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

Lecture I 26th October, 1934

Those of you who attended last summer’s lectures will remember that they dealt with methods for revealing the inside of the human psyche.

We spoke of the word association method, combined with breathing, of the psycho-galvanic method and finally of dream analysis.

This semester we will proceed along the same path and study the psychology of dreams.

The investigation of t h e inner psyche is a practical possibility for doctors; it is the investigation of the unknown motive.

Just to know that a thing exists is not enough; one must know what it is and all about it.

The human psyche is the most important object of all; there is nothing in the world that has not once been a content of the psyche: trains, roads, everything of that order, all spring first from the psyche.

We could not even speak without “Einfalle” (ideas, hunches) from the psyche.

We can observe what this state would be like from certain cases of insanity ; nothing at all comes through to the brain.

The psyche is the Mother of everything and its investigation is of primary importance.

The unconscious is what we do not know and yet it is a part of our psychological nature, of our psyche.

To illustrate the extremely important practical side of this investigation I will give the following example.

It concerns a patient who had been to many doctors, an educated man of 29, a doctor.

He was sent to me as a last resort, in an appalling condition, he was a mere skeleton, I really thought he might die in the consulting room.

At first I thought that it was a physical disease, until I found that there was just one symptom – difficulty in swallowing.

For s even months he had been incapable of swallowing and was only able to take two cups of milk a day, taking two hours over each.

Naturally he had become a skeleton.

His conscious material did not reveal anything.

His professional life was most satisfactory, he was engaged to a girl of good family, he loved her and reported that there were no complications.

He said he never dreamt; I replied as I do in such cases: “You will tonight” because when the conscious has said everything it can, then the word goes to the unconscious, to the depths of the psyche.

The dreams began with the fiancée at once.

The bridegroom never dreams of his bride if all is well so I again questioned him ab out her.

He assured me that nothing was wrong there.

That in itself was suspicious, there is never “nothing wrong” in anything.

After a fortnight the dreams had placed the fiancée in a very poor light indeed.

I asked him yet again: “Have you no negative thoughts about her; you know one often has ab out the least likely people”, but he was absolutely certain that he had none.

By this time I knew that the fiancé was the trouble so I sent him away, telling him to ask some man in his town who knew the girl to tell him frankly all that he knew about her.

In a few days a letter arrived from him, it was very bitter and said that he was cure d and had broken off his engagement.

The girl was just a fast girl and had intimate relations with two other men and everyone knew it except the fiancé.

He fell from the clouds when his friend told him ab out it.

This had been what he could not swallow.

He was acting that p art of his psychology of which he was unaware, but when he knew it he did not have to act it any longer.

If this had not come to light he could not have lived.

We have to take these things very seriously, but we need a floor to stand on and methods with which to get at them.

Not everyone has the nose to scent out that these things exist and even if we have an intuition about them we are apt to put it behind us, we have a natural fear of the unknown and it is not considered good form to believe that such things exist.

Doctors especially, however, cannot afford to ignore the unconscious.

Tiny suspicions probably had come into my patient’s mind, but he was a decent man and would at once repress them with such thoughts as: “One must not be so terribly suspicious”, “Certainly one should not have such ideas ab out people “; so they remained on the surface of the unconscious, like a disagreeable letter that one gladly forgets.

This happens so often that there are many people who believe that the unconscious consists entirely of such things.

There must be some repetition for the sake of those who were not here last semester. (Here followed a short resume of the case and the three dreams which are to be found in Lecture XII, July 13th, 1934 and the associations to the third dream, the one in which the crab-lizard monster appears.).

We must always try to get the context of such a dream as this last in order to see the psychological background.

The art of doing this is to let the other fellow talk and to have no preconceived ideas.

We must take every piece of the dream and find the thought association in the same way that we do with the test word in the word association method: we must find out what psychological contents the word has fallen on.

There is no stereotyped explanation for dream symbols, we must not forget that words often have a totally different setting for other people than for ourselves and if we talk to them from our preconceived ideas it is as bad as talking Swiss-German to an Englishman.

In this dream we seem to be confronted with a very far-fetched association – the lazar-house of St. Jakob at Basle where 1500 Swiss lost their lives – to a simple peasant’s cottage; but we have to accept that this association is a fact to the dreamer, it is a content which the dream has brought up.

Anything that has been said is a fact, in daily life we often say “Oh I did not mean to s ay that”; but in dream analysis that is absolutely inadmissible.

It is the lapsus linguae which tells the truth.

One day I was discussing a colleague with another colleague.

I said “The man is a fool”, my companion replied” Yes an idiot, I mean he is quite an intelligent man.”

He had private reasons for speaking and thinking well of our other colleague, but his slip of the tongue spoke the truth.

Anything which has been said is a fact, and the house of St. Jacob is a fact and one which belongs to the situation.

The patient took the dream superficially and with preconceived ideas because he was an educated man; educated people usually take their dreams in this way.

I say to them “You may be quite right, but if we look into the dream more closely we may find something more.”

I will not speak of the meaning of this dream a s yet, but I should like you to keep the dream very clearly in your minds while we consider the possible ways of looking at it and of unravelling it.

There are people who hold that dreams are self-sufficient and that they can be understood without their associations.

This is an illusion.

Also there is no one entirely without prejudice, such a state is impossible.

There are Freud’s, Adler’s and my own ways of looking at dreams.

The psyche, or soul, is a very sensitive thing.

If we speak of the atom we are not moved by it, but when we speak of the soul everyone is personally touched, it always awakes an emotion.

Whenever one has an emotion one must keep above it, or else things become unpleasant, so I have to pay attention to keep myself from becoming emotional as I speak.

Freud looks upon dreams as consisting of repressed wishes which come up as fulfilled wishes in a hallucinatory form.

The insane have these wish-fulfilments as hallucinations while they are awake, and Freud’s idea is that when we are asleep we enter into that same state.

The unconscious has wishes and desires which are highly unsuitable to our conscious idea of ourselves, so we rigidly repress them.

We repress them because of our respectable position in society, as Mr. or Mrs. So and So we simply cannot want such things, and Freud holds that these wishes rise at night when we are not so sure who we are.

They appear in a disguised form because of the factor which Freud calls the censor which changes them so that they cannot be recognized, and then they can fulfill themselves symbolically.

The word “symbolic” is used incorrectly in this place, it should be allegorical.

Where we know the thing represented, sign is the right word.

The winged wheel is the sign of the railway.

But the Swastika in Germany is really a symbol; it could not be the sign representing a political party, for no one knows what it means.

National Socialists even have asked what it means.

It is a very ancient and meaningful symbol which exists all over the world.

The sun wheel is also a symbol which existed a thousand years before wheels were invented.

When no one knows the meaning of a thing it is a symbol. ~Carl Jung, Modern Psychology, Vol. 2, Pages 140-142.