reveals three distinct forms of image-based experience and, within the manifestation of each, some cases where imagination is clearly active and others where it is not. It is proposed that this is related to, and sometimes generated by, the depth and quality of the engagement in the transference. The three clinical examples are intended to reveal the influence of the transference on active imagination. The first was a profoundly symbolic visualization that emerged as an integrated aspect of an already activated transference. The second shows how the unconscious, in the form of dreams, leads a person deeper into analysis and mobilizes the psyche when the transference feels stuck. The third demonstrates how artwork may embody the transference, revealing previously unconscious elements, rendering them visible and so available to consciousness. None of these was an isolated event but each developed into a chain of visualizations, or a series of dreams or pictures, and so to a lived form of active imagination. Active imagination The term active imagination was applied by Jung to refer to a means of mobilizing the psyche through an image or a chain of images and their related associations. It is a concentration on some impressive but unintelligible dream-image, or on a spontaneous visual impression, and [one] observes the changes taking place in it (Jung 1951a, para. 319). This may lead to the

Art, dreams and active imagination


surfacing of previously unconscious material and so to its gradual admittance to consciousness. It may occur in one swift insight or it may dawn gradually, through a series of related experiences. In order to travel this journey a psychological split is necessary; one part of the personality enters into the fantasy material, whilst another observes the process. Jung came to active imagination and his method of amplification through his own experiences. After he and Freud parted, Jung experienced what he called a period of disorientation. In Memories, Dreams, Reflections he tells of his confrontation with the unconscious (Jung 1963, chap. 6) and of how his interest in his dreams and psychological state at that time led to an intense period of self-analysis. This, combined with listening to his patients dreams and associations, led him to further explore the mythical content of the psyche. Whenever Jung felt stuck with his own analytic material he reverted to making models or painting pictures, recalling the play activities of his childhood. Spontaneously he made circular drawings and later, when he encountered Eastern philosophy, he realized they were similar to mandalas of the East. He began to understand the goal of psychic development to be the self. There is no linear evolution; there is only a circumambulation of the self (Jung 1963, p. 222)2. Active imagination is like this; nothing is linear or logical and yet its process makes sense in an indirect manner. It evokes archetypal material and Jung relates it to the collective unconscious when he writes that, certain collective unconscious conditions . . . behave exactly like the motive forces in dreams, for which reason active imagination . . . to some extent takes the place of dreams (Jung 1947, para. 403). It is this dream function of active imagination that leads to consideration of it as a means of dreaming whilst awake. Active imagination was a central tenet of Jungs psychology and Chodorow points out, that in one place he described active imagination as his analytical method of psychotherapy (Chodorow 1997, p. 17). However like so much else in his oeuvre his views on it were fluid and changed throughout his life. Active imagination and free association Active imagination was originally a development of the free association method of psychoanalysis. Jung wrote: I learned it from Freuds method of

It is a common misapprehension to consider all circles in pictures to be mandalas. It has been shown that the circle is amongst the first marks a child makes (Kellogg 1970; Piaget in Kellogg 1970). It could be argued that many such circular movements can be explained as the result of a circular hand arm movement that comes naturally to children. It therefore may have a relationship to expression of the self but it does not necessarily have the sophistication and intelligence of a consciously constructed mandala, such as those produced in the East for the purpose of meditation.


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free association, and I regard it as a direct extension of that (Jung 1931, para. 100). Therefore the distinction between the two methods merits attention3. In free association Freud (1963) instructs the patient to:
Put himself into a state of quiet unreflecting self observation, and to report to us whatever internal perceptions he is able to makefeelings, thoughts, memoriesin the order in which they occur to him. At the same time we warn him expressly against giving way to any motive, which would lead him to make a selection among these associations or to exclude any of them. (Freud 1963, p. 287)

So in free association the patient is asked to observe and report his thoughts but to refrain from selecting material. In active imagination Jung instructs the patient to both select and follow the lead of the image: . . . the patient is simply given the task of contemplating any one fragment of fantasy that seems significant to him . . . until its context becomes visible (Jung 1951a, para. 101). For Jung therefore, selection is an important part of the process, because it indicates where the patients interest may lie and elaboration of the image or fantasy is encouraged:
It is not a question of the free association recommended by Freud for the purpose of dream-analysis, but of elaborating the fantasy by observing the further fantasy material that adds itself to the fragment . . . the resultant sequence of fantasies relieves the unconscious and produces material rich in archetypal images and associations. (Jung 1936/37, paras. 101102)

It seems that this is the point of departure; Jung or the patient selects a strand to develop and the patient is encouraged to elaborate the fantasy material. The patient embarks on an imaginal journey and the process may be amplified by a myth or fairy tale that seems to resonate with the archetypal atmosphere of the material. This might be chosen by the patient or, at times, suggested by the analyst; clearly this differs from free association. According to Mattoon, Jungs objection to free association was that it led to uncovering complexes but it did not take advantage of the unique contributions of dreams to gaining information from the unconscious (Mattoon 1984, p. 55). Jung considered that, although at first sight [dreams] point backwards . . . [they] also have a continuity forwards . . . (Jung 1934, para. 444; itals in original). It is this forwards movement that is of interest when considering active imagination. Surface to depth The difference between surface activity and depth experience will become increasingly significant as we consider the transference experiences associated

Perhaps this is one of the fundamental and unacknowledged differences that remains between Jungians and Freudians today.

