Modern Psychology: C. G. Jung’s Lectures at the ETH Zürich, 1933-1941

Lecture XIII 13th July, 1934

The last lecture was devoted to a general survey of dreams.

This time we will deal with the technique of analyzing them.

We will take a very simple dream as an example but as you will see the simplest dream is not so very simple and it is very necessary to keep the dream clear and not to forget it.

Dream: I am in a small cottage with a peasant woman. I tell her of a long journey which I am going to undertake, to Leipzig, and on foot. She is very much impressed and surprised. Looking through the window I observe the landscape with hay-makers in the foreground. Quite suddenly I see an enormous animal, it is half a crab and half a lizard, first it walks to the left and then to the right, so that I stand in the middle of its movements. As it moves to the right, it comes much closer and I feel threatened. I have a rod in my hand and with that I attack the animal and kill it. Then I stand and contemplate it for a long time, very intensively.

We must first know who it was who dreamt this dream, otherwise it means nothing.

The dreamer was an academic man of 40.

He had been extremely successful in his own line, but there is always a great disadvantage in success besides its obvious advantages.

This man was in a leading position, he had climbed to a place where, so to speak, he could see down four thousand feet, and he felt that he was now in a position from which he could advance still further.

There was apparently no obstacle, yet he develop ed a neurosis, and of a very peculiar kind.

He had all the symptoms of mountain sickness, anxiety, insecurity, dizziness which even reached nausea, heavy head, and difficulty in breathing.

When I pointed this out he found it peculiar and admitted that as a young man he had once suffered from mountain sickness of which the symptoms had been exactly
the same.

The night before he had had two dreams.

First Dream: I was in a small village, in a top hat and a black overcoat, with several thick books under my arm. Some peasant boys with whom I had been to school were standing together in the street, and one said: “He does not often come back to our village.”

Second dream: I woke up before a journey. I t was already very late, and everything went wrong. I could not find my portfolio, all my other things were mislaid, and when at last I got into the street I hardly made any headway and I got to the station only as the train was steaming out. There was a curious shaped curve, and the train was a very long one. It occurred to me that if the driver put on full steam and rushed ahead when the engine reached the straight part of the line the train would be dragged off while still on the curve and there would be an accident. As I tried to shout the driver opened the throttle and there was a terrible catastrophe.

The first dream reminded the dreamer of his origin; it was a reminder of where he came from and what he consisted of.

In the second dream he failed to reach his objective in spite of his best and most frantic efforts.

He had forgotten that he consisted of a long train and that all of it had to go with him; if he had been just an engine he might have been able to achieve his object.

We will not spend any more time on these two dreams as their meaning is fairly obvious, but will concentrate up on the one which we have chosen.

We will treat it as an association test and take test words out of it.

  1. Peasant woman.
    2 . Distant journey – Leipzig.
  2. Landscape with haymakers .
  3. Monster. (Dreams are very fond of mixing animals together in this way.)
  4. Left-right motif.
  5. Rod.
  6. Contemplation

A dream should always be written down at once, otherwise we inevitably lie to ourselves.

It should be written down in three columns, e.g.

Dream Motifs
1. Peasant woman:
2. Cottage:
3 . Haymakers:

There was a long pause, then the mention of the Lazar-House of St. Jakob, near Basel.
Picture in his house.
Attempts at Explanation

This is the way to work on a dream humbly, by oneself, when there is no accomplished analyst at hand to do it for one.

When I asked him what he associated with the peasant woman, he replied: «Widow».

Then there was a long pause for it was most unpleasant for him to remember that his mother was a poor widow.

He had travelled so far from his humble origin that he greatly preferred vague phantasies of a possible noble origin to remembering the actual facts.

The Egyptian Pharaohs’ had two origins and two sets of parents, one human and one divine.

In a special chamber of the Egyptian temples, the birth chamber of the pharaohs is to be found, where two gods gave him birth.

We find the same motif in Greek mythology; once a goddess found a human child at her breast, she wrested the nipple from his mouth and the milk spurted over the heavens and formed the Milky Way.

This motif of the double origin lies in the collective unconscious.

The dreamer could give no associations to the cottage because it was most unpleasant for him to remember his origin.

In such a case the patient goes further afield and after a time brings back a far-fetched association.

In this case to an historic place near Basel, the St. Jakob House where fifteen hundred Swiss gave up their lives.

In such cases we must remember that it was the patient himself who gave this seemingly absurd association, and it was not as stupid as it appeared for he himself was contemplating a slaughter, not of fifteen hundred Swiss indeed but of one poor monster.

The dreamer had studied at Leipzig and his ambition was not satisfied with the university at which he already held a leading position, but coveted a chair at Leipzig.

He reported that the peasant woman was tremendously astonished at his project.

He associated a picture on the wall of his house with the haymakers.

His own haymaking as a boy would have been a far simpler association, but again his dislike of remembering that he ever did such work from necessity prevented him from giving it.

