Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist who then became a psychoanalyst. C G Jung and Sigmund Freud’s (1856-1939) initial collaboration was supportive but fundamental differences led them to go their separate ways.
C G Jung’s struggles following this split are well documented. He stayed close to his suffering, exploring and documenting his inner world. He studied his dreams and visions and their images. He trusted the unconscious and the messages he received which were difficult to understand. He took this endeavour seriously and supported it by using a process known as active imagination. He found that the unconscious was about more than repressed personal experiences as maintained by Freud. He discovered (in dreams, behaviour patterns and complexes) impersonal, archetypal or collective forces. He researched into fairy tales, world mythology, religion, history, culture, science and the teachings of ancient alchemy.
The life that Jung had lived prior to his ‘confrontation with the unconscious’ was over. He acted on his discoveries, courageously following his own path. His personal experiences were backed up by what he discovered in his extensive work with others. A distilling of his learning is the root of his creative psychological theory called Analytical Psychology.
Jungian Analysis gives a place to how our ‘past’ history affects us and to present daily surface life. Yet, it does not reduce everything that happens to ‘cause and effect’. It, importantly, gives a future or prospective understanding of what is happening. It asks what we are unconsciously trying to work out through our difficulties, what might be the meaning of our suffering, our depression, conflicts, our symptoms and moods. The emphasis is on the messages we receive from the unconscious as a guide when we are lost, alone and fearful. The spirit of the unconscious guides the way; we then root what we experience in the world to help restore inner balance and as a healing source of direction. We listen to the language of the unconscious, to the psyche, to what needs to be heard, taken seriously and lived.
It is not always easy to understand what we have to hear and it takes time. C G Jung believed the drive of the unconscious part of our nature is toward wholeness. He saw an inborn healing process in the individual, which needed to be understood. He saw that inner balance could be restored when consciousness dares to be in dialogue with the unconscious.
Dreams were once considered to be the voice of the gods and were held in utmost respect. A big dream was considered for the welfare of all. Dreams were used to give guidance.
Writing down and working on our own dreams is one of the ways that we can listen to the messages that our unconscious is trying to tell us. A dream may be a reaction to a situation or highlight a conflict. A dream rarely tells us what we already know and dreams, particularly our own dreams, are not easy to understand. Our consciousness generally wants to interpret a dream based on what we know and hope for. However, the unconscious often guides us in ways consciousness might never conceive but then consciousness is then able to make decisions in this. Dreams are gifts to be reflected on.
Memories, Dreams, Reflections: C. G. Jung with Aniela Jaffe
Way of the Dream: Marie Louise von Franz