Dream analysis. Notes of the seminar given in 1928-1930 by C.G. Jung. Edited by William McGuire.

7 November 1928 The Dream Analysis Seminar Lecture I

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Dream analysis is the central problem of the analytical treatment, because it is the most important technical means of opening up an avenue to the unconscious.

The main object in this treatment, as you know, is to get at the message of the unconscious.

The patient comes to the analyst usually because he finds himself in an impasse or cul-de-sac, where there seems to be no way out, and he assumes that the doctor will know a way.

If the doctor is honest, he recognizes that he also does not know the way.

But doctors sometimes are not: only one hundred and fifty years ago, doctors were those quacks who went to fairs and pulled out teeth, performed marvellous cures, etc., and this attitude still prevails to a certain extent in the medical profession at the present day-human beings are everywhere bad!

In analysis we must be very careful not to assume that we know all about the patient or that we know the way out of his difficulties.

If the doctor tells him what he thinks the trouble may be, he follows the doctor’s suggestions and does not experience himself.

Suggestions may work for a time, but when he is away the patient collapses because he has no contact with himself and is living not his own way but the doctor’s way.

Then he has to return to the doctor for new suggestions, and after a while this becomes disgusting to both.

It is important that the doctor admits he does not know; then both are ready to accept the impartial facts of nature, scientific realities.

Personal opinions are more or less arbitrary judgments and may be all wrong; we are never sure of being right.

Therefore we should seek the facts provided by dreams. Dreams are objective facts.

They do not answer our expectations, and we have not invented them; if one intends to dream of certain things, one finds it impossible.

We dream of our questions, our difficulties. There is a saying that the bridegroom never dreams of the bride.

That is because he has her in reality; only later, when there is trouble, does he dream of her-and then she is generally the wife.

We are quite unable to influence our dreams, and the actual surroundings do not necessarily furnish the dream material.

Even when something really important or fascinating happens there is often not a trace of it in our dreams.

I was very much disappointed, when I was in Africa, 1 that in the whole series of my dreams there was not a trace of Africa in spite of most impressive experiences; not a single dream of African scenery or of Negroes-save once, at the end of three months, and then the Negro turned out to be a barber who, I remembered later, had cut my .hair in Chattanooga (in America).

Our dreams are most peculiarly independent of our consciousness and exceedingly valuable because they cannot cheat.

They are as difficult to read as the facts of physiology have always been difficult to read. Just as a serious technique is required to make a
diagnosis of heart, liver, kidneys, etc., so have we had to work out a serious technique in order to read the impartial facts of dreams.

There is no doubt as to the impartiality of the facts but much as to the reading of the facts; therefore there are a number of points of view-the Freudian, for example.

I cannot discuss the different methods here, but submit the material.

We shall try to work out the reading together, and you can do the guessing.

The dreams chosen for discussion are the ordinary dreams of a patient of mine, because one learns more from ordinary dreams.

The more interesting dreams are very thrilling, but they are easier to understand than the minor ones.

Primitives believe in two different kinds of dreams: ota, the great vision, big, meaningful, and of collective importance; and vudota, the ordinary small dream.

They usually deny having the ordinary dream, or if, after long efforts on your part, they admit such an occurrence, they say: “That’s nothing, everyone has that!”

Great and important dreams are very rare, and only a really big man has big dreams-chiefs, medicine men, people with mana.

They said I also would have a big vision because I was a great lord, and one hundred years old because I had white hair and was able to read the great book, the Koran.

Our usual prejudice against dreams that they mean nothing-is probably just the old primitive tradition that the ordinary dreams are not worth noticing.

Explorers say that when a chief or anyone with mana had a big dream, he always called the village together, and they all sat and listened and waited and considered, and often followed the advice given.

Perhaps the last traces of dreams of such public importance are to be found in Roman times.

The daughter of a senator dreamt that a goddess appeared to her and reproached her for the fact that her temple was decaying through neglect, and asked that it should be rebuilt.