Up to this point the dream is quite b anal, but now it becomes creative – it creates a monster.

The dreamer said it was just a monster, a non- existent animal, partly a crab which, as is well known, walks backwards, though in this case it moved forwards, and partly a lizard.

I did not stress the point of the monster to the dreamer.

The left-right motif comes next.

The dreamer said that the left was unfavourable, sinister, that bad omens come from the left, but afterwards it went to the right, and to this he had no associations, he just remarked that it went to its death.

Things which come to us from the left have been thought out of the body; the heart is on the left, things happen to us from the left as it were accidentally.

Things from the right, on the other hand, are conscious, thought out by the head, directed.

The right hand knoweth not what the left hand doeth, and often does not want to know.

Everyone has two hands, and two-handed ways.

The monster first threatened him from the left, from the unconscious, then from the right, from the conscious.

The latter he felt to be dangerous, he did not want it in consciousness, and so it met its death.

The rod he associated with the magic wand.

He gained a victory over the monster, but he did not seem quite satisfied, for otherwise why this long contemplation?

I asked him why, but he was not able to answer, nor did he know what it was that he had thought.

The German word “Betrachtung” » means a long and intensive gaze, almost a magic process.

It seems as if something streamed out of our eyes.

If we meet a lion in the jungle and look quite steadily at it, it goes away, and the same is true of a snake.

It is possible to bewitch people in the same way.

If we desire something sufficiently and look at it long enough, it comes to us, that is, it does if we can endure the process ourselves, the object becomes pregnant with the gaze “Triichtin” with the “Betrachtung”.

If we can look at a picture of the god long enough, he nods.

When I was a child it was my Sunday treat to go and visit an aunt and watch a picture of hers, a clergyman, in the act of walking down some steps, until he moved and walked
down the flight.

For many years I regarded this incident as childish, but primitives do exactly the same thing, they know the magic effect of the eye.

It seems that our life can stream out of our eyes and enter the object which will then move towards us.

The real object of the dreamer in the Betrachtung of the dead monster was to bring it to life again, but he was not aware of this.

The dream gives us his whole life and I could give you many more examples of even simpler dreams which contain the dreamer’s whole life and situation.

The beginning of a dream is the exposition, the situation in which the dreamer finds himself, or in which the dream problem takes place.

The exposition of this dream says: “See, here is a woman, very like your own mother, who lives in a cottage similar to the one in which you were born. You tell her about your ambitions and she is impressed and amazed, but you are still in this cottage, remember where you began”.

A dweller on sea level can mount perhaps 6,000 feet without becoming liable to mountain sickness and one who began at 6,000 feet might mount to 12,000, but the height at
which we were born goes with us through life and can never be denied, it follows after us as the train, or goes ahead as the engine which pulls us.

Bourget deals with this theme in “L’etap e”, a book which I recommend to you.

There is already a vast difference between where this man stands today and where he started, and he should have been satisfied.

He is no longer quite young, but is 40.

By that age we should have reached our place in life and if someone has not, if he has still to ascend, one can only say that he is a great exception.

It was once written of someone: “There were no signs of genius in him before he was forty, and none afterwards either!”

The dreamer was in the second half of life, he had passed the stepping stone of 35, he had not noticed this indeed, but already at 36 curious symptoms had begun to set in.

One half of him wanted to press on, and the other half said “No!”

The exposition of this dream says: “Look, you are still where you were as a child, still in your childhood.”

And then a terrifying thought follows, the crab that goes backwards beckons to him.

There is no flaming enthusiasm for new enterprises, no hot-blooded passion, but the cold-blooded animal calls him back.

The crab belongs to the motif of the helpful animal.

There are many motifs in the collective unconscious: the ford, the dragon, the fairy prince, & c., and the motif of the helpful animal continually occurs, such as the raven which brings food and the wolf which suckled Romulus and Remus.

The crab thought leads backwards.

It comes first from the unfavorable left, and then from the right, from which it becomes so threatening that it is killed by the dreamer with his magic wand.

The conscious has the power to do this, it can bewitch things consciously, think them away, and then they are no longer there, a logical opinion comes up and they are spirited magically away, this is what we can do with the intellect.

In this case, for instance, rationalism says: “There is no such animal, it does not exist, it is nothing but the dream image”.

And the affair is settled.

But what has happened to the animal? Where is it really?

The dreamer does not know, so he contemplates it for a long time.

He has killed his animal instinct and this is a pleasure which we are unable to afford, especially in these days where we are so divorced, so far away from our own instincts.

It is so long since this man was with his instinct that he simply does not recognize it in this monstrous form.

He believed that his life was to consist of continual progress and he is not willing to sacrifice this idea.

He refused to accept my explanation of this dream, he received it acidly, and did not believe it.

So, unfortunately, he went on following his ambition and a disastrous situation followed, he would not learn the lesson which the dream held for him. ~Carl Jung, Modern Psychology, Vol. 1, Pages 136-139.