C.G Jung’s Quotes on Dreams
C.G Jung’s Quotes on Dreams
I wake up in the morning with a dream in my eyes.
– Allen Ginsberg
C.G. Jung’s quotes on Dreams
– by request, a MS Word 6.0 doc of these quotes jungdrem.doc (14 pages). sjb
In sleep, fantasy takes the form of dreams. But in waking life, too, we continue to dream beneath the threshold of consciousness, especially when under the influence of repressed or other unconscious complexes.
“Problems of Modern Psychotherapy” (1929). In CW 16: The Practice of Psychotherapy. pg. 125
I have no theory about dreams, I do not know how dreams arise. And I am not at all sure that – my way of handling dreams even deserves the name of a “method.” I share all your prejudices against dream-interpretation as the quintessence of uncertainty and arbitrariness. On the other hand, I know that if we meditate on a dream sufficiently long and thoroughly, if we carry it around with us and turn it over and over, something almost always comes of it. This something is not of course a scientific result to be boasted about or rationalized; but it is an important practical hint which shows the patient what the unconscious is aiming at. Indeed, it ought not to matter to me whether the result of my musings on the dream is scientifically verifiable or tenable, otherwise I am pursuing an ulterior-and therefore autoerotic-aim. I must content myself wholly with the fact that the result means something to the patient and sets his life in motion again. I may allow myself only one criterion for the result of my labours: does it work? As for my scientific hobby-my desire to know why it works-this I must reserve for my spare time.
“The Aims of Psychotherapy” (1931). In CW 16: The Practice of Psychotherapy. pg. 86
The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness extends. For all ego-consciousness is isolated; because it separates and discriminates, it knows only particulars, and it sees only those that can be related to the ego. Its essence is limitation, even though it reach to the farthest nebulae among the stars. All consciousness separates; but in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of primordial night. There he is still the whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all egohood. It is from these all-uniting depths that the dream arises, be it never so childish, grotesque, and immoral.
“The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man” (1933). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. pg. 304
No amount of scepticism and criticism has yet enabled me to regard dreams as negligible occurrences. Often enough they appear senseless, but it is obviously we who lack the sense and ingenuity to read the enigmatic message from the nocturnal realm of the psyche. Seeing that at least half our psychic existence is passed in that realm, and that consciousness acts upon our nightly life just as much as the unconscious overshadows our daily life, it would seem all the more incumbent on medical psychology to sharpen its senses by a systematic study of dreams. Nobody doubts the importance of conscious experience; why then should we doubt the significance of unconscious happenings? They also are part of our life, and sometimes more truly a part of it for weal or woe than any happenings of the day.
“The Practical Use of Dream Analysis” (1934). In CW 16: The Practice of Psychotherapy. pg. 325
The dream has for the primitive an incomparably higher value than it has for civilized man. Not only does he talk a great deal about his dreams, he also attributes an extraordinary importance to them, so that it often seems as though he were unable to distinguish between them and reality. To the civilized man dreams as a rule appear valueless, though there are some people who attach great significance to certain dreams on account of their weird and impressive character. This peculiarity lends plausibility to the view that dreams are inspirations.
“The Psychological Foundations of Belief in Spirits” (1920). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 574
Dream psychology opens the way to a general comparative psychology from which we may hope to gain the same understanding of the development and structure of the human psyche as comparative anatomy has given us concerning the human body.
“General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 476
A dream, like every element in the psychic structure, is a product of the total psyche. Hence we may expect to find in dreams everything that has ever been of significance in the life of humanity. just as human life is not limited to this or that fundamental instinct, but builds itself up from a multiplicity of instincts, needs, desires, and physical and psychic conditions, etc., so the dream cannot be explained by this or that element in it,’however beguilingly simple such an explanation may appear to be. We can be certain that it is incorrect, because no simple theory of instinct will ever be capable of grasping the human psyche, that mighty and mysterious thing, nor, consequently, its exponent, the dream. In order to do anything like justice to dreams, we need an interpretive equipment that must be laboriously fitted together from all branches of the humane sciences.
