Jung interpretation of dreams

Jung and Dreams - Society of Analytical Psychology

Jung & Dreams, By Marcus West

“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.”

[Collected Works Volume 10, paragraph 317]

Jung saw the mind/body/feelings (or what he called ‘the psyche’) as all working together. Even negative symptoms could be potentially helpful in drawing attention to an imbalance; for example, depression could result from an individual suppressing particular feelings or not following a path that is natural and true to their particular personality. In this way he saw the psyche as a self-regulating system with all psychic contents – thoughts, feelings, dreams, intuitions etc. – having a purpose; he thought the psyche was ‘purposive’.


The value of dreams

Jung saw dreams as the psyche’s attempt to communicate important things to the individual, and he valued them highly, perhaps above all else, as a way of knowing what was really going on. Dreams are also an important part of the development of the personality – a process that he called individuation.



Whilst Freud thought that dreams expressed forbidden wishes that had to be disguised (he differentiated the manifest content of a dream – what was on the surface, from the latent content – what was hidden), Jung saw dreams as expressing things openly. He wrote:

“They do not deceive, they do not lie, they do not distort or disguise … They are invariably seeking to express something that the ego does not know and does not understand.” [CW 17, para. 189]



If dreams are sometimes difficult to comprehend it is because we need to understand that dreams express themselves through the use of symbols. Of symbols Jung wrote:

“A symbol is the best possible formulation of a relatively unknown psychic content”.

He also wrote, the dream is “a spontaneous self-portrayal, in symbolic form, of the actual situation in the unconscious” [CW 8, para. 505].

A symbol doesn’t just tell us about what the dream may appear to be about on the surface, but has meaning and resonance above and beyond the particular situation. As Marie Louise von Franz said:

“The unconscious doesn’t waste much spit telling you what you already know”

In expressing what is not known, particularly related to an imbalance, Jung thought that dreams were a form of compensation.



One of Jung’s own dreams gives a good example of compensation; the dream concerned one of his patients. She was an intelligent woman but Jung noticed that increasingly in their sessions there was a shallowness entering into their dialogue. He determined to speak to her about this, but the night before the session he had the following dream:

He was walking down a highway through a valley in late-afternoon sunlight. To his right was a steep hill. At its top stood a castle, and on the highest tower was a woman sitting on a kind of balustrade. In order to see her properly he had to bend his head far back. He awoke with a crick in his neck. Even in the dream he had recognised the woman as his patient. [Memories, Dreams and Reflections, p. 155]

Jung said that the interpretation was immediately apparent to him. If, in the dream, he had had to look up to the patient in this fashion, in reality he had probably been looking down on her – the dream had been a compensation for his attitude toward her.


Jungian dream analysis example

If we look at a dream that Jung used to describe his particular approach to dreams this may become clearer. A woman patient dreamt as follows:

She is about to cross a wide river. There is no bridge, but she finds a ford where she can cross. She is on the point of doing so, when a large crab that lay hidden in the water seizes her by the foot and will not let her go. (She wakes up in terror). [CW 7, para. 123]

It is worth pausing to remember what Jung says about dream interpretation at this point:

“So difficult is it to understand a dream that for a long time I have made it a rule, when someone tells me a dream and asks for my opinion, to say first of all to myself: ‘I have no idea what this dream means’. After that I can begin to examine the dream”.

There are a number of symbols in his patient’s dream: the river, crossing a river, a ford, a crab, and the foot. To begin to understand the meaning of these symbols Jung asked his patient for her associations to the dream.

She said she thought the river formed a boundary that was difficult to get across, something she had to overcome, probably something to do with the treatment. She thought the ford offered a way of overcoming the difficulty, probably in the treatment. She associated the crab with cancer which she thought was a terrible disease, of which she was afraid and which had killed an acquaintance, Mrs X. The crab obviously wanted to drag her into the river, and she was terribly frightened.

“What keeps stopping me getting across?” she mused, “Oh yes, I had another row with my friend [a woman]”.

Jung describes his patient’s relationship with her friend as “a sentimental attachment, bordering on the homosexual, which has lasted for years”.

The dreamer adds that Mrs X had “an artistic and impulsive nature which the dreamer felt was punished by the cancer – in particular, Mrs X had an affair with an artist after her husband died”.


The objective vs. the subjective level

This dream could therefore be taken on an objective level, which would treat the dream images as corresponding to objects in the real world. On this level the dream could be about a fear of cancer and of following in Mrs X’s footsteps – being impulsive, having an affair, and experiencing terrifying consequences – being pulled under the ‘water’ by the cancer. This could also be described as an interpretation on the personal level.

