"The Misinterpretation of Dreams" at International Association for the Study of Dreams Conference

"Dream Work / Dream Play" was the theme of the International Association for the Study of Dreams regional conference in New York City, April 25, 2015. Louis Hagood, a psychoanalyst at the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis, organized the conference and invited the presenters.

Among the presenters were Michael Vannoy Adams and Michael P. Jenkins, a psychoanalyst at the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Studies Center who creates art from the unconscious (including two series of mythological paintings with psychological meanings featuring Icarus and Sisyphus) and who employs the Jungian technique of active imagination with dream images.

"The Misinterpretation of Dreams: Two Mikes, the Unconscious, and a Very Anxious Ego" was the title of the presentation by Adams and Jenkins.

The "Two Mikes" (Adams and Jenkins) deliberately provoked a controversy over the interpretation (or misinterpretation) of dreams. What did they say? All dreams are only one dream. As different as the images in dreams may be, all dreams are always one and the same dream. Is this hyperbole? "In psychoanalysis," Adorno says, "nothing is true except the exaggerations." The ego, Freud says, is the "seat of anxiety." In all dreams the ego reacts with extreme anxiety against the images that emerge from the unconscious. Why does the ego react so defensively with fright, fight, and flight? Why such paranoia, phobia, and panic? Why is the ego so afraid of the unconscious? In an attempt to provide answers to these questions, Adams and Jenkins cited numerous examples of dreams that demonstrate just how neurotic, even psychotic the ego is in relation to the unconscious.

photo of Hagood, Adams, and Jenkins
Louis Hagood, Michael Vannoy Adams, and Michael P. Jenkins, with examples of the psychoanalytic art that Adams and Jenkins create.