The hypothesis we have advanced, that dreams serve the purpose of compensation, is a very broad and comprehensive assumption.
It means that we believe the dream to be a normal psychic phenomenon that transmits unconscious reactions or spontaneous impulses to the conscious mind.
Since only a small minority of dreams are manifestly compensatory, we must pay particular attention to the language of dreams that we consider to be symbolic.
The study of this language is almost a science in itself. It has. as we have seen, an infinite variety of individual expressions.
They can be read with the help of the dreamer, who himself provides the associative material, or context of the dream-image, so that we can look at all of its aspects circumambulating it.
This method proves to be sufficient in all ordinary cases suchas when a relative, a friend, or a patient tells you a dream more or less conversationally.
But when it is a matter of outstanding dreams, of obsessive or recurrent dreams, or dreams that are highly emotional, the personal associations produced by the dreamer no longer for a satisfactory interpretation.
In such cases, we have to take into consideration the fact, already observed and commented on by Freud, that elements often occur in a dream that are not individual and cannot be derived from personal experience.
They are what Freud called “archaic remnants”—thought-forms whose presence cannot be explained by anything in the individual’s own life, but seem to be aboriginal, innate, and inherited patterns of the human mind.
Just as the human body represents a whole museum of organs, with a long evolutionary history behind them, so we should expect the mind to be organized in a similar way rather than to be a product without history.
By “history” I do not mean the fact that the mind builds itself up through conscious tradition (language, etc.), but rather its biological, prehistoric, and unconscious development beginning with archaic man, whose psyche was still similar to an animal.
This immensely old psyche forms the basis of our mind, just as the structure of our body is erected upon a generally mammalian anatomy.
Wherever the trained eye of the morphologist looks, it recognizes traces of the original pattern.
Similarly, the experienced investigator of the psyche cannot help seeing the analogies between dream-images and the products of xhe primitive mind,
its reresentations collectives, or mythological motifs.
But just as the morphologist needs the science of comparative anatomy, so the psychologist cannot do without a “comparative anatomy of the psyche.”
He must have a sufficient experience of dreams and 7 other products of the unconscious on the one hand, and on the other of mythology in its widest sense.
He cannot even see the analogy between a case of compulsion neurosis, schizophrenia, or hysteria and that of a classical demonic possession if he has not sufficient knowledge of both.
My views about the “archaic remnants,” which I have called “archetypes” or “primordial images,” are constantly criticized by people who lack a sufficient knowledge both of the psychology of dreams and of mythology.
The term “archetype” is often misunderstood as meaning a certain definite mythological image or motif. But this would be no more than a conscious representation, and it would be absurd to assume that such variable representations could be inherited.
The archetype is, on the contrary, an inherited tendency of the human mind to form representations of mythological motifs—representations that vary a great deal without losing their basic pattern.
There are, for instance, numerous representations of the^ motif_ of the hostile brothers, but the motif remains the same.
This inherited tendency is instinctive, like the specific impulse of nest-building, migration, etc. in birds.
One finds these representations collectives practically everywhere, characterized by the same or similar motifs.
They cannot be assigned to any particular time or region or race.
They are without known origin, and they can reproduce themselves even where transmission through migration must be ruled out.
My critics have also incorrectly assumed that by archetypes I mean “inherited ideas,” and on this ground have dismissed the concept of the archetype as a mere superstition.
But if archetypes were ideas that originated in our conscious mind or were acquired by it, one would certainly understand them, and would not be astonished and bewildered when they appear in consciousness.
I can remember many cases of people who have consulted me because they were baffled by their own or their children’s dreams.
The reason was that the dreams contained images that could not be traced to anything they remembered, and they could not explain where their children could have picked up such strange and incomprehensible ideas.
These people were highly educated persons, sometimes psychiatrists themselves.
One of them was a professor who had a sudden vision and thought he was crazy.
He came to me in a state of complete panic.
I simply took a four-hundred-year-old volume from the shelf and showed him an old woodcut that depicted his vision.
“You don’t need to be crazy,” I told him. “They knew all about your vision four hundred years ago.” Whereupon he sat down entirely deflated but once more normal.
I particularly remember the case of a man who was himself a psychiatrist.
He brought me a handwritten booklet he had received as a Christmas present from his ten-year-old daughter.
It contained a whole series of dreams she had had when she was eight years old.