Jung, however, made his interpretation on the subjective level. Here, he says – and this is a characteristically Jungian position – that every object in the dream corresponds to an element within the individual’s own psyche. Thus the river, the crab and all the associated elements refer to the dreamer’s own psyche.

Jung’s interpretation was, therefore, that the crab in the dream was pulling the dreamer back into the unconscious – the river – to confront the unacknowledged, not lived-out, and unhumanised part of her own personality – her own artistic and impulsive nature, as well as her own ‘masculine’ nature. The dream was trying to compensate for the absence of these qualities in her waking life.



Jung interpreted that this was the masculine aspect of the dreamer’s nature as the crab has seized the dreamer by the foot. Jung amplified the dream symbol of the foot with reference to his own understanding of the symbolic meaning feet. Such amplifications could be with reference to any kind of mythical, religious, fairytale, archetypal association.

Jung linked the foot with the myth of Osiris and Isis (he would not necessarily tell the patient this link), and concluded that “the foot, as the organ nearest the earth, represents in dreams the relation to earthly reality and often has a phallic significance.” He also made a link to Oedipus [which literally means ‘swell-foot’] which he understood as ‘suspicious’, in other words, someone who was not well related to reality. [CW 5 para. 356] This relates the dream to the archetypal level, in other words those elements of the psyche that are common to all of us, like the masculine nature.


The Transference Level

When Jung said to his patient that he thought she had a powerful masculine nature, she did not recognise it, seeing herself as ‘fragile, sensitive, and feminine’. Jung wondered why she did not acknowledge her own masculine traits, so evident to him in relation to her friend. This brought him to another aspect of the dream – the transference level (the relationship to the analyst).

Whilst the dream images can correspond to different parts of the dreamer’s own psyche, they can also correspond to people in the objective world, as well as to the analyst in so far as the analyst may embody what the dream image is symbolising. This is the essence of a symbol – that it can apply in a number of different situations. This is what Jung found in this case.

His patient told him that when she was not with him, Jung appeared to her as “rather dangerous and sinister, like an evil magician or demon”. Jung therefore interpreted that he, Jung, was acting as the dangerous, masculine, foot-gripping crab (bearing the projection of his patient’s masculinity) and it was this dependent relationship with Jung, like that with her friend, which prevented her from crossing the river.

When he suggested all this to his patient she had “an unexpected feeling of hatefulness and despising toward her friend”. Jung suggests that “the repression of the hateful, masculine qualities was broken and, at that moment, the patient entered a new phase of life without even knowing it”.

Jung’s work on the inner, subjective level had incarnated, humanised and personalised these archetypal qualities – the impetuous, dangerous, hateful, despising, ‘masculine’ qualities – and thereby, instead of being possessed by these qualities unknowingly, she would be able to use those qualities in the service of her fuller life.

We can see that by treating the dream images as symbols, with the images all representing elements within the dreamer’s own psyche, and by asking for the dreamer’s personal associations to the dream, as well as amplifying other images with relation to archetypal themes, we are able to understand a dream and what it may be trying to communicate to the dreamer – usually by way of compensating for the dreamer’s current, conscious attitude, which is in some way one-sided or incomplete.


A final thought on dreams

Jung wrote:

“I have noticed that 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.” [CW 18, para. 244]

About Marcus West

Marcus is a training analyst with the SAP.  He has written Understanding Dreams in Clinical Practice (published by Karnac 2011).  See Marcus’s website.

How to Analyze a Dream Using Jungian Dream Analysis

Jul 17, 2020 / The Twelve Mysteries / carl jung / dream analysis

I Dream of Ants. Cyanotype on Paper, 2020. Two Print sizes. © Jonah Calinawan

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Dreams are the guiding words of the soul. Why should I henceforth not love my dreams and not make their riddling images into objects of my daily consideration?Carl Jung, The Red Book

Last weekend, I had a dream that mystified me so much that I had to analyze it.

This article describes a step-by-step process in dream interpretation based on Carl Jung’s work. If you’ve ever wanted to understand your dreams, I recommend a good book to get you started.

But first, I want to tell you about the dream.

The Dream

I’m at work in an open-concept office where cubicles are in an assembly line formation. Each cubicle shares a middle partition with a mirror-cubicle on the other side. In this dream, I’m sitting on one side, while my co-worker Phillip is sitting opposite me on the other side.

