Toni Wolff – Some Principles of Dream Interpretation
[Following is my feeble attempt as transcribing the link above. It may contain modest errors in which case I would refer the reader to the original text contained within the link]
A lecture read before the APC of London, April 11, 1934.
Some Principles of Dream-Interpretation by Toni Wolff.
As you remember, Freud has said that the dream is the royal road to the unconscious.
And, whether Freud’s ideas on the unconscious hold true or not, he is certainly right in this valuation of the dream function.
Dreams are the one undeniable fact to prove the existence of a psychical activity outside the control of our ego-consciousness.
The most hard-boiled rationalist cannot deny that he is subject to dreaming, however unpsychologically he may explain the cause of it.
The rationalistic and materialistic concept of’ dreams, however, is a mere episode in history, a manifestation of the goddess of reason, who presided over the mentality of the nineteenth century, of which Freud himself is a product.
A German poet, Friedrich Huch, published two small volumes of his dreams in 1904 and 19I4.
He characterizes the dream-idea as follows:
(I) I am going to publish these dreams with the idea that the expressions of the night-consciousness can claim our interest, and, furthermore, because they often contain the dark germs of our conscious achievements.
My dreams should not be valued as literary products, and they are addressed to everybody who sees in the unintentional activity of the psyche an unprejudiced testimony of life.”
This is indeed a most apt description of the dream-function. And to illustrate this, I will quote one of these dreams.
“A beautiful young girl is lying under a sort of great dark umbrella, whose 1tnner side contains all the constellations like the night sky.
Rays of’ light descend from the stars and, wherever they touch her body their golden reflections are visible.”
The clear symbolism of the dream can be understood without difficulty.
It shows how the unconscious psyche, through the mediation of the anima, contains the eternal images and laws of Nature.
It really is the “moral imperative.”
As you know, every other epoch, without exception, held the dream in deep respect and even in awe.
Dreams were considered the utterance of impersonal factors, such as the voice of the gods or Fate.
The primitives believe firmly in having dreams which concern the welfare of the tribe.
These are called ‘big dreams’ in contradistinction to small dreams which ·relate merely to the dreamer’s person.
Accordingly, if a man has having a big dream, they sit in counsel over it.
The same is recorded of the old Romans, where even certain of the dreams of women were submitted to the Senate.
The ancient Greeks, in their sanatoria, which were sanctuaries of Aesculapius made the patient, who carne there to be cured, sleep in the temple on the night following his arrival.
The dream he had there was then interpreted by the priest, who in this way received the diagnosis as well as the means of’ therapy.
In olden times a bad dream was looked on as a bad omen for the doings or’· the following day’ and still is viewed thus by the naive and unprejudiced mind.
And quite justly so, for it means that the dreamer is not at one with himself over the plan he is about to carry out.
You will remember, further, some of the very interesting dreams in the Old Testament; Joseph’s dream, for instance, and the natural consequences which followed it, when he saw himself put above all his brothers: the sun, moon and eleven stars making obeisance to him (Gen. 37, 3-I2).
And, perhaps above all you will remember the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of kings, who fell a victim to the classical insanity of ancient potentates, that of god-almightiness.
Psychologically, this means a tremendous inflation, the ego becoming· identified with. the Self.
These monarchs were of course led on to this condition by the absolute power in their hands; but it was a psychologically impossible situation and so all enantiodromia is inevitable when Nebuchadnezzar is not willing to take Daniels’s warning about a change of attitude.
After twelve months the dream of Nebuchadnezzar comes true and the great king becomes insane.
He is driven from men and his heart changed from a man’s and a beast’s heart given to him.
The king had dreamt of a tree in the midst of the earth whose height reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of the earth, and the fruit was much, and animals were sheltered under it, and everybody was fed of it.
But then a watcher and holy one· came down from heaven and ordered the tree to be hewn down, and the branches cut off and the fruit scattered; and the beasts and fowls to go away from it, and only the stump to remain.
Daniel advises the king to break off all his sins by righteousness and his iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.”
But instead of’ taking this advice, Nebuchadnezzar goes on as before, and when he walks in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon, he feels like God after the Creation, when He saw that ·everything He had made was very good.
The king says: Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power and for the honour of my majesty?”
At the exact moment, of course, the enantiodromia sets in.
A voice from heaven repeats the prophecy of the dream, and it is fulfilled till ‘seven times’ passed over, as decreed.
Nebuchadnezzar is not released ‘from his downfall until he lifts up his eyes to heaven”‘ that is to say, until he recognizes a power which is greater than his own and which he cannot control.
The necessity for this acceptance had been the unconscious purpose of his insanity and is therefore, also, the healing factor, and it needed all this horrible experience for him to come to this submission.
But, although his case is that of an exceptional personality and situation, it differs only in degree from our own attitude.
We may know perfectly what a dream means to tell us.
But there is a wide gap between mere knowledge and complete realization in body and soul, and it seems almost impossible to change an attitude until one has experienced how utterly unpredictable it has become.
But I apologize for taking up the role of Daniel.
