C.G. Jung Letters, Vol. 1: 1906-1950

To Elined Kotschnig

Dear Mrs. Kotschnig, 16 April 1936

The symbol of losing teeth has the primitive meaning of losing one’s grip because under primitive circumstances and in the animal kingdom, the teeth and mouth are the gripping organ.

If one loses teeth, one loses the grip on something.

Now this can mean a loss of reality, a loss of relationship, a loss of self-control, etc.

The English word grip is contained in the German word Begriff (conception or notion).

The Latin word conceptio means the same, i.e., catching hold of something, having a grip on something.

Thus the lost tooth also can mean that one loses a certain conception of things, a hitherto valid opinion or attitude.

For instance pregnancy can have such an effect that one loses one’s grip on the psychic continuity as the physiological condition takes the lead over the mind.

The dream of the bone in the skull seems to point to the hole in the skull through which the soul escapes according to primitive belief.

This can mean a fear of death or a somewhat dangerous communication with the unconscious.

That the bone comes out of the mouth in the form of a tooth would convey the idea that a certain old opinion has been lost or is to be lost.

Occasionally it can also mean getting old or older, particularly so with women that have children, because there is a saying that each child cost a tooth.

Sincerely yours,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Page 212.