So she went to the Senate and reported her dream, and the senators decided to rebuild the temple.

Another instance occurred in Athens, when a famous poet dreamt that a certain man had stolen a precious golden vessel from the
temple of Hermes and had hidden it in a certain place.

He did not believe in dreams, and the first time it happened he rejected it.

But when it came a second and a third time, he thought that the gods were insisting and it might be true. So he went to the Areopagus,
the equivalent of the Roman Senate, and announced his dream.

Then a search was made, the thief was found, and the vessel restored.
African primitives now depend on the English to guide them, no longer on the medicine man’s dream.

The general opinion is that the medicine man or chief has no such dreams since the English have been in the country.

They said the Commissioner knew everything now-the war boundaries, the boundaries of the fields, who has killed the sheep, etc.

This shows that the dream had formerly a social and political function, the leader getting his thoughts straight from heaven, guiding his people directly from his unconscious. Rasmussen obtained from an Eskimo (the son of an Eskimo woman and a Dane, who had lived with him in Greenland) a marvelous story about an old medicine man who, guided by a dream, led his tribe from Greenland across Baffin’s Bay to North America.

The tribe was increasing rapidly and there was great scarcity of food, and he dreamt about a further country with an abundance of seals,
whales, walruses, etc., a land of plenty.

The whole tribe believed him and they started out over the ice.

Halfway over, certain old men began to doubt, as is always the case: is the vision right or wrong?

So half the tribe turned back, only to perish, while he went on with the other half and reached the North American shore.

Our small dreams have no such importance, no collective or universal solutions, though they are valid in a particular case, but one can see in any ordinary dream such as those I am choosing, the same guiding function and attempt at a solution of the problem.

The dreamer is a business man of forty-five, a good intellect, cultivated, prosperous, very polite and social, married, with three or four children; not very neurotic but “touchy”; his main trouble is that he is irritable and particularly anxious to avoid situations where some one might reproach him or hurt him.

He had a pain in his stomach and felt nauseated once when the police held him up for speeding.

This shows that something. is not quite right.

He tries to be terribly righteous, and only those who have the ability or tendency to be very wrong try to be so very right, to attain
perfection; when people try to be abnormally good, something is trying to go absolutely wrong,

He has very correct surface manners, speech, clothing, he is very careful in every possible way; doesn’t smoke much or drink, and has reasonable views about how one should live.

But behind that virtuous surface there is some trouble in his sexuality; he has grown more or less apart from his wife, who is no longer particularly interested in him and is therefore frigid.

So he began to be attracted by new things, chiefly by what we call women; he occasionally goes to high-class prostitutes, and then, to compensate, he tries to be more and more correct.

He won’t face his trouble, he explains it as an “occasional mistake,” repents, and says each time it “will not happen again,” like masturbation-until the day after tomorrow.

This is an immoral way of behaving towards the problem, for so it is never solved but keeps the person feeling chronically morally

A state of morbid inferiority which has to be compensated by an excess of correctness is not nice for himself or his family or for others.

It has a very bad influence on his wife; she is chilled by his awful correctness, for then she must not be improper in any way, so she cannot become conscious of herself and punishes him with frigidity.

Such correctness has a terribly chilling effect, it makes one feel awfully inferior.

If I meet anyone so very virtuous, I feel meant for hell, I don’t feel well with very virtuous people!

That problem swamps him.

He has read a good deal of psychology and books about sex, but still has this unsolved problem which should be dealt with; therefore he came to me.

Although he was not particularly neurotic, things would slowly grow worse and worse, and he thought I could tell him what to do about it.

I said I had no idea.

He was upset: “I thought you would know.”

hen I said: “I don’t know the solution of your problem, but there are dreams, impartial facts, which might give information; let us see what they say.”

So we began his dream analysis. The first dream contains his whole problem and a hint as to its solution.

Dream [1]

“I hear that a child of my youngest sister is ill, and my brother-in-law comes and asks me to go with him to the theatre and dine
afterwards. I have eaten already, yet I think I can go with him.

