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  • Sigmund Freud was the pioneer who first tried to explore empirically

  • the unconscious background of consciousness.

  • He worked on the general assumption that dreams are not a matter of chance

  • but are associated with conscious thoughts and problems.

  • This assumption was not in the least arbitrary.

  • It was based upon the conclusion of eminent neurologists (for instance, Pierre Janet)

  • that neurotic symptoms are related to some conscious experience.

  • They even appear to be split-off areas of the conscious mind, which, at another time

  • and under different conditions, can be conscious.

  • Before the beginning of this century,

  • Freud and Josef Breuer had recognized that neurotic symptoms

  • -hysteria, certain types of pain, and abnormal behavior-

  • are in fact symbolically meaningful.

  • They are one way in which the unconscious mind expresses itself

  • just as it may in dreams

  • and they are equally symbolic.

  • A patient, for instance, who is confronted with an intolerable situation

  • may develop a spasm whenever he tries to swallow:

  • Hecan’t swallow it.”

  • Under similar conditions of psychological stress, another patient has an attack of asthma:

  • Hecan’t breathe the atmosphere at home.”

  • A third suffers from a peculiar paralysis of the legs:

  • He can’t walk, i.e., “he can’t go on any more.”

  • A fourth, who vomits when he eats, “cannot digestsome unpleasant fact.

  • I could cite many examples of this kind, but such physical reactions are only one form

  • in which the problems that trouble us unconsciously may express themselves.

  • They more often find expression in our dreams.

  • Any psychologist who has listened to numbers of people describing their dreams

  • knows that dream symbols have much greater variety than the physical symptoms of neurosis.

  • They often consist of elaborate and picturesque fantasies.

  • But if the analyst who is confronted by this dream material uses Freud’s original technique offree association

  • he finds that dreams can eventually be reduced to certain basic patterns.

  • This technique played an important part in the development of psychoanalysis

  • for it enabled Freud to use dreams as the starting point from which

  • the unconscious problem of the patient might be explored.

  • Freud made the simple but penetrating observation

  • that if a dreamer is encouraged to go on talking about his dream images

  • and the thoughts that these prompt in his mind

  • he will give himself away and reveal the unconscious background of his ailments

  • in both what he says and what he deliberately omits saying.

  • His ideas may seem irrational and irrelevant

  • but after a time it becomes relatively easy to see what it is that he is trying to avoid

  • what unpleasant thought or experience he is suppressing.

  • No matter how he tries to camouflage it, everything he says points to the core of his predicament.

  • A doctor sees so many things from the seamy side of life

  • that he is seldom far from the truth when he interprets the hints that his patient produces

  • as signs of an uneasy conscience.

  • What he eventually discovers, unfortunately, confirms his expectations.

  • Thus far, nobody can say anything against Freud’s theory of repression and wish fulfillment

  • as apparent causes of dream symbolism.

  • Freud attached particular importance to dreams as the point of departure for a process offree association.”

  • But after a time I began to feel that this was a misleading and inadequate use of the rich fantasies

  • that the unconscious produces in sleep.

  • My doubts really began when a colleague told me of an experience he had

  • during the course of a long train journey in Russia.

  • Though he did not know the language and could not even decipher the Cyrillic script

  • he found himself musing over the strange letters in which the railway notices were written

  • and he fell into a reverie in which he imagined all sorts of meanings for them.

  • One idea led to another, and in his relaxed mood he found that thisfree association

  • had stirred up many old memories.

  • Among them he was annoyed to find some long-buried disagreeable topics

  • things he had wished to forget and had forgotten consciously.

  • He had in fact arrived at what psychologists would call hiscomplexes

  • that is, repressed emotional themes that can cause constant psychological disturbances

  • or even, in many cases, the symptoms of a neurosis.

  • This episode opened my eyes to the fact that

  • it was not necessary to use a dream as the point of departure for the process offree association

  • if one wished to discover the complexes of a patient.

  • It showed me that one can reach the center directly from any point of the compass.

  • One could begin from Cyrillic letters,

  • from mediations upon a crystal ball, a prayer wheel, or a modern painting

  • or even from casual conversation about some quite trivial event.

  • The dream was no more and no less useful in this respect than any other possible starting point.

  • Nevertheless, dreams have a particular significance even though they often arise from an emotional upset

  • in which the habitual complexes are also involved.

  • The habitual complexes are the tender spots of the psyche

  • which react most quickly to an external stimulus or disturbance.

  • That is why free association can lead one from any dream to the critical secret thoughts.

  • At this point, however, it occurred to me that (if I was right so far)

  • it might reasonably follow that dreams have some special and more significant function of their own.

  • Very often dreams have a definite, evidently purposeful structure indicating an underlying idea or intention

  • though, as a rule, the latter is not immediately comprehensible.

  • I therefore began to consider whether one should pay more attention to the actual form and content of a dream

  • rather than allowingfreeassociation to lead one off through a train of ideas

  • to complexes that could as easily be reached by other means.

  • This new thought was a turning-point in the development of my psychology.

  • It meant that I gradually gave up following associations that led far away from the text of a dream.

  • I chose to concentrate rather on the associations to the dream itself

  • believing that the latter expressed something specific that the unconscious was trying to say.

  • The change in my attitude toward dreams involved a change of method;

  • the new technique was one of that I could take account of all the various wider aspects of a dream.

  • A story told by the conscious mind has a beginning, a development, and an end

  • but the same is not true of a dream.

  • Its dimensions in time and space are quite different.