It was the weirdest series I had ever seen, and I could well understand why her father was more than puzzled by the dreams.
Childlike though they were, they were a bit uncanny, containing images whose origin was wholly incomprehensible to her father.
Here are the salient motifs from the dreams:
- The “bad animal”: a snakelike monster with many horns, that kills and devours all other animals. But God comes from the four corners, being really four gods, and gives rebirth to all the animals.Ascent into heaven where pagan dances are being celebrated, and descent to hell where angels are doing good deeds. A horde of small animals frightens the dreamer. The animals grow to enormous size, and one of them devours her. A small mouse is penetrated by worms, snakes, fishes, and human beings. Thus the mouse becomes human. This is the origin of mankind in four stages.
- A drop of water is looked at through a microscope: it is full of branches. This is the origin of the world.
- A bad boy with a clod of earth. He throws bits of it at the passers-by, and they all become bad too.
- A drunken woman falls into the water and comes out sober and renewed.
- In America many people are rolling in an ant heap, attacked by the ants. The dreamer, in a panic, falls into a river.
- The dreamer is in a desert on the moon. She sinks so deep into the ground that she reaches hell.
- She touches a luminous ball seen in a vision. Vapors come out of it. Then a man comes and kills her.
- She is dangerously ill. Suddenly birds come out of her skin and cover her completely.
- Swarms of gnats hide the sun, moon, and stars, all except one star which then falls on the dreamer.
In the unabridged German original, each dream begins with the words of the fairytale: “Once upon a time . . .” With these words the little dreamer suggests that she feels as if each dream were a sort of fairytale, which she wants to tell her father as a Christmas present.
Her father was unable to elucidate the dreams through their context, for there seemed to be no personal associations. Indeed, this kind of childhood dream often seems to be a “Just So Story,” with very few or no spontaneous associations.
The possibility that these dreams were conscious elaborations can of course be ruled out only by someone who had an intimate knowledge of the child’s character and did not doubt her truthfulness.
They would, however, remain a challenge to our understanding even if they were fantasies that originated in the waking state.
The father was convinced that they were authentic, and I have no reason to doubt it.
I knew the little girl myself, but this was before she gave the dreams to her father, and I had no chance to question her about them, for she lived far away from Switzerland and died of an infectious disease about a year after that Christmas.
The dreams have a decidedly peculiar character, for their leading thoughts are in a way like philosophical problems.
The first dream, for instance, speaks of an evil monster killing all other animals, but God gives rebirth to them through a kind of
apocatastasis, or restitution. In the Western world this idea is known through Christian tradition.
It can be found in the Acts of the Apostles 3:21: “(Christ,) whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things . . .”
The early Greek Fathers to the Church particularly insisted on the idea that, at the end of time, everything will be restored by the Redeemer to its original and perfect state.
According to Matthew 17:11, there was already an old Jewish tradition that Elias “truly shall first come, and restore all things.”
I Corinthians 15:22 refers to the same idea in the following words: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
One might argue that the child had met with this thought in her religious education.
But she had had very little of this, as her parents (Protestants) belonged to those people, common enough in our days, who know the Bible only from hearsay.
It is particularly unlikely that the idea of apocatastasis had been explained to her, and had become a matter of vital interest.
Her father, at any rate, was entirely unaware of this mythical idea.
Nine of the twelve dreams are concerned with the theme of destruction and restoration.
We find the same connection in I Corinthians 15:22, where Adam and Christ; i.e., death and resurrection, are linked together.
None of these dreams, however, shows anything more than superficial traces of a specifically Christian education or influence.
On the contrary, they show more analogy with primitive tales.
This is corroborated by the other motif—the cosmogonic myth of the creation of the world and of man, which appears in dreams 4 and 5.
The idea of Christ the Redeemer belongs to the world-wide and pre-Christian motif of the hero and rescuer who, although devoured by the monster, appears again in a miraculous way, having overcome the dragon or whale or whatever it was that swallowed him.
How, when, and where such a motif originated nobody knows.
We do not even know how to set about investigating the problem in a sound way.
Our only certainty is that every generation, so far as we can see, has found it as an old tradition.
Thus we can safely assume that the motif “originated” at a time when man did not yet know that he possessed a hero myth—in an age, therefore, when he did not yet reflect consciously on what he was saying. The hero figure is a typical image, an archetype, which has existed since time immemorial.