“Hey Jonah, do you want to sit beside me, or do you want to stay where you are on your side?” Phillip asks.

As I’m debating the pros/cons of where I should sit, Reid, my boss, comes over and says, “Jonah, can I see you in my office?”

So, I walk into his office, and I see a leather club chair. As I walk closer, I realize that the chair is teeming with ants and some sticky substance like honey or tree sap. I couldn’t tell which.

“How am I going to sit on that? I would have to clean that off first.” I said to myself.

Then, I woke up.

I usually don’t remember my dreams, but this one was so vivid that I excitedly recounted it to my partner that Sunday morning. Later in the day, we walked around the Baltimore Inner Harbor, stopped at the newly opened Whole Foods at Harbor East, and decided to sit by the water for a bit. Picking a spot, I sat down on a wood bench. I looked down and couldn’t believe my eyes. Ants. I saw the ants from my dream.

Where Do Dreams Come From?

In my research for this article, I was surprised that even in the 21st century, the “why” and “how” of dreams are largely undeveloped from the time of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Of the two, I was attracted to Carl Jung’s theory. He considered dreams to be messages from the unconscious:

“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.”

Carl Jung, CW 10:317

This is an exciting finding as I’m already curious about synchronicity and mythology. Now I can add dreams and the unconscious to the mix of mysteries.

If dreams are messages from the unconscious, then what was my unconscious trying to say?

A Warning about Dream Analysis

But before we begin, a word of caution. Dream analysis engages the unconscious, and it might bring up contents you don’t want to face. It’s not a game. Here’s what Jung had to say about it:

We are greatly mistaken if we think that the unconscious is something harmless that could be made into an object of entertainment, a parlour game. Certainly the unconscious is not always and in all circumstances dangerous, but as soon as a neurosis is present it is a sign of a special heaping up of energy in the unconscious, like a charge that may explode. Here caution is indicated. One never knows what one may be releasing when one begins to analyse dreams. Something deeply buried and invisible may thereby be set in motion, very probably something that would have come to light sooner or later anyway—but again, it might not. It is as if one were digging an artesian well and ran the risk of stumbling on a volcano. When neurotic symptoms are present one must proceed very carefully.

Carl Jung, CW 7:192

In other words, please be careful. Stop if you sense that something is wrong. And if you are still interested in exploring dream interpretation, why not see a Jungian analyst in your area? That would be a good idea.

Step-by-Step Process for Interpreting Dreams

The steps below are from a Jungian psychotherapist, Robert Johnson, who wrote Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth (affiliate link). I read this book four years ago but had no interest in writing about it until now.  

  1. Write the Dream in Detail
  2. Make Associations
  3. Connect Dream Images to What’s Happening Internally
  4. Interpret the Dream
  5. Do a Ritual to Make the Dream Concrete

Step 1 Write the Dream in Detail

Write your dream immediately after waking up. Otherwise, you will forget. In the article Follow Your Bliss, I recommend keeping a journal. Dreams would be a great addition to that journal. 

Write down all the dream details even if they appear unimportant: setting, people, objects, dialogue, smells, sounds, color, and your “internal talk” and emotions while dreaming the dream.

Step 2 Make Associations

The next step is to make associations. Think of the dream image and then write down everything that comes to mind. For example, in my dream, the “work setting” symbolized drudgery, stress, and competition. Do this for every dream detail you wrote down in your journal.

Don’t consult a dream dictionary. Dream symbols are unique to you, so there is no sense in asking other people or reading about it. The only exception is if the dream contains archetypal motifs common to the human race. These would include characters like father, mother, child, wise old man, hero, maiden, or trickster. With archetypes, it doesn’t matter whether you are white, black, or brown. We come from the same ground and live and die under the same blue sky, so the meaning of archetypes will be the same.

Step 3 Connect Dream Images to What’s Happening Internally

Just like when reading mythology, dreams are not meant to be interpreted literally. The language of dreams and the unconscious is the symbolic image. Therefore, the unconscious borrows images from your external environment to symbolize things in the dream. For example, in my dream, the characters Phillip and Reid do not actually refer to the real counterparts. Each character represents something else. Thus, dreams are usually about the interior world rather than the external one.

