Carl Jung taught that the structure of a dream is similar to that of a drama, comprised of four different stages:
- Exposition: The opening scene, which introduces the place, characters, and situation that the dreamer will face–the issue or problem as expressed through metaphor.
- Development: The emergence of the plot.
- Culmination: Something significant occurs, and the main character responds.
- Lysis: The result or solution of the dream’s action. The lysis signifies how the dreamer might deal with the problem or issue that was expressed during the exposition stage. In effect, the work of the dream has produced a solution or result for the dreamer.
Jung considered the lysis the most important part of the dream because it showed where the dreamer’s energy wanted to go. Daryl Sharp writes, “Where there is no lysis, no solution is in sight” (Jungian Psychology Unplugged).
While some dreams are too short or fragmented to lend themselves to interpretation, the manifest (or remembered) dream can be important. Such a dream contains within itself the actual meaning of the dream; one needn’t understand its esoteric symbols in order to glean the meaning. The dream is a message from the unconscious, spoken through symbols meaningful and peculiar to the dreamer.