When the Psyche Knocks, Let It In

In the song he popularized, Keep A-knockin, Little Richard sings of love spurned:

Keep a-knockin’ but you can’t come in.
Keep a-knockin’ but you can’t come in.
Keep a-knockin’ but you can’t come in.
Come back tomorrow night and try it again.

Not infrequently the psyche comes a-knockin’ at the door of our conscious mind (the ego) asking for admittance. And sometimes we keep it knocking; we’re reluctant to hear what it has to say. In such situations it often becomes more insistent as reflected in this young man’s dream: “Someone was pounding on the roof of my apartment. It was as if they were trying to break through the ceiling into my room. All the banging woke me up.” The dreamer’s unconscious wanted to warn him against a path, or attitude,  he was taking in life. This is evidenced by another dream he had that night: “I’m driving my car down the road when another car coming from the opposite direction pulls into my lane and drives straight towards me.”

Putting it poetically, we might say:

Because he was aloof, his unconscious came through the roof,
dropping plaster on his bed just to get inside his head.
But because he wouldn’t hear, it added a dose of fear,
tried to expand his current vision with the threat of a collision.

A woman dreamed:

I’ve gone to bed, but then I wonder if I locked the front door. I go to the door which is split-level, with a top and bottom that open separately. I see that the door is ajar so I push it closed, but as I do so I feel someone pushing just as hard from the other side. I look through the crack between the door and its jamb and see a tall man. Now I push even harder to close the door but the man extends a key through the narrow opening. It is an old skeleton key. It reminds me of the kind of key a pirate might use to open a treasure chest.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to know what that key opens? What is the message her psyche brings? Is there a key that she is missing? Something important she’s dismissing? Perhaps a bounty to be discovered, or a gift to be uncovered?

Our ego is often afraid of what it does not understand. Perhaps at some level we are all xenophobes, afraid of the stranger, the unfamiliar, the mysterious and unknown within us. As a result, in our dreams the unconscious may be perceived as an intruder, a robber, or the devil. And yet, if we encounter this unconscious messenger with an attitude of openness and cooperation, it typically becomes less fearful or threatening. It can transforms into a helpful friend, guide, or teacher. As often happens in our dealings with our deeper self, the face we turn towards it is the face it turns towards us.

Perhaps Little Richard’s perspective needs to be replaced by that of Paul McCartney when he sings:

Someone’s knockin’ at the door.
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell.
Someone’s knockin’ at the door.
Somebody’s ringin’
the bell.
Do me a favor
, open the door,
and let ’em in, yeah, let ’em in.


[written by Paul and Linda McCartney, Wings]

Copyright © Andy Drymalski, Ed.D.
Excerpts may be used provided full and clear credit is given author with link to original article.

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