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Carl Jung and The Meaning of Dreams

Updated on November 28, 2011

Dreams. How do they impact us in the waking world? Do we see them as the projections of our thought preoccupation, anxieties and deepest wishes? Indeed, our dreams are a mix manifestation of familiar situations, symbolical representation of our fears/desires and the peek into the messages our subconscious is sharing with our consciousness.

Whenever I remember my dreams, I always try to think of the meaning they are conveying to me. I try to focus on the running theme of my dreams and the symbolism behind the major source of feeling it evokes. In most cases, I am able to get the bottom of what my dreams are telling me and am able to acknowledge the root of my emotions in the waking consciousness.

Carl Jung was a psychoanalyst that was a forerunner in proposing that dreams are the expressions of the subconscious state. In his “Modern Man in Search of a Soul,” Jung attributes dreams as powerful tools in shaping how we should approach our conscious decisions: “…every dream is a source of information and a means of self-regulation, and why dreams are our most effective aids in the task of building up the personality.”

In order to have recollection of our dreams, it is advisable to have paper and a pen next to the bed and write down all dream details as one awakens. The reoccurring theme symbolism should immediately ring a bell in the message the subconscious is sending. Certain pronounced objects in the dream may represent objects of fear or desire, and their symbolism can be interpreted by referencing dream interpretation guides or a dream dictionary. I often use the following source (dream dictionary) for my vivid dream interpretation:

Human beings are complex beings. Our neuroses arise as we contemplate how our actions measure up to our goals. Jung states that psychic life of a civilized man is full of problems and that “it is the growth of consciousness which we must thank for the existence of problems; they are the dubious gift of civilization.” Depending on the goals, we are usually filled with uncertainties, regrets, unforeseen realizations or other critiques that often gnaw at our desire to succeed in our endeavors. Jung seems to generalize human neuroses according to generations. He views general neuroses in younger generations to arise out of hesitations and shrinking back from the necessities of life due to fear of life. In older generations, neuroses usually spring from the contraction of forces and affirmation of what has been achieved as the acknowledgement of death seems more urgent.

Our dreams confront these insights and ask us to reexamine a situation or area in life that deserves more attention. Yes, some dreams may not seem to make sense and certain actions in them may not point to parallel experiences in waking life, but the observation of certain running themes in consecutive dreams may indeed uncover important symbolism behind them.

I feel it is very important for us to face our feelings, express them, and spend some quality time on our own to get to know our evoloving selves (we are never the same and constantly change/evolve, so knowing "yourself" is not possible, but, instead, getting to know what you feel/what you think/how you see the world at one point should be the appropriate aim of our self-reflection). From personal observation, I truly believe that dependency is very damaging for our emotional maturity and personal growth. Hiding from repressed feelings and insecurities will seem an easy way out, but, I think, will have more potent repercussions on our life down the line. As the sages of the East tell us, the answers do not come externally but internally and the sooner we confront, adapt, understand and confront the necessary growth, we will lead our lives on an autopilot and seek external objects as a means of fulfillment. I do believe the power of the saying “whatever you can do today, do not leave for tomorrow.” By taking in life as it comes, we have to confront that the only constant is change and not fight the difficulties and emotional upheavals that come with it by hiding under the “comfortable”.

Dreams are the signposts of our mind, and we should really take a moment, listen and try to understand what they are telling us about ourselves and the world around us as we perceive it.


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    • AnesaK profile image

      AnesaK 4 years ago from USA

      Dear Man from Modesto,

      Thank you very much for this comment! I feel more of a Jung amateur than an expert like yourself :), so I do appreciate the kind words. I am very, very interested in Eastern writings about the nature of reality myself, and really didn't know that Jung was a follower of Eastern mysticism. Now that I know his progressive insights into human nature have been influenced by Eastern mysticism, I really do have more respect for his views and his contributions. Best, A

    • Man from Modesto profile image

      Man from Modesto 4 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California)

      Another great site for dream interpretation is

      I studied Jung almost 2 decades ago, when I was a psych student at UPenn. Jung himself stated that he did not so much compile and define what he saw in dreaming as he simply translated a book of eastern mysticism into the terms of western science. By reformatting it, he gained acceptance.

      His major shortcoming is one shared in most systems of dream interpretation. In addition to dreams of the mind, there are also dreams from God, and dreams from the devil. When one does not understand the information, guidance, or instruction in a dream might be from an evil source with intent to deceive, one is open for all sorts of trouble with dreams.

      Voted up hub!

    • AnesaK profile image

      AnesaK 5 years ago from USA

      EyesStraightAhead, I feel like that's what everyone should do! Great job in taking control of your life by understanding your inner world better. You seem like such an evolved soul :).

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image

      Shell Vera 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Nice hub. I am a fan of Jung's work and avid believer in keeping a pen and my journal next to the bed so I can write down my dreams. Some could become best selling novels one day and others are so confusing I am still trying to determine what they meant, but all help me understand more about myself and what I must confront, improve, and get over.

    • AnesaK profile image

      AnesaK 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks, JIMBO9; I will check out the dreambible, for sure!

    • profile image

      JIMBO9 5 years ago

      Another cool dream dictionary is

    • AnesaK profile image

      AnesaK 6 years ago from USA

      Thanks for the feedback!

    • joejagodensky profile image

      joejagodensky 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Greatly underestimated but a wonderful contributor to understanding human development and spirituality. Thanks for this Hub. Here's my take

    • kesinee profile image

      Sranunta Lamduan 6 years ago from Bangkok, Thailand

      Good hub!!