8th Column: Finding Jungian Archetypes With The Computer
By Bjo Ashwill
The DreamSpinner Column
Working Dreams With The Power Of Computers
Hi, Electric Dreamers. I am Bjo Ashwill and am writing a monthly column on my
experiences of creating a computer software program that does very detailed
analysis of dream narratives. You are welcome to visit my web site and check out
DreamSpinner, the software program I will be describing.
http://www.spinner-soft.com. The site was recently revised and is full of
exciting interactive things you can do. Check us out!
In this column I shall describe, over time, how to use the computer's power
to store, group, analyze and retrieve information from our dreams.
DreamSpinner's greatest power is working with long "over time"
dream series, although it can work with individual dreams as well. How do
metaphor patterns change over time? That is the question that began my journey
toward creating DreamSpinner.
This month, in keeping with the Jungian theme of this issue, I will discuss
finding Jungian Archetypes in dreams using DreamSpinner.
The most obvious method is to create Categories and sub-categories. You could
create a category called "Archetypes". Under that category would be
the sub-categories that are each archetype you wish to follow. The Divine Child,
The Wise Old Woman, The Wise Old Man, The Hero, The Heroine, The Journey, The
Great Mother, The Shadow, The Self, and so on. I would put this in the already
created "Nuance" category. The reason I would do that is that specific
words do not always mean there is an Archetype image connected to it. Not all
older women are necessarily an example of The Wise Old Woman archetype. So
hooking the word "woman" or the word "old" will not give you
an accurate picture. It is possible to create a separate definition for the root
word "woman" as "The Wise old Woman." When you feel you have
encountered that archetype in a dream either linking the word "woman"
with the definition "The Wise Old Woman" will count that archetype; or
clicking the "Nuance" button" and putting the link to the
"Wise Old Woman" sub-category will also work.
It will be important to set up these categories or separate definitions of
words that link to the archetypes you wish to examine at the beginning when you
first start working with DreamSpinner. You can always add a category later, but
all dreams you had linked before you added the category will not be included in
the count for that archetype.
In addition, I've noticed that the more of these indirect things you are
looking for that are not linked to a specific word takes a great deal of
concentration. You have to be alert to all the things you are looking for in
each dream as you are linking it. I began my dream database with the archetypes
in the nuance category but soon could see I was not remembering to look for
those archetypes. I took them out. So, I use the indirect search method I will
describe below. In Column #5, I discussed various search methods and used an
example of searching for "The Shadow" to demonstrate the indirect
method of searching for something that isn't written in the narrative. Here is
that excerpt from DreamSpinner Column #5:
"Another search method is to look for indirect evidence of a metaphor.
Archetypes are a good example of that. I rarely, if ever, write in my dream
narrative that the archetype "Shadow" is there. I must infer its
DreamSpinner can do this easily. You decide what criteria would define that
archetype and do multiple searches for only those dreams that include those
criteria. For the archetype "Shadow", I will use the following
a. A female stranger (Category: "Characters," "Stranger",
b. Emotions of aggression (Assuming we are looking for the negative Dark Side of
d. Dark Haired female.
e. Animals (perhaps specifically coyotes, wolves, ravens, or whatever trickster
animals you consider a "Shadow" element.)
f. Negative social roles (female.)
One can come up with other criteria, depending on what your sense of the
'Shadow" in your dreams. You would run this series of searches until the
dream set contains only dreams with these criteria. Then you would examine the
word frequency counts for any elevated or lower patterns."
The archetype "The Divine Child" search would start with:
a. The babies. (Category "character's age", sub category, "Baby")(Animal
babies are also included in that category.)
b. The sense of newness. (Category: "Time" sub category "Age
c. Creativity. (Category: "Movement", sub category
"Transformation", sub category,"Creativity")
d. A sense of numiousness. (Category: "Appearance", subcategory "Light")(Category:
"Nuances" subcategory "spiritual")
The "Wise Old Man" archetype search might be:
a. The male gender. (Category: "Character's Sex", sub category
"Male General")(The "Male General" sub category has words in
it like man, guy, fellow, men, guys, boy, boys, and so on. I think the archetype
is generally seen in strangers rather than people we know in our waking lives.
