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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

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  2,034 ratings  ·  159 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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Average rating 4.28  · 
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 ·  2,034 ratings  ·  159 reviews

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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
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
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
Morgan Blackledge
Oct 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is founded on the very psychoanalytic presuppositions that (a) an important (deep) part of who we are can only understand the world symbolically, (b) our adult, rational processes are unable to directly access these deeply symbolic aspects of our selves, and (c) we need to adopt special ‘playful’ ways of engaging and encountering our ‘deep symbolic self in order to understand and interact with it.

I put the word ‘playful’ in those weird ‘half quote’ thingies (that I still don’t entirel
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
Dreamwork archetypal analysis.
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The single best book on dream analysis I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I highly recommend if you want to expand your knowledge on dreamwork and making the unconscious conscious.
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
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
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.
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Soooo interesting. I started reading this while engaged in a course on meditation and the body's subtle energy systems. Dreams were referenced as a way to engage with our inner selves and I remembered I had this book on my shelf. I hadn't realized it was a Jungian approach to creating a meaningful relationship with one's unconscious selves. Absolutely fabulous, and I think I'll be absorbing and going back to this one for a while. ...more
Marc-Henri Paradella
Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality
Thanks to this book I discovered the idea of active imagination, which I found very inspiring and enriched my inner life and spiritual practice.
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
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
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 see threat.

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 Pedophile's Wife: Mem
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.
Lacy Danes
May 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and practical. If you want to do your own dream work this is a great tool to get you started. I need to read it again to really put what I’m learning to use.
Martin Dobrev
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-discovery
A nice one, totally recommend!
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Incredible book, one interesting cheaper after another if you are into analysing dreams.
Sergio Lopez
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book for anyone who wants to begin inner work. Informative, practical, and easy to read. He gives great examples for how to work with dreams. Resonated with my experiences. I know I will return to this book often for its wealth of resources.
"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
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
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 really liked it
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 is 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 strength to
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
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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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The last five years of world history have been nothing if not...eventful. When living in interesting times, there's nothing better for...
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“It is perhaps this human tendency to see everything as “good” or “bad” that creates the greatest obstacle to accepting and utilizing our varied inner personalities.” 6 likes
“The purpose of learning to work with the unconscious is not just to resolve our conflicts or deal with our neuroses. We find there a deep source of renewal, growth, strength, and wisdom. We connect with the source of our evolving character; we cooperate with the process whereby we bring the total self together; we learn to tap that rich lode of energy and intelligence that waits within.” 4 likes
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