69 / 100

The unconscious in itself and of its relation to consciousness.

01509 1

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

Lecture VI 30th November, 1934

At the end of the last lecture I spoke to you of the unconscious in itself and of its relation to consciousness.

The dream, as we saw, is a message from the unconscious to consciousness of a complementary or compensatory character.

The meaning of the two words is not identical.

To complement comes from the Latin complere = to supplement, to complete.

The conscious is not a totality, and the missing portions are automatically brought forward by the unconscious.

To compensate comes from the Latin compensare = to equalise.

This has rather the meaning that the unconscious creates a substitution or compensation for what the conscious has lost.

I will leave you with both words to u s e as you prefer.

Both of these functions of the dream are exceedingly useful, for we cannot grasp a situation if part of it remains unconscious.

We cannot see these unconscious contents at all until they come into the conscious and when they appear they have already taken on a form in which conscious material is mixed, so that it is difficult or impossible to conceive of them in their pure form.

They are wordless images , it is exceedingly difficult to put them into words and we feel them change in our hands as we write or say them.

We are apt to correct them too much so that they are no longer what they were.

We have four psychological functions and necessarily they all function somewhere and if this does not take place in the conscious, it will in the unconscious.

As we become aware of these different p arts of our psyche, we begin to see how they can be integrated.

Everyone possesses thinking and feeling, for instance; if the conscious is definitely that of a thinker, feeling is sure to be found only in the unconscious.

Affects, which the reasonable man ignores all day, come up in dreams at night. It is amazing how aptly dreams produce exactly the thing which was missing in the situation; one can only be filled with admiration and marvel at the manner in which the unconscious speaks.

In all muscular activity there is always a slight counter activity in order to make the action a coordinated one and the conscious and unconscious are similarly interwoven.

It is quite possible to predict the kind of dreams which a certain type of consciousness will produce and owing to my long study of these things, on hearing a dream, I am
often able to form an accurate idea of the conscious attitude of a dreamer who is a stranger to me.

Let us now consider our three dreams from this further point of view.

The first dream, where my patient was in his village with his school-fellows, is evidently a reminder of his humble origin.

This is in striking contrast to the position which he now occupies and this contrast is most aptly depicted; he is shown in his “get up” as a fashionable professor, but everything else in the dream is exactly as it was in his early childhood.

The dream asks him why he feels so big and important and tells him that his humble origin is now his problem.

Dreams are constructed rather on the lines of a drama and begin with the exposition of the problem or theme and this small initial dream can be taken as the exposition.

It leads us to expect that the following dreams will be occupied with his present exalted position, his ambition to rise still higher and with his humble origin.

Something in him begins to say “You are too high up”.

We come next to the dream of the train disaster.

This opens with nervous haste and impatience, which always indicates that we want to do the thing desperately because something in us has a resistance to doing it at all.

We hate to admit this resistance but it would be most unwise to advise a patient to ignore it.

In this dream he does get to the station at last, his plan must be put through “a tout prix” and indeed just because of the resistance which says that it should not; but he misses the train.

The “noes” have it, the resistance has won for the present, but nevertheless something starts – the train, and it crashes!

If we go on against our own resistances there will be a disaster.

This dream is a serious warning.

If we go against the unconscious, we are making out the bill without the host.

I learnt not to do that in Africa.

In Europe we live in civilization, our modern saurians (motor cars) usually stay on the road and, if we do not cross their paths, we are safe but the primitive lives in very different conditions, he is likely at any time to come upon a situation where it is necessary for him to be at one with himself.

If the primitive wakes up in a nervous state he is already in danger, for the next thing he may have to do is to cross a river on a slippery tree trunk and if he makes the slightest slip he is in danger of drowning or of being eaten by a crocodile; or he has to go into the bush and there may be a buffalo or a hippopotamus.

His very life depends on being at one with himself, there is no time to think, so that the primitive has to decide each day if his dreams are favorable or unfavorable.

If they are unfavorable, nothing will induce him to do anything that day, no persuasion can move him to carry a load an inch for a European.

We may l augh at this, but we forget how right he is in his own world. Europeans become superstitious in Africa and learn that “magic is the science of the jungle “.

We are too rational, but when w e b e come superstitious we are beginning to observe the psyche and to wonder what it permits us to do.

A condition of being at variance with ourselves is announced through our dreams and we should not undertake the things which they warn us against.

We rationalize and say it is “only neurotic” but it is much wiser to attend to the warning.