I did not go into this dream to make it the basis of a moral admonition.
I chose it for a very different purpose because the very function of dreams is so wonderfully symbolized in it.
You will see what I mean if you try to abstract it from it the historic personality of’ the dreamer and the language and imagery typical of the epoch.
If you interpret the dream on strictly psychological lines you will be able to see the exposition of a very fundamental psychological truth, and take it as an archetypal image of an age-old human problem.
Nebuchadnezzar, then, stands for the ego-consciousness which, like him, is a great king, proud of its achievements and creations and as he did, prompted by a previous dream,–setting up a great image in its own honor.
It is a rigid image of gold with feet partly of iron and partly of clay.
It ·is the image everybody is beholding and fashioning about himself.
Young people have to worship the image, they are rather in the situation of Joseph who is yet to become great, and to that purpose man, in the first half of life, has to believe in his own unfailing power.
To ·achieve this, the unconscious helps him along with promises and incentives in the form of underlining his ego and belittling people of whom he is too which in awe.
But man in the psychological situation of Nebuchadnezzar is man at an age where he has achieved whatever he is able to achieve through personal efforts and faith)in his own will and intention.
He then gets identified with his attainments and values, his ego-consciousness becomes the almighty and worshipped image.
But its feet are only partly of iron; partly they are of clay, and so the kingdom of the ego shall be partly strong and-partly broken.
The feet are broken by the agency of the stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands – that is to say; which ‘is not ·fashioned by man.
If man is to live life he must cease worshiping the all-powerful image of the/ego, and then shift his consciousness from its present centre to a new one.
In Daniel’s words he ought to be “righteous namely right with the psychological situation into which he is moving; and “show mercyto the poor”, namely-those inner factors not identical with the ego, which up to now have been neglected.
Before nature no excuse is effective to avoid this change of attitude.
The excuse of having no time, no money, being caught in a responsible position, and complicated relations, are mere rationalizations of a profound disinclination of the ego-consciousness to give up its kingdom and its leadership.
And how is one to know when the time for this has come?
Exactly as the dream says: there is a watcher and a holy one from heaven who knows and who cries out.
He tells by many signs, and one of the paramount ones is the dream.
The symbol of the watcher is a most excellent one and show how exact was then the observation of psychical facts by whosoever records the story.
It is indeed as if something in ourselves were constantly on guard and watching to see if we are in accordance with our inner laws.
The watcher is a regulating factor which seems to be the result of a kind of perception of our psychical totality.
In so far as we are grossly unaware of the total facts of the psyche, the watcher, “to heal us of our error” has to use strong language, as in the case of Nebuchadnezzar.
The nearer we come to recognizing impersonal psychical factors, the more subtle our psychological sins become and quite often the dream language accordingly becomes more banal.
But, in any case, the watcher is of a most impartial and unprejudiced character.
He does not even moralize.
He merely states the facts.
He keeps watch on the psychical activity and signals us if we deviate from it.
He does not seem to care much about whether our personal strivings and achievements.
But he seems to care a lot about our basic psychical structure, and the fundamental laws of our total psychical structure.
Hence the punishment if we err.
If we defy thes natural facts by to much ignorance or personal willpower, the consequences are many beginning with small lapses when we merely make fools of ourselves – such as Freud described in the “Psychopathology of Everyday Life” on to nightmares to nervous symptoms, to a heavy neurotic breakdown or even psychosis.
The unconscious, that is, our psychical nature, is in itself, of indifferent character.
If it shows a negative, or even destructive aspect, this is the result of a faulty attitude of our conscious.
Therefore, the realization of the unconscious in is no key or panacea to set things right.
The way of valuing the unconscious fact is always up to our conscious attitude or judgement.
The conscious and the unconscious are corollaries; the influence each other.
Obviously they are each of a totally different character.
The conscious uses the rational language of the epoch we live in.
It is the function by which we relate to the eternal world and through which we establish our personal position in this world.
he unconscious, on the other hand expresses itself in primitive, symbolic, timeless language.
It also is purposeful, hut its purpose is to put man right with his total psychical structure, with his inner world to put him in rapport with the eternal image of man, with human nature as it always was and will always be.
It is necessary to be quite clear about these two aspects of the psyche in order to set a basis for dream-interpretation.
You cannot value a dream correctly by either applying a purely intellectual and dogmatic pat tern, as Freud and Adler do, nor by making wild guesses without any conscious standpoint at all.
The all-important principle of dream analysis is the compensating function of the unconscious in relation to the conscious.
For dream interpretation, therefore, one must always bear in mind two paramount, and in away, paradoxical truths which correspond to the rational mind to the irrational side of the psyche: One is in need of a complete and detailed knowledge of the conscious life of the dreamer, the other is absolutely unprejudiced and unconditioned attitude towards the unconscious material.
If the first is lacking it is impossible to read the message of the unconscious means to give for the here-and-now condition of the dreamer, for the actual problem of the moment with which he is confronted.