Step 4 Interpret the Dream

Taking all the things you wrote before, interpret the dream. Remember that a dream is a coherent message from the unconscious cloaked in symbolism. When you interpret the dream and arrive at an interpretation that “clicks” or makes you say “a-ha,” then you’re on the right path. A couple of caveats:

  • Your unconscious will not send you a message that you already know or are conscious of. Thus the dream’s message should be a surprise to you.
  • If you arrive at a dream interpretation that is self-congratulatory and self-inflating, then that interpretation is probably incorrect.
  • If you arrive at an interpretation that blames others, then that interpretation is also incorrect. Dreams are about you and not others. Remember that all the characters in your dream represent aspects of yourself, even if they look like somebody you know.

Step 5 Do a Ritual to Make the Dream Concrete

After interpreting the dream, honor it by doing something physical (and not just thinking about it). By doing something physical, you integrate the dream, which was unconscious, into your conscious waking life. The ritual is a way to send the message to your unconscious that you heard it. Write in your journal, pray, light a candle, or make art out of it. The physical act should not be loud or expensive. The smaller and the more intimate, the better.

My Dream Interpretation

Now, I’m going to apply these steps to my dream. I cover a number of symbols from my dream: the work setting, the mirror-cubicle setup, my co-worker Phillip, my boss Reid, the leather club chair, the ants, and honey/tree sap. This is a work in progress, so the final interpretation may change the more I think about the dream in the coming days.

The Symbol of Work Setting

The work setting confused me for a long time. I associated it with my accounting job, but I quit that last October to be a full-time artist. So, why did this dream show that I was back at my accounting job? That didn’t make any sense to me. Then it hit me: the work setting was a symbol. My unconscious borrowed the image of my former accounting job to symbolize my current job as an artist. Once I realized what the work setting meant, some of the other associations fell into place.

The Symbol of Mirror-Cubicle Setup

I wrote down many associations for the mirror-cubicle setup but none clicked, so I set it aside and focused on my co-worker Phillip.

The Symbol of Phillip

What did Phillip represent? After going over many associations, the following clicked. Phillip is a real person, and a long time ago as part of a get-to-know session at a company retreat, he shared with everyone that he was related to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the writer of Sherlock Holmes. Suddenly, the mirror-cubicle setup made sense! Phillip represented the writer side of my psyche. Phillip sat directly opposite me. What the dream was really asking was, “Hey Jonah, do you want to be a writer, or do you want to stay where you are on your side?”

The Symbol of Reid

This “writer” interpretation solidified when I considered Reid. Reid is also a very real person, but not my real boss. Reid Callanan is the director of the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. I’ve never met Reid, and yet here he was in my dream personifying photography.

The Symbol of the Leather Club Chair

I associate the leather club chair with comfort, luxury, wealth, or a man-cave. The association that resonated the most was luxury. That luxurious leather chair invited me to sink into and be enveloped by it. It occurred to me that it was like the snake that appears in many mythologies around the world. The leather club chair was a trickster or troublemaker. This is the only dream detail that feels archetypal. Is this the definitive interpretation? I’m not feeling a click or an a-ha yet, but it feels very close.

The Symbol of the Ants

I tried many associations for the ants and honey/tree sap, separately and together. I was stumped on this one. I took a break and walked outside. I think I was afraid of what I might discover if I continued interpreting the dream. I wanted the dream to have a positive outcome, I have to admit that.

I wrote about the associations in my journal over a couple of days after the dream. In the end, the following strangely resonated:

  • The leather club chair is in Reid’s office and, therefore, represents the photography world.
  • The leather chair is like the archetypal snake as temptation inviting me to sit down, BUT
  • I can’t sit on the chair because it was overflowing with ants that bite.
  • In addition, the sticky tree sap could trap me like a Venus flytrap, and I would be unable to get up from the chair.

What Does this Dream Mean?

Taking all the above into account, I now believe that this dream is sending a message that there is a tug-of-war between photography and writing in the interior landscape of my unconscious. I was not aware of this, but I sense that this conclusion is true. The dream seems to be saying that I should not sit on the photography chair because of the biting ants and the sticky tree sap. I hesitated moving to the writer chair, so that appears out as well. The dream is saying that I have to find my own path: it’s not photography, and it’s not writing.

What is interesting about the dream is that it actually had three chairs: the chair I was sitting on at the beginning of the dream, the writer chair, and the photographer chair. The question now is, what did the first chair represent? I don’t know. No other characters spoke during the dream. I will have to think about it in the coming days. Usually in dream interpretation, the unconscious leaves a little clue as to what the solution is, but it’s escaping me at the moment.

In the meantime, I completed a ritual to acknowledge this dream. I created cyanotype art from it. 

Interested in Analyzing Your Dream?