“General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 527
The dream is often occupied with apparently very silly details, thus producing an impression of absurdity, or else it is on the surface so unintelligible as to leave us thoroughly bewildered. Hence we always have to overcome a certain resistance before we can seriously set about disentangling the intricate web through patient work. But when at last we penetrate to its real meaning, we find ourselves deep in the dreamer’s secrets and discover with astonishment that an apparently quite senseless dream is in the highest degree significant, and that in reality it speaks only of important and serious matters. This discovery compels rather more respect for the so-called superstition that dreams have a meaning, to which the rationalistic temper of our age has hitherto given short shrift.
“On the Psychology of the Unconscious” (1953). In CW 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. pg. 24
Dreams that form logically, morally, or aesthetically satisfying wholes are exceptional. Usually a dream is a strange and disconcerting product distinguished by many “bad” qualities, such as lack of logic, questionable morality, uncouth form, and apparent absurdity or nonsense. People are therefore only too glad to dismiss it as stupid, meaningless, and worthless.
“On the Nature of Dreams” (1945). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 532
Dreams are impartial, spontaneous products of the unconscious psyche, outside the control of the will. They are pure nature; they show us the unvarnished, natural truth, and are therefore fitted, as nothing else is, to give us back an attitude that accords with our basic human nature when our consciousness has strayed too far from its foundations and run into an impasse
“The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man” (1933). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. pg. 317
As in our waking state, real people and things enter our field of vision, so the dream-images enter like another kind of reality into the field of consciousness of the dream-ego. We do not feel as if we were producing the dreams, it is rather as if the dreams came to us. They are not subject to our control but obey their own laws. They are obviously autonomous psychic complexes which form themselves out of their own material. We do not know the source of their motives, and we therefore say that dreams come from the unconscious. In saying this, we assume that there are independent psychic complexes which elude our conscious control and come and go according to their own laws. “The Psychological Foundations of Belief in Spirits” (1920). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 580
The dream shows the inner truth and reality of the patient as it really is: not as I conjecture it to be, and not as he would like it to be, but as it is.
“The Practical Use of Dream Analysis” (1934). In CW 16: The Practice of Psychotherapy. pg. 304
The dream is specifically the utterance of the unconscious. just as the psyche has a diurnal side which we call consciousness, so also it has a nocturnal side: the unconscious psychic activity which we apprehend as dreamlike fantasy.
“The Practical Use of Dream Analysis” (1934). In CW 16: The Practice of Psychotherapy. pg. 317
The view that dreams are merely the imaginary fulfillments of repressed wishes is hopelessly out of date. There are, it is true, dreams which manifestly represent wishes or fears, but what about all the other things? Dreams may contain ineluctable truths, philosophical pronouncements, illusions, wild fantasies, memories, plans, anticipations, irrational experiences, even telepathic visions, and heaven knows what besides.
“The Practical Use of Dream Analysis” (1934). In CW 16: The Practice of Psychotherapy. pg. 317
As against Freud’s view that the dream is essentially a wish-fulfillment, I hold that the dream is a spontaneous self-portrayal, in symbolic form, of the actual situation in the unconscious.
“General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 505
The primitives I observed in East Africa took it for granted that “big” dreams are dreamed only by “big” men -medicine-men, magicians, chiefs, etc. This may be true on a primitive level. But with us these dreams are dreamed also by simple people, more particularly when they have got themselves, mentally or spiritually, in a fix.
“The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man” (1933). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. pg. 324
Never apply any theory, but always ask the patient how he feels about his dream images. For dreams are always about a particular problem of the individual about which he has a wrong conscious judgment. The dreams are the reaction to our conscious attitude in the same way that the body reacts when we overeat or do not eat enough or when we ill-treat it in some other way. Dreams are the natural reaction of the self-regulating psychic system.
Analytical Psychology: Its Theory and Practice: The Tavistock Lectures. (1935). In CW 18: (retitled) The Tavistock Lectures. pg. 123
Though dreams contribute to the self-regulation of the psyche by automatically bringing up everything that is repressed or neglected or unknown, their compensatory significance is often not immediately apparent because we still have only a very incomplete knowledge of the nature and the needs of the human psyche. There are psychological compensations that seem to be very remote from the problem on hand. In these cases one must always remember that every man, in a sense, represents the whole of humanity and its history. What was possible in the history of mankind at large is also possible on a small scale in every individual. What mankind has needed may eventually be needed by the individual too. It is therefore not surprising that religious compensations play a great role in dreams. That this is increasingly so in our time is a natural consequence of the prevailing materialism of our outlook.
