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Carl Jung on Dreams


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C.G. Jung, Emma Jung and Toni Wolff: A Collection of Remembrances

Carl Jung: Occasionally the dreams of others, helped to shape, revise, or confirm my views on a life after death] Not only my own dreams, but also occasionally the dreams of others, helped to shape, revise, or confirm my views on a life after death.

I attach particular importance to a dream which a pupil of mine, a woman of sixty, dreamed about two months before her death. She had entered the hereafter. There was a class going on, and various deceased women friends of hers sat on the front bench. An atmosphere of general expectation prevailed.

She looked around for a teacher or lecturer, but could find none. Then it became plain that she herself was the lecturer, for immediately after death people had to give accounts of the total experience of their lives.

The dead were extremely interested in the life experiences that the newly deceased brought with them, just as if the acts and experiences taking place in earthly life, in space and time, were the decisive ones.

In any case, the dream describes a most unusual audience whose like could scarcely be found on earth: people burningly interested in the final psychological results of a human life that was in no way remarkable, any more than were the conclusions that could be drawn from it to our way of thinking.

If, however, the “audience” existed in a state of relative non-time, where “termination” “event,” and “development” had become questionable concepts, they might very well be most interested precisely in what was lacking in their own condition.

At the time of this dream the lady was afraid of death and did her best to fend off any thoughts about it. Yet death is an important interest, especially to an aging person. A categorical question is being put to him, and he is under an obligation to answer it.

To this end he ought to have a myth about death, for reason shows him nothing but the dark pit into which he is descending. Myth, however, can conjure up other images for him, helpful and enriching pictures of life in the land of the dead.

If he believes in them, or greets them with some measure of credence, he is being just as right or just as wrong as someone who does not believe in them. But while the man who despairs marches toward nothingness, the one who has placed his faith in the archetype follows the tracks of life and lives right into his death.

Both, to be sure, remain in uncertainty, but the one lives against his instincts, the other with them. ~Carl Jung, Memories Dreams and Reflections.

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A dream, like every element in the psychic structure, is a product of the total psyche.

Hence we may expect to find in dreams everything that has ever been of significance in the life of humanity.

Just as human life is not limited to this or that fundamental instinct, but builds itself up from a multiplicity of instincts, needs, desires, and physical and psychic conditions, etc., so the dream cannot be explained by this or that element in it,’ however beguilingly simple such an explanation may appear to be.

We can be certain that it is incorrect, because no simple theory of instinct will ever be capable of grasping the human psyche, that mighty and mysterious thing, nor, consequently, its exponent, the dream.

In order to do anything like justice to dreams, we need interpretive equipment that must be laboriously fitted together from all branches of the humane sciences.

“General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. P. 527

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As in our waking state, real people and things enter our field of vision, so the dream-images enter like another kind of reality into the field of consciousness of the dream-ego.

We do not feel as if we were producing the dreams, it is rather as if the dreams came to us.

They are not subject to our control but obey their own laws.

They are obviously autonomous psychic complexes which form themselves out of their own material.

We do not know the source of their motives, and we therefore say that dreams come from the unconscious.

In saying this, we assume that there are independent psychic complexes which elude our conscious control and come and go according to their own laws. ~Carl Jung; The Psychological Foundations of Belief in Spirits; CW 8; The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche; Page 580.

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For dreams are chapters; if you put down your dreams carefully from night to night and understand them, you can see that they are chapters of a long text.

It is a process which moves in a circle if you do nothing about it.

You can see that with insane people where the conscious is absolutely unable to accept what the unconscious produces, and in that case the unconscious process simply makes a circle, as an animal has its usual way where it always circulates; deer or hares or any other wild animals move like that when they are pasturing.

And that is so with us inasmuch as the conscious is divorced from the unconscious.

But the moment the conscious peeps into the unconscious and the line of communication is established between the two spheres of life, the unconscious no longer moves in mere circles, but in a spiral.

It moves in a circle till the moment when it would join the former tracks again, and then it finds itself a bit above. ~Carl Jung, Zarathustra Seminar, Page 956.

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[Late in his life Dr. Jung stopped dreaming.]

Suzanne Percheron: I suppose that you dream?

Dr. Jung: No, I almost don’t dream anymore. (!!!)

I used to dream when I began to discover my unconscious.

One dreams when the unconscious has something to say, but my consciousness is always so receptive now that the door is open.

I am ready to accept. With me the unconscious can flow into consciousness.

I no longer have prejudice, or fear, or resistance. The dream is a way in which the unconscious makes itself known to consciousness.

Many people have no memory of their dreams because the unconscious knows that it will not be heard, so what’s the use; then they don’t remember. ~~C. G. Jung, Emma Jung and Toni Wolff – A Collection of Remembrances;Pages 51-70.