Archetypal Psychology and Dream Work:
When There Is “No There There”

Dr. Patricia Berry


Teresa Oster MSW, MS, CJSSF board member

CJSSF: Your seminal collection of essays was published 36 years ago. “Echo’s Subtle Body: Contributions to an Archetypal Psychology” holds up amazingly well as a guide to approaching dreams and as an argument for an archetypal, imaginal approach to analysis and living in modern times. Just briefly, what parts might you add to or refine if you were writing those essays today?

PATRICIA BERRY: I have actually published a number of other papers too, in other places. But I don’t like writing so much anymore. You are right, it is in Echo where most of my earlier stuff is gathered. Although it is worth noting that in the 2nd & 3rd editions of Echo a more recent essay is included called “Rules of Thumb,” which reflects in a more straight-forward way how i think nowadays. I still love thinking, reflecting,… but rather than writing I far prefer teaching, doing analysis and/or giving talks.


CJSSF: Years ago, a friend who spent a lot of time in Alaska was staying with me in Florida, and she told me her dream in the morning as I was headed to my Jungian training weekend where you were presenting. She dreamed she was alone in the house, and a bear entered through the sliding glass door. She grabbed a large steak out of the freezer and threw it to the bear, and ran. Might you comment on this dream, again —  in terms of defense and telos?

PATRICIA BERRY: What strikes me right off is how the entrance of the bear got the dreamer to take “the ‘meat’ out of the ‘freezer’”= i.e., from where it had been frozen). The first trick, more than anything else, is to hear the dream metaphorically.


CJSSF: In your book, you say Archetypal Psychology is an aesthetic psychology —  non-literal, metaphorical, poetic, imaginal — and that the dream image comes from the imagination, not from the outer world of the senses. Is this why we find Jung and Archetypal Psychology more commonly referenced today in the realm of the arts than in psychology? Writers and filmmakers especially seem more conversant about the archetypal than mental health professionals. 

PATRICIA BERRY: Well, psychology nowadays is taught almost everywhere as a science. To regard it rather as an aesthetic, which Hillman spelled out and insisted on, puts the work on a different footing, which will become clearer in the workshop. I most enjoy teaching Archetypal Psychology in clinical programs and supervision groups. For me, this makes sense and is an important extension of the field. Archetypal Psychology can bring some perspectives for clinical work that you don’t get otherwise.


CJSSF: It seems that film is the dominant art form of our time. The director of “The Mountain Between Us”, a recent film about love and survival, says in his commentary: “After the moment you define it (symbolism), it loses its meaning. What doesn’t lose its meaning is the image. Image is not a material thing. Image can provoke emotions even when time passes.” Did the director get it right? Why is image primary over narrative in film, and in dream work?

PATRICIA BERRY: It seems to me curious the director of that particular film would be one to speak of symbol (since the film was done primarily in an agonizingly realistic style) In my experience of that particular film, both image and narrative were strong.


CJSSF: Some struggle to bring dreams to analysis. Can a film be worked like a dream? Can it work for a client to bring an affecting film and “tease apart” their responses?

PATRICIA BERRY: Seems to me most anything can be worked with metaphorically — so in that particular sense anyway, yes, like a dream.


CJSSF: You and your late husband of 20 years, James Hillman, were collaborators and cofounders of Archetypal Psychology. Are there ways in which you would differentiate your own vision of psychology and dream work from his? Were you a ‘first reader’ or editor of his books?

PATRICIA BERRY: At this point, my perspective is different from his in that my personality and priorities are different. I am a different person — although I continue to respect him and his work greatly. What he considered primary (imagination) was right for him and the basis of his view of what Archetypal Psychology was about. I am by nature more relational and like working with people, which makes what I do and value and how I see things somewhat differently.


CJSSF: For your Friday lecture you ask a burning question: “Who are we now, and what can we do?” You ask what implications the soul work of Archetypal Psychology has for our current cultural dilemmas. Are you saying that personal dream work is not enough — that we need to bring the work to the collective level? Also, are some dreams more about the collective than the personal?

PATRICIA BERRY: I feel what you mention here has all been said before. I will be saying things that ought to twist the mind around a bit from the usual.


CJSSF: On a more personal note:  Where do you reside now and why? Do you have a private practice? What books are on your nightstand? What movies affected you recently?

PATRICIA BERRY: I see a lot of movies. I love films and appreciate them for what they are trying to do and what they do well. I sometimes think most of my continuing education actually comes via watching the film. I live in Carpinteria, CA (Santa Barbara County) and teach regularly at Pacifica. I have a private practice. At this moment my work is mostly via Skype and FaceTime. That’s what happens, I guess when you move around a lot, which I have in the last couple of years!

Headshot of Patricia Berry PHD

Dr. Patricia Berry is a renowned Jungian Analyst who received her diploma in Analytical Psychology from the C. G. Jung Institute Zurich. Together with James Hillman, her partner of 20 years, she is a co-founder of Archetypal Psychology. She has taught as adjunct faculty at Yale University, the University of Syracuse, and the University of Dallas. Her collection of early essays: Echo’s Subtle Body: A Contribution to Archetypal Psychology has been widely read as a guide to the Archetypal dream work. She has been associated with Jungian educational institutions for more than 50 years, serving as Director of Training and President of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts and the C. G. Jung Institute of Boston. She was the first Scholar in Residence at Pacifica University, where she teaches today.


As a Not-For-Profit organization we exist because of the generosity of our friends, volunteers and donors. None of the work that we do would be possible without you.


Center for Jungian Studies
c/o Richard Chappell
20533 Biscayne Blvd Ste 104
Aventura, FL 33180-1529



Center for Jungian Studies
c/o Richard Chappell
20533 Biscayne Blvd Ste 104
Aventura, FL 33180-1529

Join Our Newsletter


As a Not-For-Profit organization we exist because of the generosity of our friends, volunteers and donors. None of the work that we do would be possible without you.