“We arrive in a large room, with a long dining-table in the centre already spread; and on the four sides of the big room are rows of
benches or seats like an amphitheatre, but with their backs to the table-the reverse way.

We sit down, and I ask my brother-in-law why his wife has not come.

Then I think it is probably because the child is ill, and ask how she is.

He says she is much better, only a little fever now.

“Then I am at the home of my brother-in-law, and I see the child, a little girl one or two years old. (He adds: There is no such girl in reality, but there was a boy of two.)

The child looks rather ill, and some one informs me that she would not pronounce the name of my wife, Maria. I pronounce that name and ask the child to repeat it, to say ‘Aunt Maria,’ but I really say ‘Aunt Mari-,’ and instead of merely leaving out the ‘a,’ I say ‘Mari -ah-ah,’ like yawning, despite the protests of the people around me against that way of pronouncing my wife’s name.”

Dr. Jung: This ordinary dream introduces us into the home atmosphere of the patient.

All the particulars here given are about his family, therefore we can draw an important conclusion. What is that?

Suggestion: That the dreamer’s interest was very much centred in his family and individuals particularly close?

Dr. Jung: Yes, and that is in accordance with the proverbial idea of dreams.

We express ourselves through the language which is easily accessible to us; we see that in the dreams of peasants, soldiers, etc., who dream of familiar things the language differs according to the profession.

I must also emphasize the fact that this man has lived very much abroad; he is a man of the world, a great traveller.

Then why does he not dream of that side of his existence, scenery, etc.?

Later dreams have nothing to do with his home, so there is special reason for paying attention to the fact that he dreams first in family terms.

Suggestion: Is it because that is where his problem lies?

Dr. Jung: He is obviously caught in the terminology of his family, so perhaps his unconscious tends to emphasize the fact that his
problem is there. Now to detail.

Child of his youngest sister: Two years ago her first child died, a beautiful boy of two.

He said: “We very much participated in the sorrow of the parents during the illness and at his death from dysentery-he was my god-child.”

The sister is connected with the dreamer chiefly through that loss, and there is a similar situation in the dream: the illness of the little girl recalls the time when the boy was ill and died.

It is very important to know that he is connected with the sister through an emotional memory of loss; and here he is again emotionally disturbed through the image of a child of his sister that is again ill.

He is threatened now with a similar loss but this one is psychological, a symbolic facon de parler, represented by a girl-child.

Therefore the situation is somewhat similar, but in reality there is nothing of the kind, no illness in the family.

If a child of his sister were really ill we could say the dream coincided with reality.

But it is not, this is only a memory-image called back to construct the image of the girl.

Such an imaginary case always refers to the dreamer; the memory-image must be taken as a metaphor.

His youngest sister was always his particular pet. She is eleven years younger, and he loves her dearly, although he teased her a great

deal when they were children.

That sister is important because she is the link with the ill child, and the child belongs to his own psychology and is therefore between himself and his youngest sister, close to his heart.

So the sister is symbolic; she lives abroad in a far-off country and he has no actual correspondence with her.

One must be very careful in dealing with such figures in a dream.

If the person is very close to the dreamer and has important dealings with him, he must be taken as tangible reality.

If a wife dreams of her husband as he really is, she must not assume he is merely symbolic.

But a dream of an unknown person, or one known far in the past, becomes largely symbolic.

The little sister has grown rather indifferent to him actually and plays no role in the dreamer’s present life.

Freudian theory would explain the sister as a substitute for the wife, but is there anything in the dream which would allow us to think that?

Suggestion: Is the sister a substitute for the wife because his affection in both cases has weakened?

Dr. Jung: That element might come into it.

But she is in every way different from the wife, and the dream gives no clue to her identity.

The main aspect of the sister does not allow the assumption that she is a substitute for the wife, and she is not the real sister
because she plays no actual role.

Therefore she represents an unknown woman, or a feminine factor of unknown nature in himself, that has an imaginary child who is ill, a psychological, personal mythology concluding in blue air as much as if we were in ignorance of the whole dream.