“General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 483
I would not deny the possibility of parallel dreams, i.e., dreams whose meaning coincides with or supports the conscious attitude, but in my experience, at least, these are rather rare. Psychology and Alchemy (1944). CW 12: pg. 48
To interpret the dream-process as compensatory is in my view entirely consistent with the nature of the biological process in general. Freud’s view tends in the same direction, since he too ascribes a compensatory role to dreams in so far as they preserve sleep. . . . As against this, we should not overlook the fact that the very dreams which disturb sleep most-and these are not uncommon-have a dramatic structure which aims logically at creating a highly affective situation, and builds it up so efficiently that it unquestionably wakes the dreamer. Freud explains these dreams by saying that the censor was no longer able to suppress the painful affect. It seems to me that this explanation fails to do justice to the facts. Dreams which concern themselves in a very disagreeable manner with the painful experiences and activities of daily life and expose just the most disturbing thoughts with the most painful distinctness are known to everyone. It would, in my opinion, be unjustified to speak here of the dream’s sleep-preserving, affect-disguising function. One would have to stand reality on its head to see in these dreams a confirmation of Freud’s view. “General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 485
Much may be said for Freud’s view as a scientific explanation of dream psychology. But I must dispute its completeness, for the psyche cannot be conceived merely in causal terms but requires also a final view. Only a combination of points of view-which has not yet been achieved in a scientifically satisfactory manner, owing to the enormous difficulties, both practical and theoretical, that still remain to be overcome-can give us a more complete conception of the nature of dreams. “General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 473
Dreams are often anticipatory and would lose their specific meaning on a purely causalistic view. They afford unmistakable information about the analytical situation, the correct understanding of which is of the greatest therapeutic importance.
“The Practical Use of Dream Analysis” (1934). In CW 16: The Practice of Psychotherapy. pg. 312
It is only in exceptional cases that somatic stimuli are the determining factor. Usually they coalesce completely with the symbolical expression of the unconscious dream content; in other words, they are used as a means of expression. Not infrequently the dreams show that there is a remarkable inner symbolical connection between an undoubted physical illness and a definite psychic problem, so that the physical disorder appears as a direct mimetic expression of the psychic situation.
“General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 502
Considering a dream from the standpoint of finality, which I contrast with the causal standpoint of Freud, does not -as I would expressly like to emphasize-involve a denial of the dream’s causes, but rather a different interpretation of the associative material gathered round the dream. The material facts remain the same, but the criterion by which they are judged is different. The question may be formulated simply as follows: What is the purpose of this dream? What effect is it meant to have? These questions are not arbitrary inasmuch as they can be applied to every psychic activity. Everywhere the question of the why” and the “wherefore” may be raised, because every organic structure consists of a complicated network of purposive functions, and each of these functions can be resolved into a series of individual facts with a purposive orientation.
“General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 465
The prospective function, on the other hand, is an anticipation in the unconscious of future conscious achievements, something like a preliminary exercise or sketch, or a planroughed out in advance. . . . The occurrence of prospective dreams cannot be denied. It would be wrong to call them prophetic, because at bottom they are no more prophetic than a medical diagnosis or a weather forecast. They are merely an anticipatory combination of probabilities which may coincide with the actual behaviour of things but need not necessarily agree in every detail. Only in the latter case can we speak of “prophecy.” That the prospective function of dreams is sometimes greatly superior to the combinations we can consciously foresee is not surprising, since a dream results from the fusion of subliminal elements and is thus a combination of all the perceptions, thoughts, and feelings which consciousness has not registered because of their feeble accentuation. In addition, dreams can rely on subliminal memory traces that are no longer able to influence consciousness effectively. With regard to prognosis, therefore, dreams are often in a much more favourable position than consciousness.
