Collected Papers on Analytical Psychology/Chapter 7
Psychoanalysis is not only scientific, but also technical in character; and from results technical in their nature, has been developed a new psychological science which might be called “analytical psychology.”
Psychologists and doctors in general are by no means conversant with this particular branch of psychology, owing to the fact that its technical foundations are as yet comparatively unknown to them. Reason for this may be found in that the new method is exquisitely psychological, and therefore belongs neither to the realm of medicine nor to that of experimental psychology. The medical man has, as a rule, but little knowledge of psychology; and the psychologist has no medical knowledge. There is therefore a lack of suitable soil in which to plant the spirit of this new method. Furthermore, the method itself appears to many persons so arbitrary that they cannot reconcile it with their scientific conscience. The conceptions of Freud, the founder of this method, laid particular stress upon the sexual moment; this fact has aroused strong prejudice, and many scientific men are repelled merely by this feeling. I need hardly remark that such an antipathy is not a logical ground for rejecting a new method. The facts being so, it is obvious that the psychoanalyst should discuss the principles rather than the results of his method, when he speaks in public; for he who does not acknowledge the scientific character of the method cannot acknowledge the scientific character of its results.
Before I enter into the principles of the psychoanalytic method, I must mention two common prejudices against it. The first of these is that psychoanalysis is nothing but a somewhat deep and complicated form of anamnesis. Now it is well known that the anamnesis is based upon the evidence supplied by the patient’s family, and upon his own conscious self-knowledge, revealed in reply to direct questions. The psychoanalyst naturally develops his anamnesic data as carefully as any other specialist; but this is merely the patient’s history, and must not be confused with analysis. Analysis is the reduction of an actual conscious content of a so-called accidental nature, into its psychological determinants. This process has nothing to do with the anamnesic reconstruction of the history of the illness.
The second prejudice, which is based, as a rule, upon a superficial knowledge of psychoanalytic literature, is that psychoanalysis is a method of suggestion, by which a faith or doctrine of living is imposed upon the patient, thereby effecting a cure in the manner of mental healing or Christian Science. Many analysts, especially those who have worked in psychoanalysis for a long time, previously used therapeutic suggestion, and are therefore familiar with its workings. They know that the psychoanalyst’s method of working is diametrically opposed to that of the hypnotist. In direct contrast with therapeutic suggestion, the psychoanalyst does not attempt to force anything upon his patient which the latter does not see himself, and find reasonable with his own understanding. Faced with the constant desire on the part of the neurotic patient to receive suggestions and advice, the analyst just as constantly endeavours to lead him away from this passive receptive attitude, and make him use his common sense and powers of criticism, that equipped with these he may become fitted to meet the problems of life independently. We have often been accused of forcing interpretations upon patients, interpretations that were frequently quite arbitrary in character. I wish that one of these critics would make the attempt to force such arbitrary interpretations upon my patients, who are often persons of great intelligence and high culture, and who are, indeed, not infrequently my own colleagues. The impossibility of such an undertaking would soon be laid bare. In psychoanalysis we are dependent upon the patient and his judgment, for the reason that the very nature of analysis consists in leading him to a knowledge of his own self. The principles of psychoanalysis are so entirely different from those of therapeutic suggestion that they are not comparable.
An attempt has also been made to compare analysis with the reasoning method of Dubois, which is in itself a rational process. This comparison does not however hold good, for the psychoanalyst strictly avoids argument and persuasion with his patients. He must naturally listen to and take note of the conscious problems and conflicts of his patient, but not for the purpose of fulfilling his desire to obtain advice or direction with regard to his conduct. The problems of a neurotic patient cannot be solved by advice and conscious argument. I do not doubt that good advice at the right time can produce good results; but I do not know whence one can obtain the belief that the psychoanalyst can always give the right advice at the right time. The neurotic conflict is frequently, indeed as a rule, of such a character that advice cannot possibly be given. Furthermore, it is well known that the patient only desires authoritative advice in order that he may cast aside the burden of responsibility, referring himself and others to the opinion of the higher authority.