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with active imagination. Jung makes a distinction between ordinary imaginative activity, such as fantasy, and active imagination:
A fantasy is more or less your own invention, and remains on the surface of personal things and conscious expectations. But active imagination, as the term denotes, means that the images have a life of their own and that symbolic events develop according to their own logicthat is, of course, if your conscious reason does not interfere. (Jung 1935, The Tavistock Lectures, para. 397)

Imaginative activity, such as simple reverie and daydreaming, remains on the surface of personal things; it is therefore closer to conscious experience. Active imagination requires directed attention and a suspension of disbelief that permits previously unconscious imagery to flow and so deeper material may become manifest. Fordham, similarly, differentiated active imagination of adults in analysis from the play and spontaneous imaginative activity of children (Fordham 1977). Play may be profoundly meaningful but Fordham seems to consider that play is not synonymous with active imagination. Play remains nearer to the surface even when it reveals unconscious material. In active imagination consciousness is usually deliberately directed towards an image; a new situation is created and unconscious contents are exposed. This distinction between surface activity and depth leads to consideration of the differences between sign and symbol, to which I will return later. Active imagination 1. Waking Dreams Active imagination may emerge spontaneously as visualized imagery, as a waking dream (Watkins 1984). This is different from a simple daydream, which is a form of reverie, and from a dream experienced whilst asleep. The deliberate lowering of consciousness permits images from the unconscious to rise to the surface and, as these emerge, it may be as if the visualized event is actually taking place. Therefore this form of active imagination is lived experience. The image generates psychological movement whilst the ego is held in a suspended state. Then, gradually as they are assimilated these images come into relationship with the conscious mind. The protagonist mentally travels from surface to depth and then returns but in an altered state. Watkins writes that:
[Jung] found that the ability he had observed in himself to allow the unconscious and conscious to speak together while awake could . . . be helped to develop naturally . . . This ability of actively imagining would emerge at critical times in analysis when the polarities of the psyche sought some image of integration. (Watkins 1984, p. 47)


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It was like this with the first example I will give; this was active imagination experienced at a critical time. It occurred spontaneously from within the transference/countertransference dynamic with which the images resonated at depth. The context was a therapeutic relationship where non-verbal imagery had played a significant part from the beginning. Vignette 1. The couch in my consulting room was rather small and it could not really accommodate big people, as well as this the person lying on it was unprotected from the cold wall beside it. Therefore when, during one Spring break, I found a suitable new couch I exchanged the old couch for this new one. It was larger and it had an arm along one side that would protect the person lying on it from contact with the wall. Peoples reactions to this change of couch varied, some appeared not to notice the change. Others commented, expressing their like or dislike of it. The person who was most affected was Lizzie, a slim woman in her late twenties, who was not in need of the larger couch. She was devastated by what she experienced as the presence of an interloper in the place of the little, old, friendly couch. As her attachment to the first couch was gradually explored a powerful series of mentally experienced visual images emerged, which we might understand to be a form of spontaneous active imagination arising from the unconscious. For several sessions there was silent and unspoken rage as Lizzie sat in the chair, eyes on the ground or glaring with hostility at the handsome, new couch; she could hardly bear to look at it. Eventually she was able to tell me how upset she was as she said in a quiet voice, It was my father. During the course of this analysis the room, as well as the objects within it, had become animated and, in Lizzies mind, incorporated into the transference. They were experienced as the analysts body in many different gendered guises. I remembered now that she had experienced one particularly difficult break, as an enforced birth. On her return she had hated the little couch; she said that it had been the fathers penis, which had intruded, in her absence, into the maternal body/room.4 This penis/couch could go where she could no longer be and so she was furious and had imagined destroying it. Of course during that time it had been very necessary that it had survived. Then she had begun to befriend it and to lie on it and so it had become a benign paternal presence to which she could relate within the room. It was because of this history that the new couch took on immensely hostile proportions. She would not lie on it and eventually she was able to admit to a chain of images in which she saw herself getting hold of the new couch, throwing it forcibly out of the room, tearing it up, ripping the legs off it, and

This Kleinian imagery would perhaps seem to have been suggested by the analyst. However these were her words and images that she had arrived at herself.

Art, dreams and active imagination


stamping on it, breaking it up into little pieces. It became an impostor father who had to be destroyed. She described the scene in detail without looking at me. She was devastated and, in her mind, she laid waste to the couch and me along with it. This was an active imagination, vividly conveyed through a combination of the atmosphere generated in the room, action in her posture and the sense of silent rage that went on for many sessions. Finally it emerged in words spoken without eye contact and in a whispered voice that belied the chain of events described. In one sense Lizzie was passive before this chain of images and in another sense active in them. Thus two parts of herself were involved; one part participated in the imagined events, whilst the other observed and later commented on the action. Jung writes of such an experience:
It is part dream, part vision, or dream mixed with vision. These visions are far from being hallucinations or ecstatic states; they are spontaneous, visual images of fantasy or so-called active imagination. (Jung 1951a, para. 319; itals. in original)

There is not space here to develop the psychological aspects of the case in depth but I will outline my understanding of some of the processes involved. Before the break Lizzie had been beginning to move from two-person relating to three; the third was represented in her mind by the couch. Although her sense of exclusion from the parental couple/analyst in the break had enraged her this had been just about bearable. However on her return the couch was gone; an object that played a significant role in her inner world was missing. It seemed that it was as if the parents had split up during the break. This evoked more intense rage accompanied by terror that her destructive fantasies had had actual consequences. The impulse for revenge on the mother/analyst was vividly expressed through the spontaneous active imagination described. It was only much later that the sadness associated with these events could be expressed. This active imagination emerged spontaneously from within the transference/countertransference relationship. It was a depth and so symbolic event experienced whilst the protagonist was awake. Lizzie saw herself engaging in this act as if it were actually happening; she lived the experience. This was evident when she said, It was my father rather than, it was as if it were my father. At the time there was no as if, and the extent of the expression of her fury terrified and shocked her. However an important distinction needs to be made here because she was not psychotic and this was not a delusional transference. Lizzie had sufficient ego strength to manage the feelings and to talk about them. For the time of the imagining the as if was temporarily submerged but it was quickly regained and that is the pointit was, despite the intensity of the feelings, a symbolic act. Lizzie did not actually attempt to destroy the couch and, although she lived the experience in her imagination,


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she did not believe it had happened. It is the ability to regain the as if position that distinguishes a psychological event such as this from psychosis. This visualization was unlike a dream, in that Lizzie was awake and aware of her fury. Clearly this is very different from dreaming in the night when the conscious psyche has no volition. Watkins describes how Jung:
had found that the acts of allowing the images to arise while conscious and aware, and of participating with them, invested the bare fantasy with an aspect of reality, which lends it greater weight and greater driving power. (Jung 1954, para. 106, quoted in Watkins 1984, p. 47)