The gap between the conscious and the unconscious will then remain and the dreamer with either violate the psychical facts by making them fit into is naturally one-sided conscious attitude; or else he will be swamped by the psychical background and loose the hold on his conscious standpoint.
He will then become not more conscious but more unconscious therefore before whilst the meaning of dream interpretation is, of course, to obtain a wider range of consciousness.
The second principle that of an unconditioned attitude toward the unconscious fact on the side of the interpreter is the reason why it is almost impossible to analyze one’s own dreams and the dreams of near relatives and friends.
One cannot help being prejudiced either by favorable or unfavorably toward people with whom one is intimately connected, one is somewhat identified with them, one makes projections on them and so on
In the same way on is prejudiced against one’s own unconscious.
The conscious has to be intentional; discriminating and to some extent one-sided.
You will be quite frequently meet people who use their psychological knowledge in the way of their ego-consciousness.
Either they interpret their dreams according to their wishes and illusions.
Or they are constantly prompted to look at themselves under the microscope, using the psychological knowledge as a moralistic scrutiny in order to find out if they are theoretically correct, if what they say and thing is not perhaps just an anima or animus reaction, if they apply the feeling function where, rather, the thinking function would be more correct and so on.
If people in the more advanced stage of analysis have therefore, quite often to put aside what they know, and to learn to be more naïve.
I remember the dream of the woman in just this situation.
She is a highly educated American, a thinking type, who therefore knows a good deal of psychological theory.
She dreamed that she was back in the United States and wanted to see a college friend.
In reality this friend is married and had children.
But in the dream she was a psychologist, holding an important position at a psychological institute.
The institute was of an academic kind and based on a scheme the dreamer had once heard of.
The idea was to put people through physical and psychological tests and to improve them wherever they were not up to the mark.
A secretary told her that the friend was busy at the moment and that anyhow the institute was not favorably minded towards the caller as she came form Zurich and Dr. Jung was not at all approved here.
The dream shows, of course, a typical animus use of psychology as opposed to the one the dreamer really could apply if she were more natural and more her own self.
To achieve an unconditioned attitude toward the unconscious fact is, in fact a most difficult task.
It is an inherent characteristic of the Western mind – more particularly of men – to feel a deep mistrust of Nature and to correct and guide here whenever it is possible.
This instinctive attitude is the motive and basis of our Scient and our technical inventions.
It is, furthermore, the basic attitude of Christianity.
That is why when we come to those psychical facts, which represent the nature we instinctively try to moralize about them, or to invent a theory by which things could be helped along and be improved.
The Eastern mind conceives of thing altogether differently.
For it, man is a part of nature as a matter of course, and consequently nature is more respected and has a psychical quality.
As a result, the Eastern mind is far ahead of us in the knowledge of the basic psychological facts.
I will only remind you of the fundamental laws of opposites which ancient Chinese philosophy has formulated and the symbols of the Yang and the Yin are cosmic principles as well as psychical ones.
To be in Tao meant to put yourself right with the principle which is actually constellated at the moment and to know that each of these principles, having reached it climax, is succeeded by the opposite one, whose germ it carries.
The philosophy of the I Ching and the method of the casting of the sticks or coins is based on this idea.
The result is not so much an oracle as a picture of the constellation of the moment.
If, for instance, it is shown that the principle of Yin is at work, actually the wise man puts himself right with it by adopting a Yin attitude, which means that he is passive, patient, keeping himself rather at bay.
Then he is in accordance with the great laws of nature outside and inside.
To give you an idea of China’s attitude to the acceptance of natural facts I will read you the dream of an old Chinese patriarch about his oncoming death and the attitude his family takes towards this even.
This story is from the book by Nora Waln “The House of Exile.”
To give you an idea of China’s attitude to the acceptance of natural
The book is the diary of a young American girl who stays with a Chinese family with whom her own family had business connection of long standing.
I remember a Western man’s dream which was not unlike the Chinese Patriarch’s.
He was a man of about fifty.
It is a most impressive dream.
He saw a beautiful divine figure of a man sitting the a sarcophagi of his parents.
The “winged figure” was clearly his anima and his analysis proceeded well on this line.
But a few months afterwards he died quite suddenly of aneurism.
Nothing had pointed to this fatal meaning of the dream.
A Chinese dream interpreter likely would have seen it though.
But in the West we know too little of the unconscious to prophesy, when indications are not very clear.
Besides, his unconscijous had meant him to know it would have chosen a different symbolism.
His soul knew, and this was enough.
Apparently it did not matter whether his ego was aware of it also.
The nearest guarantee we can get to a more or less unprejudiced attitude in regard to the unconscious is a consciousness about ourselves, more particular about those facts which it is difficult to face.
But if we know our own Nature, and if we are aware of its limitations, we can expect a fair respect for other human beings and allow for the difference in their psychology.
Furthermore if we don’t try to moralize but bear in mind that it is not good advice that they want, but on the contrary, that their most precious value is knowledge of themselves, and that they have to find it by their own experimenting and their own mistakes we are willing to let them take their risks and are open to the queerest suggestions their unconscious my present.