In direct contrast to all previous methods, psychoanalysis endeavours to overcome the disorders of the neurotic psyche through the sub-conscious, not through the conscious self. In this work we naturally have need of the patient’s conscious content, for his sub-consciousness can only be reached viâ the conscious. The material furnished by the anamnesis is the source from which our work starts. The detailed recital usually furnishes many valuable clues which make the psychogenic origin of the symptoms clear to the patient. This work is naturally only necessary where the patient is convinced that his neurosis is organic in its origin. But even in those cases where the patient is convinced from the very first of the psychic nature of his illness, a critical survey of the history is very advantageous, since it discloses to him a psychological concatenation of ideas of which he was unaware. In this manner those problems which need special discussion are frequently brought to the surface. Work of this kind may occupy many sittings. Finally the explanation of the conscious material reaches an end, in so far as neither the patient nor the doctor can add anything to it that is decisive in character. Under the most favourable circumstances the end comes with the formulation of the problem, which proves itself to be impossible of solution. Let us take, for instance, the case of a man who was once well, but who became a neurotic between the age of 35 and 40. His position in life is assured, and he has a wife and children. Parallel with his neurosis he developed an intense resistance towards his professional work. He observed that the first symptoms of neurosis became noticeable when he had to overcome a certain difficulty in regard to it. Later on his symptoms became aggravated with each successive difficulty that arose. An amelioration in his neurosis occurred whenever fortune favoured him in his professional work. The problem that results from a critical discussion of the anamnesis is as follows:—
The patient is aware that if he could improve his work, the mere satisfaction that would result could bring about the much-desired improvement in his neurotic condition. He cannot, however, make his work more efficient because of his great resistance against it. This problem cannot be solved by any reasoning process.
Let us take another case. A woman of 40, the mother of four children, became neurotic four years ago after the death of one of her children. A new period of pregnancy, followed by the birth of another child, produced a great improvement in her condition. The patient now lived in the thought that it would be a great help to her if she could have yet another child. Believing, however, that this could not happen, she attempted to devote her energies to philanthropic interests. But she failed to obtain the least satisfaction from this work. She observed a distinct alleviation of her complaint whenever she succeeded in giving real, living interest to any matter, but she felt entirely incapable of discovering anything that could bring her lasting interest and satisfaction. It is clear that no process of reasoning can solve this problem.
Here psychoanalysis must begin with the endeavour to solve the problem as to what prevents the patient from developing interests above and beyond her longing for a child.
Since we cannot assume that we know from the very beginning what the solution of such problems is, we must at this point trust to the clues furnished us by the individuality of the patient. Neither conscious questioning nor rational advice can aid us in the discovery of these clues, for the causes which prevent us from finding them are hidden from her consciousness. There is, therefore, no clearly indicated path by which to reach these sub-conscious inhibitions. The only rule that psychoanalysis lays down for our guidance in this respect, is to let the patient speak of that which occurs to him at the moment. The analyst must observe carefully what the patient says, and in the first instance, take due note thereof without attempting to force his own opinions upon him. Thus we observe that the patient whom I first mentioned begins by talking about his marriage, which we hitherto had reason to regard as normal. We now learn that he constantly has difficulties with his wife, and that he does not understand her in the least. This knowledge causes the physician to remark that the patient’s professional work is clearly not his only problem; but that his conjugal relations are also in need of revision. This starts a train of thought in which many further ideas occur to the patient, concerning his married life. Hereupon follow ideas about the love affairs he had before his marriage. These experiences, related in detail, show that the patient was always somewhat peculiar in his more intimate relations with women, and that this peculiarity took the form of a certain childish egoism. This is a new and surprising point of view for him, and explains to him many of his misfortunes with women.
We cannot in every case get so far as this on the simple principle of letting the patient talk; few patients have their psychic material so much on the surface. Furthermore, many persons have a positive resistance against speaking freely about what occurs to them on the spur of the moment; it is often too painful to tell the doctor, whom perhaps they do not entirely trust; in other cases because apparently nothing occurs to them, they force themselves to speak of matters about which they are more or less indifferent. This habit of not talking to the point by no means proves that patients consciously conceal their unpleasant contents, for such irrelevant speaking can occur quite unconsciously. In such cases it sometimes helps the patient if he is told that he must not force himself, that he must only seize upon the very first thoughts that present themselves, no matter how unimportant or ridiculous they may seem. In certain cases even these instructions are of no use, and then the doctor is obliged to have recourse to other expedients. One of these is the employment of the association test, which usually gives excellent information as to the chief momentary tendencies of the individual.