So we may assume that this is subjective symbolism, a peculiar condition in his psychology.

My method throughout has been to make no assumptions but to accept facts.

In arbitrary interpretations anything can be a substitute for anything; beware of prejudices in favour of substitution.

There is no proof at all that the sister represents the wife, the facts are even against it.

Illness of child: His sister’s first child had suffered from intestinal trouble and died of it.

It is very important that after the death of this child, his sister became quite anxious lest the second boy might fall ill, but he did not.

She became rather serious and went in for Christian Science, and it was as if the boy were really made better; the man does not know whether that was coincidence or a consequence of the fact that the sister was quieter and treated the child with more self-assurance.

If a mother is tortured by fears, the child will probably go wrong to fulfil the expectations of the mother.

That the death of the first child had the effect of making his sister take to Christian Science is a fact belonging to the sister, but he
mentions it here.

The connotation of Christian Science has also to do with that female character in his own psychology; it is decidedly a hint.

The female factor underwent a certain conversion, and that man within the last two or three years has begun to be interested in philosophy, occultism, theosophy, and all sorts of funny things; he was too level-headed to be much affected by them, though he
had a mystical streak.

Question: Did he have this dream after he started work with you?

Dr. Jung: Yes, after his decision to work with dreams.

When his sister became interested in Christian Science, he went in for spiritualism, etc., so the female element in himself led him to this
interest. There was a change in him.

He was a business man, and all his “pep” was associated with business matters, but these other interests filtered into him; he was slowly imbued with philosophical ideas.

He didn’t read as a student, he was not actively making for a goal; he read around the subject, this or that, something would catch his attention and he allowed it to influence him, to sink into him-the feminine way of giving an object the chance to have an influence over him.

He shows an entirely female character in his mystical and philosophical interests.

So we know that the child is a child of that female factor in him.

His brother-in-law is the second figure in the dream. They had been friendly for a long time, he knew him before his marriage
with his sister; they had been in the same business and went to the opera together, his brother-in-law being very musical.

He said: “I got all my music-not much-from my brother-in-law, as he came through me into my business firm; he has now a position as director; I was rather disappointed that he took so long to get au fait with the new business, yet he has more facility in dealing with people than I have.”

I asked if he was still in connection with his brother-in-law and he said no, he had withdrawn from the business altogether and left the country.

So actually the brother-in-law also lives far away, there are very few letters, and he plays no part worth mentioning in his life.

It is as difficult to make out any reality in the brother-in-law as it is in the youngest sister.

I got the impression of very little present reality about him, though he was on better terms with his wife than in his own case.

The patient is not artistic at all; therefore we are led to believe that the brother-in-law, through his musical and less businesslike qualities, symbolizes another side of the dreamer; he is not as efficient as the patient but has a plus on the artistic side.

Music is symbolic of a more rounded outlook for the dreamer; it is the art of feeling par excellence.

Socrates was a terrible rationalist, insupportable, so his daemon said to him: “Socrates, thou shouldst make more music.”

And dear old Socrates bought a flute and played horrible things!

Of course the daemon meant: “Do practise more feeling, don’t be so damned rational all day long.”

This could be applied to the patient very suitably.

He is very intellectual and dry, and tries to force everything into a rationalistic scheme, tries to regulate life along straight lines,
and does not allow for anything like feeling except an occasional concert, because respectable and right people sometimes go to concerts or the opera.

He went, not because he believed in it, but because correct people went; no love led him there.

So I think the brother-in-law symbolizes this man’s less efficient side, the dreamy, emotional figure which he is on the other side.

As he is a human being he naturally has every tendency in him, as we all have.

He cherishes the purposeful illusion that he is an efficient mechanism, and, because he can go on rails in a straight line, he has had considerable success as a business man; he has that advantage over his brother-in-law who is deterred by his emotions.

Our patient thought he could get rid of them, but that is an illusion.

No one can switch off human feeling without bad consequences.