“General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 493
Another dream-determinant that deserves mention is telepathy. The authenticity of this phenomenon can no longer be disputed today. It is, of course, very simple to deny its existence without examining the evidence, but that is an unscientific procedure which is unworthy of notice. I have found by experience that telepathy does in fact influence dreams, as has been asserted since ancient times. Certain people are particularly sensitive in this respect and often have telepathically influenced dreams. But in acknowledging the phenomenon of telepathy I am not giving unqualified assent to the popular theory of action at a distance. The phenomenon undoubtedly exists, but the theory of it does not seem to me so simple.
“The Practical Use of Dream Analysis” (1934). In CW 16: The Practice of Psychotherapy. pg. 503
Anyone who wishes to interpret a dream must himself be on approximately the same level as the dream, for nowhere can he see anything more than what he is himself.
“Marriage as a Psychological Relationship” (1925) In CW 17: The Development of the Personality. pg. 324
Dreams are as simple or as complicated as the dreamer is himself, only they are always a little bit ahead of the dreamer’s consciousness. I do not understand my own dreams any better than any of you, for they are always somewhat beyond my grasp and I have the same trouble with them as anyone who knows nothing about dream interpretation. Knowledge is no advantage when it is a matter of one’s own dreams.
Analytical Psychology: Its Theory and Practice: The Tavistock Lectures. (1935). In CW 18: (retitled) The Tavistock Lectures. pg. 122
On paper the interpretation of a dream may look arbitrary, muddled, and spurious; but the same thing in reality can be a little drama of unsurpassed realism. To experience a dream and its interpretation is very different from having a tepid rehash set before you on paper. Everything about this psychology is, in the deepest sense, experience; the entire theory, even where it puts on the most abstract airs, is the direct outcome of something experienced.
“On the Psychology of the Unconscious” (1953). In CW 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. pg. 199
The art of interpreting dreams cannot be learnt from books. Methods and rules are good only when we can get along without them. Only the man who can do it anyway has real skill, only the man of understanding really understands.
“The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man” (1933). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. pg. 327
It is obvious that in handling “big” dreams intuitive guesswork will lead nowhere. Wide knowledge is required, such as a specialist ought to possess.’ But no dream can be interpreted with knowledge alone. This knowledge, futhermore, should not be dead material that has been memorized; it must possess a living quality, and be infused with the experience of the person who uses it. Of what use is philosophical knowledge in the head, if one is not also a philosopher at heart?
“The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man” (1933). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. pg. 324
One would do well to treat every dream as though it were a totally unknown object. Look at it from all sides, take it in your hand, carry it about with you, let your imagination play round it, and talk about it with other people. Primitives tell each other impressive dreams, in a public palaver if possible, and this custom is also attested in late antiquity, for all the ancient peoples attributed great significance to dreams ‘ Treated in this way, the dream suggests all manner of ideas and associations which lead us closer to its meaning. The ascertainment of the meaning is, I need hardly point out, an entirely arbitrary affair, and this is where the hazards begin. Narrower or wider limits will be set to the meaning, according to one’s experience, temperament, and taste. Some people will be satisfied with little, for others much is still not enough. Also the meaning of the dream, or our interpretation of it, is largely dependent on the intentions of the interpreter, on what he expects the meaning to be or requires it to do. In eliciting the meaning he will involuntarily be guided by certain presuppositions, and it depends very much on the scrupulousness and honesty of the investigator whether he gains something by his interpretation or perhaps only becomes still more deeply entangled in his mistakes.
“The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man” (1933). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. pg. 320
The psychological context of dream-contents consists in the web of associations in which the dream is naturally embedded. Theoretically we can never know anything in advance about this web, but in practice it is sometimes possible, granted long enough experience. Even so, careful analysis will never rely too much on technical rules; the danger of deception and suggestion is too great. In the analysis of isolated dreams above all, this kind of knowing in advance and making assumptions on the grounds of practical expectation or general probability is positively wrong. It should therefore be an absolute rule to assume that every dream, and every part of a dream, is unknown at the outset, and to attempt an interpretation only after carefully taking up the context. We can then apply the meaning we have thus discovered to the text of the dream itself and see whether this yields a fluent reading, or rather whether a satisfying meaning emerges.