A second expedient is dream analysis; this is the real instrument of psychoanalysis. We have already experienced so much opposition to dream analysis that a brief exposition of its principles is necessary. The interpretation of dreams, as well as the meaning given to them, is, as we know, in bad odour. It is not long since that oneirocritics were practised and believed in; nor is the time long past when even the most enlightened human beings were entirely under the ban of superstition. It is therefore comprehensible that our age should still retain a certain lively fear of those superstitions which have but recently been partially overcome. To this timidity in regard to superstition, the opposition to dream analysis is in a large measure due; but analysis is in no wise to blame for this. We do not select the dream as our object because we pay it the homage of superstitious admiration, but because it is a psychic product that is independent of the patient’s consciousness. We ask for the patient’s free thoughts, but he gives us little, or nothing; or at best something forced or irrelevant. Dreams are free thoughts, free phantasies, they are not forced, and they are psychic phenomena just as much as thoughts are.
It may be said of the dream that it enters into the consciousness as a complex structure, the connection between the elements of which is not conscious. Only by afterwards joining associations to the separate pictures of the dream, can the origin of these pictures, in certain recollections of the near and more remote past, be proved. One asks oneself: “Where have I seen or heard that?” And by the same process of free association comes the memory that one has actually experienced certain parts of the dream, some of them yesterday, some at an earlier date. This is well known, and every one will probably agree to it. Thus far the dream presents itself, as a rule, as an incomprehensible composition of certain elements which are not in the first instance conscious, but which are later recognised by the process of free association. This might be disputed on the ground that it is an a priori statement. I must remark, however, that this conception conforms to the only generally recognised working hypothesis as to the genesis of dreams, namely, the derivation of the dream from experiences and thoughts of the recent past. We are, therefore, upon known ground. Not that certain dream parts have under all circumstances been known to the individual, so that one might ascribe to them the character of being conscious; on the contrary, they are frequently, even generally, unrecognisable. Not until later do we remember having consciously experienced this or that dream part. We may therefore regard the dream from this point of view as a product that comes from a subconscious origin. The technical unfolding of these subconscious sources is a mode of procedure that has always been instinctively employed. One simply tries to remember whence the dream parts come. Upon this most simple principle the psychoanalytic method of solving dreams is based. It is a fact that certain dream parts are derived from our waking life and, indeed, from experiences which, owing to their notorious lack of importance, would frequently have been consigned to certain oblivion, and were therefore well on their way towards becoming definitely subconscious. Such dream parts are the results of subconscious representations (images).
The principles according to which psychoanalysis solves dreams are therefore exceedingly simple, and have really been known for a long time. The further procedure follows the same path logically and consistently. If one spends considerable time over a dream, which really never happens outside psychoanalysis, one can succeed in finding more and more recollections for the separate dream parts. It is, however, not always possible to discover recollections for certain other parts; and then one must leave them for the time being, whether one likes it or not. When I speak of “recollections” I naturally do not mean merely memories of certain concrete experiences, but also of their inter-related meanings. The collected recollections are known as the dream material. With this material one proceeds according to a scientific method that is universally valid. If one has any experimental material to work up, one compares its separate parts and arranges them according to their similarities. Exactly the same course is pursued in dealing with the dream material; one gathers together its common characteristics, whether these be formal or material. In doing this one must absolutely get rid of certain prejudices. I have always observed that the beginner expects to find some tendency or other according to which he endeavours to mould his material. I have noticed this particularly in the cases of colleagues who were previously more or less violent opponents of psychoanalysis, owing to their well-known prejudices and misunderstandings. When fate willed that I should analyse them, and they consequently gained at last an insight into the method of analysis, it was demonstrated that the first mistake which they had been apt to make in their own psychoanalytic practice was that they forced the material into accord with their own preconceived opinions; that is, they allowed their former attitude towards psychoanalysis, which they were not able to appreciate objectively, but only according to subjective phantasies, to have its influence upon their material. If one goes so far as to venture upon the task of examining the dream material, one must permit no comparison to frighten one away. The material consists, as a general rule, of very unequal images, from which it is under some circumstances most difficult to obtain the “tertium comparationis.” I must forego giving you detailed examples of this, since it is quite impossible to introduce such extensive material into a lecture.
