Modern Man in Search of a Soul

A fundamental mistake, and one which is commonly made, is this: it is supposed that the contents of the unconscious are unequivocal and are marked with plus or minus signs that are immutable.

As I see the question, this view is too naive.

The psyche is a self-regulating system that maintains itself in equilibrium as the body does.

Every process that goes too far immediately and inevitably calls forth a compensatory activity.

Without such adjustments a normal metabolism would not exist, nor would the normal psyche.

We can take the idea of compensation, so understood, as a law of psychic happening.

Too little on one side results in too much on the other.

The relation between conscious and unconscious is compensatory.

This fact, which is easily verifiable, affords a rule for dream interpretation.

It is always helpful, when we set out to interpret a dream, to ask: What conscious attitude does it compensate?

Although compensation may take the form of imaginary wish-fulfilment, it generally presents itself as an actuality which becomes the more strikingly actual the more we try to repress it.

We know that we do not conquer thirst by repressing it.

The dream-content is to be taken in all seriousness as something that has actually happened to us; it should be treated as a contributory
factor in framing our conscious outlook.

If we do not do this, we shall keep that one-sided, conscious attitude which evoked the unconscious compensation in the first place.

But this way holds little hope of our ever judging ourselves correctly or finding any balance in life.

If anyone should set out to replace his conscious outlook by the dictates of the unconscious-and this · is the prospect which my critics find so alarming-he would only succeed in repressing the former, and it would reappear as an unconscious compensation.

The unconscious would thus have changed its face and completely reversed its position.

It would have become timidly reasonable, in striking contrast to its former tone.

It is not generally believed that the unconscious operates in this way, yet such reversals constantly take place and constitute its essential function.

This is why every dream is a source of information and a means of self-regulation, and why dreams are our most effective aids in the task of building up the personality. ~Carl Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, Page 15-16