Lecture II 10th May, 1935
Last time we made a brief survey of the unconscious composition of dreams.
Today we will speak of the Function of the Dream.
There are two classifications: (1) complementary, (2) compensatory.
(1 ). Th e complementary classification.
The elements which have not been present in daily consciousness are automatically brought forward.
A certain situation, for example, occurred during the day, we only noticed one aspect of it and did not see all round it.
The other aspects and contents, therefore, were left out either intentionally or unintentionally and they automatically come up in dreams.
(2). The compensatory classification.
Here, on the other hand, we see that psychic material entering into dreams which belongs to the idea of the totality of the personality.
It is as if there were a direct intention to give all the material that is needed to complete the conscious situation.
In the second case we must speak of tendency, of intention, to give these things to consciousness.
But in using the terms tendency and intention we carry a conscious point of view into the unconscious, and we do not know if this is permissible.
The totality of the psyche consists of both the conscious and the unconscious, possibly this gives us the right, but we must admit that only a few dreams substantiate this.
Dreams certainly do hit the vital point with great precision.
Antique culture always regarded them as messengers, and we cannot afford to ignore the opinions of antiquity, because the ancients had a psychology which was much broader than ours for they saw a much simpler world than we do.
We cannot hear our own voices for the newspapers, but they had time to listen to their inner experiences.
So the conceptions of antiquity point more to a compensatory point of view than to a complementary one.
It is as if a transcendental subject existed beyond the ordinary empirical subject, and as if this transcendental subject threw light on the conscious standpoint.
Then the question arises why, if a transcendental subject exists, does it not speak in reasonable language?
One can only say that such a purpose must use the material available to it and this material consists of the contents of the unconscious all of which are influenced by the contamination of which we spoke last time, and that material necessitates a very different language from that of our own conscious world.
The conscious, in order to speak reasonably, is forced to exclude many aspects and contents of a situation, but to exclude is not the function or the purpose of the transcendental subject which, by its very nature, is forced to use a wider and more comprehensive form of speech.
It is not dealing with conscious material, so there only remains a contaminated material which resembles the speech of the primitive who does not see things as differentiated.
He is in participation, which we are now calling contamination.
It is impossible for us to see how a primitive identifies himself with a crocodile, but this is the result of his contaminated mental condition.
In a sense, he is a crocodile because he can be as dangerous as a crocodile, and an eagle when he is as fearless as an eagle, he is a clan brother of both.
The primitive can even go into the water with the conviction that the crocodile will not eat him, for contamination is so natural to him that he will even trust his life to it.
We dream of a combined figure with the face of the real father, the figure of an uncle, and the gestures of an Esteemed teacher.
This figure is formed from all the people who from professional or family connections have been associated with us in a fatherly aspect, they are all contaminated and made into one figure by the unconscious.
It is as if the transcendent function had to express itself through turbid, obscure material.
This is very clearly visible in the material of the insane.
If you ask me for my interpretation of the function of the dream I must reply that I gave both these aspects, because though I have known many dreams which could be satisfactorily explained by the complementary classification, I have also
known many which could not.
This latter kind of material forces me to think that tendency and intention do exist, and that the human personality consists of two important parts, one of which often possesses a greater and riper knowledge than the conscious subject.
Dreams sometimes refer to things ten years before the conscious has any idea of their existence, this leads us to believe in the anticipatory quality of dreams.
Use of dreams.
I can touch on this point very briefly.
Their main use is to throw light on a dark situation, and to enlighten that which he cannot see through.
In practical analysis they often reveal things which we could never reach through asking questions of the patient; so we turn to dreams to show us what tendencies and possibilities exist which can be brought
into daily life.
The conscious can plan great things which it is quite unable to reach and dreams often show us a door leading
to a possibility that we could never conceive of consciously.
It is contamination itself which shows us these unguessed connections; in the clear rooms of our consciousness we lock the door on just those contents, seemingly irrelevant, that could help us.
