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Dream Analysis Seminar

LECTURE III 5 February 1930

[In answer to a question by Mrs. Sawyer concerning the interpretation of the figure of the mechanic in the dream of the exploded magneto, and in the last dream of the grinding machine, such an animated discussion followed during the first part of the seminar and the notes taken were so confused that only the following fragment could be reported properly.

The subject was taken up again and clarified in the beginning of the next seminar.

In connection with the statement that the repair of the motor was delegated to an unconscious figure, this example was given as an illustration of the independent nature of an autonomous complex.]

Dr. Jung: We find it exceedingly difficult to realize that there are autonomous factors within us which actually do things.

One can see that objectively in cases of somnambulism, where people, quite unconscious, get up in the night and accomplish certain things, discovering in the morning that it has all been done as if by brownies.

I had an uncle to whom it happened.

He was a rather well known expert court-accountant, and he had to clear up a tremendous case of fraudulent manipulation.

He was unable to clarify a most important item, until once, at about three in the morning, his wife saw him get up and go into his study without dressing.

He sat working at his desk for about half an hour and she noticed when he came back that he had a staring look, his eyes wide open and glassy, and realized that he was in a somnambulistic condition.

In the morning he felt low and heavy and complained that he could not find that damned mistake and would have to look for it again.

Of course he was amazed to find that he had written in his sleep a long statement clearing up the whole case.

There were even some quite astonishing details, such as a hole in the paper, which showed the figures underneath.

His conscious did not see it but the unconscious corrected it; it was the automatic function which decided the case.

That would here be the mechanic.

It is a daily occurrence in analysis, that I say to my patients, “I don’t know what the answer is, but we shall see what the unconscious has to say about it,” and then the next dream brings a most amazing solution, as if I had submitted the whole thing to a higher supreme authority.

Dr. Deady: How far is that interpretation of the mechanic dependent on the man’s conscious attitude? When you first spoke of the magneto dream I think you gave it a characterological interpretation.

Dr. Jung: Naturally it is a requirement that one knows the character of the dreamer.

Dreams have no general meaning, one cannot translate them as one can a text.

They are compensatory to a particular conscious and unconscious situation in a particular individual.

Mrs. Sawyer’s difficulty is really a great theoretical stumbling block.

You see, originally Freud said that when you dream of your father, it is your father, or when you dream of Mrs. So-and-So, it is Mrs. So-and-So.

I remember very well discussing this with him, when I said that one had better call it an image of the father.

One cannot assume when one dreams of a person that it really is that person; that image may be entirely symbolical.

For instance, when a patient dreams of me as the Pope or Jesus Christ or the waiter in his restaurant, I know I am not all that.

That simple fact forced me to use the term “image.” Freud has now adopted that idea.

It is obvious that the people one dreams about refer more or less to real people, so when one dreams of somebody with whom one is in close relationship, one is fairly safe in assuming that it means that particular object.

But there are restrictions.

For instance, if a wife dreams of her husband photographically as he is, I would assume that she had really dreamt of her husband.

But suppose she dreams in a roundabout way, a close analogy, yet he is not quite her husband, what is one to do in this case, which is fairly common?

The unconscious has a tendency to say, “Not exactly.”

Certain traits appear which do not belong to the husband, peculiarities which belong to the wife perhaps, and then the image of the husband is ornamented with these projections.

Or it might be that these qualities undeniably belong to him, but she has brought them out by her behaviour and is quite unconscious of the fact.

It is important to learn to make these distinctions.

In this case of the mechanic the patient dreams of a figure who is not even symbolically connected with him, nor is he an odd chauffeur or garage man whom he might have encountered.

And he is utterly unlike myself.

The only analogy is that he is an expert at motors and I am an expert at psychic motors; that is the only bridge, so the dreamer grabs at that, he thinks it must be Dr. Jung because he is repairing the motor.

But it is all-important that this man learns how to repair it himself, and it would defeat one’s ends to teach him that it is I who figure in this dream.

The greatest wisdom an analyst can have is to disappear and let the patient think he is doing nothing at all.