In applying those two principles, that of complete acquaintance with the dreamers’ detailed biography and life-probles, and that of a perfet open-mindedness in regard to unconscious ways and means, I take it as a matter of course that the dream analysis is based upon a profound knowledge of psychology.
To value the conscious of the dreamer it is necessary, for instance, to see which psychological type he belongs, whether his is in the first or second part of life, whether his has omitted a task belonging to conscious and collective adaptation, and so on.
Heedless to say the difference between a man’s and a woman’s psychology has to be taken into account, and furthermore, with a modern woman, it matters whether she is married and has a family or whether she is a professional woman.
In dealing with unconscious material, we have, of course, to consider the method of dream analysis.
When you bear in mind the ruling principal that the unconscious always is always a compensation to the conscious, you are then confronted with the choice of two or rather four different ways to approach the dream.
You have to consider whether to apply the reductive or the synthetic technique; and ,too, if the dream be more satisfactorily interpreted on the objective or subjective level.
It is not always possible to decide immediately.
The knowledge of the dreamer’s conscious situation will help a great deal of course.
And more so, even after a careful consideration and valuation of all associations related to the dream images.
It is useless to try and analyze a dream before not having all the necessary associations to each part of the dream configuration.
But it is surprising how often this fundamental rule is forgotten and how one jumps at conclusions without going into each situation separately and making a detailed report of all material corresponding to it.
In this way Analytical Psychology can be misused as owning standard symbols or rather signs, like psychoanalysis and then we land in the famous psychological institute of our American dreamer.
The dream is generally formed of two layers of material; one is the dream image which is a pure product of the unconscious; the other is the material belonging to it and consisting of correlating associations, and these are obviously part of the dreamer’s conscious.
The dream therefore is sort of a transcendent function mediating between the conscious and the unconscious, and forms a bridge between the two.
As the dream does not contain the whole of unconscious facts, so do the associations contain only that part of the conscious which is in close connection with the dream idea.
The technique of so-called “free association” used by the Freudians, leads completely astray from the dream-content.
It is sort of associative thinking or flight of ideas where one idea leads on to the next, so that you begin with the desk in your study, travel through the woods of the whole world, land in Noah’s Ark, only because all of these things are made of wood.
To some extent this associative thinking is also used in modern literature, for instance by James Joyce.
There is, of course, it is intentional, and used as a new literary technique.
But look at his followers and see what results you get there.
The dream and the association material together form a definite and complex product, mid-way between the conscious and the unconscious psyche.
In how far its structure differs from the conscious mind is evident by the irrational form of expression of the dream, which uses primitive language and renders abstract connotations in a concrete and dramatic way, and symbolizes psychological tendencies and subjective factors by means of situations and figures.
This, of course, is also true for the more purely unconscious material found in phantasies and drawings.
Associations matter there too.
But the phantasies and drawings convey their meaning largely by forms and colours and thereby have a sort of self-evident and objective existence, moreover the layer out of which their material is drawn is rather that of the collective psyche.
The individual experiences himself not so much in his personal condition of the here-and-now but in his aspect as general human being, where he reaches down into the psychology which is common to all mankind.
The dream and its meaning convey a more acute consciousness of the individuals situation of the moment, his aspect in time, int he very instant
The reductive technique has therefore to be applied wherever the dreamer is not sufficiently conscious of the here-and-now, where he does not live in his totally in the actual moment.
Where, for instance, his attitude is still determined by past experiences; these later have to be examined and explained.
In this case, the usual one in the first part of a psychological analysis, the approach to the dreamer is indeed a causalistic one; the question, then, “Why have I dreamt this dream?”
But after the past and the determination by it have been sufficiently dealt with the same dream ought to be looked at as the result of a cause but as a means to an end.
The idea is then “For what purpose did I have this dream.”
Quite often this problem of choice between reductive and synthetic or constructive goes hand and hand with the dilemma of applying the interpretation either on the objective or subjective level.
As a rule it is safe to say that the dream-persons and situations which in real life are important for the dreamer, have to be taken objectively.
That is, they have to be taken not as the people themselves, but as the dreamer’s relation to them.
I would like to emphasize this, as the dream does not concern other people and therefore does not criticize them.
It is a subjective product purely of the psyche of the dreamer, and therefore he alone is commented upon.
Naturally insofar as his attitude towards both is faulty he would dream about that.
But insofar as the psyche has two aspects, one turned towards the world of outer objects and an other turned towards psychical facts themselves anything belonging to the external world can really symbolize a factor in the dreamer’s own psychology, whether personal or collective.
It is often hard to say which way of interpretation is the more preferable; they may even interweave.
The safest road is certainly to let the dreamer judge which hypothesis is the most effective for him, in which way he can make the most practical use of the meaning of the dream.
The same way the interpreter has to consider his own impression on the dream as a necessary though irrational criterion.
These are dreams which show a perfectly logical structure but which create a decidedly unpleasant if not negative effect upon our feelings.
And so there is quite often a negative or even destructive element found in them.
