It is useful to view waking and dream states not as a binary of awake-asleep but rather a continuum of wakefulness-sleep/conscious-unconscious. In this way, we recognize that when we are asleep, we oftentimes have “one eye open” and are able to perceive that which is happening in our environment. Often our dreams are a way to encourage ourselves to remain asleep. What we call our psychic censor decides not only what will be allowed from the unconscious into the conscious mind – however altered it is in representation to veil its true meaning – but also masks stimuli from the environment, frequently incorporating it into the dream work (i.e., when an alarm clock becomes a fire alarm in our dream, and we suddenly need to evacuate the building).

Similarly, when we are “wide awake” our unconscious mind is still active and is more or less present in daydreams, fantasies, imagination, etc. This concept of the ratio or continuum in a state of flux can be applied not only to dream-wake states and conscious-unconscious but also to aspects of identity, such as homosexuality-heterosexuality and femininity-masculinity.

To me, the aim of psychoanalysis and other creative practices is to bring our conscious mind more in line with our unconscious, bringing more imagination, creativity and fantasy into our daily lives. Despite what some theorists have posited throughout the past century, I am not interested in intellectual exercises that attempt to rationalize or tame the unconscious, but rather encourage individuation, imagination and drive, as each of us harness our inherent creative potential.

Vanessa Sinclair, Psy.D., is a psychoanalyst based in Sweden who works internationally, the author of books such as The Pathways of the Heart and Scansion in Psychoanalysis and Art: the Cut in Creation, and editor of The Fenris Wolf, vol 9 with her husband, Carl Abrahamsson