  • To understand it you must examine it from every aspect

  • just as you may take an unknown object in your hands and turn it over and over

  • until you are familiar with every detail of its shape.

  • Perhaps I have now said enough to show how I came increasingly to disagree withfreeassociation

  • as Freud first employed it:

  • I wanted to keep as close as possible to the dream itself

  • and to exclude all the irrelevant ideas and associations that it might evoke.

  • True, these could lead one toward the complexes of a patient

  • but I had a more far-reaching purpose in mind than the discovery of complexes

  • that cause neurotic disturbances.

  • There are many other means by which these can be identified:

  • The psychologist, for instance, can get all the hints he needs by using word-association tests

  • (by asking the patient what he associates to a given set of words, and by studying his responses).

  • But to know and understand the psychic life-process of an individual’s whole personality

  • it is important to realize that his dreams and their symbolic images have a much more important role to play.

  • Almost everyone knows, for example, that there is an enormous variety of images

  • by which the sexual act can be symbolized

  • (or, one might say, represented in the form of an allegory).

  • Each of these images can lead, by a process of association, to the idea of sexual intercourse

  • and to specific complexes that any individual may have about his own sexual attitudes.

  • But one could just as well unearth such complexes by day-dreaming on a set of indecipherable Russian letters.

  • I was thus led to the assumption that a dream can contain some message other than the sexual allegory

  • and that it does so for definite reasons.

  • To illustrate this point:

  • A man may dream of inserting a key in a lock, of wielding a heavy stick

  • or of breaking down a door with a battering ram.

  • Each of these can be regarded as a sexual allegory. But the fact that his unconscious

  • for its own purposes has chosen one of these specific images

  • -it may be the key, the stick, or the battering ram-

  • is also of major significance.

  • The real task is to understand why the key has been preferred to the stick, or the stick to the ram.

  • And sometimes this might even lead one to discover that it is not the sexual act at all that is represented

  • but some quite different psychological point.

  • From this line of reasoning, I concluded that only the material that is clearly and visibly part of a dream

  • should be used in interpreting it.

  • The dream has its own limitation.

  • Its specific form itself tells us what belongs to it and what leads away from it.

  • Whilefreeassociation lures one away from that material in a kind of zigzag line

  • the method I evolved is more like a circumambulation whose center is the dream picture.

  • I work all around the dream picture and disregard every attempt that the dreamer makes to break away from it.

  • Time and time again, in my professional work, I have had to repeat the words:

  • Let’s get back to your dream. What does the dream say?”

  • For instance, a patient of mine dreamed of a drunken and disheveled vulgar woman.

  • In the dream, it seemed that this woman was his wife, though in real life his wife was totally different.

  • On the surface, therefore, the dream was shockingly untrue

  • and the patient immediately rejected it as dream nonsense.

  • If I, as his doctor, had let him start a process of association

  • he would inevitably have tried to get as far away as possible from the unpleasant suggestion of his dream.

  • In that case, he would have ended with one of his staple complexes

  • -a complex, possibly, that had nothing to do with his wife-

  • and we should have learned nothing about the special meaning of his particular dream.

  • What then, was his unconscious trying to convey by such and obviously untrue statement?

  • Clearly it somehow expressed the idea of a degenerate female

  • who was closely connected with the dreamer’s life:

  • but since the projection of this image on to his wife was unjustified and factually untrue

  • I had to look elsewhere before I found out what this repulsive image represented.

  • In the Middle Ages, long before the physiologists demonstrated that by reason of our glandular structure

  • there both male and female elements in all of us

  • it was said thatevery man carries a woman within himself.”

  • It is this female element in every male that I have called theanima.”

  • Thisfeminineaspect is essentially a certain inferior kind of relatedness to the surroundings

  • and particularly to women, which is kept carefully concealed from others as well as from oneself.

  • In other words, though an individual’s visible personality may seem quite normal

  • he may well be concealing from others -or even from himself-

  • the deplorable condition ofthe woman within.”

  • That was the case with this particular patient:

  • His female side was not nice.

  • His dream was actually saying to him:

  • You are in some respects behaving like a degenerate femaleand thus gave him an appropriate shock.

  • An example of this kind, of course

  • must not be taken as evidence that the unconscious is concerned withmoralinjunctions.

  • The dream was not telling the patient tobehave better

  • but was simply trying to balance the lopsided nature of his conscious mind

  • which was maintaining the fiction that he was a perfect gentleman throughout.

  • It is easy to understand why dreamers tend to ignore and even deny the message of their dreams.

  • Consciousness naturally resists anything unconscious and unknown.

  • I have already pointed out the existence among primitive peoples of what anthropologists callmisoneism

  • a deep and superstitious fear of novelty.

  • The primitives manifest all the reactions of the wild animal against untoward events.

  • Butcivilizedman reacts to new ideas in much the same way

  • erecting psychological barriers to protect himself from the shock of facing something new.

  • This can easily be observed in any individual’s reaction to his own dreams

  • when obliged to admit a surprising thought.

  • Many pioneers in philosophy, science and even literature have been victims

  • of the innate conservatism of their contemporaries.

  • Psychology is one of the youngest of the sciences,

  • because it attempts to deal with the working of the unconscious

  • it has inevitably encountered misoneism in an extreme form.

Sigmund Freud was the pioneer who first tried to explore empirically

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B1 US unconscious association freud patient conscious sexual

The importance of dreams (Carl Jung) [Part II]

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    Yi-Kang Ou Yang posted on 2015/06/02
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