The best examples of the spontaneous production of archetypal images are presented by individuals, particularly children, who live in a milieu where one can be sufficiently certain that any direct knowledge of the tradition is out of the question.
The milieu in which our little dreamer lived was acquainted only with the Christian tradition, and very superficially at that.
Christian traces may be represented in her dreams by such ideas as God, angels, heaven, hell, and evil, but the way in which they are treated points to a tradition that is entirely non-Christian.
Let us take the first dream, of the God who really consists of four gods, coming from the “four corners.” The corners of what?
There is no room mentioned in the dream.
A room would not even fit in with the picture of what is obviously a cosmic event, in which the Universal Being himself intervenes.
The quaternity itself is a strange idea, but one that plays a great role in Eastern religions and philosophies.
In the Christian tradition it has been superseded by the Trinity, a notion that we must assume was known to the child. But who in an ordinary middleclass milieu would be likely to know of a divine quaternity?
It is an idea that was once current in circles acquainted with Hermetic philosophy in the Middle Ages, but it petered out at the beginning of the eighteenth century and has been entirely obsolete for at least two hundred years.
Where, then, did the little girl pick it up? From Ezekiel’s vision? But there is no Christian teaching that identifies the seraphim with God.
The same question may be asked about the horned serpent.
In the Bible, it is true, there are many horned animals, for instance in the Book of Revelation (ch. 13).
But they seem to be quadrupeds, although their overlord is the dragon, which in Greek (drakon) means serpent.
The horned serpent appears in Latin alchemy as the quadricornutus serpens (four-horned serpent), a symbol of Mercurius and an antagonist of the Christian Trinity.
But this is an obscure reference, and, as far as I can discover, it occurs only in one author.
In dream 2 a motif appears that is definitely non-Christian and a reversal of values: pagan dances by men in heaven and good deeds by angels in hell.
This suggests, if anything, a relativization of moral values.
Where did the child hit on such a revolutionary and modern idea, worthy of Nietzsche’s genius?
Such an idea is not strange to the philosophical mind of the East, but where could we find it in the child’s milieu, and what is its place in the mind of an eight-year-old girl?
This question leads to a further one: what is the compensatory meaning of the dreams, to which the little girl obviously attributed so much importance that she gave them to her father as a Christmas present?
If the dreamer had been a primitive medicine-man, one would not go far wrong in supposing them to be variations on the philosophical themes of death, resurrection, or restitution, the origin of the world, the creation of man, and the relativity of values (Lao-tze: “high stands on low”).
One might well give up such dreams as hopeless if one tried to interpret them from a personal standpoint.
But, as I have said, they undoubtedly contain representations collectives, and they are in a way analogous to the doctrines taught to young people in primitive tribes when they are initiated into manhood.
At such times they learn about, what God or the gods or the “founding’ ‘ animals have done how the world and man were created, what the end of the world will be, and the meaning of death.
And when do we, in our Christian civilization hand out similar instructions?
At the beginning of adolescence. But many people begin to think of these things again in old age, at the approach of death.
Our dreamer, as it happened, was in both these situations, for she was approaching puberty and at the same time the end of her life.
Little or nothing in the symbolism of the dreams points to the beginning of a normal adult life, but there are many allusions to destruction and restoration.
When I first read the dreams, I had the uncanny feeling that they foreboded disaster.
The reason I felt like that was the peculiar nature of the compensation that I deduced from the symbolism.
It was the opposite of what one would expect to find in the consciousness of a girl of that age.
These dreams open up a new and rather terrifying vision of life and death, such as one might expect in someone who looks back upon life rather than forward to its natural continuation.
Their atmosphere recalls the old Roman saying, vita somnium breve (life is a short dream), rather than the joy and exuberance of life’s springtime.
For this child, life was a vex sacrum vovendum, a vow of a vernal sacrifice.
Experience shows that the unknown approach of death casts an adumbratio, an anticipatory shadow, over the life and dreams of the victim.
Even the altar in our Christian churches represents, on the one hand, a tomb, and on the other a place of resurrection—the transformation of death into eternal life.
Such are the thoughts that the dreams brought home to the child.
They were a preparation for death, expressed through short stories, like the instructions for primitive initiations, or the koans of Zen Buddhism.
