Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth
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Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  534 ratings  ·  34 reviews
A noted author and Jungian analyst teaches how to use dreams and inner exercises to achieve personal wholeness and a more satisfying life.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by HarperOne (first published 1986)
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Elizabeth Andrew
Just excellent. Why did it take me so long to find this book? I've always admired Robert Johnson's memoir, BALANCING HEAVEN AND EARTH. This text should be required reading for anyone working with dreams or the imagination as part of their spiritual journey.

"In fact, no one "makes up" anything in the imagination. The material that appears in the imagination has to originate in the unconscious. .... Imagination is a TRANSFORMER that converts the invisible material into images the conscious mind ca...more
I am not an analyst, although I've been fortunate to have an analyst guide me through some rough times. She recommended this book to me, and so I dutifully read it twice--and didn't quite "get it."

Recently I read a reference to this book, and returned to it. Now I "get it." This book goes beyond trying to just document dreams to a four-step approach to Active Imagination--but with a warning that this activity shouldn't be entered into lightly, and preferably, at least at first, not alone; one s...more
May 10, 2013 Amé rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Amé by: By Elaine N Aron in her latest book The Undervalued Self
Excellent introductory book to (unsupervised) Jungian dream analysis and active imagination for beginners. The author gives an approachable overview of such necessary jungian terms as unconscious, archetypes, symbols, ego, consciousness and individuation and how their interplay in dream and active imagination images, when properly understood and directly related to our everyday life through ritual (the translating of spirit into matter or of intellectual understanding into physical reality), the...more
A brilliant introduction to Jungian dream work, or dream work full stop. The book divided into two parts: Dream Work and Active Imagination. I read only the first part for two reasons. First, that topic is why I picked up the book in the first place - it's the topic where my interests lie. Second, the boom advises only to practice active imagination if you have someone else, such as an analyst, to work with - I don't have such a person.

The book is written for someone with no prior knowledge of d...more
David Elliott
Robert Johnson is well-known as the author of a series of books popularizing Jungian-inspired interpretations of gender and relationship (HE; SHE; WE). Like those and other of his works, he mixes helpful insight with a great deal of repetition and prescription. This particular work is no exception. The first half, which focuses on dream work, is stronger than the second, which addresses active imagination. Particularly in the second half, Johnson's habit of paraphrasing Jung without citing sourc...more
This book speaks to two areas: Dreams and Active Imagination. It is a good overview of understanding dreams as reflections of our own inward struggles,the aim to be conscious of what is going on in us under the surface so that we might more holistic decisions. Johnson does well both describing the role and function of archetypes in dreams and emphasizing the need to interpret dreams from one's own personal experience and understandings. He depends heavily on Jung.

Active Imagination is allowing...more
2012 rating: Wow, what a year in therapy with a Jungian will do. This book sings to me now and I'm at a place where I am open minded enough to do work that I once was highly skeptical of. Putting the Active Imagination exercise to work has proved to be eye-opening and helping me dig further into the layers of my unconscious and my depression.

2011 rating: 3 stars: I wish they had an star rating that meant "unsure". This book was both easy to read and hard to grasp at the same time. The concepts...more
Andrea Paterson
I have often wondered why we dream, and where the stuff of dreams comes from. This book answers those questions from a Jungian perspective and shows the reader how to interpret dream material and other things that emerge from the unconscious aspects of our minds. I certainly have a new perspective on dreams as symbolic communication, but I expect that many people would need help to interpret their dreams using the deceptively simple method outlined.
Excellent format for dream interpretation, and a well-explained introduction to Carl Jung's Active Imagination. The author's personable style and clear grasp of the subject matter make this an enjoyable read. Highly recommended for all who are making the inner journey.
Aug 09, 2011 JeanAnn rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to JeanAnn by:
I'm taking a "Dreams" class at Synod School. This is one of the recommended books to read prior to class. I liked the book "Dream Theatres of the Soul" better. Even being reminded of the importance of dreams and visions in the Bible like those of Jacob and Joseph and quotes like "A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read" (Talmud Jewish text 3rd-5th c. AD)and "Almost the greater part of mankind gets its knowledge of God from dreams" (Tertullian 2nd c. Church father), I...more
This is the book I would recommend for someone interested in working
with dreams. It's quite down-to-earth and practical. Captures the
essence of Jung's ideas on this topic without all of Jung's mumbo-jumbo.

