梦的特质 2

梦的特质 2
The Nature of Dreams

Carl Jung

The dream is a fragment of involuntary psychic activity,
just conscious enough to be reproducible in the waking state. Of
all psychic phenomena the dream presents perhaps the largest
number of “irrational” factors.


It seems to possess a minimum of
that logical coherence and that hierarchy of values shown by the
other contents of consciousness, and is therefore less transparent
and understandable. Dreams that form logically, morally, or
aesthetically satisfying wholes are exceptional.


Usually a dream is
a strange and disconcerting product distinguished by many “bad
qualities,” such as lack of logic, questionable morality, uncouth
form, and apparent absurdity or nonsense. People are therefore
only too glad to dismiss it as stupid, meaningless, and worthless.


Every interpretation of a dream is a psychological
statement about certain of its contents.


This is not without
danger, as the dreamer, like most people, usually displays an
astonishing sensitiveness to critical remarks, not only if they are
wrong, but even more if they are right.


Since it is not possible,
except under very special conditions, to work out the meaning
of a dream without the collaboration of the dreamer, an
extraordinary amount of tact is required not to violate his self respect


For instance, what is one to say when a
patient tells a number of indecent dreams and then asks:
“Why should I have such disgusting dreams?”


To this sort of
question it is better to give no answer, since an answer is
difficult for several reasons, especially for the beginner, and
one is very apt under such circumstances to say something
clumsy, above all when one thinks one knows what the answer


It is so difficult to understand a dream that for a long time I
have made it a rule, when someone tells me a dream and asks
for my opinion, to say first of all to myself: “I have no idea
what this dream means.” After that I can begin to examine the


Here the reader will certainly ask: “Is it worth while in
any individual case to look for the meaning of a dream—
supposing that dreams have any meaning at all and that this
meaning can be proved?”


It is easy to prove that an animal is a vertebrate by
laying bare the spine. But how does one proceed to lay bare
the inner, meaningful structure of a dream? Apparently the
dream follows no clearly determined patterns or regular modes
of behavior, apart from well-known “typical” dreams, such as


Anxiety dreams are not unusual but they are by
no means the rule. Also there are typical dream-motifs known
to the layman, such as of flying, climbing stairs or mountains,
going about with insufficient clothing, losing your teeth,
crowds of people, hotels, railway stations, trains, airplanes,
automobiles, frightening animals (snakes), etc. These motifs
are very common but by no means sufficient to confirm the
existence of any regularity in the structure of a dream.


Some people have recurrent dreams. This happens
particularly in youth, but the recurrence may continue over
several decades. These are often very impressive dreams which
convince one that they “must surely have a meaning.”


This feeling is justified in so far as one cannot, even taking the most
cautious view, avoid the assumption that a definite psychic
situation does arise from time to time which causes the dream.


But a “psychic situation” is something that, if it can be
formulated, is identical with a definite meaning—provided, of
course, that one does not stubbornly hold to the hypothesis
(certainly not proven) that all dreams can be traced back to
stomach trouble or sleeping on one’s back or the like. Such
dreams do indeed suggest that their contents have a causal
meaning. The same is true of so-called typical motifs which
repeat themselves frequently in longer series of dreams. Here
again it is hard to escape the impression that they mean


But how do we arrive at a plausible meaning and how
can we confirm the rightness of the interpretation? One
method—which, however, is not scientific—would be to predict
future happenings from the dreams by means of a dream-book
and to verify the interpretation by subsequent events assuming
of course that the meaning of dreams lies in their anticipation of
the future.


Another way to get at the meaning of the dream directly
might be to turn to the past and reconstruct former experiences
from the occurrence of certain motifs in the dreams. While this
is possible to a limited extent, it would have a decisive value only
if we could discover in this way something which, though it had
actually taken place, had remained unconscious to the dreamer
or at any rate something he would not like to divulge under any


If neither is the case, then we are dealing simply
with memory-images whose appearance in the dream is (a) not
denied by anyone, and (b) completely irrelevant so far as a
meaningful dream function is concerned, since the dreamer
could just as well have supplied the information consciously.
This unfortunately exhausts the possible ways of proving the
meaning of a dream directly.


It is Freud’s great achievement to have put dream interpretation
on the right track. Above all, he recognized that
no interpretation can be undertaken without the dreamer. The
words composing a dream narrative have not just one meaning,
but many meanings.


If, for instance, someone dreams of a table
we are still far from knowing what the “table” of the dreamer
signifies, although the word “table” sounds unambiguous
enough. For the thing we do not know is that this “table” is the
very one at which his father sat when he refused the dreamer all
further financial help and threw him out of the house as a good for-


The polished surface of this table stares at him as a
symbol of his catastrophic worthlessness in his daytime
consciousness as well as in his dreams at night. This is what our
dreamer understands by “table.”


Therefore we need the
dreamer’s help in order to limit the multiple meanings of the
words to those that are essential and convincing. That the “table”
stands as a mortifying landmark in the dreamer’s life may be
doubted by anyone who was not present. But the dreamer does
not doubt it, nor do I. Clearly, dream-interpretation is in the
first place an experience which has immediate validity for only
two persons.



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