It is an instruction that does not resemble the orthodox Christian doctrine but is more like primitive thought. It seems to have originated outside the historical tradition, in the matrix that, since prehistoric times, has nourished philosophical and religious speculations about life and death.
In the case of this girl, it was as if future events were casting their shadow ahead by arousing thought-forms that, though normally dormant, are destined to describe or accompany the approach of a fatal issue.
They are to be found everywhere and at all times.
Although the concrete shape in which they express themselves is more or less personal, their general pattern is collective, just as animal instincts vary a good deal in different species and yet serve the same general purpose.
We do not assume that each newborn animal creates its own instincts as an individual acquisition, and we cannot suppose, either, that human beings invent and prodce their specifically human modes of reaction with every new birth.
Like the instincts, the collective thought-patterns of the human mind are innate and inherited; and they function, when occasion arises, in more or less the same way in all of us.
Emotional manifestations are based on similar patterns, and are recognizably the same all over the earth.
We understand them even in animals, and the animals themselves understand each other in this respect, even if they belong to different species.
And what about insects, with their complicated symbiotic functions?
Most of them do not even know their parents and have nobody to teach them.
Why should we suppose, then, that man is the only living creature deprived of specific instincts, or that his psyche is devoid of all traces of its evolution?
Naturally, if you identify the psyche with consciousness, you can easily succumb to the erroneous idea that the psyche is a tabula rasa, completely empty at birth, and that it.
later contains only what it has learnt by individual experience.
But the psyche is more than consciousness.
Animals have little consciousness, but they have many impulses and reactions that denote the existence of a psyche, and primitives do a lot of things whose meaning is unknown to them.
You may ask many civilized people in vain for the reason and meaning of the Christmas tree or of the coloured eggs at Easter, because they have no idea about the meaning of these customs.
The fact is, they do things without knowing why they do them.
I am inclined to believe that things were generally done first and that only a long time afterwards somebody asked a question about them, and then eventually discovered why they were done.
The medical psychologist is constantly confronted with otherwise intelligent patients who behave in a peculiar way and have no inkling of what they say or do.
We have dreams whose meaning escapes us entirely, even though we may be firmly convinced that the dream has a definite meaning.
We feel it is important or even terrifying, but why?
Regular observation of such facts has enforced the hypothesis of an unconscious psyche, the contents of which seem to be of approximately the same variety as those of consciousness.
We know that consciousness depends in large measure on the collaboration of the unconscious.
When you make a speech, the next sentence is being prepared while you speak, but this preparation is mostly unconscious.
If the unconscious does not collaborate and withholds the next sentence you are stuck.
You want to quote a name, or a term otherwise familiar to you, but nothing is forthcoming.
The unconscious does not deliver it.
You want to introduce somebody whom you know well, but his name has vanished, as if you had never known it.
Thus you depend on the goodwill of your unconscious.
Any time the unconscious chooses, it can defeat your otherwise good memory, or put something into your mouth that you did not intend at all.
It can produce unpredictable and unreasonable moods and affects and thus cause all sorts of complications.
Superficially, such reactions and impulses seem to be of an intimately personal nature and are therefore believed to be entirely individual.
In reality, they are based on a preformed and ever-ready instinctive system with its own characteristic and universally understandable thought-forms, reflexes, attitudes, and gestures.
These follow a pattern that was laid down long before there was any trace of a reflective consciousness.
It is even conceivable that the latter originated in violent emotional clashes and their often disastrous consequences.
Take the case of the savage who, in a moment of anger and disappointment at having caught no fish, strangles his much beloved only son, and is then seized with mmeasurable regret as he holds the little dead body in his arms.
Such a man has a great chance to remember the agony of this moment for ever.
This could have been the beginning of a reflective consciousness.
At all events, the shock of a similar emotional experience is often needed to make people wake up and pay attention to what they are doing.
I would mention the famous case of the Spanish hidalgo, Ramon Lull, who j after a long chase finally succeeded in meeting his lady at a secret rendezvous.
Silently she opened her garment and showed him her cancer-eaten bosom.
The shock changed his life: he became a holy man.
Often in the case of these sudden transformations one can prove that an archetype has been at work for a long time in the unconscious, skillfully arranging circumstances that will unavoidably lead to a crisis.
It is not rare for the development to manifest itself so clearly (for instance in a series of dreams) that the catastrophe can be predicted with reasonable certainty.