However, if a particular character in the known category feel archetypal to you,
be sure and add them to the search criteria.)Another category, "Character's
Identity", subcategory "Stranger", sub category
"Stranger/Man" will also be helpful.)
b. The sense of oldness. (Category: "Time", sub category "Age
c. The sense of authority. (Category: "Character's Identity" sub
category "Occupation", choose those occupations that would suggest
that wise sense of authority. Priest, pastor, lawyer, judge, doctor, leader,
wizard and so on.)
d. Friendly actions toward dreamer. (Category: "Social Interactions"
sub category "Friendly" sub category "F4, Helping") as well
as (Category: "Social Interaction Direction" sub category "Others
Toward Dreamer" sub category "F4" Helping".)
e. (Optional for after you run the above search.) The word "say". (All
verb tense endings are included in the search for that one word.) Often the wise
old man (or woman) is making statements well worth hearing. (Category:
"Movement" sub category "Communication sub category "SI
Friendly" (Social Interaction Friendly Communication)
These same categories work in finding the "Wise Old Woman" with the
obvious change of gender search, Female General, Stranger/Female, and
Occupations like priestess, doctor nurse, lawyer and so on. (In my dream
database, I created different definitions of the same root word so that I would
click on lawyer, male, or lawyer female so I could keep track of the gender in
those areas. Heaven forbid we would be sexist and assume the occupation
"Lawyer" is only male.) It might be that the wisdom from the Old Woman
is from the "feminine side, right brained, spiritual, nurturing and
"Lawyer" weather by female or by male is a left brain activity. The
choices of what occupations to include would be yours and your sense of what
that archetype represents. I would add the Category: "Character
Identity" "crone" and "witch" as well.
The Journey archetype is very simple to create.
a. Any dreams containing travel from point A to someplace else. (Warning that's
most of your dreams!!) (category: "Movement", subcategory
"Journey" sub categories "Under Own Power", "With
Assistance (a vehicle), and "Unknown", meaning the dream wasn't clear
how the traveling occurred.) (Another possible search is the preposition To, as
in moving Toward a place.)
b. Of course, I was just kidding about the "simple" to create part.
There's more than simply traveling to someplace. I would add the setting of
Outdoors. (Category: "Setting" sub category "Outdoors").
That will eliminate portions of "Under Own Power" where characters are
c. Now it is possible to assume that all Journey archetypes are embodied in all
travel dreams. When Is a "cigar" simply a "cigar", as Freud
Is there more one can do to narrow the search for the actual archetype? Yes, of
course there is. Most archetypal journeys involve barriers and difficulties as
the character is on that "life's" journey. You could check the
blockage of flow. (Category: "Movement" sub category "Flow"
sub category "Not Flow".
d. Looking for Difficult Situations is helpful. (Category:
"Evaluation", sub category "Difficult situations")
e. Misfortunes would be a good category to check out. Is the environment
stopping you, creating barriers?(Category: "Chance" sub category
"Misfortune". Choose any or all of the 6 levels of misfortune you feel
would represent the kind of barriers found on a "Journey".)
f. Social Interactions is another category to explore. Especially Aggression or
Friendly. What type of social Interactions cause a barrier to progressing on
down your path? (Category: "Social Interaction" sub category
"Aggression" and sub category "friendly" Each of those sub
categories have up to 8 different levels of that activity. Choose how much or
how little to look at.
In fact with all the searches on Archetypes, exploration and experimentation
is a cool way to define your search more closely. It doesn't take long to pull
up the word frequency form and you can explore if unnecessary items are entering
into the picture. You can simply change the search criteria by deleting a
category or adding another category until you have the mix right. (Like
cooking.) Also, every time I peek into dreams with the word frequency counts I
learn something new about my dreams. It is exciting.
You can see by these examples that Jung can indeed enter the computer age.
While I have your attention, hopefully, I would like to request any nightmare
dreams you would be willing to share that I could use in a research project I am
involved in. I will be doing a presentation on "Counting The Things That Go
Bump In The Night" for the ASD conference in July of this year. I am using
the Barbara Sanders long dream series. I would like to gather other people's
nightmares and dreams as a comparison. In addition, I am creating a base line
database for DreamSpinner to measure dreams against. If you are willing, there
are two ways you can get the dreams to me.
1. You can go to my Website http://www.spinner-soft.com and enter a dream.
I would also need you to fill out the optional registration form and the
Informed Consent form giving me permission to use your dreams. I will not use
any personal identifying information about the dreamer. The dreams will be
anonymous. If fact most of the dreams will be presented as patterns and
percentages. Perhaps a few snippets from dreams may be used as examples. It
would help if you changed the names of known characters and places so you can
protect the privacy of anyone in your dreams.
2. Send your dream to me directly with my email firstname.lastname@example.org. I will
then send the registration form and the Informed Consent form. I thank you and
hope you will want to participate in this experience.
Come on up to my website:www.spinner-soft.com and leave some nightmare
dreams. Or any kind of dreams you wish. Leave a comment on others dreams. List
the metaphors in your dream and comment on how that metaphor seems to mean to
you. Check out what others think that same metaphor means to you. It's yet
another dream group online.
See you next month.