The Nature of Dreams

Carl Jung

4 • CARL JUNG On the Nature of Dreams • 5
Medical psychology differs from all other scientific
disciplines in that it has to deal with the most
complex problems without being able to rely on
tested rules of procedure, on a series of verifiable experiments
and logically explicable facts.


On the contrary, it is confronted
with a mass of shifting irrational happenings, for the psyche is
perhaps the most baffling and unapproachable phenomenon
with which the scientific mind has ever had to deal.


we must assume that all psychic phenomena are somehow, in the
broadest sense, causally dependent, it is advisable to remember
at this point that causality is in the last analysis no more than a
statistical truth.

虽然我们必须假设,所有的心灵的现象,广义地说,因果关系是互相依靠的。我们此时最好记住: 因果律追根究底仅是统计的真理。

Therefore we should perhaps do well in certain
cases to make allowance for absolute irrationality even if, on
heuristic grounds, we approach each particular case by inquiring
into its causality. Even then, it is advisable to bear in mind at
least one of the classical distinctions, namely that between causa
efficiens and causa finalis.


In psychological matters, the question
“Why does it happen?” is not necessarily more productive of
results than the other question “To what purpose does it happen?”


Among the many puzzles of medical psychology there is
one problem child, the dream.


It would be an interesting, as well
as difficult, task to examine the dream exclusively in its medical
aspects, that is, with regard to the diagnosis and prognosis of
pathological conditions.


The dream does in fact concern itself
with both health and sickness, and since, by virtue of its source
in the unconscious, it draws upon a wealth of subliminal
perceptions, it can sometimes produce things that are very well
worth knowing.


This has often proven helpful to me in cases
where the differential diagnosis between organic and
psychogenic symptoms presented difficulties. For prognosis, too,
certain dreams are important. In this field, however, the
necessary preliminary studies, such as careful records of case
histories and the like, are still lacking.


Doctors with
psychological training do not as yet make a practice of recording
dreams systematically, so as to preserve material which would
have a bearing on a subsequent outbreak of severe illness or a
lethal issue—in other words, on events which could not be
foreseen at the beginning of the record.


The investigation of
dreams in general is a lifework in itself, and their detailed study
requires the cooperation of many workers. I have therefore
preferred, in this short review, to deal with the fundamental
aspects of dream psychology and interpretation in such a way
that those who have no experience in this field can at least get
some idea of the problem and the method of inquiry.


Anyone who is familiar with the material will probably agree with me
that a knowledge of fundamentals is more important than an
accumulation of case histories, which still cannot make up for
lack of experience.



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