The Dream Sociogram

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How To Interpret a Dream Sociogram

Dream sociograms are visual depictions of the numerical data taken from the right and bottom margins of a dream sociomatrix. They depict the interpersonal dynamics of a group of dream group characters. A dream sociogram provides a visual snapshot of the patterns of preference expressed by those dream group members interviewed in the sociomatrix. Specific character preferences will change over time, but overall patterns tend to remain stable. Character preferences collected from a child will differ from those from an adult regarding the same dream, but the underlying pattern of preferences expressed in the sociogram is likely to remain basically the same.

Patterns of preference are plotted on four axes, each with a positive and a negative pole. Positive axis scores indicate positive degrees of preference. Negative axis scores indicate negative degrees of preference, or rejection. Each concentric ring represents one degree of preference. Underlined elements are highly internally conflicted, which means that their score is divided, such as 4/5, 11/13, or 9/7. One number must be at least 70% of the other for the score to be underlined in the sociogram. If there is an exponent after the name of the element in the center of the sociogram it indicates the degree of direct ambivalence of the element. Direct ambivalence is indicated by equivalent divided scores, such as 8/8, 3/3, 10/10.

The farther apart two elements are on one axis, the stronger the internal conflict. The closer together elements are placed the more likely they are to indicate a cluster of associated self-aspects. If Dream Self is one of the clustered characters, then they are called dream self surrogates, meaning that they embody projected or dissociated attributes which the group as a whole associates with Dream Self, even if the dreamer does not agree.

Acceptance Axis: On this axis you will find the scores from the right side of the sociomatrix. They indicate how much a particular dream group member prefers or rejects all of its fellows, including itself. Acceptance placements reflect the preferences of one particular chooser.

The remaining three axes contain the scores from the bottom of the sociomatrix. They indicate how much some particular dream group element is preferred or rejected by the group as a whole.

Form Axis: The form axis contains the scores from the bottom of the sociomatrix of the chosen characters in the dream. Think of the characters as personified or crystallized attitudes, beliefs or world views. How do these different attitudes relate to one another? Are they in agreement or do they clash?

Process Axis: The process axis contains the scores from the bottom of the sociomatrix of the chosen action elements in the dream. Actions are behaviors. These behaviors may be thoughts like “I am wishing she were here” or they may be physical actions like, “She enters the room.” Are the actions of this dream group supportive of one another? Or are they in conflict? If they are in conflict, the distribution of the action elements in opposition on the process axis will tell you a lot about the nature of your behavioral conflict regarding the life issue which the dream group addresses.

Affect Axis:The affect axis contains the scores from the bottom of the sociomatrix of the chosen emotions in the dream.

If your dream group depicts no conflict (bipolarity) on the affect or form axis, then consider your behavior as the source of conflict addressed by the dream group. If your dream group depicts no conflict on process or affect axes, consider your attitudes or beliefs as the source of conflict addressed by the dream group. If there is bipolarity on the acceptance axis, regardless of distributions of elements on the other three axes, consider that lack of self-acceptance is the fundamental issue being addressed by the dream group. Those parts of yourself that you are not accepting are those which are rejected and placed on the lower pole of the acceptance axis.

If there were no feeling elements included in the dream narrative, none can be included in the Dream Sociomatrix, so none can be present on the affect axis. This does not mean that feeling elements are not actually present, because as you read over the character elaborations in the various commentaries you will always find plenty of feelings. Just collecting dream group member preferences is all about degrees of emotional preference (likes, dislikes, loves, hates). The absence of feeling elements generally indicates either a lack of awareness of feelings at the time a dream is recorded or else as sense that feelings either are unimportant or so evident that they do not need to be explicitly stated. In any case, for a lot of dream groups, information about feelings has to come from the elaborations, not from the Dream Sociogram.

As noted above, dream group preferences manifest in three basic patterns in a Dream Sociogram: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis dream groups, and two “extreme” patterns, high synthesis and nightmare antithetical.

Thesis groups are focused on problem-solving and improving some aspect of the status quo. Thesis patterns are more about translation (i.e. if consciousness is a skyscraper, rearranging the furniture and walls on a particular floor) than about transformation (switching from one floor to another). They don’t question basic self-acceptance – they take whatever level exists for granted and then deal with the manifestation of that degree of self acceptance attitudinally, emotionally, behaviorally in one’s daily life. These groups may be in conflict about what to think, feel, or do, but these debates occur within an overall context of self-acceptance. These patterns only place characters on the upper, or positive pole, of the acceptance axis. Characters may be distributed anywhere on the other three axes. These dream groups often are irritants to the dreamer, if they are remembered at all, who chalks them up as “bizarre day residue.”

Antithesis groups are about conflict. Antithesis patterns deeply call into question fundamental assumptons about what is acceptable and what is not, and therefore call into question everything manifested as well – feelings, attitudes, actions. These often feel threatening but are just as positive as thesis and synthesis patterns. They may be about throwing furniture out the window, wondering if they are on the right floor of the skyscraper, or even if they or their peers should be in the skyscraper at all. They question not only what we are doing, thinking, or feeling, but also reflect basic self-doubt or ambivalence about our own self worth. In these patterns there is a bi-polar distribution of dream group members on the acceptance axis. These dream groups often are repressed by dreamers, who are afraid of them. They tend to amplify or reinforce dreamer fears.

There is also a special type of antithesis group. It is called a nightmare antithetical dream group. In this pattern, persecuting or abusive characters are most accepting of the dream group and therefore are placed on the upper pole of the acceptance axis. Accepting dream group members are relegated to the negative pole of the acceptance axis, because all they can do is protest the unfairness of the status quo of this dream group. It is as if terrorists had taken over the skyscraper and workers had to choose to either join them or be imprisoned, or worse. These groups usually are very disturbing, adding to confusion, turmoil, anxiety, anger, guilt, or sadness in one’s life. These dream groups are also usually repressed by the dreamer out of fear, but they may be so powerful that they are recalled anyway.

Synthesis groups are about higher-level integration. The group is either integrating forgotten workers and pieces of furniture from some lower level of the skyscraper into a new status quo integration or else moving everything up to a higher floor in the skyscraper. These groups heighten self-acceptance, energy, intuition, and our general sense of well-being and confidence. These dream groups may be enjoyed, enthralling, or captivating to dreamers, yet tossed off as having little to do with anything important in day-to-day life. Synthesis patterns both consolidate and amplify basic acceptance by consistently affirming the acceptability of one’s attitudes, feelings, and actions. In their radical acceptance, these patterns are transformative. High synthesis patterns are simply extreme examples of the above. They tend to be particularly difficult to integrate because they are so etherial.

None of these group patterns is better than another. In other words, it would be a mistake to think that you have ascended into some enlightened space if you could somehow manage to create only synthesis patterns. Growth requires all three phases of the developmental dialectic. You can’t reach a new synthesis without first moving through consolidation (thesis) and a questioning (antithesis) phase. Be aware that you will be in different places on different issues. Cognitively, you may be stable, so the dream groups will basically create thesis sociogram patterns to depict your daily problem solving, while at the same time your love life may be in uproar and your dream groups will mostly create antithesis or nightmare antithesis dream Sociograms. At the same time, you may have a creative breakthrough in your work expressing itself as a synthesis dream group. If you were to reach synthesis on in all your life areas – relationship, financial, work, personal, spiritual, health, etc., you would simply move into a new level of your own personal dialectic in each of your life areas.

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