One can conclude from experiences such as these that archetypal forms are not just static patterns, but dynamic factors that manifest themselves in spontaneous impulses, just as instincts do.
Certain dreams, visions, or thoughts can suddenly appear, and in spite of careful investigation one cannot find out what causes them.
This does not mean that they have no cause; they certainly have, but it is so remote or obscure that one cannot see what it is.
One must wait until the dream and its meaning are sufficiently understood, or until some external event occurs that will explain the dream.
Our conscious thoughts often concern themselves with the future and its possibilities, and so does the unconscious and its dreams.
There has long been a world-wide belief that the chief function of dreams is prognostication of the future.
In antiquity, and still in the Middle Ages, dreams played their part in medical prognosis.
I can confirm from a modern dream the prognosis, or rather precognition, in an old dream quoted by Artemidoros of Daldis, in the second century a.d.
He relates that a man dreamt he saw his father die in the flames of a house on fire.
Not long afterwards, he himself died of a phlegmone (fire, high fever), presumably pneumonia.
Now it so happened that a colleague of mine was suffering from a deadly gangrenous fever —in fact, a phlegmone.
A former patient of his, who had no knowledge of the nature of the doctor’s illness, dreamt that the doctor was perishing in a great fire.
The dream occurred three weeks before the doctor died, at a time when he had just entered hospital and the disease was only at its beginning.
The dreamer knew nothing but the bare fact that the doctor was ill and had entered hospital.
As this example shows, dreams can have an anticipatory or prognostic aspect, and their interpreter will be well advised to take this aspect into account, particularly when an obviously meaningful dream does not yield a context sufficient to explain it.
Such a dream often comes right out of the blue, and one wonders what could have prompted it.
Of course, if one knew its ultimate outcome, the cause would be clear.
It is only our conscious mind that does not know; the unconscious seems already informed, and to have submitted the case to a careful prognostic examination, more or less in the way consciousness would have done if it had known the relevant facts.
But, precisely because they were subliminal, they could be perceived by the unconscious and submitted to a sort of examination that anticipates their ultimate result.
So far as one can make out from dreams, the unconscious in its ”deliberations” proceeds in an instinctive way rather than along rational lines.
The latter way is the prerogative of consciousness, which selects with reason and knowledge.
But the unconscious is guided chiefly by instinctive trends, represented by corresponding thought-forms—the archetypes.
It looks as if it were a poet who had been at work rather than a rational doctor, who would speak of infection, fever, toxins, etc., whereas the dream describes the diseased body as a man’s earthly house, and the fever as the heat of a conflagration that is destroying the house and its inhabitant.
As this dream shows, the archetypal mind has handled the situation in the same way as it did at the time of Artemidoros.
A situation if a more or less unknown nature has been intuitively grasped by the unconscious and submitted to an archetypal treatment.
This shows clearly that, in place of the raisonnemerit which consciousness would have applied, the archetypal mind has autonomously taken over the task of prognostication.
The archetypes have their own initiative and their own specific energy, which enable them not only to produce a meaningful interpretation (in their own style) but also to intervene in a given situation with their own impulses and thought-forms.
In this respect they function like complexes, which also enjoy a certain autonomy in everyday life.
They come and go very much as they please, and they often interfere with our conscious intentions in an embarrassing way.
One can perceive the specific energy of the archetypes when one experiences the peculiar feeling of numinosity that accompanies them—the fascination or spell that emanates from them.
This is also characteristic of the personal complexes, whose behaviour may be compared with the role played by the archetypal representations collectives in the social life of all times.
As personal complexes have their individual history, so do social complexes of an archetypal character.
But while personal complexes never produce more than a personal bias, archetypes create myths, religions, and philosophical ideas that influence and set their stamp on whole nations and epochs.
And just as the products of personal complexes can be understood as compensations of onesided or faulty attitudes of consciousness, so myths of a religious nature can be interpreted as a sort of mental therapy for the sufferings of mankind, such as hunger, war, disease, old age, and death.
The universal hero myth, for example, shows the picture of a powerful man or god-man who vanquishes evil in the form of dragons, serpents, monsters, demons, and enemies of all kinds, and who liberates his people from destruction and death.
