Struggle Within Subconscious – Self-Destructive Behavior 439

Sat – Sept 10, 2011

Introduction to Dream

Revise 2/21/ 15 after rereading Dr. Kalsched books to clarify my understanding of the ‘Self-Care System’ of the subconscious as defined and named by Dr. Donald Kalsched. My understanding is probably still not perfect, but closer than I was on the first take.

Because of the complexity of this dream and its interpretation, I have explained some of the meaning while telling the dream, or more so than usual. Therefore, some parts will be repeated in the dream interpretation. In the interim, between the dream and interpretation, I have included an explanation of the dual construct of the subconscious with its seemingly self-destructive aspect which both Freud and Jung agreed upon.

The Dream: The Tale of Two Professors

I was talking to a professor at a university – who was about to give a major presentation and I knew of another professor had a lot of knowledge in the same area of expertise. I called it to the attention of the first professor ( diabolic side of subconscious) giving the talk – the professor giving the presentation gave an indication that he was an enemy of the other professor (2nd professor = personal spirit portion of subconscious). At first I thought that this event was perhaps a way to get the two professors to get together and I would arrange a meeting for them to share their thoughts for mutual benefit, but then realized I was setting the second professor up for what might be a trap which the first professor seemed he would like to spring – his intentions were dark – diabolic.

The speech was going to be given in a large church like auditorium – I went in to get a seat – the place was almost filled to capacity – hundreds of students – I sat down in a desk (it switched to a classroom environment) and then I noticed another desk open five desks ahead of me. There was a girl was sitting in back of the empty desk and it seemed she didn’t want anyone to sit in front of her – it would obstruct her view and give her less space to stretch out her legs if I occupied the seat – but I moved up thinking I would move the desk to the side a bit. I tried to move the desk to the side – but it became very unstable –I felt it was going to float away – (thoughts are unstable or fleeting) – it is extremely hard to focus (blocking view could be blocking thoughts to consciousness) – metaphorically – there was no gravity when the desk was moved out of position – the only way to stabilize it was to have it positioned in front of the girl – but I kept it a little to the side with a manageable amount of instability.

Then, I went to get a cup of coffee – someone points where it is out to me – it was on a little table, but the coffee appeared to be very thick and burnt – but I took a cup and planned to soften it up with powdered cream and sweetener – poured coffee into cup, it was still too dark and bitter so I poured the coffee into a large packet of creamer to lighten it up – and drank it like that, but it was still rank.

I started to talk to girl in back of me – she was from Mexico and had gone to the University of Mexico – I told her my cousin went there (and, in fact he actually had) – then on large screen we could see Mexican peasants trying to get across the border – then we were there at the Mexican border –a truck was picking guys up on border trying to help them – one guy got left behind – he was late – I felt sorry for him – I was afraid Marines at border were going to capture him – Marines were patrolling the area.

Then all these trucks from an old customer of mine from the company that I used to work for (in reality) pulled up with Mexican guys working on them – they had to travel in precarious positions on top of truck – seemed kind of risky, especially when they had to get down from rather high positions – but they seemed to be very agile and dealt with it much better than I had anticipated – one guy rolled down the front of the truck – another jump off the side – and another slid down a ladder that I had not noticed on the side of the truck – they were like acrobats.

Then we were back at the lecture hall – had something to do with priests in Spain or Mexico that were being persecuted – they had to hide in secret passages behind alter – then I was in the secret passage behind alter – and felt it wasn’t safe enough – that soldiers that were searching around the altar would figure out where to find the priests.

Psychoanalytic Dream Interpretation: (revised in February 2015)

Explanation of Self-Care portion of Subconscious – More detailed at end.

Mother of God !