We must bear in mind bear in mind that common sense is one of the most important tools of life and so it applies of course to the unconscious as well; the unconscious being the “unintentional expression of psychlical life” outside of rational considerations and acrobatic stunts of a mentality belonging to a technological epoch.
The unconscious is pure objective nature.
But nature is not the only mother and giver of life, she is also the cold and ruthless Sphinx which does not mind producing abnormalities and strange deranged phenomena.
In the same way, the dream produces situations which are objective pictures of the dreamer’s psychological condition, out of which, if not criticized by the conscious will lead into chaos and catastrophe.
There is, for instance, the dream of a woman who found herself at the top of a house, and climbing out of a window, and sliding down the walls.
As the dreamer is not a cat burglar this way of coming down to earth is a complete impossibility.
Just imagine the dream-situation happening in reality – a supposition which is always very practical to make; then you realize the utter impossibility of the proposition.
The dreams very aptly describes the woman’s attitude.
She was an intuitive always projecting her problems on toe other people and running round university towns in order to try and converting certain famous psychologists to a better understanding of the unconscious.
Not only did she always fail, of course, but in doing this she was completely outside her own certain psychology; and furthermore, she had no money at all and could not even afford her trips.
She could have taken any job which came to her way just in order to live.
She also had the following dream: She was on a hill and saw the gallow.
A man was there, presumably the hangman, and she noticed a figure in a sack which was the culprit who was going to be hanged.
She took the figure to be herself.
This dream, in its own way has a two aspects.
One might say that to be hanged symbolizes the classical situation of being crucified, that is of having come to an impossible situation, an impasses where to where we cannot move anymore and have to just wait and see what is going to happen to us.
This was, of course, here situation but she did not realize it at all – a feeling which is proved by the previous dream of sliding down the walls.
Considering her total attitude, it is much more efficacious the obviously sinister aspect of the dream and showing how she is really having in a criminal way towards her personal human needs, both physical and psychological and so her being executed is an inevitable consequence, if she is unable to make a total change of attitude.
Whoever wants to play the savior to others will undergo his fate.
As a very humoristic side-light on a different kind of Christ identification I would like to quote a dream which I owe to Dr. Baynes.
It concerns a patient of his, A very cultured lady who made rather a fuss of the suffering attached to a psychological analysis.
She dreamt that the Post Office had returned a letter to her addressed to “Jesus Christ in Gethsemane” and had put a notice on it: “Not delivered as addressee cannot be found.”
There are dreams, I think, although containing a truth when put upon the balance have to be rejected.
I remember such a dream of mine which was very impressive.
It was about a year after I had begun psychological work and I had just got my study which up to then had been my sister’s room and was free for my use when she was married.
I dreamt that in this room several men were digging my grave.
So apparently being committed to my work meant my undoing; the sinister character of the dream was very obvious but I took my risk in spite of it.
The subtle symbolism of the positive aspect was manifested only in the course of the years.
The grave is of course the symbol of something final and definite, in this instance it meant the way I had chosen by going into this kind of work.
For the western man with is instinctive tendency to get outside himself the most difficult task of all seems indeed that of coming down to his own psychological structure.
So it is a very common fact that individuation, that is the realization of one’s own nature, and the practical consequences which follow, appear first in rather negative dream images such as confinement and imprisonment.
Our individual psychical structure is a prison from which we cannot escape just as it is with our body.
A woman of about 45 had the following dream about this problem:
“She was in a sort of mansion belonging to her. It was at night and she tried to escape. Her father had locked every door and window, she managed nevertheless to squeeze through an opening and went away.
Suddenly she remembered that she had forgotten her passport and as he wanted to cross the frontier, she had to go back to recover it.
But she knew that this time she would have to remain.”
I cannot quote all her associations to the dreamer
Her father is dead but he has a headstrong negative father-complex.
The house reminds her also of her husband’s business where she worked at times.
It is, therefore her personal reality situation as well as her psychological structure and its resulting laws as symbolized by her progenitor.
And furthermore, it expresses her immediate situation in analysis.
She is from a country beyond the Swiss border hence the problem of the passport in crossing the frontier.
In reality she had the dream when already in Zurich.
As a young girl she sometimes escaped at night to go to a rendezvous.
In her analysis she also tries to “escape” by all sorts of ideas she has about her dreams.
Her first reaction was: here is the father again, I am still having that fixations; the house is also the Church, I must do this and that to get free; I should take up some work of my own, or I should have a lover who understands and satisfies me; or I should look up this clairvoyant who would be able to tell me whether I am tied up or perhaps that wise man has the magic or the technique at meditation on which would help me.
She has really tried all these ways and means; they were necessary experiments with life and with ideas which one has to take.
She is a personality of great vitality and grand yet though undeveloped range.
If she had left out anything she wanted to do she would merely have become neurotic and the yoga philosophy says, “You have to eat the world before you leave it behind to seek yourself.”
Or as the Gnostic teacher Karpocrates puts it “You have to be redeemed from sins you have not committed” at which is disciples immediately went sinning!
