The following excerpt from Encountering the Monster amplifies the fourth dream in five-year-old Eric’s dream series which illustrates the combat with the monster. Eric’s series includes eight dreams. Eric is in his bed when the dream begins and there is a rope that blocks his way out. The dream character, Jos Lit, is Eric’s imaginary companion.

         This dream recalls from the first dream the theme of the rope and of the painful walk in search of an exit. The image of the peregrinations in the labyrinth suggested in the first dream becomes more specific here. The course Eric follows to free himself from imprisonment by the rope and reach the chimney consists in setting out, encountering the obstacle, turning around, collapsing into sleep, setting out again and walking, and overcoming the obstacle. Finally he arrives at the center, which the chimney represents, where he finds a monster followed by  a horde of other monsters.

        It is the imaginary companion who rescues Eric and takes charge of solving the problem for him. He intervenes from outside of the house, whereas Eric has described himself as inside the house. The activity centered in Eric when he searches for an exit and attempts to free himself from the rope is now displaced upon the imaginary companion, and Eric becomes inactive. The pole of action moves from inside to outside, from Eric to his imaginary companion, from ego to other.

        The imaginary companion ‘shoots bullets into his body’ and he becomes ‘bigger and bigger.’ Jos Lit’s preparation for facing the enemy monster and its cohort takes on its full meaning if we consider the symbolic significance of assimilating the metal that the bullets represent and the transformation that this process induces in Eric’s ally. Eric’s drawing shows that, using a machine gun, Jos Lit ‘shoots bullets into his body’ by shooting them into the air and swallowing them. There is a second representation of Jos Lit, bigger this time, as he climbs onto the roof of the house. A third representation of Jos Lit shows him as he gets closer to the row of five monsters walking of the roof up to the chimney. (. . .)

        The absorption of bullets a conceived by Eric has the effect of transforming Jos Lit so he will be able to combat the monsters. In symbolic terms, the absorption of bullets might be equivalent to the active and creative mobilization of Eric’s vital energy, so that he can face in a more dynamic way the challenge that the monsters represent.

        This dream marks a turning point. The ally moves from the victim role to that of an aggressor. It is now Jos Lit who is transformed into a devouring monster, thus revealing himself in his strength. The apocalyptic monster of the first dream was a monster threatening to eat Eric; the engulfing water was swallowing his earth and his shelter. Here the situation has changed and balance is restored, because it is Eric by means of his ally who knocks, chews (Yes, Jos Lit has teeth!) and devours. The monsters disappear by being incorporated. Once eaten, the monsters are destroyed. And having  been eaten, they reach the end of the regressive process that began with their multiplication.

        By means of the imaginary companion, the child also assimilates the enemy monsters. The power of the monsters, which seemed terrifying at first, is symbolically appropriated by the child during the assimilation process, as if the assimilated monsters were integrated and thus vanquished. This is probably what leads Ernest Aeppli (1978) to say that parents can be certain that their child is on his or her way the day the child tells them: ‘I went to the forest. Then the wolf came, and I was very scared. Bu it did not eat me, it is I who ate it. And afterward my belly was all big,’

Encountering the Monster: Pathways in Children’s Dreams, pp. 49-50.
     1990 © Denyse Beaudet. All rights reserved.

The Dreams of Children

Denyse Beaudet, Ph.D.

Dreamguider ~




    How to Purchase

Encountering ~




    How to Purchase