This may delay many little things, but it also avoids many dangerous situations.

I was saved in this way once in Africa.

We were with a friendly tribe who, however, were too well-armed for my taste: we spent an evening with them, they danced a fire dance.

I was exceedingly interested and even danced with them.

After a bit I had a feeling that it was going too far, that they were getting too excited and obeying my hunch, I told them to go to bed in Swiss German and enforced the request by cutting about their legs with a sjambok.

This worked and they leapt over the whip and went off in high good humour.

Two days later a British official in exactly the same conditions was speared to death by these very same men, because he was not at one with himself.

Psychic objects and conditions must be observed and in such circumstances dreams are “derigueur” and it is very dangerous to ignore them.

If an old Roman stumbled on his door step it was ill-omened and he returned to his house for the day.

An Indian who is not at one with himself stays away from the Council.

Imagine our politicians doing that ! I should, however, welcome such an attitude; it would be very wise if our civilization paid more attention to the whole psyche, and did not live so entirely on one side of it.

This train dream then is no wish, but a warning.

It says “Take care or there will b e a catastrophe”.

No one exists who has not the primitive in him, somewhere we are very close to the jungle and there we need to be as careful as the primitive in the bush.

In most of the “accidental” cases of death which I have investigated, I have found that these people had been warned in some way or other.

I myself have warned many people to look out for accidents, some listen, but more do not, for something in them wants exactly that accident.

I once treated a lady who on account of theosophy lived very high up in the stratosphere.

In consequence of this she had dreams of prostitutes of a most bestial kind.

I impressed upon her that these women were her sisters, but she could not see it.

Then her dreams began to bring up an accident, a murder by assault.

I warned her in the strongest terms, I told her not to walk on the Zurich being alone and not to go out after dark and I repeated this on three occasions.

I then went away for my holidays.

Six days later I got a telegram saying that she had been assaulted and had several bones broken.

She would have been killed but for the passers-by who interfered.

She had not been able to bring about any connection between her conscious ego that lived in the stratosphere and the low prostitute who was also herself, so it was brought about in this way.

My warnings fell on deaf ears for something in her was working for just this.

Our train dream contains a similar warning and I must say to our dreamer “Look out, you are threatened “.

We come now again to our main dream, the one in which the crab-lizard monster appears.

The association to the lazar-house of St. Jacob in Basel and its heroic fight is a very unexpected association to a simple peasant’s cottage.

We must respect such things and look carefully at the unexpected light which has been thrown upon the situation and enquire into the psychological web from which it comes.

The tragic heroic death, the journey to Leipzig, his ambitious plan, his enterprise to reach yet higher, these all constellate a heroic, fatal battle with his humble origin.

We have to consider the conditions of the dreamer, some people have already come a very long way and are exhausted; this often happens when the last generation were peas ants, their sons possibly can go further, but they have reached their limit.

Then we come to the simple widow. Who is she?

We have spoken of her before as “the Mother”.

Could she be the dreamer’s wife ?

But if the dream meant his wife it would say so.

The dream is no facade, it says what it means.

The Cabbala says “The dream is its own interpretation.”

This woman is made out of his own psychic material, but out of what part of this does she come?

We come here up on the interesting fact that the unconscious is bi-sexual; the dreamer has his own inferior femininity, somewhere in his masculinity and it is from this psychic
material that the figure of the poor widow in the dream is formed.

The “hundred percent he-ma ” has an all-too feminine feeling-life, he can cry and be very sentimental.

The most feminine women similarly have a rigid masculinity somewhere, men become very much aware of this fact when they say the wrong thing!

In later life married couples often change roles : the little “commercant” becomes content to wash dishes and perform domestic tasks, while his wife wears the breeches and manages the shop.

Old Spanish women grow beards and develop bass voices, it is considered a sign of nobility.

We can see the same thing in photographs of primitives, the young men look as hard as nails, but the old men have something soft and sweet about them, while the old women look like incarnate apes.

It is because our dreamer is an intellectual man that his feminine side is uneducated and has remained behind in his home village with the parents and he boasts to her because he feels inferior.

Whenever people find it necessary to boast in front of simple people, we may be certain that they are trying to convince and overcome the inferiority in themselves.

A feeling of inferiority always indicates a real inferiority somewhere.

This is a fact and remains a fact whatever people have to say on the subject. ~Carl Jung, Modern Psychology, Vol. 2, Pages 158-160.