I hope you found this article helpful in describing how to interpret a dream. This article barely scratches the surface of Carl Jung dream analysis approach. To know more, I highly recommend reading Johnson’s Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth (affiliate link).  Good luck!

Update: The Symbol of The Third Chair!

I had another dream on August 6, 2020, that clarified the meaning of the third chair. Read The Dream That Changed My Life.

📕 dream interpretation online and ✅ free

What does sleep from Sunday to Monday mean?

Jung's dream book

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), one of the outstanding psychologists and psychiatrists from Switzerland, it was he who laid the foundation for analytical psychology, one of the most important areas of psychology as a science.

Facts about the author's development

Jung spent six years of his life working in a psychiatric clinic in Zurich, assisting Eigen Bleuer, one of the best psychiatrists. Precisely Jung identified the method of free association which is of key importance in psychiatry. Since 1907, Carl Jung was one of the people close to Sigmund Freud. For five years he chaired the International Psychiatric Society. But after some time, the views of Jung and Freud diverged somewhat, which led to the rupture of the once close relationship. The first had his own opinion about the understanding of libido as a psychological nourishment and denied the sexual etiology of neuroses.

Find out one of 12 interpretations according to Jung's Dream Interpretation:

In 1912, work "Metamorphoses and symbols of libido" was published, in which Jung presented as a postulate that the individual's psyche includes the collective unconscious, as a projection of previous knowledge generations, which is compiled in the structure of the brain. The collective subconscious was presented as a set of archetypes that create mythological images, creative beginnings, symbols from dreams. Traditional perception does not have the ability to cognize the essence of archetypes, therefore it projects them onto objects.

Features of Jung's dream book

The archetype of "self" is of primary importance, according to Jung. The author argued that this archetype is responsible for the potential of the individual, being absolutely isolated from the concept of the Ego. Jung emphasized that it is rites and rituals that maintain the connection between the levels of the psyche in the classical understanding of culture.

Gustave Jung singled out two functions of dreams: compensation for the imbalance of the external environment and promotion of individual development by presenting conjectural options for the development of future events.

In addition, Jung divided dreams into subjective and objective , and also differentiated subjective and objective approaches to their interpretation. So objective dreams express the dreamer's everyday life, and subjective dreams are an expression of the inner world of the sleeper. It should also be noted that the author singled out four main stages in dreams - exposition, plot development, climax and lysis (calm resolution).

The author emphasized that dreams are able to support the complex content of the collective unconscious in the context of a particular individual. In other words, there are certain images that an individual is able to know only at an unconscious level, and this is done precisely with the help of dreams. Knowing the correct interpretation of these images allows you to give the correct interpretation of sleep.

Gustave Jung was convinced by practice that the images in the dreams of his patients were quite often simply not familiar to them, but they were probably the expression of symbols attributed to myths and cultural attachments on a global scale. Deciphering the individual meaning of such symbols within the framework of cultural knowledge and symbolism, according to the author, can become a help to a qualitatively new level of interpretation of dreams. It is this approach that is fundamental for Jung's dream book . This dream book undoubtedly has its own specific approach to the interpretation of sleep.

Unfortunately, you can’t download Jung’s Dream Book, we suggest you download dream books of other authors for free.

View interpretation in other dream books:

Carl Jung's theory of dreams | is... What is Carl Jung's Theory of Dreams?

Carl Gustav Jung did not share the concept of Sigmund Freud, outlined in the treatise "The Interpretation of Dreams", that dreams are a "cipher" encoding forbidden impulses of sexual desire, a representation of unfulfilled desires, considering such a view to be simplistic and naive. In fact, the dream, Jung wrote, is "a direct manifestation of the unconscious" and only "ignorance of its language prevents us from understanding its message."

In order to interpret dreams, unlike Freud, Jung urged the dreamer not to "run away into free association", but to focus on the specific image of the dream and give it as many analogies as possible. Jung believed that the method of free associations allows revealing only the dreamer's personal (individual) associations, grouped around complexes (which Jung proved experimentally) [1] , but does not allow one to get closer to the meaning of the dream itself.

According to Jung, the meaning field of the dream is much wider than these individual limits and reflects the richness and complexity of the entire realm of the unconscious - both individual and collective. One of Jung's ideas is that the soul, as a self-regulating organism, compensates for the setting of consciousness with the opposite unconscious setting. [2] Therefore, mythology can help in the interpretation of a dream, since dreams speak the mythological language of symbols that unite opposite attitudes into integral semantic categories. Only a lack of understanding of the symbolic language puts the interpreter in the position of "a Frenchman who, once on the streets of London, is convinced that everyone around him is mocking him or trying to hide something."