The narration or ritual repetition of sacred texts and ceremonies, and the worship of such a figure with dances, music, hymns, prayers, and sacrifices, grip the audience with numinous emotions and exalt the participants to identification with the hero.
If we contemplate such a situation with the eyes of a believer, we can understand how the ordinary man is gripped, freed from his impotence and misery, and raised to an almost superhuman status, at least for the time being, and often enough he is sustained by such a conviction for a long time.
An initiation of this kind produces a lasting impression, and may even create an attitude that gives a certain form and style to the life of a society.
I would mention as an example the Eleusinian mysteries, which were finally suppressed at the beginning of the seventh century.
They formed, together with the Delphic oracle, the essence and spirit of ancient Greece.
On a much greater scale the Christian era owes its name and significance to another antique mystery, that of the god-man, which has its roots in the archetypal Osiris-Horus myth of ancient Egypt.
It is nowadays a common prejudice to assume that once, in an obscure prehistoric time, the basic mythological ideas were “invented” by a clever old philosopher or prophet, and ever afterwards “believed” by credulous and uncritical people, although the stories told by a power-seeking priesthood were not really “true” but mere “wishful thinking.”
The word “invent” is derived from the Latin invenire and means, in the first place, to “come upon” or to “find” something and, in the second, to find something by seeking for it.
In the latter case, it is not a matter of finding or coming upon something by mere chance, for there is a sort of foreknowledge or a faint inkling of the thing you are going to find.
When we contemplate the strange ideas in the dreams of the little girl, it seems unlikely that she sought them, as she was rather surprised at finding them.
They occurred to her rather as strange and unexpected stories that seemed noteworthy and interesting enough to be given to her father as a Christmas present.
In doing so, she lifted them up into the sphere of our still living Christian mystery, the birth of our Lord, blended with the secret of the evergreen tree that carries the newborn Light.
Although there is ample historical evidence for the symbolic relationship between Christ and the tree symbol, the little girl’s parents would have been badly embarrassed had they been asked to explain exactly what they meant by decorating a tree with burning candles to celebrate the nativity of Christ.
“Oh, it’s just a Christmas custom!” they would have said.
A serious answer would require a far-reaching dissertation on the symbolism of the dying god in antiquity, in the Near East, and its relation to the cult of the Great Mother and her symbol, the tree—to mention only one aspect of this complicated problem.
The further we delve into the origins of a representation collective or, in ecclesiastical language, of a dogma, the more we uncover a seemingly limitless web of archetypal patterns that, before modern times, were never the object of conscious reflection.
Thus, paradoxically enough, we know more about mythological symbolism than did any age before our own.
The fact is that in former times men lived their symbols rather than reflected upon them. I will illustrate this by an experience I once had with the primitives on Mount Elgon in East Africa.
Every morning at dawn they leave their huts and breathe or spit into their hands, stretching them out to the first rays of the sun, as if they were offering either their breath or their spittle to the rising god—to mungu.
(This Swahili word, which they used in explaining the ritual act, is derived from a Polynesian root equivalent to mana or mulungu.
These and similar terms designate a “power” of extraordinary efficacy, an all-pervading essence which we would call divine.
Thus the word mungu is their equivalent for Allah or God.)
When I asked them what they meant by this act and why they did it, they were completely baffled.
They could only say: “We have always done it. It has always been done when the sun rises.”
They laughed at the obvious conclusion that the sun is mungu.
The sun is not mungu when it is above the horizon; mungu is the actual moment of the sunrise.
What they were doing was obvious to me but not to them.
They just do it, they never reflect on what they are doing, and are consequently unable to explain themselves.
They are evidently just repeating what they have “always” done at sunrise, no doubt with a certain emotion and by no means merely mechanically, for they live it while we reflect on it.
Thus I knew that they were offering their souls to mungu, because the breath (of life) and the spittle mean “soul substance.”
Breathing or spitting on something conveys a “magical” effect, as, for instance, when Christ used spittle to heal the blind, or when a son inhales his dying father’s last breath in order to take over the father’s soul. It is most unlikely that these primitives ever, even in the remote past, knew any more about the meaning of their ceremony.
On the contrary, their ancestors probably knew even less, because they were more profoundly unconscious and thought if possible even less about their doings.
Faust aptly says: “Im Anfang war die Tat” (in the beginning was the deed).
Deeds were never invented, they were done.
Thoughts, on the other hand, are a relatively late discovery; they were found, and then they were sought and found.