Evidently he tucks away his own feelings, but then they accumulate, and this will cause damage; either the weight of whatever accumulates will fall down on him, or it will blow up from the cellar below.

Since we are human, we have all functions, and each function has its specific energy which should be applied or it will apply itself.

Brother-in-law, according to his nature, asks him to go to the theatre and to dine afterwards:

The patient says: “I cannot remember having been to the theatre with my brother-in-law since his wedding; if so, then together with our wives; or that I have ever dined with him except in his own house.”

Again this is not a reminiscence of an actual situation; it never happened in reality, and is therefore a symbolic invention.

The theatre is the place of unreal life, it is life in the form of images, a psychotherapeutic institute where complexes are staged; one can see there how these things work.

The movies are far more efficient than the theatre; they are less restricted, they are able to produce amazing symbols to show the
collective unconscious, since their methods of presentation are so unlimited.

Dreams express certain processes in our unconscious, and while the theatre is relatively poor and restricted, dreams are not restricted at all.

So in inviting him to the theatre, his brother-in-law invites him to the staging of his complexes-where all the images are the symbolic or unconscious representations of his own complexes.

And to dine afterwards: To eat the complexes. Communion means eating a complex, originally a sacrificial animal, the totem animal,
the representation of the basic instincts of that particular clan.

You eat your unconscious or ancestors and so add strength to yourself.

Eating the totem animal, the instincts, eating the images, means to assimilate, to integrate them.

What you first see on the screen interests you, you watch it, and it enters your being, you are it.

It is a process of psychological assimilation.

Looking at the scene, the spectator says to the actor: “Rodie tibi, eras mihil” That Latin proverb is the essence of acting.

Look at the unconscious images and after a while you assimilate them, they catch you and become part of you-a sort of meaningful moment.

St. Agustine, in his Confessions, tells of his friend Alypius, a Christian convert, who felt that the worst of paganism was not the cult of the gods but the terrible cruelty and bloodshed of the arena, and so he vowed he would never go again.

But passing one day, he saw all the folk streaming in and got the fever and went in.

He shut his eyes and swore he would not open them, but when the gladiator fell and he heard the people shouting, he opened his eyes, and from then on was shouting for blood with the crowd” in that moment his soul was wounded by a more terrible wound than that of the gladiator. ”

It is not quite indifferent what images hold one; one cannot see just anything, the ugly for instance, without being punished; the aspect of ugliness builds something ugly in the soul, especially if the germ is there already.

At first we don’t recognize it as ourselves.

St. Augustine wrote: “I thank Thee, Lord, that Thou didst not make me responsible for my dreams.”

A saint would have terrible dreams!

We are human, anything can reach us, for we reach from the gods down into hell.

Then only, when we are horrified and upset and chaotic, do we cry out for a Saviour; as in the time of Christ, what was staged every day in the arena showed the need of a saviour.

It is an interesting fact that in several Gnostic systems, the definition of saviour is “the maker of boundary lines,” the one that gives us a clear idea of where we begin and where we end.

Most people don’t know, they are either too small or too big, particularly when they begin to assimilate the images of the unconscious.

It is like the story of old Schopenhauer: Deep in thought, in the state garden of Frankfurt, he walked into the middle of a flower-bed, and a gardener called out to him: “Hey! What are you doing in the flower-bed?-Who are you?” “Ah, exactly, if I only knew!” said Schopenhauer.

That is why people prefer a safe persona: “this is myself’; otherwise they don’t know who they really are. The main fear of the unconscious is that we forget who we are.

Theatre and dining are an anticipation of the process of analysis.

In the first dream people often get the gist of the whole process ahead; I saw this patient for a long time off and on, and it took him eighteen months to realize what the private theatre meant.

The feeling side of his personality, that side of himself which was not in business, was shut away from life, it was not even in his

The brother-in-law is like a second unconscious personality, who invites him in the dream to dine alone with him, without the women.

Here we come to the symbolic meaning of wives: they are the emotions, for that is the way man usually becomes acquainted with woman.

