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Symbolic Life

This book has the merit of being the first to investigate how the unconscious of Protestants behaves when it has to compensate an intensely religious attitude.

The author examines this question with the help of case material she has collected in her practical work.

She has evidently had the good fortune to come upon some very instructive cases who, moreover, did not object to the publication of their material.

Since we owe our knowledge of unconscious processes primarily to dreams, the author is mainly concerned with the dreams of her patients.

Even for one familiar with this material, the dreams and symbols reported here are remarkable.

As a therapist, she handles the dreams in a very felicitous manner, from the practical side chiefly, so that a reciprocal understanding of the meaning of the dream is gradually built up between her and the patient.

This puts the reader in the advantageous position of listening in on a dialogue, so to speak.

The method is as instructive as it is satisfying, since it is possible to present in this way several fairly long sequences of dreams.

A detailed scientific commentary would take up a disproportionate amount of space without making the dream interpretation any more impressive.

If the interpretation is at times uncertain, or disregards various details, this in no way affects the therapeutic intention to bring the meaning of the dream nearer to consciousness.

In actual practice one can often do full justice to a dream if one simply puts its general tendency, its emotional atmosphere, and its approximate meaning in the right light, having first, of course, assured oneself of the spontaneous approval of the dreamer.

With intelligent persons, this thoughtful feeling of one’s way into the meaning of the dream can soon be left to the patient himself.

The author has been entirely successful in bringing out the religious meaning of the dreams and so demonstrating her thesis.

religious attitude does in fact offer a direct challenge to the unconscious, and the more inimical the conscious attitude is to life, the more forceful and drastic will be this unconscious reaction.

It serves the purpose, firstly, of compensating the extremism of the conscious attitude and, secondly, of individuation, since it re-establishes the approximate wholeness of the personality.

The material which Dr. Froboese-Thiele has made available in her book is of considerable importance for doctors and theologians alike, since both of them have here an opportunity to assure themselves that the unconscious possesses a religious aspect against which no cogent arguments can be mustered.

One is left with a feeling of shame that so little of the empirical case material which would give the layman an adequate idea of these religious processes has been published.

The author deserves our special thanks for having taken the trouble to write up these exacting cases in extenso.

I hope her book will come into the hands of many thoughtful persons whose minds are not stopped up with needless prejudices, and who would be in a position to find a satisfactory answer to religious questions, or at least to come by those experiences which ought to underlie any authentic religious convictions. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 700-701