Psychology and Alchemy (1944). CW 12: pg. 48
Everyone who analyses the dreams of others should constantly bear in mind that there is no simple and generally known theory of psychic phenomena, neither with regard to their nature, nor to their causes, nor to their purpose. We therefore possess no general criterion of judgment. We know that there are all kinds of psychic phenomena, but we know nothing certain about their essential nature. We know only that, though the observation of the psyche from any one isolated standpoint can yield very valuable results, it can never produce a satisfactory theory from which one could make deductions. The sexual theory and the wish theory, like the power theory, are valuable points of view without, however, doing anything like justice to the profundity and richness of the human psyche. Had we a theory that did, we could then content ourselves with learning a method mechanically. It would then be simply a matter of reading certain signs that stood for fixed contents, and for this it would only be necessary to learn a few semiotic rules by heart. Knowledge and correct assessment of the conscious situation would then be as superfluous as in the performance of a lumbar puncture.
“General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 498
I call every interpretation which equates the dream images with real objects an interpretation on the objective level. In contrast to this is the interpretation which refers every part of the dream and all the actors in it back to the dreamer himself. This I call interpretation on the subjective level. Interpretation on the objective level is analytic, because it breaks down the dream content into memory complexes that refer to external situations. Interpretation on the subjective level is synthetic, because it detaches the underlying memory-complexes from their external causes, regards them as tendencies or components of the subject, and reunites them with that subject…. In this case, therefore, all the contents of the dream are treated as symbols for subjective contents.
“On the Psychology of the Unconscious” (1953). In CW 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. pg. 130
If our dreams reproduce certain ideas these ideas are primarily our ideas, in the structure of which our whole being is interwoven. They are subjective factors, grouping themselves as they do in the dream, and expressing this or that meaning, not for extraneous reasons but from the most intimate prompting of our psyche. The whole dreamwork is essentially subjective, and a dream is a theatre in which the dreamer is himself the scene, the player, the prompter, the producer, the author, the public, and the critic.
“General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 509
If we want to interpret a dream correctly, we need a thorough knowledge of the conscious situation at that moment, because the dream contains its unconscious complement, that is, the material which the conscious situation has constellated in the unconscious. Without this knowledge it is impossible to interpret a dream correctly, except by a lucky fluke.
“General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 477
The real difficulty begins -when the dreams do not point to anything tangible, and this they do often enough, especially when they hold anticipations of the future. I do not mean that such dreams are necessarily prophetic, merely that they feel the way, they “reconnoitre.” These dreams contain inklings of possibilities and for that reason can never be made plausible to an outsider.
“The Aims of Psychotherapy” (1931) In CW 16: The Practice of Psychotherapy. pg. 89
Anyone sufficiently interested in the dream problem cannot have failed to observe that dreams also have a continuity forwards-if such an expression be permitted-since dreams occasionally exert a remarkable influence on the conscious mental life even of persons who cannot be considered superstitious or particularly abnormal.
“General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 444
It is not denied in medieval ecclesiastical writings that a divine influx may occur in dreams, but this view is not exactly encouraged, and the Church reserves the right to decide whether a revelation is to be considered authentic or not. In spite of the Church’s recognition that certain dreams are sent by God, she is disinclined, and even averse, to any serious concern with dreams, while admitting that some might conceivably contain an immediate revelation. Thus the change of mental attitude that has taken place in recent centuries is, from this point of view at least, not wholly unwelcome to the Church, because it effectively discouraged the earlier introspective attitude which favoured a serious consideration of dreams and inner experiences.
“Psychology and Religion” (1938). In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. pg. 32
As individuals we are not completely unique, but are like all other men. Hence a dream with a collective meaning is valid in the first place for the dreamer, but it expresses at the same time the fact that his momentary problem is also the problem of other people. This is often of great practical importance, for there are countless people who are inwardly cut off from humanity and oppressed by the thought that nobody else has their problems. Or else they are those all-too-modest souls who, feeling themselves nonentities, have kept their claim to social recognition on too low a level. Moreover, every individual problem is somehow connected with the problem of the age, so that practically every subjective difficulty has to be viewed from the standpoint of the human situation as a whole. But this is permissible only when the dream really is a mythological one and makes use of collective symbols.