Jung considered the dream as a means to establish a connection between the conscious and the subconscious and saw in the dream the function of compensating for the ego's position. He also emphasized "big" dreams, that is, dreams associated with a numinous feeling of delight and horror. In these dreams, Jung saw the highest spiritual guidance that comes from the center of human (and possibly all) being - the Self.

Jung developed two main approaches to the analysis of dream material: objective and subjective. [3] In an objective approach, each dream character refers to a real person: a mother is a mother, a girlfriend is a girlfriend, and so on. In a subjective approach, each dream character represents an aspect of the dreamer himself. Jung believed that although it may be difficult for the dreamer at first to take a subjective approach, but in the process of working on a dream, he will be able to identify his own traits and previously unknown aspects of his personality in the characters of the dream. So, for example, if a person dreams that he is attacked by a mad killer, then the dreamer may become aware of his murderous impulses. This approach has been extended by Gestalt therapists: they believe that even inanimate objects in a dream can be seen as embodiments of aspects of the dreamer's personality.

Jung believed that archetypes (animus, anima, shadow, etc.) manifest themselves in dreams through symbols or characters. This may be an old man, a young girl or a huge spider involved in the plot. Everyone embodies an unconscious attitude, mostly hidden from consciousness. Even as an integral part of the dreamer's psyche, they often exist autonomously and are perceived by the dreamer as external figures. Acquaintance with the archetypes, manifested in the symbols of dreams, allows a person to become more aware of his unconscious attitudes, integrate previously split off parts of the personality and be included in the process of a holistic understanding of his Self, which Jung considered the main task of analytical work [2] .

Jung believed that the material repressed by consciousness (to which Freud reduced unconscious contents in general) is similar to what in his concept is called the Shadow, and constitutes only a certain part of the unconscious.

Jung warned against blindly ascribing certain meanings to dream symbols without a clear understanding of the dreamer's personal situation. He described two approaches to dream symbols: the causal approach and the finalist approach. [4] In the causal approach, the symbol is reduced to certain basic tendencies. Thus, the sword can symbolize the penis, the snake - too. In the finalist approach, the dream interpreter asks: "Why this particular symbol and not another?" The sword can then represent the penis in terms of its qualities: it is hard, sharp, inanimate, and destructive. And the snake, representing the penis, indicates other qualities: something alive, dangerous, possibly poisonous and slippery. The finalistic approach reveals additional nuances of the meaning of the setting in which the dreamer finds himself.

With regard to the technique of working with dreams, Jung recommended analyzing each detail of the dream separately, and then revealing the essence of the dream for the dreamer. This approach is an adaptation of the procedure described by Wilhelm Stekel, who advised thinking about a dream like an article in a newspaper and coming up with a headline for it. [5] Harry Stack Sullivan also describes similar "sleep distillation" processes. [6]

Although Jung insisted on the universality of archetypal symbols, his point of view is the opposite of understanding the sign - an image that has a uniquely defined meaning. His approach was to recognize the dynamics and fluidity that exists between a symbol and its meaning. Symbols should be explored as sources of individual meaning for patients, rather than being reduced to predetermined concepts. This will prevent the dream interpreter from slipping into theoretical and dogmatic exercises that take the process away from the patient's psychological state. In support of this idea, he emphasized that it is very important to "stick to the dream" - to reveal the depth of its meaning through the client's associations with a separate image. This approach is completely opposite to Freud's free associations, leading away from the features of the image. He described, for example, the image of a "wooden table". Perhaps the dreamer would have found some associations with this image, or, on the contrary, there would have been no personal meanings (which would have aroused suspicions about the special significance of the image). Jung, on the other hand, asks the patient to imagine this image as vividly as possible and talk about it as if the interlocutor had never seen wooden tables.

Jung emphasized the importance of context in understanding a dream. He believed that the dream should not be understood simply as a complex riddle invented by the unconscious, which must be deciphered in order to reveal the causal factors behind it. Dreams cannot serve as lie detectors that would reveal the dishonesty of the conscious attitude. Dreams, like the unconscious itself, speak their own language. Being representations of the unconscious, dream images are self-sufficient and have their own logic. Jung believed that dreams could contain important messages, philosophical ideas, illusions, wild fantasies, memories, plans, irrational experiences, and even telepathic insights.

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