Often easy ways lie close at hand though they are invisible to our consciousness.
The special purpose of this process is that these contents should not be regarded as merely interesting, but should be put into daily life.
Only when they are integrated have they really fulfilled their functions.
We have spoken of methods by which to see the dark processes of the unconscious and we have learnt that long sequences roll on continuously and that our dreams are pieces of this process.
The fact that these contents force themselves into all situations, and hinder us by making us forget words, say the wrong thing, and so on, proves that these processes never cease and never sleep.
So the unconscious is a moving psychic layer which we see only when disturbances occur.
It would be best if one could just remove the conscious and watch, but this is not possible for nothing would be left with which to observe.
So the task is to find a way to remove the obstruction of consciousness and yet to leave an eye with which to see what appears on the dark background of the psyche.
Here we closely approach eastern methods.
There is such a way but it is dark to western consciousness, which has no idea of these things, and feels bewildered by them.
I will try to put it so that you do not feel too bewildered.
Directly we try to see something of the unconscious we have already sinned against western ideals; when we make ourselves empty so as to invite these contents to manifest themselves, we have already laid ourselves open to suspicion.
Yet the East says this is the very beginning of wisdom, they already teach little children that much; so when we empty ourselves we open up a new territory – Yoga.
The Latin “ugum” – yoke – shows its purpose, which is to yoke the horses of the unconscious.
We have these wild horses, the complexes, in our unconscious; they do not only plague the nervous, but the normal also.
We all know of things that hinder us and which we want to suppress with the whole force of the will which is a poor, blunt instrument with, at best, temporary effect, to use against such things.
The East has known all these facts for thousands of years, it is only in the West that they are unknown; the West where we look everywhere but into ourselves.
Just to empty your consciousness sounds easy, but it is a very difficult task indeed.
Most people use eastern ways to do this, which is mere apelike mimicry.
I have only mentioned the East as an analogy and I should like to take the opportunity to give a public warning against imitations of the East.
It is our task to find a way to come to terms with these things in our own manner.
Eastern ways are quite unsuitable to the western form of consciousness.
The principal thing is to know how this can be done and I will give you an example to make this clear.
A young man of 32, an artist, a painter, had a particular difficulty in finding a way to this emptying of consciousness.
Yet it was most important for him as he had symptoms of a peculiarly pregnant and threatening unconscious: he had far too many dreams and their menacing quality kept him from sleeping.
In such cases it is necessary to use drastic measures.
There is, as it were, a big abscess.
You cannot reach the contents with outward methods, but must operate up on it.
This method of phantasying while awake is not only useful in illness but has a universal application.
I suggested therefore to this young man that he should try to phantasy but he was quite unable to do so and could only repeat to himself over and over again: “I must have an empty conscious”.
At last after trying for three or four weeks he was sitting one day at Stadelhofen Station, waiting for his train to come out to see me, when he was attracted by a poster of Murren, a landscape of a hill with cows upon it.
He thought: “Why I could walk up that hill to those cows”.
He did so, and looked down over the other side to a view over the Alps; there was a gate in the foreground with a path beyond
it leading downwards.
He went through the gate and walked down the path and came to a corner round which was a chapel.
He entered the chapel and found it contained a religious picture; something with pointed ears suddenly disappeared
behind this picture.
At this point he thought “This is all nonsense, why I made it up myself”.
But in the train he thought: “Well, after all, I should try again and if it all happens in the same way I shall not have invented it.
“So he walked up the hill for the second time and everything was just the same, even to the creature with the pointed ears.
Then he came to my office jubilant, saying “Now I have it!”
It was his cramped attitude which had hitherto stopped the phantasy from appearing.
The attitude of the East towards these matters is quite different, they give things a chance to express themselves quite
naturally in the same spirit as a child makes a doll of a piece of wood, which comes, as it were, to life in its hands.~Carl Jung,
ETH Lecture, 10May1935, Pages 205-207.