This dream in large part depicts the psychoanalytic dream process itself as it plays its correlating parts to events in my life. The subconscious can be broken down into two components or opposing forces: 1) the self-care (self-crippling or destructive) and 2) the personal spirit/transitional space. Both Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, despite all of their differences, agreed on this self-destructive aspect of the subconscious. The diabolic/self-care side of subconscious attempts to hold a person in a negative orbit and the personal spirit attempts to pass subconscious information to the conscious to relieve the person from self-inflicted destruction – it wants the dreamer to grow and face the risks of truly living. In the case of addiction, the self-care/diabolic wants the addict hold onto the substance for security – not because it sees substance abuse as self-destructive, but because the addictive substance at one time offered the person a safe haven from trauma earlier in their life. The personal spirit has been crushed by trauma at this point and is complicit in the beginning because the addictive substance does bring much relief that offsets any negative consequences. However, as the addiction progresses, the negative or self-destructive nature of the addiction starts to become obvious to all except this self-care portion of the subconscious of the addict which controls the conscious at this point. It holds on stubbornly to the addictive substance knowing that it once bought great relief and retains a belief that they can recapture the moment of bliss when everything was OK – prior to traumatic events– when there was no pain – with the addictive substance the pain can be numbed out of existence. But, then if the ‘personal spirit’ reawakes, a part of the subconscious can come into play with a more objective view and it becomes hard to deny that the addiction is self-destructive. After losing jobs, houses, cars and families many self-care systems will attempt to put on the breaks, often with a nudge from family, friends or the court. Now, the awakening ‘personal spirit’ is allowing information into the consciousness of the individual so that action can be taken to advert or minimize the inevitable demise of the addict. (For a thorough understanding read “Trauma and the Soul” by Donald Kalsched)

The Dream Interpretation:

The two professors are most likely the diabolic portion of the subconscious (first professor) and ‘personal spirit’ (second professor) portions of my subconscious – I knew them both in the dream – and was trying to get them to come together – the professor’s presentation most likely represents the dream itself – my conscious knows that I am working on interpreting dreams – the 1st professor (diabolic) does not like 2nd professor – he perhaps fears that too much might be exposed to my conscious mind if the ‘awakening personal spirit’ is allowed to influence the dream, ergo, my life. Such a move might threaten the comfort zone of the ‘self-care’ system. This system falsely believes it has to stay in place to keep the ego safe. It seems to have a powerful ‘denial’ system in place to keep new ideas from threatening it’s hold on the status quo.

The diabolic/self care subsconscious very rarely wants to give up its secrets, this is far too risky for it – it seeks the status quo – it has a comfort level and security of holding onto the behavior patterns that have helped the conscious ego survive for a long time. – The diabolic wants the addict to keep drinking alcohol, smoking dope and eating ice cream and consuming donuts or throwing the dice one more time. Those are the supplies the ego wishes to protect in order to supply a level of comfort to keep the current ego intact.

The diabolic 1st professor knows if the 2nd ‘personal spirit’ professor gets involved, the conscious ego might get pressured to make some serious changes – like giving up addictions. Our diabolic friend has worked so hard for years to protect our conscious’s ego, it must do everything possible to keep new thoughts and information from reaching the conscious level – and this information is passed up to the conscious by the 2nd professor which would be the impetus for change.

Both the diabolic and the ‘personal spirit have the same goal – to keep the ego safe. However, they go about it entirely different ways. The diabolic helped save the conscious ego when severe trauma threatened the individual. When the real world became too threatening – it offered the fantasy world, comforting foods, sex, alcohol and drugs. Anything that would numb the pain of the outside world so that the conscious ego would not be overwhelmed with negative emotions (emotional desolation) so that the individual could survive.

The personal spirit portion is activated when it sees that the numbing and compulsive comforting are getting out of control, and it realizes that the amount of substance being used will cause greater problems or future trauma. If the personal spirit decides it wants to grow, to become a stronger person and face reality, a real conflict begins. The self-care never weighs out the options, it decided alcohol (or substance of choice) fixed the problem originally (and that was probably true), but it never changes its solution – if it worked before, it will work for eternity – “Give me that old time religion”. And, in the beginning, the personal spirit probably had no objections because the cure worked and relieved the immediate pain caused to the conscious ego by the trauma. At the time of the trauma, the ‘personal spirit’ has been crushed to almost non-existence. But, if the personal spirit portion starts to re-awaken, it sees things getting out of balance and a rift develops between the diabolic/self-care and the ‘personal spirit’ which has been in hibernation mode since the trauma began.

