Carl Jung Depth Psychology Facebook Group

Symbols of Transformation CW 5

How is it that dreams are symbolical at all?

In other words, whence comes this capacity for symbolic representation, of which we can discover no trace in our conscious thinking?

Let us examine the matter a little more closely.

If we analyse a train of thought, we find that we begin with an “initial” idea, or a “leading” idea, and then, without thinking back to it each time, but merely guided by a sense of direction, we pass on to a series of separate ideas that all hang together.

There is nothing symbolical in this, and our whole conscious thinking proceeds along these lines.

If we scrutinize our thinking more closely still and follow out an intensive train of thought—the solution of a difficult problem, for instance—we suddenly notice that we are thinking in words, that in very intensive thinking we begin talking to ourselves, or that we occasionally write down the problem

or make a drawing of it, so as to be absolutely clear.

Anyone who has lived for some time in a foreign country will certainly have noticed that after a while he begins to think in the language of that country.

Any very intensive train of thought works itself out more or less in verbal form—if, that is to say, one wants to express it, or teach it, or convince someone of it.

It is evidently directed outwards, to the outside world.

To that extent, directed or logical thinking is reality-thinking, a thinking that is adapted to reality, by means of which we imitate the successiveness of objectively real things, so that the images inside our mind follow one another in the same strictly causal sequence as the events taking place outside it.

We also call this “thinking with directed attention.”

It has in addition the peculiarity of causing fatigue, and is for that reason brought into play for short periods only.

The whole laborious achievement of our lives is adaptation to reality, part of which consists in directed thinking.

In biological terms it is simply a process of psychic assimilation that leaves behind a corresponding state of exhaustion, like any other vital achievement. ~Carl Jung, CW 5, Para 11