This was also unlike a picture because there was no concrete manifestation of the image. One difference between the three modes of experience under discussion is in the way it is conveyed to the analyst. With a mental event such as this, no matter how powerfully it is described or conveyed non-verbally, the analyst cannot see the imagined act as the patient does. Words are needed to report the experience. It is similar with a dreamwords are needed. With pictures they are not always necessary. Transference as active imagination The therapeutic relationship constitutes the environment within which active imagination arises. Therefore the symbolic depth of the active imagination reflects the transference. We have seen this with Lizzies active imagination, which was evoked by the transference in which she was at the time immersed. Transference is a technical term, a concept, which stands for an imaginal enterprise in which analysts engage daily. It was Freuds initial leap of imagination that gave us this term almost one hundred years ago. In the years since it was initially used, transference has developed, been discussed, argued over, and generally applied in consulting rooms throughout the world. In considering this I quote Bachelard who warns that:
Concepts are drawers in which knowledge may be classified; they are also ready made garments which do away with the individuality of knowledge that has been experienced. The concept soon become lifeless thinking since, by its definition, it is classified thinking. (Bachelard 1958, p. 74)

It is rare that transference, or active imagination, is applied as lifeless thinking but their very familiarity may lead to tenuous assumptions of common meaning. There is a basic agreement about what they mean but creative discourse avoids losing the subtlety of the live, and ever changing, states of being they convey. It is the hope that some of the freshness of Freud or Jungs original leap of imagination may remain alive whilst revisiting and questioning present day use of these terms.

Art, dreams and active imagination


It is well known that Freud (1912, 1915) first came to understand that, within the framed setting of analysis, the patient might regress to an earlier pattern of relating in which the analyst was experienced as a parent, or an authority figure from the past. As the past becomes live in the present, the psyche is so-to-speak set in motion, and change is possible. I will be using the term set in motion again later in this article so it merits a little attention here. It is borrowed from Bachelard who writes that: Psychoanalysis sets the human being in motion . . . It calls on him to live outside the abodes of his unconscious, to enter into lifes adventures, to come out of himself (Bachelard 1964, p. 10). This seems to express vividly the experience of engagement in analysis and active imagination in particular. The transference itself is an imaginal experience that sets the human being in motion and, as previously frozen states come to life, change is possible. This is initially generated by the analysts attention, understanding and interest. All kinds of distortions may occur in the transference but it is usually clear to both participants, unless there is a psychotic transference, that the analyst is not (for example) the parent. The analyst, perceived through the lense of the transference, is both a real person and an imaginal one carrying the traces of the pattern of past relationships. Thus it is that the transference itself may sometimes be viewed as a form of active imagination. In an article, published in this journal in 1966, Davidson proposed that: a successful analysis can be thought of as a lived-through active imagination (Davidson 1966, p. 135). This view, that transference be regarded as active imagination, merits some attention because it departs from the classical understanding that it is the patient who experiences active imagination. Davidsons proposal is that the analyst might regard the whole of the patients unconscious drama, enacted through the transference, as a form of active imagination even though the patient may not see it that way.
The unconscious contents . . . will enact themselves in the form of a drama which will go on being enacted until such time as it comes through to the analyst in exactly the way Jung has described the fantasies coming through to consciousness in active imagination. (Davidson 1966, pp. 1378)

It is the method of this coming through that interests her as she emphasizes that: it is the analyst, and not the patient, who is the one with the attitude favourable to active imagination and who stands for the ego integrating function (Davidson 1966, p. 144). This was an innovative approach to countertransference at the time that it was written. Lowering of consciousness in order to be in touch with the patients inner world is certainly an imaginative act and a creative way of understanding the images, which arise in the analyst, as unconscious communication from the patient. Today this might be considered a familiar way of viewing countertransference but it was innovative to conceive of it as active imagination.


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In Davidsons view the analyst, as observer, is temporarily placed in the position of the ego, holding the conscious function for the patient. According to Samuels et al. (1986) and Chodorow (1997) this observation is her particular contribution. However Davidsons thesis is analyst centred and I suggest that in it there are two facets of active imagination under discussion. The first is counter transference as active imagination. The second is the transferencethe patients experiencebut viewed by the analyst, as active imagination. We are then left with the question what of the patients experience? In Jungs original view the analyst would encourage the analysand to focus on aspects of her or his own imaginal experience. This would then be amplified with mythical or personal associations, which would often lead to the emergence of archetypal material. Rather surprisingly Davidson reports that analytical psychologists do not nowadays use active imagination in the form in which Jung described it (Davidson 1966, p. 144). Located in the developmental school of the Society of Analytical Psychology in London forty years ago perhaps this was her experience but it would be a pity if that remained as the final word on the matter. Others from the same Society writing at that time, and since, seem to integrate Jungs method within their analytic work (Plaut 1966; Fordham 1977; Gordon 1993; Moore 1986; Powell 1998). Moreover at the time that Davidson was writing in the UK, Marie-Louise von Franz with her colleagues in Zrich, were working with active imagination in the more traditionally Jungian sense. Therefore post-Jungian approaches to active imagination seem to reveal some of the differences between the traditions of Classical and Developmental schools, discussed by Samuels (1985) and Chodorow (1997). Whilst a review of the literature on active imagination and further discussion of these differences would be fascinating, it is beyond the scope of this present article. Although my thoughts have some resonance with Davidsons thesis, I am proposing something a little different. I am not addressing the idea of active imagination as transference but active imagination within the transference. This article is predominantly about the patients experience. It is the qualitative variation between different forms of active imagination that emerge within the transference and countertransference dynamic that is the topic of this present article. Active imagination within the transference As a dialogue with the unconscious, active imagination requires an ability to comprehend metaphor. Activation of the unconscious may engender archetypal material and so there is some risk of inflation. There is most risk with people suffering from borderline or potentially psychotic disturbances where there may be some difficulty in distinguishing imagination from reality. With