  1. The ‘presentation’ is going to be given in a church auditorium – possibly bringing in the Jungian spiritual over tone into the dream and real life solution. According to Jung, the spiritual element is often required in terms of addictions. Also note, the ‘presentation’ seems to really be controlled by the ‘diabolic’ side, until some type of action is integrated in by the dreamer.
  2. I took one seat and moved to another – I am trying to improve my view or to understand more. If the ‘presentation’ is the dream itself, I am trying to better understand myself by getting a better view of my dreams through interpreting them. The personal spirit is taking a more active stance now that it has been awakened. Fear that this forward motion might annoy the diabolic – an awareness that this self-crippling force does not want to see the ‘personal spirit’ advance. Or, perhaps the ‘personal spirit’ has a fear of advancing beyond the comfort zone allowed by the diabolic. The fear is with the ‘dream ego’ moving up and infringing on the wants of the figure behind me.
  3. Blocking the view of the girl in back on me. If this is my Amina, Jung’s character of the female embodiment in the male, perhaps I am blocking my emotions by being too analytical in my dreams. My emotions need to be stretched a little more, with my dream work I may not be giving them enough room?
  4. Trying to move my desk to accommodate the girl – I am trying to work with emotions in therapy, but have a lot of trouble with feeling emotions other than rage and anger these days. I really express my emotions through my dreams since I have so much trouble with verbal expressions. However, I attempt to move the desk, and things get out of control. If too much emotionality is ‘expressed’ (I originally wrote ‘escapes’ perhaps a Freudian slip – because I sense emotions must ‘escape’ not merely ‘be expressed’ to come out) I can’t handle it – there is no gravity. So, I try just a little to see how that works. I am actually getting accustomed to telling my therapist a little about what is going on in my life through expressing emotions, but I would much rather express these feelings in dream form where it is more intellectual and I can maintain control.
  5. I go to get coffee and someone points to small table where the coffee pot has an old, burnt, thick mixture of sludge. But, I try putting cream in, but that is not enough. So, I pour what is in my cup into the creamer can to try to make it as palatable as I can and drink it like that. I feel like I have been given the dregs of life. A father with PTSD and alcoholism, two wife’s with mental problems worse than mine. Second wife was a long term incest victim that did not really like men that treated her kindly – she just picked me to have children with. When that was done, she wanted abusive men back in her life. Yet she manages to convince the courts and everybody that she is a poor innocent victim. Currently, she is now covering herself with new cigarette burns and tattoos. Her diabolic seems to have complete control of the situation.
  6. Conflict between the Two Realms – My plan, as the dream ego, in the beginning is to have these two professors meet and work together. Thinking that if they cooperated it would allow the subconscious to pour its information into consciousness – filling one’s mind with all the wisdom to only do things from a super enlightened position. However, this cannot be – opposite components cannot mix – this would be like trying to mix the Yin and the Yang, Good with Evil or Oil with Water – they are incompatible on an elemental level. We have to be satisfied to assimilate little bits of the unconsciousness realm into consciousness at a time and even this can be very difficult. Swallowing little bits of the bitter solution at a time while trying to make it palatable appears to be the best we can do. 7. That addictive part of the subconscious still tells me that a drink or hit will fix the situation when stress or anxiety is high. This little guy never goes away – most alcoholics and addicts know this – I have been in AA for over 30 years – and this little guy in my head still trying to convince me at times that a drink will fix things. I don’t take it seriously, but the little voice is there with his ready-made solution and he always will be.
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  8. Defense Mechanisms – the diabolic subconscious seems to have an elaborate series of defenses that allows it to trick itself into not seeing what is plainly evident to many others. Addicts can always think of a reason why they still have not reached the level where the situation is serious enough to warrant taking action to stop using drugs and alcohol. And others refuse to recognize their behaviors as self-crippling or destructive.Subconscious censor allowing ideas to slip to the conscious side of the border - aliens crossing the border.
  9. Mexican (illegals) crossing border – these are the unconscious ideas – “more objective” – that have managed to get by the diabolic and slip into the conscious side of the border. We move from being in the classroom to suddenly being on the border – where the ideas are being transported into the interior of the mind so the ideas (the illegals) can actually be seen moving from the subconscious to the conscious part of the mind. These guys are attempting to save the addict by trying to foster a more objective view of reality in the conscious mind – a better view of reality.
