THE PSYCHOLOGY OF DREAMS and ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF NUMBER-DREAMSby Carl Jung
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF DREAMS
A DREAM is a psychic structure which at first sight appears to be in striking contrast with conscious thought, because judging by its form and substance, it apparently does not lie within the continuity of development of the conscious contents, it is not integral to it, but is a mere external and apparently accidental occurrence. Its… See more details below
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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF DREAMS
A DREAM is a psychic structure which at first sight appears to be in striking contrast with conscious thought, because judging by its form and substance, it apparently does not lie within the continuity of development of the conscious contents, it is not integral to it, but is a mere external and apparently accidental occurrence. Its mode of genesis is in itself sufficient to isolate a dream from the other contents of the conscious, for it is a survival of a peculiar psychic activity which takes place during sleep, and does not originate in the manifest and clearly logical and emotional continuity of the event experienced.
But a careful observer should have no difficulty in discovering that a dream is not entirely severed from the continuity of the conscious, for in almost every dream certain details are found which have their origin in the impressions, thoughts, or states of mind of one of the preceding days. In so far a certain continuity does exist, albeit a retrograde one. But any one keenly interested in the dream problem cannot have failed to observe that a dream has also a progressive continuity—if such an expression be permitted—since dreams occasionally exert a remarkable influence upon the conscious mental life, even of persons who cannot be considered superstitious or particularly abnormal. These occasional aftereffects are usually seen in a more or less distinct change in the dreamer's frame of mind.
It is probably in consequence of this loose connection with the other conscious contents, that the recollected dream is so extremely unstable. Many dreams baffle all attempts at reproduction, even immediately after waking, others can only be remembered with doubtful accuracy, and comparatively few can be termed really distinct and clearly reproduceable. This peculiar reaction with regard to recollection may be understood by considering the characteristics of the various elements combined in a dream. The combination of ideas in dreams is essentially phantastic, they are linked together in a sequence which, as a rule, is quite foreign to our current way of thinking, and in striking contrast to the logical sequence of ideas which we consider to be a special characteristic of conscious mental processes.
It is to this characteristic that dreams owe the common epithet of "meaningless." Before pronouncing this verdict, we must reflect that dreams and their chain of ideas are something that we do not understand. Such a verdict would therefore be merely a projection of our non-comprehension upon its object. But that would not prevent its own peculiar meaning being inherent in a dream.
In spite of the fact that for centuries an endeavour has been made to extract a prophetic meaning from dreams, Freud's discovery is practically the first attempt to find their real significance. His work merits the term " scientific," because this investigator has evolved a technique which, not only he, but many other investigators also assert, achieves its object, namely, the understanding of the meaning of the dream. This meaning is not identical with the one to which the manifest dream content makes fragmentary allusion.
This is not the place for a critical discussion of Freud's psychology of dreams. But I will try to give a brief summary of what may be regarded as more or less established facts of dream psychology to-day.
The first question we must discuss is, whence do we deduce the justification for attributing to dreams any other signification than the unsatisfying fragmentary meaning of the manifest dream content?
As regards this point a particularly weighty argument is the fact that Freud discovered the hidden meaning of dreams by empiric and not deductive methods. A further argument in favour of a possible hidden, as opposed to the manifest meaning of dreams, is obtained by comparing dream-phantasies with other phantasies (day-dreams and the like) in one and the same individual. It is not difficult to conceive that such day-phantasies have not merely a superficial, concretistical meaning, but also a deeper psychological meaning. It is solely on account of the brevity that I must impose upon myself, that I do not submit materials in proof of this. But I should like to point out that what may be said about the meaning of phantasies, is well illustrated by an old and widely diffused type of imaginative story, of which Æsop's Fables are typical examples, wherein, for instance, the story is some objectively impossible phantasy about the deeds of a lion and an ass. The concrete superficial meaning of the fable is an impossible phantasm, but the hidden moral meaning is plainly palpable upon reflection. It is characteristic of children that they are pleased and satisfied with the exoteric meaning...
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