Art, dreams and active imagination


such patients the danger of being overwhelmed by the unconscious is considerable and so the analyst may well temporarily hold the ego position whilst the patient lives the experience as Davidson suggests. The analyst remains calm in the face of potentially overwhelming material and so normalizes and earths the experience in the present. This is an important argument for embedding active imagination within the here and now of the transference and countertransference dynamic. A psychological split makes it possible for one part of the personality to live the imagined events, dream the dream or paint the picture, whilst the other remains detached, as an observer of the process. This split is similar to that required in the ordinary course of analysis. This is explained by the Freudian Greenson (1967) who divides the therapeutic relationship into three parts: the real relationship, the therapeutic, or working alliance, and the transference. In order to observe the transference the patient needs to be capable of forming a therapeutic alliance with the analyst; this is an, often unspoken, agreement: to stand beside the analyst and observe the transference. Sufficient ego strength is needed in order to make the necessary psychological split to observe in this way. In working with pictures in analysis, I have taken this a stage further and shown how the art object becomes a third element in this process, embodying a form of transference; this is the scapegoat transference (Schaverien 1991, 1995, 1999). I am proposing that it is similar with active imagination. There are times when active imagination may be a third element that embodies the transference as well as expressing it. At other times the process is less intense and the result of a more controlled psychological attitude. Before turning to my second example, in which this latter is evident, I will discuss sign and symbol in order to differentiate between these types of active imagination in a little more detail. Sign and symbol and transference The active imagination described above was profoundly symbolic and part of the reason for this was that it reflected the depth of engagement in the transference. Moving on from active imagination generated by visualization alone I turn now to dreams and art. Both are multi-faceted, and I propose, function at different psychological levels according to the nature of the engagement in the transference. Their aesthetic impact affects the psyche of the dreamer, or artist, as well as that of the analyst. In this way they further influence the transference and countertransference. Elsewhere (Schaverien 1991, 1995) I have applied Suzanne Langers (1957) distinction between significant form and significant motif in art to distinguish between categories of pictorial image. Significant motif is like a design or embellishment; it is essentially a sign, which delineates or refers to something outside of itself. It is a signifier or descriptor that depicts or indicates an event or memory. Wittgenstein describes a sign by referring to a house drawn as a


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square on a map; it is not itself a house but indicates that here stands a house (Wittgenstein 1980, p. 42). Thus signs remain on the surface. Significant form is differentit is what Langer calls the art symbol; this is the work of art as a whole. Unlike the sign, it touches depth. It stands alone as a profoundly symbolic, irreducible entity that does not need the embellishment of words. Therefore the art symbol is different from symbols in pictures, which, if regarded without attention to the whole, are reduced to mere signs. In considering art within analysis I have made a distinction between embodied and diagrammatic imagery. Embodied imagery, like the art symbol, is profoundly symbolic, employs visual metaphor, and as a result touches depth. No other form of articulation can be substituted for such an image. Diagrammatic images on the other hand are more like signs, remaining at a more surface level, and need words to tell their story (Schaverien 1987, pp. 779; 1991, pp. 857; 1999, pp. 48893). This is reiterated because there is a similar distinction to be made between active imagination that touches depth and imaginative activity that remains on the surface. Active imagination evokes genuine psychological movement whilst milder forms of imagining may stay nearer to the surface. As Jung puts it: the symbol is alive only so long as it is pregnant with meaning (Jung 1971, para. 81). It is this symbolic depth that gives us what might be called embodied active imagination. This evokes visual or verbal metaphor and it can be articulated in no other way. The expression, it was my father, as described above, was a profoundly symbolic experience and such an event changes perception and may transform the psychological state of the artist or dreamer. In each of the modes that we are considering the distinction between sign and symbol is helpful. Lived mental events are profoundly symbolic and different from daydreaming. Ordinary, every day, or simple dreams differ from big dreams and, with pictures, diagrammatic images differ from embodied imagery. Active imagination 2. Dreams Dreams per se are not active imagination but there are times when they set the psyche in motion (Bachelard 1964) and so generate it. Freud distinguished simple from complex dreams (Freud 1900, pp. 101102). Simple dreams are, in the context of our discussion, rather like signs; they often appear to refer to day-to-day events or day residues and they are not always profoundly symbolic. Complex dreams on the other hand touch depth and convey their meaning through metaphor; thus they are more like the art symbol. We might call them, the dream symbolan irreducible entity. Jung too distinguished different types of dreams. The dream that was a great vision, big, meaningful and of collective importance; and . . . the ordinary small dream (Jung 1928/1965, p. 4). The first is profoundly symbolic whilst the second is merely of surface interest.

Art, dreams and active imagination


According to Hillman (1979) and Hall (1983), Jung did not believe in a hidden dream meaning behind the manifest dream, therefore he did not try to see behind the disguise of the dream images. They both make the point that Jungs respect for the dream led him to treat dreams as the facts of the psyche. He did not try to explain them; rather they were amplified and embellished with associationspersonal, mythical and cultural. He linked them to active imagination: Dreams behave in exactly the same way as active imagination; only the support of conscious contents is lacking (Jung 1934, para. 404). Mattoon (1984) develops this theme, drawing out the links between dreams and active imagination, in her detailed work Understanding Dreams. She explains that Jung would try to establish the personal context of a dream and help the patient to amplify his own dream. This might be done through associations or by reference to metaphor and myth. This intensifies the archetypal aspects, and therefore attention to the present context of the therapeutic relationship is important. It is this that earths the material and brings it into the realm of consciousness. It is obvious to state that dreaming takes place when the dreamer is asleep but as it is this that distinguishes dreams from visualized mental images and from pictures it merits a mention. In dreams previously unconscious material may arise spontaneously and without directed attention. A dream may be described, but it is impossible to show someone else a dream; it is essentially private. Like a visualization, dreams differ from pictures, in that they are intangible, elusive and ephemeral whilst pictures have a concrete and material presence. It is important to reiterate the point that not all visualizations, dreams or pictures lead to active imagination. Material that appears to stem from the unconscious cannot be automatically regarded as active imagination5. It is the patients attitude to their own material that may develop into active imagination but s/he has to participate. Not everyone can do this; some people are too consciously controlled. Then the analyst may become interested in a dream presented but, whilst the dreamer may appear gratified by the analysts interest, there may be little apparent understanding of the authorship of the dream. The dreamer may have to learn to relate to their material before psychological movement can become possible. This was the case with my second example. Vignette 2 Ians development had been one-sided, favouring consciousness. In his life there had been little space for imagination; he had been sent to boarding

This comment does demand some definition of the unconscious because it could be argued that unconscious material remains just that. However material that was previously unknown to the dreamer that comes to the light of understanding through a dream or art work undergoes a transition from unknown to known.