  10. Driver who doesn’t stop – the driver is only seen from the rear window of the old pick-up after he has picked up a group of illegals by the guy who is late for the pick-up. The driver is the self-critical part of myself (a persecutor) that feels I haven’t done enough to make it. I should have started earlier, therefore deserve to be left behind. Things I have always been criticized for throughout my life. (Just recently, my therapist diagnosed that I have Asperger’s Syndrome which accounts for a lot of these difficulties – dream occurred three years before diagnosis) This “unseen” driver could, also, be a father image or authority figure (boss) that did not pay attention to me to help me advance in life which then could have manifested as an aspect of myself that continued to carry on the plot of self-crippling or destruction.
  11. Guy that is late is me, as the dream ego, I don’t know why the guy in truck didn’t stop when I chased after the truck for a bit. I think it is either of two reasons: (1 the driver did not see me or 2) the driver was punishing me for being late. Missing social cues is a symptom of Asperger’s which always left me with self-doubt – trying to figure out people’s reactions that would be obvious to most others.
  12. One of my real life customer’s (old job) shows up with a fleet of his trucks. Many Hispanics are on the tops of the vehicle and when the trucks stop, they get off using an incredible display of gymnastics and acrobatics. I was amazed. The old customer’s truck fleet is a reference from my work experience at the company for which I worked for over 20 years – this job was always a precarious ride – never really safe – and I had to do acrobatics to survive – I had to know the product – train people – be the diplomat – do demos – do the marketing – figure out where the market was going – make cold calls and lead development – know cataloging for complex industry – understand a certain industrial market and the computer market – know hardware technology – and close the deal – in the dream the truck had many sections – these sections might have been the different areas I had to deal with and I had to be an acrobat to perform the job plus survive the tactics of a psychopathic pathic boss who wanted to lay claim to my achievements. He would tell people, literally, that he had done the things that I had in fact accomplished.
  13. Persecution of Priests – The persecution of the priests might be the persecution I face my place of employment at the hands of my boss and ass-kissing V.P. They hated me – mostly because I had talents they did not possess – I was able to get business going and they wanted it. The goose and the golden egg theme. – There was not a safe place to hide because they controlled the finances (behind the altar). The priest, historically, is the one with the secret knowledge to god – and their god was money and I had the knowledge of making it appear – a ‘rainmaker’. It could, also, be the persecution of the ideas that the personal spirit portion of subconscious if trying to move into consciousness – the diabolic/self-care most likely persecutes the ‘personal spirit’ side. It represses it to ensure it won’t take the risks to grow, because if I fail – the self-care systems thinks the pain might be too great to survive another blow to the ego.
  14. Also, the altar, where the exchange takes place between the gods and men, and now women, the secrets are exposed or transmitted – the transubstantiation. This could be the subconscious and the conscious coming together for that combustion of forces, like when atoms split. This exchange of energy from opposing elements which can transform life. The priests can communicate with the subconscious or infinite, but the soldiers of the diabolic are sent to stop this flow of information. So, the priests have to hide in the secret passage – the subconscious or the conduit from the subconscious to the conscious – until it is safe to return and transmit more of the knowledge. They do not feel safe because they know the power of the diabolic – like the death squads in El Salvador – killing the Cardinal on the altar. Soldiers after the priests – probably the soldiers of the diabolic trying to prevent the transubstantiation of materials taken from unconsciousness into consciousness.
  15. The girl from Mexico (ex-wives? – or my subconscious?) could represent all the forces that made me try to adapt to other peoples wishes – people pleasing – which is to my own detriment – I always worry about imposing on someone else – and it makes me unstable – (letting 1st wife spend money, letting boss get away with cheating) not standing up for my rights in the here and now – thinking I will somehow catch up later (but later never seems to come) – and I am late for the truck in dream – all the other desks were in neat rows – none were out of order – but I try to move mine a bit so the girl is not unhappy – (I felt guilt for taking desk in front of her – like sitting in front of someone at movie theater) – and then I am the one who is out of line – not conforming to rules – when it is for her benefit – in dream I don’t think I was particularly worried that I would get into trouble for being out of line – but in reality, I was the one who looked flaky financially for wife’s spending – she got away with everything – and got the extra space she wanted – my 2nd wife pulled similar tricks too! They covered their asses and left me in the open – while moving my desk to accommodate everyone else and not covering myself.


