Comments On Jungian Dream Theory

Comments On Jungian Dream Theory

 One flaw to be encountered in Jungian dream theory is the agreement of Jung with Freud that the dream must be brought to the daylight world via interpretation. This is the work of ego-consciousness, forcing the dream up from its abode in the Underworld and away from its natural state. Jungians wants to bring the unconscious into consciousness because they believe this will bring them to a state of wholeness. The alchemical Jungian calls this the opus contra naturam, the work against nature. This is the process of compensation, whereby the psyche, according to Jung, regulates itself:

The activity of consciousness is selective. Selection demands direction. But direction requires the exclusion of everything irrelevant. This is bound to make the conscious orientation one-sided. The contents that are excluded and inhibited by the chosen direction sink into the unconscious, where they form a counterweight to the conscious orientation. The strengthening of this counterposition keeps pace with the increase of conscious one-sidedness until finally . . . . the repressed unconscious contents break through in the form of dreams and spontaneous images. . . . As a rule, the unconscious compensation does not run counter to consciousness, but is rather a balancing or supplementing of the conscious orientation. In dreams, for instance, the unconscious supplies all those contents that are constellated by the conscious situation but are inhibited by conscious selection, although a knowledge of them would be indispensable for complete adaptation[“Definitions,” CW 6, par. 694.]

So, what we have here is a pretty impressive-sounding argument in favor of looking for hidden meanings in dreams and thus bringing them into the purview of the rational ego. Unconsciousness becomes conscious and one is closer to becoming individuated.

Individuation is a process informed by the archetypal ideal of wholeness, which in turn depends on a vital relationship between ego and unconscious. The aim is not to overcome one’s personal psychology, to become perfect, but to become familiar with it. Thus individuation involves an increasing awareness of one’s unique psychological reality, including personal strengths and limitations, and at the same time a deeper appreciation of humanity in general (Jung Lexicon).

Both Freud and Jung were wrong in thinking the dream must be forced to travel from its natural home in Hades, over the river Styx, and up into the dayworld. What we actually should be doing is following the dream downward. Our task is to pay the ferryman his due and make our way to the land of shades, where we may experience the dream where it lives.


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