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school at the age of six and this had been followed by a successful professional army career. This was highly structured and required much of him intellectually but the emotional impact of his work, which had at times been considerable, had been ignored. Now aged 60 he was retired. Ian was an intelligent man with wide interests and knowledge but he was emotionally inarticulate. This is typical of the person who has been sent to boarding school at an early age (Duffell 2000; Schaverien 2004). Although he was clearly very sensitive he appeared to be puzzled by emotions and did not recognize them in himself. He came to see me because his wife had had counselling and found it useful and she was concerned that he did not speak about his feelings. In the first session I asked him what had brought him to the point of phoning me. He could not respondthat is the problem, he said. Ian sat in the chair in my consulting room and having told me this, there was an uncomfortable silence, he could not think of what to say next. Over the weeks that followed, I found that I was often breaking the silence in order to try to help him in his evident discomfort. The sessions were inordinately painful as he sat in the chair unable to speak or know what was expected of him. Then one day he said that he had had a dream and wondered if he should tell it to me. This was the first of many. He dreamed either the night before the weekly session or the night after it. It seemed that the unconscious, activated by his dreams, had come to his rescue so that he would have something to talk about in the next session. In these early dreams he was often searching in empty houses or in buildings that reminded him of his school. Gradually we pieced together aspects of his story so that we could begin to relate his dreams to his history. Born during the war he had lived alone with his mother until he was six, at which point his father returned from the war and he was sent to boarding school. He had little memory of the vacations or his time at home between the ages of 6 and 14. It seemed that the trauma of his fathers appearance, along with the simultaneous perceived abandonment by his mother, had left him without memory of that period in his life. This seemed to be replayed in the transference; he was rendered inarticulate in the presence of the analyst/mother. During the early phase of analysis Ian dreamed prolifically and often appeared puzzled by the sense I made of his dreams. At first it was I who seemed impressed with his dreams, whilst he seemed amused by the outrageous links that I made. Much of what happened in the room was to do with the analyst picking up non-verbal signals and speaking about them. Ian seemed to find it odd speaking to a strange woman about intimate things. However he came every week on time and there was an element of humour in the therapeutic alliance. Very gradually, he became familiar with attending to his dreams. Then he had what seemed to be a big dream.
Ian dreamed that he was in a library and found some rare books. One was the complete works of Evelyn Waugh, one C. S. Lewis and one was an illustrated religious

Art, dreams and active imagination


book. This latter was an elaborately decorated, ancient, manuscript. He described, with a sense of delight, how on one side of the page were all the kings and queens of England and on the other side all the kings and queens of France.

At first Ian did not have many associations to it except that he had a library, where he spent much time, and that he collected rare books. The three books were all clearly meaningful for him. However it was not easy for him to convey this in words. As we discussed the possibilities we wondered about Evelyn Waugh. The word Waugh could also be understood to link to the word war, and this might link to the opposites represented by the two countries England and France. C.S. Lewis was meaningful to Ian because of his religious affinity. However it was the third book that drew his attention and mine. He was delighted and slightly awed by this beautiful, embellished, religious book almost as if he had actually discovered it. Clearly he had found something of extreme value to himself that was symbolized by this dream book. We discussed how the two sides of the page might be seen as aspects of himself, which needed to move into relation with each other. On one side the English, on the other the French; on one side the familiar, on the other the foreign. This could be thought of as a division between conscious and unconscious. The fact that the book presented him with royaltykings and queensgave it added import. We might see his boarding school and army life as having imposed on him a psychological gender split, as well as a division between logos and eros. Thus the opposites, symbolized by the kings and queens, needed to come into relation with each other. The fact that the book was beautifully embellished, delighted and slightly awed the dreamer. This indicated that it was a big dream: one that would not easily be forgotten. In itself this reflects the potential for psychological change. Although the dream was discussed it was not readily translatable in terms of his history nor could it be fully understood. The facts of the psyche merely presented themselves for attention. Like the art symbol this dream was much more than the sum of its parts. It was a dream symbolan irreducible entity. It impressed the dreamer profoundly. The dream had symbolic depth and metaphorical significance; it was in Jungs words pregnant with meaning. Thus previously frozen imaginative capacity began to become active. The dream itself was not active imagination but it did set the psyche in motion and give Ian an understanding of how he might begin to dialogue with the unconscious. Ian began to interpret his own dreams and so began to develop awareness of his emotional life. Over time he became less uncomfortable in the room, began to relax and to talk and, as this happened, his dreams lessened in frequency and complexity. It seems that when there is a need for it the psyche will find a way of making unconscious contents conscious. Then active imagination may first be generated by dreams. In this case the dreams activated the psyche, showing Ian that, unconsciously, he knew why he had come for analysis. It


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seemed that once he was able to talk he needed his dreams less. Jung noted something similar when he made the point that:
The existence of unrealized unconscious fantasies increases the frequency and intensity of dreams, and when these fantasies are made conscious the dreams change their character and become weaker and less frequent. From this I have drawn the conclusion that dreams often contain fantasies, which want to become conscious. (Jung 1936/37, para. 101)

An example from several years later further makes the point that Ian had learned to respect his own imaginative material. Probably as the result of the earlier dreams and the associations that had developed in relation to them, he was now able to bear more uncertainty. Ian experienced a dream that was a powerful example of synchronicity. This is the acausal connecting principle of the psyche, about which Jung (1951b) wrote.
Ian dreamed he was in the House of Lords [to which in his real life he had access as part of his job]. He was on his way to the library and he passed a room with five men in it. These men were his friends in real life and they were playing a game together in which they were standing in a circle and jumping up and down. One of them saw him and signalled to him to join them but he had other business to attend to and so he went on his way.

