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Carl Jung on Dreams


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The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche (Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 8)

The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness extends.

For all ego-consciousness is isolated; because it separates and discriminates, it knows only particulars, and it sees only those that can be related to the ego. Its essence is limitation, even though it reach to the farthest nebulae among the stars.

All consciousness separates; but in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of primordial night.

There he is still the whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all ego-hood.

It is from these all-uniting depths that the dream arises, be it never so childish, grotesque, and immoral. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 304

No amount of scepticism and criticism has yet enabled me to regard dreams as negligible occurrences.

Often enough they appear senseless, but it is obviously we who lack the sense and ingenuity to read the enigmatic message from the nocturnal realm of the psyche.

Seeing that at least half our psychic existence is passed in that realm, and that consciousness acts upon our nightly life just as much as the unconscious overshadows our daily life, it would seem all the more incumbent on medical psychology to sharpen its senses by a systematic study of dreams.

Nobody doubts the importance of conscious experience; why then should we doubt the significance of unconscious happenings?

They also are part of our life, and sometimes more truly a part of it for weal or woe than any happenings of the day. ~Carl Jung, CW 16, Para 325

The dream has for the primitive an incomparably higher value than it has for civilized man.

Not only does he talk a great deal about his dreams, he also attributes an extraordinary importance to them, so that it often seems as though he were unable to distinguish between them and reality.

To the civilized man dreams as a rule appear valueless, though there are some people who attach great significance to certain dreams on account of their weird and impressive

This peculiarity lends plausibility to the view that dreams are inspirations. ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 574

Dream psychology opens the way to a general comparative psychology from which we may hope to gain the same understanding of the development and structure of the human
psyche as comparative anatomy has given us concerning the human body. ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 47

A dream, like every element in the psychic structure, is a product of the total psyche.

Hence we may expect to find in dreams everything that has ever been of significance in the life of humanity.

Just as human life is not limited to this or that fundamental instinct, but builds itself up from a multiplicity of instincts, needs, desires, and physical and psychic conditions, etc., so the dream cannot be explained by this or that element in it, however beguilingly simple such an explanation may appear to be.

We can be certain that it is incorrect, because no simple theory of instinct will ever be capable of grasping the human psyche, that mighty and mysterious thing, nor, consequently, its exponent, the dream. In order to do anything like justice to dreams, we need an interpretive equipment that must be laboriously fitted together from all branches of the humane sciences. ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 527

The dream is often occupied with apparently very silly details, thus producing an impression of absurdity, or else it is on the surface so unintelligible as to leave us thoroughly

Hence we always have to overcome a certain resistance before we can seriously set about disentangling the intricate web through patient work.

But when at last we penetrate to its real meaning, we find ourselves deep in the dreamer’s secrets and discover with astonishment that an apparently quite senseless dream is in the highest degree significant, and that in reality it speaks only of important and serious matters.

This discovery compels rather more respect for the so-called superstition that dreams have a meaning, to which the rationalistic temper of our age has hitherto given short shrift. Carl Jung, CW 7, Para 24

Dreams that form logically, morally, or aesthetically satisfying wholes are exceptional.

Usually a dream is a strange and disconcerting product distinguished by many “bad” qualities, such as lack of logic, questionable morality, uncouth form, and apparent absurdity or nonsense.

People are therefore only too glad to dismiss it as stupid, meaningless, and worthless. ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 532

Dreams are impartial, spontaneous products of the unconscious psyche, outside the control of the will.

They are pure nature; they show us the unvarnished, natural truth, and are therefore fitted, as nothing else is, to give us back an attitude that accords with our basic human nature when our consciousness has strayed too far from its foundations and run into an impasse. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, 317

As in our waking state, real people and things enter our field of vision, so the dream-images enter like another kind of reality into the field of consciousness of the dream-ego.

We do not feel as if we were producing the dreams, it is rather as if the dreams came to us.

They are not subject to our control but obey their own laws.

They are obviously autonomous psychic complexes which form them selves out of their own material.

We do not know the source of their motives, and we therefore say that dreams come from the unconscious.

In saying this, we assume that there are independent psychic complexes which elude our conscious control and come and go according to their own laws. ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 580