He must leave at home the emotional factor or there will be no objectivity; he cannot look at the pictures or think about himself when emotional.

This is all pretty metaphorical.

This man was so correct, so sincerely right, that if anyone showed him what was really going on in himself he would be horrified and
have no objectivity.

He must first do away with emotions and look at the images in a very calm objective way.

I always kept him away from emotion to let him see the facts.

Question: What about a woman?

Dr. Jung: It is quite different with women; women must have emotions or they can’t see anything.

A woman weeps because she is bored, tired, angry, joyous, anything-but not because she is sad.

Her emotions are always for a certain purpose, she can work with her emotions; whether she admits it or not is another matter.

A man never has emotions for a purpose; he cannot be analysed through his emotions; work with his emotions and he is stupid; it
is destructive.

While a woman can only be analysed through her emotions; she gets emotional in such a fruitful way; if one can’t get at the emotions of a woman one arrives at nothing, one can only talk to her so-called mind as if to a library, perfectly dry.

Her real being is Eros.

A voice: Don’t make us feel inferior because we really feel superior!

Dr. Jung: That’s right, get emotional about it!

It is difficult to deal with tears in analysis; a man finds it exceedingly difficult to find out how these weapons are to be used and a woman has the same trouble in finding out how to take his intellect.

A woman cannot take pure Logos from a man, or a man pure Eros from a woman.

Question: Are a man’s emotions ever valuable?

Dr. Jung: Yes, as raw material, like unpolished diamonds.

The emotion of man is a natural product, there is nothing purposive in it; but it is genuine and valuable if one can make use of it.

Like a dream, it happens.

It is only useful when, through tremendous self-control, he can play his emotion when it is cold; then with that purposive element, he can play and perform.

But they are not really emotions at all!

A woman works through her emotions, with every gift, as a man works with his mind-there is always purpose.

While a woman’s mind has the innocence and purposelessness of a natural product.

That is the reason why there are so many power devils among women, like Mme de Maintenon or Mme de Pompadour.

When a femme inspiratrice works with her mind she produces in man the “seed Logos.”

The man fears in a woman “le formidable secret de ses hanches,” her form of creative power. And woman fears in a man “le formidable secret de son cerveau”; the creative womb of man is in his head.

A woman has the same terror of what she sees in a man’s mind that a man has of the child produced.

A man finds it mysterious, dangerous, terrifying, that she brings forth a child: he follows love and something grows.

This takes a comical form in Erskine’s Adam and Eve, in Adam’s terrible anxiety about a cow that has brought forth a calf.

Why not something entirely different? And he wonders why a woman should always bring forth a child.

Why just a human being?-Why not perhaps a calf?

What comes out could be anything, one is not sure a bit! It is the characteristic fear of man for an indefinite sort of effect.

Now the next thing in the dream is that he thinks he has already dined, and it is therefore superfluous to dine again.

He has no associations so we are free to guess.

Perhaps he thinks that he has already assimilated himself, feels that he is complete, a perfectly normal, up-to-date individual, with no need to come to me nor to assimilate anything more-some resistance against analysis.

Nevertheless he agrees and goes with his brother-in-law.

“It is not a habit of mine to go out in the evening, I prefer to remain at home.

It must be a particular condition that would induce me to go out, for instance, a play in which my wife would be interested, when, if I
don’t go, she would go to bed early.”

He accepts the fact that he could see more of himself and go through analysis: yet he emphasizes the fact that he does not like to go out, and would only go to something especially interesting or something that would interest his wife.

This is his correctness; a man out of his home is suspect, a husband should only be interested in public affairs or in things his wife likes, and never go to out-of-the-way plays or places.

His last remark-that she goes to bed early-opens up a vista.

His wife would rather sleep than bore herself to death with him.

Most exciting evening!

Therefore yawning with internal resistance: Mari and yawn!

Obviously this is the situation at home: that association with “ah” at the end of “Mari.” ~Carl Jung, Dream Analysis Seminar, Pages 3-15