Psychology and Religion: West and East (The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Volume 11)
In my rather long psychological experience I have observed a great many people whose unconscious psychic activity I was able to follow into the immediate presence of death.
As a rule the approaching end was indicated by those symbols which, in normal life also, proclaim changes of psychological condition—rebirth symbols such as changes of locality, journeys, and the like.
I have frequently been able to trace back for over a year, in a dream-series, the indications of approaching death, even in cases where such thoughts were not prompted by the outward
Dying, therefore, has its onset long before actual death.
Moreover, this often shows itself in peculiar changes of personality which may precede death by quite a long time.
On the whole, I was astonished to see how little ado the unconscious psyche makes of death.
It would seem as though death were something relatively unimportant, or perhaps our psyche does not bother about what happens to the individual.
But it seems that the unconscious is all the more interested in how one dies; that is, whether the attitude of consciousness is adjusted to dying or not.
For example, I once had to treat a woman of sixty-two.
She was still hearty, and moderately intelligent.
It was not for want of brains that she was unable to understand her dreams.
It was unfortunately only too clear that she did not want to understand them.
Her dreams were very plain, but also very disagreeable.
She had got it fixed in her head that she was a faultless mother to her children, but the children did not share this view at all, and the dreams too displayed a conviction very much to the contrary.
I was obliged to break off the treatment after some weeks of fruitless effort because I had to leave for military service (it was during the war).
In the meantime the patient was smitten with an incurable disease, leading after a few months to a moribund condition which might bring about the end at any moment.
Most of the time she was in a sort of delirious or somnambulistic state, and in this curious mental condition she spontaneously resumed the analytical work.
She spoke of her dreams again and acknowledged to herself everything that she had previously denied to me with the greatest vehemence, and a lot more besides.
This self-analytic work continued daily for several hours, for about six weeks.
At the end of this period she had calmed herself, just like a patient during normal treatment, and then she died. ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 809