Dr. Baynes: There was one point in the dream which I think is liable to lead to confusion, and that was the different meaning which could be attributed to expressions in English.

A mechanical thing is something which repeats itself, as for instance, a gramophone, whereas the principle of a machine has the connotation of continuity of energy.

Yet in the dream this machine has very much the character of a new kind of invention, or new kind of idea, so that some sort of transferring process seems to be implied.

Dr. Jung: Another bewildering detail-that it might give the impression of a new invention used to transfer energy.

That is true and not true. If we keep strictly to what the dream says, then it is not a new invention, but a kind of grinding contrivance.

Moreover, this dream is associated with the two former dreams of machines, and there is nothing new about them either, so we really have to start with the assumption that the unconscious is choosing a· motif more or less well known.

But, on the other side, this machine serves a purpose which is very mysterious.

The purpose of the steamroller was obviously the making of a road.

The purpose of the automobile was to transfer him somewhere, to get him into a different situation. Now, this machine has no such purpose.

Why should he be grinding something?

He says it is grinding something and it should function properly, but he is vague.

So its significance is mysterious; one is left guessing.

In the first dream, the steamroller, we have the indication that it was associated with the function of sex, energy in a sexual form.

In the second dream it had to do with the heart, energy in the form of feeling, and we had sufficient reason to assume that it ref erred to the absolutely organized part of the sexual function.

In French we say the partie superieure and the partie inferieure des fonctions.

The partie inferieure is the well organized part of an action.

For instance, when one is learning to ride a bicycle, at first one learns to balance consciously and then it becomes automatic, but if one thinks about it, one falls off.

That is the partie inferieure which functions perfectly by itself so long as it is not interfered with.

Like swallowing-if one tries consciously to swallow, one can’t, and that is typical of the inferior part of any function.

The well-organized automatic part goes perfectly if one doesn’t disturb it with untimely attentions.

But Janet1 is perfectly right in saying that disturbances in the parties superieures are always psychogenic in origin.

Take the function of eating.

Anybody can eat, animals can eat, there is no difficulty whatever about it, it is a complete mechanism.

But to eat under certain circumstances, to react properly at a diplomatic dinner, let us say, where one must listen to the speeches and the ladies on either side while one eats the wing of a pheasant, to do that is not easy at all.

Now, we cannot assume that there is something organically wrong with this patient, organically he is all right.

But it is possible to get organically wrong from psychogenetic disturbances; an apparatus may get rusty.

One might choose not to drink water perhaps, and then one would get organically wrong; an organic disturbance would be caused by the psychic connection, there would be a disturbance in the parties superieures.

There are many functional diseases like that which result in real physical illness.

For instance, if anybody remains in a certain resistant mood too long, it is quite possible that the effect will be so bad that the person may have an angina, or his stomach may not function properly, he may acquire God knows what.

If he is apprehensive all the time, if on account of certain assumptions he does not breathe properly, he may destroy his own machine, he may have tuberculosis.

With the decrease of immunity the antitoxic factors disappear and he becomes perfectly defenceless.

So in this case one could easily imagine that our patient gets out of order somehow from psychological reasons.

People who get wrong psychologically are often health fanatics.

They are always seeking the right food and the right drinks, they don’t smoke and they don’t drink wine, they need a lot of salts and are drug-store fiends.

Always some new scheme and never very healthy.

It is a fact that the sinner generally feels better than the righteous one, for the weeds always thrive better than the wheat.

All virtuous people complain about that.

Those people who take such care of themselves have always a tendency to become morbid.

That amazing energy for drinking a certain water, for instance, comes from a continuous fear which is in them, and that is the fear of death.

It is because something in them says, “For God’s sake don’t let me die because I have not lived.”

This man has a bit of that health mania, and the fact is a symptom of something not being right.

He also is afraid of death because he hasn’t lived, or it is as if he said: I must die if you don’t allow me to live.

He doesn’t look unhealthy, but it is easy to imagine that something might go wrong-if not with him, perhaps his wife or children will suffer.

It is often the case that the health mania is extended to the children, the poor worms are sometimes made extremely ill through the fears of their parents.