One pursues, then, the same method in classifying the unconscious content, as is used everywhere in comparing materials for the purpose of drawing conclusions from them. One objection has often been made, namely: why should the dream have a subconscious content at all? This objection is unscientific in my opinion. Every psychological moment has its own history. Every sentence that I utter has, besides the meaning consciously intended by me, a meaning that is historical; and this last may be entirely different from the conscious meaning. I am purposely expressing myself somewhat paradoxically. I certainly should not take it upon myself to explain each sentence according to its individual-historical meaning. That is easier in the case of larger and more complex formations. Every one is certainly convinced of the fact that a poem—in addition to its manifest contents—is also particularly characteristic of its author, in its form, subject-matter, and the history of its origin. Whereas the poet gave skilful expression to a fleeting mood in his song, the historian of literature sees in it and beyond it, things which the poet would never have suspected. The analysis which the literary critic makes of the subject-matter furnished by the poet may be compared with psychoanalysis in its method, even to the very errors which occur therein. The psychoanalytic method may be aptly compared with historical analysis and synthesis. Let us assume, for instance, that we do not understand the meaning of the rite of baptism as it is practised in our churches to-day. The priest tells us that baptism means the reception of the child into the Christian community. But we are not satisfied with this. Why should the child be sprinkled with water, etc.? In order that we may understand this rite we must gather together materials for comparison from the history of the rite, that is, from the memories of mankind appertaining to it; and this must be done from various points of view.
Firstly—Baptism is clearly a rite of initiation, a consecration. Therefore those memories, above all, must be assembled which preserve the rites of initiation.
Secondly—The act of baptism is performed with water. This especial form of procedure proves the necessity of welding together another chain of memories concerning rites in which water was used.
Thirdly—The child is sprinkled with water when it is christened. In this case we must gather together all the forms of the rite, as where the neophyte is sprinkled, or where the child is submerged, etc.
Fourthly—We must recollect all the reminiscences in mythology and all the superstitious customs which are in any respect similar to the symbolic act of baptism.
In this manner we obtain a comparative study of the act of baptism. Thus we ascertain the elements from which baptism is derived; we further ascertain its original meaning, and at the same time make the acquaintance of a world rich in religious mythology, which makes clear to us all the multifarious and derived meanings of the act of baptism. Thus the analyst deals with the dream. He gathers together historical parallels for each dream part, even though they be very remote, and attempts to construct the psychological history of the dream and the meanings that underlie it. By this monographic elaboration of the dream one gains, exactly as in the analysis of the act of baptism, a deep insight into the wonderfully subtle and significant network of subconscious determinations; an insight which, as I have said, can only be compared with the historical understanding of an act that we used only to consider from a very one-sided and superficial point of view.
I cannot disguise the fact that in practice, especially at the beginning of an analysis, we do not in all cases make complete and ideal analyses of dreams, but that we more generally continue to gather together the dream associations until the problem which the patient hides from us becomes so clear that even he can recognize it. This problem is then subjected to conscious elaboration until it is cleared up as far as possible, and once again we stand before a question that cannot be answered.
You will now ask what course is to be pursued when the patient does not dream at all; I can assure you that hitherto all patients, even those who claimed never to have dreamed before, began to dream when they went through analysis. But on the other hand it frequently occurs that patients who began by dreaming vividly are suddenly no longer able to remember their dreams. The empirical and practical rule, which I have hitherto regarded as binding, is that the patient, if he does not dream, has sufficient conscious material, which he keeps back for certain reasons. A common reason is: “I am in the doctor’s hands and am quite willing to be treated by him. But the doctor must do the work, I shall remain passive in the matter.”
Sometimes the resistances are of a more serious character. For instance, persons who cannot admit certain morally grave sides to their characters, project their deficiencies upon the doctor by calmly presuming that he is more or less deficient morally, and that for this reason they cannot communicate certain unpleasant things to him. If, then, a patient does not dream from the beginning, or ceases to dream, he retains material which is susceptible of conscious elaboration. Here the personal relation between the doctor and his patient may be regarded as the chief hindrance. It can prevent them both, the doctor as well as the patient, from seeing the situation clearly. We must not forget that, as the doctor shows, and must show, a searching interest in the psychology of his patient, so, too, the patient, if he has an active mind, gains some familiarity with the psychology of the doctor, and assumes a corresponding attitude towards him. Thus the doctor is blind to the mental attitude of the patient to the exact extent that he does not see himself and his own subconscious problems. Therefore I maintain that a doctor must be analysed before he practises analysis. Otherwise the practice of analysis can easily be a great disappointment to him, because he can, under certain circumstances, reach a point where further progress is impossible, a situation which may make him lose his head. He is then readily inclined to assume that psychoanalysis is nonsense, so as to avoid the admission that he has run his vessel ashore. If you are sure of your own psychology you can confidently tell your patient that he does not dream because there is still conscious material to be disposed of. I say that one must be sure of one’s self in such cases, for the opinions and unsparing criticisms to which one sometimes has to submit, can be excessively disturbing to one who is unprepared to meet them. The immediate consequence of such a loss of personal balance on the part of the doctor is that he begins to argue with his patient, in order to maintain his influence over him; and this, of course, renders all further analysis impossible.