“The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man” (1933). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. pg. 323
If, in addition to this, we bear in mind that the unconscious contains everything that is lacking to consciousness, that the unconscious therefore has a compensatory tendency, then we can begin to draw conclusions-provided, of course, that the dream does not come from too deep a psychic level. If it is a dream of this kind, it will as a rule contain mythological motifs, combinations of ideas or images which can be found in the myths of one’s own folk or in those of other races. The dream will then have a collective meaning, a meaning which is the common property of mankind.
“The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man” (1933). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. pg. 322
Just as the body bears the traces of its phylogenetic development, so also does the human mind. Hence there ‘ is nothing surprising about the possibility that the figurative language of dreams is a survival from an archaic mode of thought.
“General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 475
As regards the much discussed symbolism of dreams, its evaluation varies according to whether it is considered from the causal or from the final standpoint. The causal approach of Freud starts from a desire or craving, that is, from the repressed dream-wish. This craving is always something comparatively simple and elementary, which can hide itself under manifold disguises…. Hence it is that the more rigorous adherents of the Freudian school have come to the point of interpreting-to give a gross example-pretty well all oblong objects in dreams as phallic symbols and all round or hollow objects as feminine symbols.
“General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 470
I take the dream for what it is. The dream is such a difficult and complicated thing that I do not dare to make any assumptions about its possible cunning or its tendency to deceive. The dream is a natural occurrence, and there is no earthly reason why we should assume that it is a crafty device to lead us astray. It occurs when consciousness and will are to a large extent extinguished. It seems to be a natural product which is also found in people who are not neurotic. Moreover, we know so little about the psychology of the dream process that we must be more than careful when we introduce into its explanation elements that are foreign to the dream itself.
“Psychology and Religion” (1938). In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. pg. 41
Nature is often obscure or impenetrable, but she is not, like man, deceitful. We must therefore take it that the dream is just what it pretends to be, neither more nor less. If it shows something in a negative light, there is no reason for assuming that it is meant positively.
“On the Psychology of the Unconscious” (1953). In CW 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. pg. 162
I leave theory aside as much as possible when analyzing dreams-not entirely, of course, for we always need some theory to make things intelligible. It is on the basis of theory, for instance, that I expect dreams to have a meaning. I cannot prove in every case that this is so, for there are dreams which the doctor and the patient simply do not understand. But I have to make such an hypothesis in order to find courage to deal with dreams at all.
“The Practical Use of Dream Analysis” (1934). In CW 16: The Practice of Psychotherapy. pg. 318
Every interpretation is an hypothesis, an attempt to read an unknown text. An obscure dream, taken in isolation, can hardly ever be interpreted with any certainty. For this reason I attach little importance to the interpretation of single dreams. A relative degree of certainty is reached only in the interpretation of a series of dreams, where the later dreams correct the mistakes we have made in handling those that went before. Also, the basic ideas and themes can be recognized much better in a dream-series.
“The Practical Use of Dream Analysis” (1934). In CW 16: The Practice of Psychotherapy. pg. 322
Lack of conscious understanding does not mean that the dream has no effect at all. Even civilized man can occasionally observe that a dream which he cannot remember can slightly alter his mood for better or worse. Dreams can be “understood” to a certain extent in a subliminal way, and that is mostly how they work.
“Approaching the Unconscious” In Man and His Symbols, ed C.G. Jung (1964) Revised and included in CW 18 as “Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams”. pg. 52 (In CW)
But when, you may rightly ask, is one sure of the interpretation? Is there anything approaching a reliable criterion for the correctness of an interpretation ? This question, happily, can be answered in the affirmative. If we have made a wrong interpretation, or if it is somehow incomplete, we may be able to see it from the next dream. Thus, for example, the earlier motif will be repeated in clearer I form, or our interpretation may be deflated by some ironic paraphrase, or it may meet with straightforward violent opposition. Now supposing that these interpretations also go astray, the general inconclusiveness and futility of our procedure will make itself felt soon enough in the bleakness, sterility, and pointlessness of the undertaking, so that doctor and patient alike will be suffocated either by boredom or by doubt. Just as the reward of a correct interpretation is an uprush of life, so an incorrect one dooms them to deadlock, resistance, doubt, and mutual desiccation.
