Michael Murphy’s Book of Dreams

The manuscript of Michael Murphy’s Book of Dreams has been delivered to Gill books, for publication in late September 2017.

The book consists of some fifty dreams and their analyses. This book of dreams has been written with the general public in mind, to show how it’s possible for every individual to analyse their own dreams.

From my many years of communication work on radio and television – especially from the weekly psychoanalytic residency on the RTE afternoon television Today Show – I was able to translate the jargon of the most difficult psychological concepts into the language that all of us use every day. And because I’ve several books of poetry and prose to my credit, I found the writing of the book to be easy: it felt as if I was having an intimate and often humorous conversation with the reader. And the succession of dreams builds up into a developing picture of how it’s possible to work with them, and to make sense out of the random material deriving from the unconscious.

While practitioners will discern that the overall approach of this book is Jungian, the discoveries of Freud, Lacanian theory, Klein and Winnicott’s child-centred approaches, indeed a pantheon of preceding analysts can be seen to inform the analyses in this book, which are geared to the particular individual’s presentation of their dream.

In the various analyses, there’s an emphasis on the etymology of language. I’ve posited the derivation of a word, and an account of its origin and history, as unconscious knowledge which has a bearing on the individual’s dream: the choice and positioning of a client’s particular word has the sacredness of unchallenged authority. I feel I’ve been able to turn the almost impossible task of treating clients that I don’t know, and the disembodied recitation of their dreams – for the most part presented without associations – into structural analyses that are insightful. Everywhere I’ve been deeply respectful of the text, but also I would hope, of the dreamer. The wisdom expressed throughout this book, which I’ve earned through my own analysis and over three decades of work with clients, is meant to offer solace to the dreamers.

From the analysis of Hugh’s dream: “There is a principle in life that it is never too late: you can always do something on the pitch until the final whistle blows”. From the analysis of Dermot’s dream: “If you’re being treated badly, you need to say so unambiguously, and confront head-on the bad behaviour of others so it can be brought to an end. There’s a principle at work here: never reward bad behaviour”. And “It’s a waste of time trying to house train other people – unless they have the capacity for insight”. From the analysis of Patricia’s dream: “be grateful you live in a liberal democracy. It’s worth defending against uncivilised people, and those who operate out of any form of rigid fundamentalism, which cannot accommodate difference, or tolerate ambivalence, most especially their own”. And finally, from the analysis of Aileen’s dream: “becoming an individual is a lonely and courageous path, and not everyone chooses it. But that’s our hero’s journey in life: an individual – distinguished from others by your own qualities – is what we are meant to become”.

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