Where some of references possibly emanated:

1) Marines at border – I used to pass through the immigration point about 70 miles from the border on Interstate 5 near San Clemente, known as ‘Check Point Charlie’ in that area. It was quite common to see people being arrested and occasionally I witnessed truck loads of immigrants being busted and people would be running all over the place. The check point was located where the highway ran through Camp Pendleton (Marine base). The illegal immigrants were caught between the fence where the INS service policed and where the Marines would be practicing maneuvers – it would be common to see tanks running through this area. Everyone would be running through the tall brush and I could oversee the mêlée from the higher position of the road while waiting in line to be searched.

2) The customer’s trucks and acrobats – that particular customer had a small warehouse that did a huge volume of distribution – huge shipments moved in and out every day. To compensate for the lack of real estate – the shelving was very high, but the aisle were very narrow (no forklifts could fit) so he hired many immigrants who would be hanging from the shelves tossing boxes up and down at an incredibly rapid rate. It was rather phenomenal to witness. I knew the man who owned the operation quite well, he treated everybody decently, without asking – I know he must have paid them well or they got something out of the deal – this guy could deal and everyone was always happy – I know because I sold this operation all of their computers for 20-some years and I was always happy with the sale and I made sure he was always happy with the purchase.


At first I did not think this dream was worth recording – it didn’t seem to make too much sense – about two professors – and after recording it I realize it is one of the most profound dreams I ever had. – Shows the power of the subconscious mind trying to block information from coming into consciousness – even when it has been my desire to uncover this material for many years. I was just going to let it go – didn’t seem to be of much import at first glance – I wonder who’s idea that was?

Score one for the ‘Personal Spirit’ side!

Sorry it took so long to rewrite this, but I decided that I wanted to reread both of Donald Kalsched’s books, Trauma and the Soul and The Inner World of Trauma. I misunderstood the term “Self-Care” system the first go around. Originally, I thought the ‘diabolic’ was the bad side and the Self-Care was the good side of the subconscious. I mean “Self-Care” just sounds like it would be good?

Self-care is the process that takes over after trauma (Dr. Kalsched’s term) which uses any means necessary to allow the ego to remain intact enough to survive. It saves the ‘spirit’ from complete annihilation. My own substance of choice was ‘marijuana’, I like getting stoned into oblivion and at a point in my life, this probably saved me from suicide. However, later in my life I could see that marijuana was hampering my ability to function. I was a daily user and would continue smoking and drinking until I passed out at night. And I like this, but it seemed to conflict with the idea of having to make a living. (See dream “Marijuana vs, The World of Precision)

Also, the ‘self-care” system is what Dr. Kalsched calls this self-destructive/self-crippling phenomena. Other Jungians have their own terms for the same process. Then other psychoanalytic schools and members within them have their own names and definitions for similar processes. It can be a bit confusing when you come in from the lay world and try to figure out what is going on in your own head.

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