The idea that something is going wrong in his body is rather confirmed by this dream, because the mechanism refers to the physiological mechanism: his sexuality, which does not function, and, naturally, that can cause a certain disturbance.

This is especially true of a man, in whom sex is far more impulsive and stronger than in a woman, it must force its way through or there is trouble.

For a woman sex may remain quiescent for a long time, she may even go through all sorts of sexual experiences and not have the faintest idea of it.

For instance, I saw a Russian girl-a coquette – in a Paris hotel and I made a record of her experiences.

She had over fifty lovers, but only out of curiosity, she was always frigid.

But once a man came along who produced a sexual feeling in her.

She was astonished and said, “Oh, is that it!”

She then married him and became a respectable little bourgeoise.

She had talked sex and she had read it, the vilest stuff one could imagine, she lived a life that was completely foul and did not know what she did.

It was like oil and water.

There are many women who continue in that unconsciousness, which shows that in woman sex has not the piercing quality that it has in man.

If this man had not felt that something was getting organically wrong in his body, he wouldn’t be disturbed, and there would be no motive for bothering about his life.

He could be a wonderful theosophist, for instance, if it were not for that boring little instinctive devil that keeps on nagging-that inexorable thing.

One might say to him, “Thank heaven that you had that great vision, but here is the immediate truth and it is necessary for you to face that problem; for how can that light be luminous if you don’t function
right?” He must force his nose to the grindstone.

Whereas formerly in his dreams, in his psychological development, the magneto mechanic had to do it, now he himself must take an active and responsible part in the shaping of his destiny.

This really was the first dream in which I got a glimmer of hope that this man would tackle his own problem, that he would develop perhaps such a love of fate that he would pull his courage together and take the wheel into his own hands, because it means just that.

Hitherto he has thought, as every man and woman think: well, I married and my wife is here to take care of it, I can’t bother.

The man expects it of the woman and the woman expects it of the man.

If it doesn’t go, they complain that something wrong has been done and blame somebody else, the wife’s mother or some other member of the family; nobody thinks of the necessity of having to take the wheel into one’s own hands.

Such an efficient man knows how to steer in his professional life, but in his personal life he collapses completely; just as a woman can steer the part of her life that has to do with etiquette and social matters, but when it comes to an important situation in the world, she collapses and delegates it to her husband or to somebody else.

Now the great necessity of this man’s life becomes evident to him, and he tackles the job, which means that in a more or less remote future he will choose that path of life which will settle his sexual
problem. He can follow no principles.

He must follow his individual choice, his individual fate, and that cannot be foreseen.

If he asked me, “How do you think I can ever get out of this dilemma?”

I could only say, “If you put yourself right, you can be sure that everything will go right; that is my conviction.”

Thus far the problem is, what shall he do with his sex?

Very simple and very complete.

But we have seen in former dreams that the steamroller produced the design of the mandala and that when we make a drawing of the working of this machine, we arrive at practically the same result.
This gives an entirely new situation.

The mandala is a circular symbol which no one would associate with sex.

Some of the new members have asked that the mandala should be discussed further, so I will repeat here that it is a universal symbol in the East, where they are considered to be exceedingly important.

In the West it is found only when “heretics” make use of it. (Mandala is properly a neuter noun, mandalam meaning “image.”)

It is used for the transformation of energy, as in certain rituals the yantra is used, also for the transformation of energy.

Yantra simply means a figure, an image of the god, or of something belonging to the god, like an icon.

Hindus in the Shiva or Vishnu cult form images of the god every day-little clay images.

And they make a dish of fibre or of palm leaves to use for the ritual morning meal of the god, and then throw it away because the god has used it. It is to remind you that in your innermost self you are that god, he is within.

That you are alone is only an illusion.

When you produce that image, you are through contemplation transformed for a moment into a god, and so purified, and your health power increased.

You are in the great river.

Certain temples have the form of typical mandalas, like the famous temple of Borobudur in Java, which is a circle in a square. ~Carl Jung, Dream Analysis Seminar, Pages 456-462