Dreams?is a collection of works by Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, as chosen by editor R.F.C. Hull and published in 1974. Split up into four parts, this book offers a primer on dreams in relation to psychoanalysis, psychic energy, the practicality of dream analysis, and symbolism when related to alchemy. This collection of works describes Jung's method in analyzing dreams and the aspects of dream psychology as a whole. Finally, Jung deconstructed the symbolism contained in 59 dreams and unconscious images from a patient over a ten-month span in the early 1930s (the total amount of dreams analyzed by Jung for this patient was 400).
Throughout his writings, Jung used plenty of jargon and would often go on long digressions into literature, philosophy, and theology. This was important, though, because Jung's basic claim about dreams is that they are unconscious manifestations of situations experienced by the conscious life. A person's makeup and personality are often formed and shaped by their experiences with literature, philosophy, and theology. According to Jung, the dream is “a spontaneous self-portrayal, in symbolic form, of the actual situation in the unconscious” (49). The symbols contained in the dream are made up of information and experiences found in our daily lives.?
Jung was cautious about inadequate dream interpretations and even went as a far as to say even he did not have the final say on the subject. Constantly warning that dream analysis should always be considered within the context of the person, Jung went as far as to say the first task in analysis is not to understand or interpret but to establish the context (often involving an understanding of history, philosophy, literature, and theology). Jung said, “I would even assert that without knowledge of the conscious situation the dream can never be interpreted with any degree of certainty” (102). Jung rejected any stereotyped interpretations of dreams and only considered an interpretation valid if it examined the person's whole context (conscious and unconscious).
What I found the most useful in Jung's writings was his method for analyzing the symbols found in dreams. Jung would take every symbol and image in the dream and break down how it worked within the context of the dreamer. The history of symbols (shapes, colors, mandalas, elements, and objects like poles) was also important for gaining a context as to how these symbols have been understood throughout the ages. For example, unity is represented by circles, squares represent the four elements, and a mandala signifies the psychic center of the personality not identified with the ego.
Here is an excerpt that I believe does a good job at showing Jung in action:
It concerns a colleague of mine, a man somewhat older than myself, whom I used to see from time to time and who always teased me about dream-interpretations. Well, I met him one day in the street and he called out to me, “How are things going? Still interpreting dreams? By the way, I've had another idiotic dream. Does that mean something too?” This is what he had dreamed: “I am climbing a high mountain, over steep snow-covered slopes. I climb higher and higher, and it is marvelous weather. The higher I climb the better I feel. I think, 'If only I could go on climbing like this for ever!' When I reach the summit my happiness and elation are so great that I feel I could mount right up into space. And I discover that I can actually do so: I mount upwards on empty air, and awake in sheer ecstasy.”
After some discussion, I said, “My dear fellow, I know you can't give up mountaineering, but let me implore you not to go alone from now on. When you go, take two guides, and promise on your word of honour to follow them absolutely.” “Incorrigible!” he replied, laughing, and waved good-bye. I never saw him again. Two months later the first blow fell. When out alone, he was buried by an avalanche, but was dug out in the nick of time by a military patrol that happened to be passing. Three months afterwards the end came. He went on a climb with a younger friend, but without guides. A guide standing below saw him literally step out into the air while descending a rock face. He fell on the head of his friend, who was waiting lower down, and both were dashed to pieces far below. That was?ecstasis?with a vengeance!
Jung took dream interpretation seriously and had strong feelings for those (specifically medical doctors) that took this lightly. At the end of the book, Jung said:
This is reason enough not to make light of them, and my medical experience has only confirmed this estimate. There are people, of course, who think it unscientific to take anything seriously; they do not want their intellectual playground disturbed by graver considerations. But the doctor who fails to take account of man's feelings for values commits as serious blunder, and if he tries to correct the mysterious and well-nigh inscrutable workings of nature with his so-called scientific attitude, he is merely putting his shallow sophistry in place of nature's healing processes.