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

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,160 Ratings  ·  66 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
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
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
Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
DIY Jungian dream work and active imagination. Working on dreams in therapy is wonderful and indulgent, but nine times out of ten when doing dream work you are on your own. This book provides a practical approach for working with dreams, and it also details the process of active imagination. This book is about as practical as a book on dreams can be. There are many ways to work on yourself, many styles and different approaches, something for everyone. Dream work is just another technique, but it ...more
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Travis Boren
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I found this book to be very instructive as far as an actual way to increase awareness of our subconscious--a practical guide, one isn't a virtually useless dream-dictionary or full of stereotypical analysis platitudes. I guess that's what I was predisposed to believe; that this would be stereotypically Jungian book and prove to be too mystical or unusable for me. I found this was a prejudice that I had, and that I was judging the book literally by its cover. Although there are still small insta ...more
Apr 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ashwini Murthy
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm a big fan of Carl Jung. I've read other books on Jungian psychology. But loved this book because it's so easy to understand. The nice thing about this book is that it provides practical methods for working with dreams and imagination. I've been maintaining a dream journal for 2 years now. Reading this book gave me better clarity. But the methods outlined in the book are rather difficult and tedious to follow and don't work for me every time. The unconscious doesn't seem to co-operate so easi ...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.
Robin Conley
Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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!
Chiraz Ben a
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have only read 1/3 of the book but I feel like I have opened a Pandora's Box. It has been one "aha" moment after another ever since I started reading this book a couple days ago. Just blew my mind away!!
It opened my eyes to, what to me is, the Greatest SECRET of the Universe: the essence of the total self, relationship between the conscious and subconscious, the subconscious as the source of all creativity and language, the symbolic language that the subconscious uses to communicate with the
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great primer on Jungian psychology. Has extremely practical, well-written guides for how to do dream analysis and active imagination.
Geri Degruy
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent guide to doing work with one's unconscious, dreams, imaginings in order to grow deeper and fuller as a human.
Understanding Jung in daily practice

I have read a lot Jung, Joseph Campbell, various other experts on mythology and symbolism, but this book put all of that knowledge and information into practical and applicable form. The application of those theories and ideas is better explained and articulated here than in any other book I've read.
"Step Four: RITUALS... You have done your best to understand the dream with your mind. Now it is time to do something physical. This step is very important because it helps you to integrate your dream experience into your conscious waking life." (p.97)

"People are usually surprised to learn that the most powerful rituals area the small ones, the subtle ones. It is not necessary to do big things or expensive things. In fact, it is counterproductive to put out huge amounts of time or energy on your
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spiritual
really good and useful
Lauren Davis
The first part of the book is excellent, especially for anyone new to dream work, but it does bog down in the middle. Quite repetitious. Still, there's good information here.
David Elliott
Mar 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommended to JeanAnn by:
Shelves: ja
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
Eleanor Cowan
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I appreciate the empowering tools that invite me to become the primary authority of my own life. I learned that symbols are personal, for example, one person might interpret a dog in their dream as a symbol of loyalty, and another might declare it a dread danger.

I learned to relate to the dream in such a way that their meanings become 'felt' information all my own.

The work we do to quietly enhance our own lives is always beneficial. A great book.

Eleanor Cowan, author of : A History of a Pedoph
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Mary Karpel-Jergic
Sep 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
This is a worthwhile read for understanding, in a straightforward and accessible fashion, some of Jung's theory about the unconscious and how it impacts upon our lives. It also provides quite a useful toolbox for analysing dreams based on Jung's ideas. He goes on to suggest active imagination as an another way of exploring our unconscious. So, dreams and imagination are how the unconscious tries to communicate with us but the language used is symbolic - so not as straigtforward as one might thin ...more
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So Good!! Lots of practical information to get a person started building a relationship with the energy systems swimming in the ocean of the unconscious. I've read plenty of Jung, but could never figure out how he did his analysis. Johnson does an excellent job filling in the gaps. Highly recommended if you're into not only learning the symbols your unconscious self is serving up, but interacting with them in a meaningful way in order to integrate them into your conscious self and become more wh ...more
Neena Verma
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It is one of the most lucid and transformative work on helping one do the "Inner Work" , recognising, acknowledging & harmonising one's dark ' bright side. It call for courage to do such Inner Work, and Robert Johnson's deep approach helps one find that courage within.

A brilliant read , whether one U.S. on the path of personal awareness & growth , or as a practitioner of Depth Psychology. I received this book in my world for personal inner work, and amazingly it left me with empowering s
Shanti Elliott
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Here's a sample of this cool book's Jungian teachings:
We are all a rich mixture of archetypes, energies, and potentialities Some of the possibilities within us are never lived out because they look 'bad' or inferior to us. Our egos tend to classify anything they don't understand as 'bad,' an, naturally, we avoid looking at the things in us that make us uncomfortable. But if we can fined our way around our ego's prejudices, we are surprised to ind that some of these unlived or repressed qualities
Nov 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
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!
Jun 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
An intriguing and approachable book that offers a sophisticated yet not overly technical view of dream work and how it can integrate with other psychological and spiritual practices to foster deeper self-knowledge. I found that some of the methods presented here align with some aspects of Ignatian spirituality as I have come to understand and practice it. I look forward to returning to my notes on this book and deepening the ideas and learning it stirred in me.
Apr 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've kept a dream journal for years and had fashioned my own methods of analysis and interpretation, but learned much from reading Johnson's book about skillful interpretation. I'm astounded by the messages in my dreams discovered by applying Johnson's simple 4 steps. The part I'm having the most fun with is the archetypal amplification but it's all good and revealing. The opening chapters were a bit wordy and redundant, but once he got to the dream work steps, it was highly interesting.
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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.
More about Robert A. Johnson...