So at last the dreamer is confined in her father’s house out of which there is no escape.
Her passport means her identity, her individual self.
The father’s house is God’s house, the larger and impersonal psyche, the Self to whose ultimate authority she is now is committed.
Another frequent symbol of self-realization is the image of the spider and its net; the ego being the fly which is caught in it.
A man of about 35 had the following dream: He was in an underground room arched like a church.
A huge spider was making it net in the way of producing four threads as thick as a rope.
The dreams to a pair of scissors and was about to the threads and also to kill the spider.
He did not have very good feelings about this though.
He tried to interpret the dream as showing his mother complex which he should get rid of.
He certainly had a mother-complex of a kind insofar as his mother has a stronger personality than the father who was of a rather passive and sensitive nature.
The dreamer resembles his father very much; he also is rather passive, aesthetic and lives in past values rather than in present ones.
The dream is certainly marked by female symbolism, such as the Church and the spider.
But the associations the not point the way he thought, quite apart from the fact that the complex cannot be disposed of.
The only thing to do about this is to find out its symbolic meaning.
A complex is a part of the psyche which cannot be assimilated into the ego.
As the word denotes, it is a unit of certain psychological factors which function in an autonomous way independently of ego-intentions.
The complex may have been formed from the way the individual has reacted to certain experiences.
But it goes on to have an autonomous character even when all the past determinations are completely understood.
But its meaning changes and becomes part of the individuals own complications.
In this dream the room resembling a Church conveys the idea of a religious attitude; its being underground conveys the idea of instinctual natural forces or root namely the basic structure of the psyche.
In a painting previous to the dream the man had indeed drawn the figure of one of the fates spinning her thread and sitting under the level of the earth.
The four threads of the father then point to the four psychological functions, and so the spider is evidently a symbole of the Self, in whose complexities the ego is caught like a fly in a web.
The Self or non-ego factors are indeed like a network which is gradually unfolding and of which the ego-consciousness is a mere part.
At firs the ego tries, of course, to struggle against its imprisonment loathe to give up its illusion of freedom and of unlimited possibilities and
One tries to cut the threads.
The scissors represent the rational and willful attitude of modern man.
But the killing of the spider would mean moral suicide.
These dreams as you realize expose the problems of people who are no more young and who are therefore confronted with the problem of individuation or realization of the self in the more strict sense; Old age a you know even has dreams which strictly point to the acceptance of death as the final goal of life.
By this I don’t mean the fact of physical dying, but a psychological attitude about the meaning or philosophy of death.
Whatever happens afterwards, the ego-consciousness, such as we are aware of certainly dies out, and looked at from this end, the beginning of individuation, that is, the recognition and acceptance of non-ego factors of the psyche may be said to be a preparation for the final dissolution of the ego-consciousness.
These dreams of death by no means always bears a sinister aspect; on the contrary they produce hopeful expectations.
The symbols are, for instance, preparation for a lone expected journey to unknown countries the dreams always longed to visit.
Or the arrival of a husband and wife who passed over long ago and who come back to fetch the partner for a wedding trip.
As an interesting contrast and as proof that psychilical laws are insurmountable it appears that also man is not allowed to die just when he wishes and thinks it convenient.
Nature fordes him on to live if he has not achieved his tasks whatever they may be.
I remember the dream of a man between 50 and 60 which he had after a period of life when I was not sure how things would turn out for him.
He had the most incredible and fatal difficulties to face and he frequently and consequently lost all interest and zest in life.
He dreamt he was in a modern hotel unknown to him waiting for a cab to take him somewhere.
The cabman then came in.
He looked like the well known cabmen of Vienna who however are no longer in existence since the war.
The dreamer is surprised that the cabman would come to his room to say he was ready.
Furthermore he noticed he was terribly drunk for he proceeded at once to the basin with the running water, turned the tap and made the pretense of washing his very dirty hands.
The dreamer thought this strange the behavior being like a doctor’s and not that of a cabman’s.
But he was horrified when the man began spitting into the basin.
The man expected the worst from the drunkard but it was worse even than his expectation, the man passed water into the basin.
The dreamer could hold himself back no longer and went for the man swearing an scolding and turning him out of the room.
The association with Vienna that the dreamer, as a young man, had been mortally ill there and the doctors thought he would not recover.
The cabman then is apparently the famous Coachman, death, waiting to get him on for the long journey or rather having been called to take him.
But the unconscious makes a point of presenting him in an abominable way in order to make him as repellant as possible to the dreamer.
It is not at all necessary that the idea of the dream has to be consciously grasped.
The effect of the dream is such that the dreamer’s activity is aroused so the idea of the journey becomes impossible.
As a matter of fact, it was rather chance as we discussed this dream at all and the dreamer had felt much better quite some time before right after having had the dream.
His psychical energy had been transferred from the outlook on death to the outlook on living.
Not to remain only withing the psychology of the second half of life, I would tell you a few dreams from young people.
One is of a young girl who I was about to be engaged but had some difficulties about it.
She knew that the man who asked her to marry him was absolutely the right man for her and she wanted to marry him quite certainly.
