Psychology and Alchemy


The symbols of the process of individuation that appear in dreams are images of an archetypal nature which depict the centralizing process or the production of a new centre of personality.

A general idea of this process may be got from my essay, “The Relations between the Ego nnd the Unconscious.”

For certain reasons mentioned there I call this centre the “self,” which should be understood as the totality of the psyche.

The self is not only the centre, but also the whole circumference which embraces both conscious and unconscious; it is the centre of this totality, just as the ego is the centre of consciousness.

The symbols now under consideration are not concerned with the manifold stages and transformations of the individuation process, but with the images that refer directly and exclusively to the new centre as it comes into consciousness.

These images belong to a definite category which I call mandala symbolism.

In The Secret of the Golden Flower, published in collaboration with Richard Wilhelm, I have described this symbolism in some detail.

In the present study I should like to put before you an individual series of such symbols in chronological order.

The material consists of over a thousand dreams and visual impressions coming from a young man of excellent scientific education.

For the purposes of this study I have worked on the first four hundred dreams and visions, which covered a period of nearly ten months. In order to avoid all personal influence I asked one of my pupils, a woman doctor, who was then a beginner, to undertake the observation of the process.

This went on for five months.

The dreamer then continued his observations alone for three months.

Except for a short interview at the very beginning, before the commencement of the observation, I did not see the dreamer at all during the first eight months.

Thus it happened that 355 of the dreams were dreamed away from any personal contact with myself.

Only the last forty-five occurred under my observation.

No interpretations worth mentioning were then attempted because the dreamer, owing to his excellent scientific training and ability, did not require any assistance.

Hence conditions were really ideal for unprejudiced observation and recording.

First of all, then, I shall present extracts from the twenty-two initial dreams in order to show how the mandala symbolism makes a very early appearance and is embedded in the rest of the dream material.

Later on I shall pick out in chronological order the dreams that refer specifically to the mandala.

With few exceptions all the dreams have been abbreviated, either by extracting the part that carries the main thought or by condensing the whole text to essentials.

This simplifying procedure has not only curtailed their length but has also removed personal allusions and complications, as was necessary for reasons of discretion.

Despite this somewhat doubtful interference I have, to the best of my knowledge and scrupulously, avoided any arbitrary distortion of meaning.

The same considerations had also to apply to my own interpretation, so that certain passages in the dreams may appear to have been overlooked.

Had I not made this sacrifice and kept the material absolutely complete, I should not have been in a position to publish this series, which in my opinion could hardly be surpassed in intelligence, clarity, and consistency.

It therefore gives me great pleasure to express my sincere gratitude here and now to the “author” for the service he has rendered to science. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, Pages 41-43.