When he awoke he was so mystified that he had dreamed about this old friend whom he had not seen for some time that he remarked on it to his wife. He was therefore shocked when, as he read the newspaper that morning, he came across the obituary of this very friend, the one who had signalled to him. He had died the previous day. Before a dream event, such as this, even the most sceptical person is left with questions. There is no rationale that sufficiently explains it although there are some possible interpretations. The House of Lords as the location seems significant; it might indicate the Lords House and so a place associated with death. However it is also a real place and he was heading for the library where he had business to attend to. We might see Ian as moving on from the pointless game in which his friends were engaged to more important matters. It will be recalled that a library featured in his earlier dream alongside the profound significance of the beautiful embellished book that he found. Earlier that book was discussed as a self-image, therefore the significance of the library seems to relate to a quest for the selfhe had more important work to attend to. Perhaps in the dream Ian ignored the distraction offered by his friends because he was keeping focused on his own psychological journey. However this does not take account of the uncanny element, Ian dreaming of his friend just prior to discovering that the same friend had died. In a case like this the facts of the psyche have to just take their place in our life and we have to remain in an unknowing state about how such a thing occurs. I would argue that this could not be satisfactorily analysed solely in terms of the personal unconscious.

Art, dreams and active imagination


This was a remarkable dream but a dream is not itself active imagination. However it is likely that the dreamer was open to this strange event as a result of the mobilization of the psyche that had previously taken place and so he was able to accept it with wonder. Perhaps, as a result of the psychotherapy, his capacity for active imagination had developed and therefore his trust in not knowing had increased. In the beginning Ians transference revealed that the capacity for fantasy and imagining was paralysed, probably as a result of his early traumatic experiences. The apparent non-engagement in the therapeutic relationship therefore was the transference. During the course of the analysis there was movement from the initial dreams, which remained on the surface, to the profoundly moving kings and queens dream, and then to the library in the House of Lords, which resonated at depth. A more fluid relationship to his inner world gradually developed, through a deepening trust in the therapeutic relationship. In this case it was dreams that set the psyche in motion evoking movement from surface to depth. It is this depth experience that might be understood as the emergence of the capacity for active imagination. Active imagination 3. Art I turn now to the third and last of the three modes of creative expression under discussion: art. One of the most important papers that Jung wrote with regard to active imagination is The transcendent function (Jung 1916/1960). The transcendent function is the bridge between conscious and unconscious. In this the mediating function of dreams and spontaneously created imagery plays a significant role. Jung wrote of art as active imagination that:
Often it is necessary to clarify a vague content by giving it visible form. This can be done by drawing, painting or modelling. Often the hands know how to solve a riddle with which the intellect has wrestled in vain. By shaping it, one goes on dreaming the dream in greater detail in the waking state, and the initially incomprehensible, isolated event is integrated into the sphere of the total personality, even though it remains at first unconscious to the subject. (Jung 1916/1960, para. 180)

Direct interpretation of a dream or a picture may destroy the life in the image and so we need to find ways of talking around itbefriending it. Jung writes of two kinds of thinking which he calls directed thinking, and dreaming or fantasy thinking (Jung 1956, para. 20). The former applies to communication in words and language and the latter is spontaneous and guided by unconscious motives; it is this latter that emerges in dreams and pictorial images. To approach such imagery directly, with the intention of translating it into words is to limit its potential rather than enhance it. This is where amplification of


Joy Schaverien

the image is so important (Moore 1986). This is a way of using mythic, historical, and cultural parallels to clarify and make ample the metaphorical content of dream symbolism (Samuels et al. 1986, p. 16). Unlike visualization and dreams, art has a tangible and material existence. It records traces of the imaginal activity that produced it. Moreover it holds, and fixes, at once moving and limiting the flow of the unconscious. In art there is a public manifestation and a shared viewing; both people see the same thing; there is an object for the shared gaze of the spectators. This is a significant factor within analysis because unlike other modes of active imagination the traces of its path are recorded for both people to see. In his discussion of the development of the theory of archetypes Jung reveals how central to his thinking was the art form within active imagination:
First I made the observations, and only then did I hammer out my views. And so it is with the hand that guides the crayon or brush, the foot that executes the dance-step, with the eye and the ear, with the word and the thought: a dark impulse is the ultimate arbiter of the pattern, an unconscious a priori precipitates itself into a plastic form . . . (Jung 1947, para. 402)6

It is this unconscious a priori that is sometimes revealed in the embodied images described earlier (Schaverien 1991, 1995). Attention to the aesthetic qualities of pictures made in analysis reveals much about the process of active imagination and this is why the product is as important as the process. Dieckmann (1971) comments on the aesthetic qualities of a series of objects made by an analysand. He describes vividly the ways in which they formed a part of the active imaginative process. However the assumption appears to be that art and active imagination is one and the same thing. This present article is an attempt to distinguish them, as well as the particular nature of different forms of active imagination. In this the aesthetic quality of the work is significant. Whilst some pictures or art works are powerful examples of active imagination, others are not; similarly, not all art is symbolic articulation. As explained earlier, in considering the aesthetic qualities of art made in analysis I have identified two categories of pictorial image. The first, the diagrammatic image is like a sign. Such an image is of little aesthetic interest and its role in the transference is as a signifier in that it refers to something
The discussion of this controversial claim that the archetypes are based on an a priori pattern has been the subject of much heated discussion in Jungian circles recently. See Stevens, Peitikanen, Knox in this Journal. Can archetypal patterns be a priori and what does this mean? The pictures made in analysis bear out the idea that there is a commonality in the imagery produced across cultures but the question of how that might be transmitted remains. It is too little to attribute all such imagery totally to culture, although it will account for a large part of it. It may be that there is a form of intergenerational transmission that transcends culture. For example how do we account for a child that never knew their mother having gestures and mannerisms just like the mother? I consider that these questions need to remain open despite the increasingly convincing explanations for its origins in brain function and culture.