I have told you that, in the first instance, dreams need only be used as sources of material for analysis. At the beginning of an analysis it is not only unnecessary, but also unwise, to make a so-called complete interpretation of a dream; for it is very difficult indeed to make a complete and really exhaustive interpretation. The interpretations of dreams that one sometimes reads in psychoanalytic publications are often one-sided, and not infrequently contestable formulations. I include among these certain one-sided sexual reductions of the Viennese school. In view of the comprehensive many-sidedness of the dream material one must beware, above all, of one-sided formulations. The many-sidedness of the meaning of a dream, not its singleness of meaning, is of the utmost value, especially at the beginning of the psychoanalytic treatment. Thus, for instance, a patient had the following dream not long after her treatment had begun: “She was in a hotel in a strange city. Suddenly a fire broke out; and her husband and her father, who were with her, helped her in the work of saving others.” The patient was intelligent, extraordinarily sceptical, and absolutely convinced that dream analysis was nonsense. I had difficulty in inducing her to give dream analysis even one trial. Indeed, I saw at once that I could not inform my patient of the real content of the dream under these circumstances, because her resistances were much too great. I selected the fire, the most conspicuous occurrence of the dream, as the starting point for obtaining her free associations. The patient told me that she had recently read in a newspaper that a certain hotel in Z. had been burnt down; that she remembered the hotel because she had once lived in it. At the hotel she had made the acquaintance of a man, and from this acquaintance a somewhat questionable love affair developed. In connection with this story the fact came out that she had already had quite a number of similar adventures, all of which had a certain frivolous character. This important bit of past history was brought out by the first free association with a dream part. It would have been impossible in this case to make clear to the patient the very striking meaning of the dream. With her frivolous mental attitude, of which her scepticism was only a special instance, she could have calmly repelled any attempt of this kind. But after the frivolity of her mental attitude was recognised and proved to her, by the material that she herself had furnished, it was possible to analyse the dreams which followed much more thoroughly.
It is, therefore, advisable in the beginning to make use of dreams for the purpose of reaching the important subconscious material by means of the patient’s free associations in connection with them. This is the best and most cautious method, especially for those who are just beginning to practise analysis. An arbitrary translation of the dreams is absolutely unadvisable. That would be a superstitious practice based on the acceptance of well-established symbolic meanings. But there are no fixed symbolic meanings. There are certain symbols that recur frequently, but we are not able to get beyond general statements. For instance, it is quite incorrect to assume that the snake, when it appears in dreams, has a merely phallic meaning; just as incorrect as it is to deny that it may have a phallic meaning in some cases. Every symbol has more than one meaning. I can therefore not admit the correctness of exclusively sexual interpretations, such as appear in some psychoanalytic publications, for my experience has made me regard them as one-sided, and therefore insufficient. As an example of this I will tell you a very simple dream of a young patient of mine. It was as follows: “I was going up a flight of stairs with my mother and sister. When we reached the top I was told that my sister was soon to have a child.”
I shall now show you how, on the strength of the hitherto prevailing point of view, this dream may be translated so that it receives a sexual meaning. We know that the incest phantasy plays a prominent part in the life of a neurotic. Hence the picture “with my mother and sister” might be regarded as an allusion in this direction. The “stairs” have a sexual meaning that is supposedly well established; they represent the sexual act, because of the rhythmic climbing of steps. The child that my patient’s sister is expecting is nothing but the logical result of these premises. The dream, translated thus, would be a clear fulfilment of infantile desires, which as we know play an important part of Freud’s theory of dreams.
