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Carl Jung interprets Dream Associations


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

Lecture X 18th January, 1935

You will remember the dream and associations which I gave you at the end of the last lecture; we come now to the interpretation.

The dreamer is on a walk with two friends, his associations show that he walks in a wood with them.

The wood is a symbol we meet with very often in dreams and mythology.

It is a dark place where we may lose our way and where unknown dangers lurk, it is the place where “we cannot see the wood for the trees”.

Primitives fear these conditions and have invented magic ceremonies to overcome them.

We imagine they are afraid of the wild beasts in the Bush, but this is not the case, for they are acquainted with their ways and it is the unknown which they fear.

When we were first in Africa we thought we must always be armed, but we soon learnt it was safest to have only a stick for wild animals know
whether you have a gun or not and what game you are after; the leopards used to come shooting with us, and take our partridges before we could reach them.

So the wood is a symbol here for a dark impenetrable situation, where something is likely to happen but we do not know what.

When speaking of the last dream we said that the next dreams might show a way by which the feeling he left with the mother could go over into normal life.

This dream says that this will happen through friendship, the club friends are efficient, positive people, in contrast to his homosexual friends.

This explains the raison d’etre of young men’s clubs and friendly societies and you find the same idea in primitive initiation ceremonies
where the initiant is for a time kept away from women.

There are relics of these institutions to be found in some customs which survive among students.

The anger of the old cocotte is his own anger because he is shocked at being a woman.

The masculine reaches him thrown from outside in the form of the banana.

This is a magical condition which has passed into the language.

In Swiss we speak of a sudden cold as “angeworfen”, thrown at us, and the German “Hexenschuss” (lumbago] which means literally witch’s shot, speaks for itself.

This is a very primitive idea, for the primitives believe that diseases are thrown at them by bad ghosts and witches.

Witch doctors have ice projectiles which can cause illness or even death, dangerous icicles that can return destructively to their homes as well.

When a witch doctor has sent out such a projectile it may kill his victim but he has to take every precaution, for when the icicle returns, it has smelt blood and will try to kill the witch doctor himself as well.

To avoid this he sets up a kind of scarecrow, he hangs his clothes on a stick and hides himself in the woods.

The angry icicle is deceived and rushes into the clothes.

Then the witch doctor catches the icicle and kneads it with his hands until it is tired and all the bad mana has gone out of it, when he can slip it back into his bag.

This is a most unusually psychological conception.

Our projections on other people behave like the icicle, they return to us, we do not remain unpunished when we make projections.

This dream has the form of a magic effect, our dreamer refuses the feminine role so the masculine begins to take the offensive, and unpleasantly.
It returns to him as the bursting banana. It had been badly crushed and smothered while he sat on his mother’s knee and many indignant affects were smothered with it, so it was bound to be an explosive return.

The intermezzo of Mme L’s affair with the doctor comes next and we get a hint of an intrigue of the dreamer’s own with the doctor he was under at the time.

These young people are very charming and flexible in their attitude towards th doctors and unless the latter is very experienced he is easily caught in their meshes.

All patients like to speak of the causes of their neurosis and especially to find a scapegoat to lay the blame on; “If only so and so had not treated me like that how different I should be”.

Many patients develop a morbid passion for causal research and unless the doctor is very wary he falls into the trap as well.

The patient’s instinct was warned by this dream, he had led the doctor into his own labyrinth, so he decided to leave him and find someone more efficient.

The patient brought these four dreams with him, he did not dream them with me.

I will briefly repeat what each dream means.

The first shows the masculine principle as hostile to the dreamer; the second that he is feminine and wounded in his femininity and the third shows this wound as a castration, for he is still in the mother.

In the fourth dream his femininity appears in a most unfavorable light, the unconscious criticizes him and shows him as a kind of prostitute on
the streets and in the Zoo, and the masculine comes in from the outside.

These dreams disturbed the dreamer badly, in the conscious he was still “mother’s good boy” but the unconscious does not mind showing him as he really is.

The magic appearance of the masculine in the last dream, though unpleasant in form, is a positive event.

Things which are unconscious must come to us from outside, we see them first in other people, they are thrown at us or we have to go out and fetch them in.