But somehow she was not quite in love with him and she felt this to be wrong particularly as she could not put any blame on him except perhaps that
his love-making was not quite what she expected.
It was not of a romantic nature and he did not use wonderful words about her.
And above all she was disappointed about her own lack of warm response to him.
After a few talks about herself she produced the following dream:
She was with a friend on board a ship.
This friend was in contrast to herself, rather of the fast type, almost a flapper.
They went round the deck and came upon a big sack; the opened it and inside was a man completely drunk.
They recognized him as Rudolf Valentino the famous cinema star.
He was the cause of her lack of response to her fiancé.
She had drawn her ideas about love from the scrrn and she expected her sober minded lover to act more like the passionate move hero making sentimental gesture and whispering poetic nonsense.
To this complete unreality her better instinct did not of course react.
The psychological situation of another girl is of a more complicated character and her dreams therefore were at times of a rather weird nature.
She came from a very cultured family and was studying at the University to go for a profession.
But she was very feminine and was in love with a man whom she is going to marry.
She was a feeling type and had gotten rather involved with a number of her friends and fellow students of both sexes in the way in which they all unburdened their problems.
Most of them suffered from some psychological twist or other due to a general lack of orientation which results the impossibility of taking the generation above them as a leading authority.
The dreamer saw their problems clearly with her intellect.
But with her feelings she was very tolerant and could explain and excuse everything even if she had to suffer from a rather egotistical attitude of her friends.
The whole situation finally became to much for her and she got quite confused in regard to all these as well as about her own.
Contrary to her friends she was not critical of everything and everybody except their own dear selves but she went rather to the other extreme of being too sympathetic and understanding at the risk of being drawn into this inner disorientation.
The dreams showed that her rather excessive way of feeling into things and people was a result of her intention not to be like her mother.
Her mother as also a feeling type but instead of just saying “that is my feeling about something, it is purely subjective and my own affair” her animus takes hold of it and makes unjustified generalizations whereby she condemned everything which was not to her liking as being objectively no good.
Her father on the contrary, is a man with an unusually large spiritual horizon and with exceptional justice in his judgements.
The daughter had the following dream: She was at home playing the piano.
Her mother came in followed by an imaginary lover of hers, a small short fat with short stumpy legs rather a comical figure.
Then the father walked into the room and the daughter was terrified about what was going to happen.
But the father remained quite undisturbed and said to the man rather calmly “you are wearing my shoes.”
Whereupon the man took them off and gave them to the father.
The mother had no lover at all, he is clearly her animus in its negative aspect passing judgement in the supposition that they are areas as well weighed and justified as her husband’s.
The dream made the daughter see that criticism and judgement are perfectly necessary and in their place when they are clearly founded and not merely and automatic generalization and unsubstantiated conclusion.
Feeling is after all is meant to be a function of valuation.
But it did not yet help her about her perplexities about herself.
Of a series of dreams which dealt with the problem, I will choose two for their unusual character.
In one of them they lived in an underground as the wife of a sort of faun or primitive man and she had about a hundred children.
It was almost primitive and the children and everything was very dirty but she felt quite happy in the situation.
But then she thought that presumably it was the time to go and live in the upper world again.
Just as she thought this a friend cam along and offered to take her up.
But she felt that she did not want to go now after all and she said he could have his car whenever she made up her mind and it would save her a lot of time instead of going a long way on foot.
This friend has said that she had thought to be a purely intellectual being but discovered later that she had very real feelings too.
This dream clearly brings her back to her primordial instincts where she is sort of an animal creature.
This place is like sort of a rabbit’s whole.
She was always sure of wanting to have children and for a time though of nothing else.
But later she knew that she could not live only as a mother that she had to become more conscious and that her cultural side also had to be taken care of.
Hence her decision to have a profession.
But through her contact with university life, the disorientation in the minds of modern youth got hold of her and the dream brings her back to the pure and simple instinctual level where she is nothing but a primitive woman.
Having got in tough with her basic female function so then she can move upwards into the world of modern life again.
There it will be naturally not enough for her to comprehend her femininity merely from the biological aspect and another dreams gives a very remarkable exposition of a modern man’s perplexities when she really tries to find her feminine psychology.
It is all the more remarkable as this girl had had all she could wish from her mother.
In this dream she was at a wedding banquet.
All the guests were rather unpleasant and weird people.
But strangest of all was the married couple.
The bridegroom was a very silent man speaking no word quite aloof from the others remote as a Buddha.
The bride was a most unpleasant and really disgusting woman with puffy cheeks.
The guest then began to recite all sorts of rhymes and jokes about the bride all of a derogatory character.
The bridegroom did not utter a word and the dreamer got made about his passivity and lack of defense of the bride.
Suddenly the door opened and in walked the police.
They said that all these people were using wrong names everybody was quite a different person from what they pretended to be and they were now to give their real names.
This was done.
This disgusting young man who was with the bride suddenly transformed into a really nice old woman with the name of Mrs. Barbara Pinkpank. The wrinkled one.