Now I have analysed this with the aid of the following process of reasoning: If I say that the stairs are a symbol for the sexual act, whence do I obtain the right to regard the mother, the sister, and the child as concrete; that is, as not symbolic? If, on the strength of the claim that dream pictures are symbolic, I give to certain of these pictures the value of symbols, what right have I to exempt certain other dream parts from this process? If, therefore, I attach symbolic value to the ascent of the stairs, I must also attach a symbolic value to the pictures that represent the mother, the sister, and the child. Therefore I did not translate the dream, but really analysed it. The result was surprising. I will give you the free associations with the separate dream parts, word for word, so that you can form your own opinions concerning the material. I should state in advance that the young man had finished his studies at the university a few months previously; that he found the choice of a profession too difficult to make; and that he thereupon became a neurotic. In consequence of this he gave up his work. His neurosis took, among other things, a decidedly homo-sexual form.
The patient’s associations with his mother are as follows: “I have not seen her for a long time, a very long time. I really ought to reproach myself for this. It is wrong of me to neglect her so.” “Mother,” then, stands here for something which is neglected in an inexcusable manner. I said to the patient: “What is that?” And he replied, with considerable embarrassment, “My work.”
With his sister he associated as follows: “It is years since I have seen her. I long to see her again. Whenever I think of her I recall the time when I took leave of her. I kissed her with real affection; and at that moment I understood for the first time what love for a woman can mean.” It is at once clear to the patient that his sister represents “love for woman.”
With the stairs he has this association: “Climbing upwards; getting to the top; making a success of life; being grown up; being great.” The child brings him the ideas: “New born; a revival; a regeneration; to become a new man.”
One only has to hear this material in order to understand at once that the patient’s dream is not so much the fulfilment of infantile desires, as it is the expression of biological duties which he has hitherto neglected because of his infantilism. Biological justice, which is inexorable, sometimes compels the human being to atone in his dreams for the duties which he has neglected in real life.
This dream is a typical example of the prospective and teleological function of dreams in general, a function that has been especially emphasised by my colleague Dr. Maeder. If we adhered to the one-sidedness of sexual interpretation, the real meaning of the dream would escape us. Sexuality in dreams is, in the first instance, a means of expression, and by no means always the meaning and the object of the dream. The unfolding of the prospective or teleological meaning of dreams is of particular importance as soon as analysis is so far advanced that the eyes of the patient are more easily turned upon the future, than upon his inner life and upon the past.
In connection with the application of symbolism, we can also learn from the example furnished us by this dream, that there can be no fixed and unalterable dream symbols, but at best a frequent repetition of fairly general meanings. So far as the so-called sexual meaning of dreams, in particular, is concerned, my experience has led me to lay down the following practical rules:
If dream analysis at the beginning of the treatment shows that the dream has an undoubted sexual meaning, this meaning is to be taken realistically; that is, it is proved thereby that the sexual problem itself must be subjected to a careful revision. If, for instance, an incest phantasy is clearly shown to be a latent content of the dream, one must subject the patient’s infantile relations towards his parents and his brothers and sisters, as well as his relations towards other persons who are fitted to play the part of his father or mother in his mind, to a careful examination on this basis. But if a dream that comes in a later stage of the analysis has, let us say, an incest phantasy as its essential content, a phantasy that we have reason to consider disposed of, concrete value must not be attached to it under all circumstances; it must be regarded as symbolic. In this case symbolic value, not concrete value, must be attached to the sexual phantasy. If we did not go beyond the concrete value in this case, we should keep reducing the patient to sexuality, and this would arrest the progress of the development of his personality. The patient’s salvation is not to be found by thrusting him back again into primitive sexuality; this would leave him on a low plane of civilisation whence he could never obtain freedom and complete restoration to health. Retrogression to a state of barbarism is no advantage at all for a civilised human being.
The above-mentioned formula, according to which the sexuality of a dream is a symbolic or analogous expression, naturally also holds good in the case of dreams occurring in the beginning of an analysis. But the practical reasons that have induced us not to take into consideration the symbolic value of this sexual phantasy, owe their existence to the fact that a genuine realistic value must be given to the abnormal sexual phantasies of a neurotic, in so far as the latter suffers himself to be influenced in his actions by these phantasies. Experience teaches us that these phantasies not only hinder him from adapting himself suitably to his situation, but that they also lead him to all manner of really sexual acts, and occasionally even to incest. Under these circumstances, it would be of little use to consider the symbolic content of the dream only; the concrete content must first be disposed of.