Originally the whole of life was outside the human being, it was in the forest and in all kinds of inanimate objects.

The primitive speaks of his canoe and other possessions as alive and of yours as dead, for a piece of his own life is projected into them.

We are born now into a relatively dead world, but even so much life has to be drawn from it before we can integrate all the pieces of our psyche.

We know now that trees and animals do not speak; but the primitive knows that they do and that there are doctor- animals and that werewolves exist.

He knows these things in the same way that he knows there are medicine men; these last are usually very clever people who should be taken altogether

If you told a primitive that you didn’t like to pass a certain corner because of a bad ghost who lived there, it would be just as comprehensible to him as saying a
fierce dog lived there.

A Swiss peasant will tell you he doesn’t believe in ghosts or witches but, if you watch him, you will be astonished at the way his actions belie his words.

A dream gives us unadorned information about the condition of a patient, it is as if a nature- being were stating his diagnosis or taking a child by the ear and telling
him what he is doing.

The dream is a higher realisation of what we are; we shall see this still more clearly in later dreams.

We come now to the dream which he had on the night following his first consultation with me.

Dream V –

I am at a concert and the organ is playing Wagnerian music. Mr. So and So is singing on a raised platform and mock him because of the words “My beloved” which
recur again and again.

My elder brother’s cello is standing in its open case.

The cellist is delighted with the cello but notices that the strings are not stretched.

He takes it out of the case and tunes it with enthusiasm.

The cellist then changes into my elder brother, who squirts petrol into the cello with a long instrument.

Flames leap up, but it is not really dangerous, so my brother repeats the process several times in order to frighten two old ladies who are
sitting behind.

They are my mother and Mrs. B. and are dressed in black.

There is an explosion, flaming fragments fly through the air and a silver ball appears from the Christmas tree.

My sister says that this year she has only put snow balls on the Christmas tree.

Context –

The dreamer recently went to a Church concert with his aunt.

He reported that he sat passively through it: which is exactly what he does at analysis.

He would like to learn the organ but thinks it is too difficult, so he wishes for a pianola instead!

He does not like Wagnerian music, he finds it too erotic and prefers Bach.

Mr. So and So is still a mother’s son, a dilettante with no profession.

His first wife was burnt to death with methylated spirit. (Mr. So and So is the dreamer, for the latter married a few years later and was divorced, so his first wife also ended in smoke).

The cellist is the brother’s music master and the dreamer associates him to myself.

His brother is in love with his cello and calls it his bride.

He says it is a soulful instrument, it plays on the soul.

The dreamer said that his brother was very like me, I feel sure everybody would know us ap art, but this is the dreamer’s way of making a kind of declaration of love!

I equal the brother, and the brother equals the cellist, so I am the cellist.

As he associates the cello to the soul, the strings of the soul are too slack and want tightening up and tuning.

Petrol is energy, so the dreamer thinks that something is likely to happen when his brother pours it into the cello.

The long instrument he associates to a syringe used by a doctor the day before to spray his throat.

It burnt and this leads over into the explosion and firework display.

This idea is already prepared in the former dreams by the Eau de Cologne and the explosion of the banana.

As a child he liked to play with fire and destroyed a thermometer once by holding it in the fire.

His brother was recently present at a technical experiment where an explosion was likely.

The fear of the old ladies is the fear of the parents when his masculinity explodes. Mrs. B. is a poor soul, a friend of his mother’s who has lost her fortune, a poor deserted creature, she is a mother substitute, and represents the state of the mother’s soul.

The silver ball is a sun coming out of the Christmas tree.

When I asked the dreamer “What about the Christmas tree? ” he replied : “Oh well, that is what one does; that is how Christmas is celebrated”.

This is our primitive side, like the primitives, we do it and do not know why.

Christmas day is the celebration of the birth of an invisible sun, one of the many heathen customs taken over by the early Church and attached by it to Christ’s birthday.

It is a sort of bridge to Mithras, where the birth of the sun out of the tree is the symbol of the birth of Mithras.

The same idea existed much earlier in Egypt where Ra, the sun god, rose like a falcon out of its nest. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lecture 18Jan1935, Pages 173-175.