Yet unreflected life existed long before man; it was not invented, but in it man found himself as an afterthought.
First he was moved to deeds by unconscious factors, and only a long time afterwards did he begin to reflect about the causes that had moved him;
then it took hi a very long time indeed to arrive at the preposterous idea that he must have moved himself—his mind being unable to see any other motivating force than his own.
We would laugh at the idea of a plant or an animal inventing itself, yet there are many people who believe that the psyche or the mind invented itself and thus brought itself into being.
As a matter of fact, the mind has grown to its present state of consciousness as an acorn grows into an oak or as saurians developed into mammals.
As it has been, so it is still, and thus we are moved by forces from within as well as from without.
In a mythological age these forces were called mana, spirits, demons, and gods, and they are as active today as they ever were.
If they conform to our wishes, we call them happy hunches or impulses and pat ourselves on the back for being smart fellows.
If they go against us, then we say it is just bad luck, or that certain people have it in for us, or it must be pathological.
The one thing we refuse to admit is that we are dependent on ‘ ‘powers” beyond our control.
It is true that civilized man has acquired a certain amount of will-power which he can apply where he pleases.
We have learnt to do our work efficiently without having recourse to chanting and drumming to hypnotize us into the state of doing.
We can even dispense with the daily prayer for divine aid.
We can carry out what we propose to do, and it seems self-evident that an idea can be translated into action without a hitch, whereas the primitive is hampered at every step by doubts, fears, and superstitions.
The motto “Where there’s a will there’s a way” is not just a Germanic prejudice; it is the superstition of modern man in general.
In order to maintain his credo, he cultivates a remarkable lack of introspection.
He is blind to the fact that, with all his rationality and efficiency, he is possessed by powers beyond his control. The gods and demons have not disappeared at all, they have merely got new names.
They keep him on the run with restlessness, vague apprehensions, psychological complications, an invincible need for pills, alcohol, tobacco, dietary and other hygienic systems—and above, all, with an impressive array of neuroses.
I once met a drastic example of this in a professor of philosophy and “psychology”—a psychology in which the unconscious had not yet arrived.
He was the man I mentioned who was obsessed by the idea that he had cancer, although X-rays had proved to him that it was all imaginary.
Who or what caused this idea? It obviously derived from a fear that was not caused by observation of the facts.
It suddenly overcame him and then remained.
Symptoms of this kind are extraordinarily obstinate and often enough hinder the patient from getting the proper treatment.
For what good would psychotherapy be in dealing with a malignant tumour?
Such a dangerous thing could only be operated on without delay.
To the professor’s ever-renewed relief, every new authority assured him that there was no trace of cancer.
But the very next day the doubt began nagging again, and he was plunged once more into the night of unmitigated fear.
The morbid thought had a power of its own that he could not control.
It was not foreseen in his philosophical brand of psychology, where everything flowed neatly from consciousness and sense-perception.
The professor admitted that his case was pathological, but there his thinking stopped, because it had arrived at the sacrosanct border-line between the philosophical and the medical faculty.
The one deals with normal and the other with abnormal contents, unknown in the philosopher’s world.
This compartment psychology reminds me of another case.
It was that of an alcoholic who had come under the laudable influence of a certain religious movement and, fascinated by its enthusiasm, had forgotten he needed a drink.
He was obviously and miraculously cured by Jesus, and accordingly was held up as a witness to divine grace or to the efficacy of the said organization.
After a few weeks of public confession, the novelty began to wear off and some alcoholic refreshment seemed to be indicated.
But this time the helpful organization came to the conclusion that the case was “pathological” and not suitable for an intervention by Jesus.
So they put him in a clinic to let the doctor do better than the divine healer.
This is an aspect of the modern “cultural” mind that is well worth looking into.
It shows an alarming degree of dissociation and psychological confusion.
We believe exclusively in consciousness and free will, and are no longer aware of the powers that control us to an indefinite degree, outside the narrow domain where we can be reasonable and exercise a certain amount of free choice and self-control.
In our time of general disorientation, it is necessary to know about the true state of human affairs, which depends so much on the mental and moral qualities of the individual and on the human psyche in general.
But if we are to see things in their right perspective, we need to understand the past of man as well as his present.
That is why a correct understanding of myths and symbols is of essential importance. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 227-243