“On the Psychology of the Unconscious” (1953). In CW 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. pg. 189
If, as happens in long and difficult treatments, the analyst observes a series of dreams often running into hundreds, there gradually forces itself upon him a phenomenon which, in an isolated dream, would remain hidden behind the compensation of the moment. This phenomenon is a kind of developmental process in the personality itself. At first it seems that each compensation is a momentary adjustment of one-sidedness or an equalization of disturbed balance. But with deeper insight and experience, these apparently separate acts of compensation arrange themselves into a kind of plan. They seem to hang together and in the deepest sense to be subordinated to a common goal, so that a long dream-series no longer appears as a senseless string of incoherent and isolated happenings, but resembles the successive steps in a planned and orderly process of development. I have called this unconscious process spontaneously expressing itself in the symbolism of a long dream-series the individuation process.
“On the Nature of Dreams” (1945). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. pg. 550
When we consider the infinite variety of dreams, it is difficult to conceive that there could ever be a method or a technical procedure which would lead to an infallible result. It is, indeed, a good thing that no valid method exists, for otherwise the meaning of the dream would be limited in advance and would lose precisely that virtue which makes dreams so valuable for therapeutic purposes -their ability to offer new points of view.
“The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man” (1933). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. pg. 319
The use of dream-analysis in psychotherapy is still a much debated question. Many practitioners find it indispensable in the treatment of neuroses, and consider that the dream is a function whose psychic importance is equal to that of the conscious mind itself. Others, on the contrary, dispute the value of dream-analysis and regard dreams as a negligible by-product of the psyche. Obviously, if a person holds the view that the unconscious plays a decisive part in the aetiology of neuroses, he will attribute a high practical importance to dreams as direct expressions of the unconscious. Equally obviously, if he denies the unconscious or at least thinks it aetiologically insignificant, he will minimize the importance of dream-analysis.
“The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man” (1933). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. pg. 322
The evolutionary stratification of the Psyche is more clearly discernible in the dream than in the conscious mind. In the dream, the psyche speaks in images, and gives expression to instincts, which derive from the most primitive levels of nature. Therefore, through the assimilation of unconscious contents, the momentary life of consciousness can once more be brought into harmony with the law of nature from which it all too easily departs, and the patient can be led back to the natural law of his own being.
“The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man” (1933). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. pg. 351
To concern ourselves with dreams is a way of reflecting on ourselves-a way of self-reflection. It is not our ego-consciousness reflecting on itself; rather, it turns its attention to the objective actuality of the dream as a communication or message from the unconscious, unitary soul of humanity. It reflects not on the ego but on the self; it recollects that strange self, alien to the ego, which was ours from the beginning, the trunk from which the ego grew. It is alien to us because we have estranged ourselves from it through the aberrations of the conscious mind.
“The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man” (1933). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. pg. 318
A dream is nothing but a lucky idea that comes to us from the dark, all-unifying world of the psyche. What would be more natural, when we have lost ourselves amid the endless particulars and isolated details of the world’s surface, than to knock at the door of dreams and inquire of them the bearings which would bring us closer to the basic facts of human existence? Here we encounter the obstinate prejudice that dreams are so much froth, they are not real, they lie, they are mere wish-fulfillments. All this is but an excuse not to take dreams seriously, for that would be uncomfortable. Our intellectual hubris of consciousness loves isolation despite all its inconveniences, and for this reason people will do anything rather than admit that dreams are real and speak the truth. There are some saints who had very rude dreams. Where would their saintliness be, the very thing that exalts them above the vulgar rabble, if the obscenity of a dream were a real truth? But it is just the most squalid dreams that emphasize our blood-kinship with the rest of mankind, and most effectively damp down the arrogance born of an atrophy of the instincts. Even if the whole world were to fall to pieces, the unity of the psyche would never be shattered. And the wider and more numerous the fissures on the surface, the more this unity is strengthened in the depths.
“The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man” (1933). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. pg. 305