Art, dreams and active imagination


outside of itself. It may be made to tell something to the therapist and needs words to embellish its meaning. For example if I draw a picture (Figure 1):

Figure 1

This tells you that I feel sad but it does not change anything, it is a surface expression that is made to tell something to the therapist. It may evoke emotion in relation to it but making the picture does not alter the psychological state of the artist; it is not a depth experience. This picture is unlikely to be the result of active imagination, as it remains on the surface. However associations in relation to the image might lead to active imagination. The embodied image is different because, in the process of its creation, something changes. Such a picture may reveal far more than the artist consciously intended. The image may be aesthetically pleasing and profoundly symbolic and this may evoke an aesthetic countertransference (Schaverien 1995, 1999). Like the art symbol (Langer 1957) no other mode of articulation could convey its meaning. This may be why it is that formulae, such as the traditional model of picture interpretation discussed by Rosen and his colleagues (Rosen et al. 2003) and Furth (1988), may be less helpful than is sometimes assumed. Such a method restricts the imaginative capacity of the psyche by reducing it to a predictable set of rules. In order to convey a sense of active imagination through a series of related experiences I turn now to my final example. A dream followed by a series of embodied images, reveals active imagination in motion through different modes of expression. I hope to show how the process of active imagination generates series of images that could not have been articulated in any other way. Vignette 3 Jacquis mother had died suddenly, in her late fifties, when Jacqui was 22. Now Jacqui was in her early fifties but she still felt oppressed by her mother. The internalized mother dominated her every move and denigrated her attempts to work or make relationships. It was a dream that first set the psyche in motion and revealed just how dominated Jacqui was by this inner world mother.
There were two people in a room; the dreamer was an observer (a third person). A small dog entered, it grew smaller and it seemed to be dying. Jacqui witnessed this but was unable to intervene. She then realized, for the first time that the people were a man and a woman. The female figure stepped forward with a metal brief case; she scooped the dog into it and it snapped shut. This terrified the dreamer.


Joy Schaverien

In the telling she made a new connection; she remembered her mother had such a briefcase. The little dog therefore seemed to be a selfimage. It seemed that Jacqui felt trapped, locked inside the mothers case (body) and unable to survive separately. A picture made one month into the analysis further, and graphically, reveals the power of the presence of the dominating, dead mother. The picture, a landscape, was made after Jacqui returned from a holiday in Egypt where she had travelled in a boat down the Nile. On her return, she remained so impressed by the landscape that she had painted it. However she did not show the picture to me until nearly a year after making it. The transference to her mother was manifest when she told me about it and also in the way, when she did bring it, that she prefaced showing it by explaining: This is not art therapy and I am not an artist. This was said in a manner, of some deference, which seemed to imply you must not judge me too harshly.

Picture 1

She then showed me picture 1 and explained that the river is in the foreground and the irrigated fertile land is next to the water. Then behind that, in the background, is the desert, which is made of hilly sand dunes, looking a bit like mountains. In the foreground is a boat. As she spoke the picture lay before us on the ground and I noticed with an intense, and almost physical, shock that the sand dunes seemed to suggest a figure. It looked to me like a huge corpse dominating the landscape. This seemed to fit with the sense I had of her mothers all pervading presence. This Egyptian mummy appeared to be the Mummy of Jacqui: dead but dominating her inner world landscape. (Incidentally Jacqui always called her mother Mummy.). I did not immediately point this out to Jacqui as she was showing me a landscape and I did not want to impose what may have been merely my own viewpoint. However the image persisted and grew stronger, dominating the rest of the session for me. Therefore I decided to point it out to her, merely suggesting that the sand dunes looked to me like a body. Jacqui was visibly shocked when she saw it and immediately changed the subject. It was several

Art, dreams and active imagination


sessions before she was able to return to this image. This echoed the way that she would react if material about her mother surfaced in other ways. She was, as she put it, scared to touch it. Gradually she was able to admit that she could see the picture and its implications. Over time we discussed it and together we began to make the following sense of it. This image seemed to reveal the archetypal background to her life. The elements in the picture could be understood in the following way: the journey down the river might be the flow of her lifes journey. The irrigated part, closest to the river, was the area where things were functioning well for her; Jacquis job and present family life were satisfactory in many ways. However her life was overshadowed by her general sense of depression and this was echoed and embodied in the image of the sand dunes. The sand dunes revealed an immense and overpowering figure which, in this context, could be understood to be an archetypal negative maternal presence. This was emphasized by the boat which resembles a scytheoften a symbol of deaththe dead mother. She could only regard it fleetingly and then put it away again. It was a long time before this picture became de-potentiated so that she could look at it without the shudder of fear that greeted each new viewing of it. In order to consider the picture as an embodied image it is worth asking oneself the question Could this be conveyed in any other way? With the diagrammatic image the answer would be yes, like a sign it would demand some extra verbal explanation. However before an embodied image, such as this, the answer is No. No words could adequately convey the symbolic depth that is attained through this imagethere is little that can be said that would not detract from the impact of the image. The picture is its own interpretation and words spoken in relation to it could not add anything significant. In this sense it is a product of active imagination within an intensely experienced transference.where the analyst was often experienced as a dominating, feared maternal presence. This embodied image was also a visual interpretation (Schaverien 1995, p. 166). In order to develop this idea a little I turn again to Wittgenstein (1922) who describes types of seeing that are relevant in this context. He distinguishes what he calls continuous seeing of an aspect from the dawning of an aspect Wittgenstein (1958, p. 194). He shows the well-known diagram, which can first be seen as a ducks head and subsequently as that of a rabbit (Figure 2).

Figure 2


Joy Schaverien

The picture remains the same but something changes that permits us to see both at once. The difference is a perceptual one. First we have continuous seeing, we see the picture as a duck but when it has also been seen as a rabbit, the other aspect has dawned. Then it is no longer possible to merely view the picture as a single thingit constantly flips between the two. This is like the impact of an interpretation in analysis. Once an interpretation has been made and the unconscious significance has become conscious something is known and a perceptual transformation takes place. When pictures are involved in analysis there is a more obvious similarity to Wittgensteins example. Here a picture, made consciously to depict one thing, is transformed by our perception into something else. This has the effect of an interpretation but without words. It was thus with the picture of Jacquis mother. By painting the landscape that she had so enjoyed Jacqui had, quite inadvertently, revealed something profound of her inner world. This image embodied the source of her depression and, once seen it could never again be unseen. Active imagination is evident here, not merely in the act of painting, but in the associations to the image. This experience set in motion a series of pictures, made over the following months. Picture 2 is of a tree, which she described as showing her chaos, insecurity and depression on one side, and the lively part of her life on the other. It shows the distorted growth that had emerged as a result of her parental domination and lack of autonomy. The dominating mother had a brother who was simple and who was never really able to function in the world. The family viewed him as rather pathetic and hopeless. At times he was admitted to the local psychiatric hospital for in-patient treatment. Jacqui loved him but her fear of her own vulnerability was at times associated with her uncle and at worst she feared that she was mad. This sense of her own vulnerability, associated with the flaw in her family, emerged as a dark area in many of her paintings.

