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The dream you mentioned was a dream of the little mastodon.

Letters of C. G. Jung: Volume I, 1906-1950 (Vol 1)

Dr. Wilfred R. Bion:

You gave an analogy between archaic forms of the body and archaic forms of the mind.

Is it purely an analogy or is there in fact a closer relationship?

Last night you said something which suggested that you consider there is a connection between the mind and the brain, and there has lately been published in the British Medical Journal diagnosis of yours from a dream of a physical disorder.

If that case was correctly reported it makes a very important suggestion, and I wondered whether you considered there was some closer connection between the two forms of archaic survival.

Professor Jung:

You touch again on the controversial problem of psycho-physical parallelism for which I know of no answer, because it is beyond the reach of man’s cognition.

As I tried to explain yesterday, the two things – the psychic fact and the physiological factcome together in a peculiar way.

They happen together and are, so I assume, simply two different aspects to our minds but not in reality.

We see them as two on account of the utter incapacity of our mind to think them together.

Because of that possible unity of the two things, we must expect to find dreams

which are more on the physiological side than on the psychological, as we have other dreams that are more on the psychological than on the physical side.

The dream to which you refer was very clearly a representation of an organic disorder.

These ‘organic representations’ are well known in ancient literature.

The doctors of antiquity and of the Middle Ages used dreams for their diagnosis.

I did not conduct a physical examination on the man you refer to.

I only heard his history and was told the dream, and I gave my opinion on it.

I have had other cases, for instance a very doubtful case of progressive muscular atrophy in a young girl.

I asked about dreams and she had two dreams which were very colorful.

A colleague, a man who knew something of psychology, thought it might be a case of hysteria.

There were indeed hysterical symptoms, and it was still doubtful if it was progressive muscular atrophy or not; but on account of the dreams I came to the conclusion that it must be an organic disease, and the end proved my diagnosis.

It was an organic disturbance, and the dreams were definitely referring to the organic condition.

According to my idea of the community of the psyche and the living body it should be like that, and it would be marvelous if it were not so.


Will you be talking of that later when you speak on dreams?

Professor Jung:

I am afraid that I cannot go into such detail; it is too special.

It is really a matter of special experience, and its presentation would be a very difficult job.

It would not be possible to describe to you briefly the criteria by which I judge such dreams.

The dream you mentioned, you may remember, was a dream of the little mastodon.

To explain what that mastodon really means in an organic respect and why I must take that dream as an organic symptom would start such an argument that you would accuse me of the most terrible obscurantism.

These things really are obscure.

I had to speak in terms of the basic mind, which thinks in archetypal patterns.

When I speak of archetypal patterns those who are aware of these things understand, but if you are not aware you think.

This fellow is absolutely crazy because he talks of mastodons and their difference from snakes and horses’.

I should have to give you a course of about four semesters about symbology first so that you could appreciate what I said. ~Carl Jung, Analytical Psychology Theory and Practice, Pages 72-74


[Cf. T. M. Davie, ‘Comments upon a Case of “Periventricular Epilepsy”, British Medical Journal, no.
3893 (Aug. 17, 1935), 293-297.

The dream is reported by a patient of Davie as follows:

‘Someone beside me kept on asking me something about oiling some machinery.

Milk was suggested as the best lubricant.

Apparently I thought that oozy slime was preferable.

Then a pond was drained, and amid the slime there were two extinct animals.

One was a minute mastodon.

I forgot what the other one was.

Davie’s comment: I thought it would be of interest to submit this dream to Jung to ask what his interpretation would be.

He had no hesitation in saying that it indicated some organic disturbance, and that the illness was not primarily a psychological one, although there were numerous psychological derivatives in the dream.

The drainage of the pond The drainage of the pond he interpreted as the damming-up of the cerebrospinal fluid circulation’.

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Great Sites to visit:

  1. Jenna Lilla’s Path of the Soul http://jennalilla.org/

  2. Steve Jung-Hearted Parker’s Jung Currents http://jungcurrents.com/

  3. Frith Luton’s Jungian Dream Analysis and Psychotherapy: http://frithluton.com/articles/

  4. Lance S. Owens The Gnosis Archives http://gnosis.org/welcome.html