These arguments are based upon a different conception of the dream from that put forward by Freud; for, indeed, my experience has forced me to a different conception. According to Freud, the dream is in its essence a symbolic veil for repressed desires, which are in conflict with the ideals of the personality. I am obliged to regard the dream structure from a different point of view. The dream for me is, in the first instance, the subliminal picture of the psychological condition of the individual in his waking state. It presents a résumé of the subliminal association material which is brought together by the momentary psychological situation. The volitional meaning of the dream, which Freud calls the repressed desire, is, for me, essentially a means of expression. The activity of the consciousness, speaking biologically, represents the psychological effort which the individual makes in adapting himself to the conditions of life. His consciousness endeavours to adjust itself to the necessities of the moment, or, to put it differently: there are tasks ahead of the individual, which he must overcome. In many cases the solution is unknown; and for this reason the consciousness always tries to find the solution by the way of analogous experience. We always try to grasp what is unknown and in the future, according to our mental understanding of what has gone before. Now we have no reasons for assuming that the unconscious follows other laws than those which apply to conscious thought. The unconscious, like the conscious, gathers itself about the biological problems and endeavours to find solutions for these by analogy with what has gone before, just as much as the conscious does. Whenever we wish to assimilate something that is unknown, we arrive at it by a process of comparison. A simple example of this is the well-known fact that, when America was discovered by the Spaniards, the Indians took the horses of the conquerors, which were strange to them, for large pigs, because pigs were familiar to their experience. This is the mental process which we always employ in recognising unknown things; and this is the essential reason for the existence of symbolism. It is a process of comprehension by means of analogy. The apparently repressed desires, contained in the dream, are volitional tendencies which serve as language-material for subconscious expression. So far as this particular point is concerned, I am in full accord with the views of Adler, another member of Freud’s school. With reference to the fact that subconscious materials of expression are volitional elements, or tendencies, I may say that this is dependent upon the archaic nature of dream thinking, a problem with which I have already dealt in previous researches.
Owing to our different conception of the structure of the dream, the further course of analysis also gains a different complexion from that which it had until now. The symbolic valuation given to sexual phantasies in the later stages of analysis necessarily leads less to the reduction of the patient’s personality into primitive tendencies, than to the extension and further development of his mental attitude; that is, it tends to make his thinking richer and deeper, thus giving him what has always been one of the most powerful weapons that a human being can have in his struggle to adapt himself to life. By following this new course logically, I have come to the conclusion that these religious and philosophical motive forces—the so-called metaphysical needs of the human being—must receive positive consideration at the hands of the analyst. Though he must not destroy the motive forces that underlie them, by reducing them to their primitive, sexual roots, he must make them serve biological ends as psychologically valuable factors. Thus these instincts assume once more those functions that have been theirs from time immemorial.
Just as primitive man was able, with the aid of religious and philosophical symbol, to free himself from his original state, so, too, the neurotic can shake off his illness in a similar way. It is hardly necessary for me to say, that I do not mean by this, that the belief in a religious or philosophical dogma should be thrust upon the patient; I mean simply that he has to reassume that psychological attitude which, in an earlier civilisation, was characterised by the living belief in a religious or philosophical dogma. But the religious-philosophical attitude does not necessarily correspond to the belief in a dogma. A dogma is a transitory intellectual formulation; it is the result of the religious-philosophical attitude, and is dependent upon time and circumstances. This attitude is itself an achievement of civilization; it is a function that is exceedingly valuable from a biological point of view, for it gives rise to the incentives that force human beings to do creative work for the benefit of a future age, and, if necessary, to sacrifice themselves for the welfare of the species.
Thus the human being attains the same sense of unity and totality, the same confidence, the same capacity for self-sacrifice in his conscious existence that belongs unconsciously and instinctively to wild animals. Every reduction, every digression from the course that has been laid down for the development of civilisation does nothing more than turn the human being into a crippled animal; it never makes a so-called natural man of him. My numerous successes and failures in the course of my analytic practice have convinced me of the invariable correctness of this psychological orientation. We do not help the neurotic patient by freeing him from the demand made by civilisation; we can only help him by inducing him to take an active part in the strenuous task of carrying on the development of civilisation. The suffering which he undergoes in performing this duty takes the place of his neurosis. But, whereas the neurosis and the complaints that accompany it are never followed by the delicious feeling of good work well done, of duty fearlessly performed, the suffering that comes from useful work, and from victory over real difficulties, brings with it those moments of peace and satisfaction which give the human being the priceless feeling that he has really lived his life.
- Reprinted from the Transactions of the Psycho-Medical Society, August 5th, 1913.
- See “Psychology of the Unconscious,” Jung.