Picture 2

Art, dreams and active imagination


Picture 3

In a session, soon after an insight that connected her fear of madness with her beloved uncle she made picture 3, another a painting of a tree. It was an image of growth and she explained how one colour represented the warmth of her feelings for her uncle. The tree had strong roots and branches, but a dark patch, which she felt indicated her relationship to her parents, was like a flaw that ran throughout it. As we looked at the picture a wasp flew into the room. I was distracted by it and she offered to kill it, saying I am not averse to killing wasps. Then she recalled that her uncle had a plum tree and her father offered to help him to harvest the fruit. She was about 8, and remembered sitting in the branches of the tree eating plums, and killing wasps, whilst her father and uncle worked together. This was a rare and precious happy memory of her relationship with these two men: her father and her uncle. Symbolically it seemed to integrate the vulnerable uncle with the image of her father and a positive aspect of her killing wasps aggression. This was memory rather than strictly active imagination but it was generated by the act of painting the tree. The amplification of the material related to the pictures seemed to lead to significant psychological shifts. This was active imagination in that it was achieved through a lowering of consciousness and kind of diffuse viewing, which permitted previously unconscious material to emerge. Moreover, within the transference, her offer to kill the wasp could be understood to have indicated her ability to take charge and to find autonomy. Perhaps this occurred through identification with a benign image of the paternal: the combined father and uncle image that permitted her to indulge in eating plums and killing wasps. Conclusion It has been my intention to distinguish active imagination from other forms of imaginative activity. I have shown how visualized imagery, dreams and


Joy Schaverien

pictorial images have their own distinct nature. Within the transference and countertransference dynamic there is a difference when these are merely imaginative acts and those times when they manifest as, or evoke, active imagination. Active imagination, experienced as visualization, may be very real and may have a compelling life of its own. Like dreams, such experiences are totally subjective and, no matter how real, they are ultimately elusive, transient and can only be communicated if translated into the shared medium of spoken language. There is no public manifestation of an imagined event. However visualizations and dreams can sometimes be conveyed in pictures and, unlike mental imagery or dreams, art objects have a real, concrete, existence in the public arena. A picture is an object offered for the shared gaze and therefore it may be a bridge between inner and outer, between private and public experience. I hope to have shown how the process of experiencing active imagination, and the products created through it, are significant; they affect and are influenced by the transference and the countertransference.

Le terme imagination active est parfois utilis de faon plutt indtermine pour dcrire toutes formes dactivit cratrice dans la psychologie des profondeurs. Bien quil y ait en effet de nombreuses formes dexpression qui activent ou sont actives par limagination active, celles-ci ne peuvent pas pour autant tre automatiquement classes comme tant de limagination active. Larticle explore le rve veill, les rves nocturnes et les productions artistiques faisant apparatre trois formes dactivit psychologique base sur la production dimage. Il est avanc que lengagement dans limagination active, lorsquil est intgr dans et mdiatis par la dynamique du transfert et contre transfert, reflte et est influenc par le transfert. Les distinctions faites entre signe et symbole, rves simples et grands rves, imagerie schmatique ou applique permettent de clarifier les diffrences. Des exemples cliniques sont utiliss pour montrer chaque mode en action dans le cadre analytique.

Der Begriff Aktive Imagination wird manchmal ziemlich unkritisch angewendet, um alle mglichen Formen kreativer Aktivitt zu beschreiben, die in der Tiefenpsychologie angewendet werden. Wenn es auch viele Ausdrucksformen gibt, welche die Aktive Imagination hervorrufen, oder von ihr hervorgerufen werden, so kann man sie doch nicht automatisch als Aktive Imagination einstufen. In diesem Artikel zeigt die Untersuchung von vorgestellten mentalen Bildern, Trumen und Kunst drei unterschiedene Formen psychischer Aktivitt, die auf bildlichem Ausdruck beruhen. Integriert und vermittelt innerhalb der bertragungs- und Gegenbertragungsd ynamik, wird vermutet, dass die Beschftigung mit Aktiver Imagination die bertragung reflektiert und durch sie beeinflusst wird. Besonderheiten von Zeichen und Symbol, einfachen und groen Trumen, ebenso von diagrammatischen und verkrperten Bildern verdeutlichen die Unterschiede. Beispiele aus der klinischen Praxis

Art, dreams and active imagination


geben einen lebendigen Eindruck der unterschiedlichen Modi innerhalb des analytischen Rahmens.

Il termine immaginazione attiva a volte utilizzato in modo acritico per descrivere tutte le forme di attivit creative che trovano posto nella psicologia del profondo. Mentre ci sono molte forme espressive che evocano o vengono evocate dallimmaginazione attiva, queste non possono essere automaticamente classificate come immaginazione attiva. In questo articolo lindagine sullimmagine mentalmente visualizzata, sui sogni e sullarte rivela tre distinte forme di attivit psicologica basata sullimmagine. Integrata e mediata allinterno della dinamica transferale e controtransferale, si ipotizza che limpiego dellimmaginazione attiva riflette il transfert ed da esso influenzato. Le differenze vengono chiarite facendo distinzioni tra segno e simbolo, tra sogni semplici e grandi sogni e anche tra immagini diagrammatiche e incarnate. Esempi tratti dalla pratica clinica dimostrano come ciascun modo agisca allinterno della cornice analitica.

El trmino imaginacin activa se usa con frecuencia en indiscriminadamente para describir todas las formas creativas que ocurren en psicologa profunda. Aun cuando hay muchas formas expresivas que evocan o son evocadas por la imaginacin activa, ellas no pueden ser clasificadas automticamente como imaginacin activa. En este artculo la investigacin de la imaginera visual mental, sueo y arte revela tres maneras distintas de la actividad psicolgica basada en la imagen. Integrada y mediada dentro de la dinmica de la transferencia y la contratransferencia, se propone que la conexin con la imaginacin activa refleja y es influenciada por la transferencia. La distincin entre signo y smbolo, pequeos y grandes sueos as como entre imaginera diagramtica y corporeizada clarifican las diferencias. Con ejemplos de la prctica clnica se demuestran los modos de accin dentro del marco analtico.

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[MS first received July 2003; final version July 2004]