The bridegroom alone was not questioned.
This wedding banquet is unfortunately a most apt illustration of modern life where nobody is his real self either for a purpose of for lack of better knowledge.
The married couple in its primarily negative aspect is strongly reminiscent of scenes which took place in the decadent days of old Rome.
The emperor Heliogabel, for instance, a weak young man of Asiatic extraction who procured his position through the diplomacy of his very ambition grandmother was of such a nature.
Not only did he outrage Roman citizens to be the most sacred goddess protectress of the city herself, and was solemnly carried through town on a triumphal chariot and worshiped as the Goddess but he actually and publically married himself to a common boxer champion of the circus he himself being the bride.
The surface aspect of our civilization with its moral and philosophical disorientation is not unlike the later days of old Rome with her moral decay and incredible religious syncretism.
To be impressed with such an image is certainly a first step to a partial withdrawal by which a valuation and criticism is prepared.
But the dreamer has a deeper aspect and shows a way to a solution.
The bride is obviously representative of the modern woman who is disoriented as woman and functions as a sort of man.
And why does she do so fundamentally?
The dream has an answer to this too.
The bridegroom is as the dreamer described him like a Buddha.
He is really a God.
The bride then in her true aspect is a Goddess a symbol of Mother Earth the archetype of the primordial woman as which she reveals herself in the end.
The married couple then is a God with his mate.
I think that this is a most serious problem as the Protestant religion has no feminine Goddess.
How can a woman accept and realize her femininity if her own principle is not also conceived of as divine.
In Christianity the woman belonged to the devil but even he devil is male.
The worship of the Virgin and the Mother of God made amends of that of course but the Protestant Church has not equivalent for her.
No wonder that the modern woman becomes disoriented and maybe this fatal psychological omission of the Reformed Church is one of the reasons why the Trinity symbolism has become insufficient.
In the early days of the Gnostics the Holy Spirit was of a female character it was Sophia the Wisdom.
But that was thought to be dangerous and therefore heretical teaching.
And anyhow we cannot go back in history.
I think it likely that some such feeling of what is wrong with the psychology of men and women has prompted the German government to pass laws “whereby man and woman should again find their correct place.”
Maybe by being limited externally the woman discovers her internal femininity and thereby the wisdom of nature which is really her prerogative.
To end I would like to give you some dreams of a man which to my feelings are remarkable perception of the principle which seems more and more necessary in Europe.
The dreamer is a most cultured man of about 60 and of a nationality which places him in a position whereby he is able to have objectivity of the general political situation.
He lives in Switzerland.
His great hobby has always been history and his most admired hero is Julius Caesar.
Quite a number of years ago he dreamt he saw in an underground room the foot and shoe of a Roman soldier of one of Caesar’s Roman Legions.
The dream at this time could hardly be interpreted. But the dream showed where it led to.
In March 1931 he had the following dream which was really a nightmare.
He was in a room.
In the opposite corner stood a figure wrapped like an Egyptian mummy.
But gradually the figure became alive and slowly began to move toward him.
It tried to get free of its bandages and a bearded head of a man appeared.
He looked like a man who had been shut up in a dark prison for years.
His eyes rolled wide and he tried to form words but apparently he had either forgotten speech or did not know the language of the world
which he had come back to.
As he advanced toward the dream and stammered in wild and desperate tone, the dreamer woke in terror.
The associations were of a historical film he had seen wherein a prince was unjustly thrown into prison and had looked like the figure in the dream when he had finally come out.
The mummy was like that of an Egyptian pharaoh.
Further associations made it clear that the figure was the impersonation of a ruling principle which was characterized as imperator-principle of which Julius Caesar is the most outstanding representative.
The dream took place just about the time when the new German government was formed.
The imperator-principle is the principle of leadership where the capable man in the time of disorientation and disintegration is able to see the immediate necessities from a new angle and to take things into his own hands.
Of course the dream was also relevant to the dreamer himself.
But it certainly is at the same time it is an expression of the political situation which becomes more and more apparent in Europe at the time of the dream was even obvious in the United States.
This is corroborated by a most recent dream of the same man which occurred after things had got hot in France and in Austria and just at the time when we had some upstirring political events in Switzerland.
In the dream he went to the Zurich playhouse where Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar was given in a modern setting and clothes.
He remembered having seen several scenes but when it came to the great scene at the forum he thought he could not bear to see Caesar in a modern suit and he left the theatre.
I asked him what political principle Caesar and Brutus would represent, not in Shakespeare’s tragedy but in real history; he said that Brutus was the conservative element who conspired against Caesar because he thought he was violating democratic and constitutional ideals.
But this was quite an unjust accusation against Caesar because he was the one blameless in history who never defiled himself by breaking the law or by seeking merely personal ends.
He was the leader and dictator first because the epoch was in need of this and then also by his genius.
With these sidelights on history in the making I shall conclude my paper.
I hope I have not quite failed in the purpose I had in mind.
It was to read to you about a psychological subject with which I am familiar and whereby I could therefore express something of myself.