I'm not quite ready to take the plunge with active imagination yet, but
feel I understand it better after reading this book and could envision
possibly giving it a try some day.

Great book!
This book will now serve me as a solid reference for both dreamwork and active imagination endeavors. Robert Johnson's four part dream analysis is the most revealing, useful, and fascinating I've learned so far...If ever I join or facilitate a dream-work group, this is the book and his is the format I will use. I recommend this highly for those engaged in deepening the dialogue with their own personal dreams and the images and visions that appear from the individual/collective unconscious.
This is an excellent work on the process of dream interpretation and is the first book to give me real confidence that I can interpret my own dreams. The process Johnson outlines is deceptively simple but it leads to some intense, evocative results. Beyond the mechanics of dream interpretation, the book is incredibly well written. Johnson is a thoughtful, engaging writer who puts words together in a way that we not only understand but enjoy reading.
This book was really useful for breaking down the process of dream analysis. It had a lot of examples and broke the process into steps that made it easy. I'd definitely recommend it for anyone interested in Jung's method of dream analysis. It makes a good starter point, though it is technical at time. With all the examples of each step that are given, it makes it easy to translate reading about it into doing it yourself.
This book is well written and provides tools for interpreting our dreams and understanding what is hidden/going on in the unconscious. Being interested in dreamwork and wanting to know more, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I loved the last section on Active Imagination (dialoguing with the unconscious while in the conscious/awake state) and am excited by its potential!
Sarah Rae
I liked this better than his shorter booklet on the shadow in dreams. This has an overview of Jungian dreamwork and specific ways of working with independent dream analysis. Found it very helpful- Didn't get too much into the section on active imagination b/c the overlap between meditation/energy work seems like it would need closer examination for me personally.
Good overview of some basic Jungian concepts. There is a four part model of how to analyze dreams and connect with you imagination. If you are about to start a program of dream analysis on your own or in a group, this would be an excellent place to start. Purely as theoretical activity, just reading all the examples is a bit dull.
Lacy Danes
This book was recommended to me by a friend.

I have always remembered most of my dreams. When I have a particularity intense one I end up contemplating it for days after.

This book helps you to understand what elements in your dreams mean to you, not to anyone else.

An easy and interesting read.
Sep 28, 2010 Eileen marked it as to-read
I loved the first part of this book which was about how to interpret your dreams. But when I started the second half, which is about using one's imagination to get access to the unconscious mind, I lost interest. It was hard for me to believe that it's possible. Maybe I'm not ready for it yet.
Barbara Klaser
This is an excellent introduction to Jungian dream interpretation as well as Active Imagination. You don't have to have a background in Jungian thought or psychology to get something from this book. It's a rich source for the layperson who simply wants to know themself better.
Sometimes I find Jungian Analysis difficult to understand.
Robert Johnson's book Inner Work is very readable.
Great book for people interested in the unconscious, therapy, dreams, etc.

Really interesting take on work with the Unconscious - though i like the Dream work - i am not so convinced about the active imagination part - it is too new age

Kaye Booth
Johnson leads a creative journey through the process of self-exploration that holds the potential for personal growth and character depth for writers.
Very practical without too much psychological theory. You can jump right in with practicing the methods. I would like to ask the author a few questions though.
Interesting read on how to use and interpret ones dreams in detail. Also gets in to discussing the benefits of active imagination. Based off Jung's works.
THE book on dreamwork and active imagination. It transformed my understanding of myself and others.
Ooooh, this is powerful! I'm learning the art of waking dreams...imagine, learning from myself.
Excellent guide for unfolding dreams and recognizing their relevance to everyday life.
Non-fiction. I read this during my phase of being interested in dream interpretation.
Mary Mathews
Excellent. I consider it one of my "primary" books on working with dreams....
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Robert A. Johnson is a noted lecturer and Jungian analyst in private practice in San Diego, California. He has studied at the Jung Institute in Switzerland and at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in India.
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