Dream Analysis Seminar 1928-1930

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In early November 1928 Jung embarked on a series of seminars that took place once a week, with seasonal breaks for about a month.

The group met in the rooms of the ivy-clad, turreted Zurich Psychological Club, a mansion bought by Edith Rockefeller McCormick for the Club’s use.

No tuition was paid, and all members had been analysed by Jung, or were analysts in Zurich.

The seminars were part of what was to turn into a series of themed meetings. They ended in October 1930, but Jung opened another English language based series, Interpretation of Visions, the first part of which I’ve already written about.

I have to say that in my opinion these seminars benefit from the fact that RFC Hull only managed to edit half of this Dream Analysis seminar; the rest is thanks to the light touch of William McGuire. Gone are the over-bearing footnotes that so dominate Hull’s Collected Works; gone too the faux-intellectualism of his comments.

Instead there’s a clear exposition of the dream and vision sequence of a formerly successful businessman, a chap in his mid 40s.

It truly is extraordinary how much Jung extracts from the dreams of one man: the volume runs to over 700 pages. And his journey is from clear, rational thinking of the professional man, to the opening up of his personality.

As the treatment proceeds (dream number 15) the patient has a dream about a cherry tree:

I am standing under a cherry tree looking at the ripe, very big red cherries. I say to myself ‘it is worthwhile. Then I see that my children are collecting the immmature fruits that have fallen off the tree, in a little basket. I say to them: ‘These cherries do not belong to us and they are not ripe.’ I throw them again under the tree on the ground. I notice a little girl of about two years among the children. She says: ‘I too havea cherry tree of which I am very proud. She wants to show it to me, and leads me through the bushes to a quite young tree, and she speaks with the same intonation that my wife has in her voice when she speaks to little children.[p247, Routledge 1984]

In this dream is contained the seeds if you’ll pardon the pun, for so much of what subsequently develops. There’s a powerful sequence in which Jung amplifies a few elements to his audience.

First of all, the idea of the cherries that are not ripe is that of the old ways, the old parts of the patient that are dying as he changes – you have to cast off some things that die for new things to grow.

Then there’s something really new about the dream. So far all of them have been about his work in cotton trading. But here “the unconscious has shifted the scenery and insists on an entirely new aspect”, says Jung [p248].

Now in this dream he is confronted with a new problem, the growth of a tree, in which he has never been interested because he can buy the fruit in the market. But it is as though he could not buy the beauty of a tree full of fruit. He says: ‘it is worthwhile’.

This is the start of the development of the man away from his purely rational self, to recognising a larger world.

And the journey takes him through his anima as well, which here is immature, shown as a two-year-old girl that needs development. This is at the heart of the problems with his wife, who won’t have sex with him, we see largely because of his mechanistic, rational attitude to sex and non-developed relation to his female side, and therefore to women.

Ultimately, we arrive at something I’ve never seen Jung write about before. On page 606 he talks about arriving at a state of understanding where all four functions – sensation, thinking, intuition and feeling – are conscious. Like four mirrors, you reflect on each of the previous ones so that you can see what you are doing and how you are behaving.

As long as man has but one function, he is just aware that he can do something, but he is always up against an overwhelming psychological condition, the three in the unconscious. Then he acquires a second function and becomes mroe complete. The third function makes a second mirror. He can say: ‘I see this fellow here who is watching that chap down there, and I see how he thinks [watching the thinking function] and that he makes the wrong conclusion. With a fourth function there would be still more consciousness [p608]

And so you have a kind of complete reflection, where you take back all projections. This though, is a kind of deeath, certainly more of an Eastern “non-doing [or wu wei]…for instance the American concept of efficiency would surely be rather injured by the wu wei principle…but the American efficiency is far more destructive than the Eastern lack of it [p621]”

Which brings us back to his original issue with a mindset obsessed with efficiency, unable to live the fuller life of emotion and beauty. And as an expression of Jung’s keeness that we recognise the interior life, rather than just passing exteriors, it is unsurpassed.

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