(The Axeman Cometh?)
The conscious mind allows itself to be trained like a parrot, but the unconscious does not—which is why St. Augustine thanked God for not making him responsible for his dreams.
It is on the basis of theory, for instance, that I expect dreams to have a meaning.
I cannot prove in every case that this is so, for there are dreams which the doctor and the patient simply do not understand.
The Practical use of Dream Analysis (1936)
The dream is often occupied with apparently very silly details, thus producing an impression of absurdity, or else it is on the surface so unintelligible as to leave us thoroughly bewildered.
Hence we always have to overcome a certain resistance before we can seriously set about disentangling the intricate web through patient work.
But when at last we penetrate to its real meaning, we find ourselves deep in the dreamer’s secrets and discover with astonishment that an apparently quite senseless dream is in the highest degree significant, and that in reality it speaks only of important and serious matters.
This discovery compels rather more respect for the so-called superstition that dreams have a meaning, to which the rationalistic temper of our age has hitherto given short shrift.
In CW 16: The Practice of Psychotherapy. pg. 125
The evolutionary stratification of the Psyche is more clearly discernible in the dream than in the conscious mind.
In the dream, the psyche speaks in images, and gives expression to instincts, which derive from the most primitive levels of nature.
Therefore, through the assimilation of unconscious contents, the momentary life of consciousness can once more be brought into harmony with the law of nature from which it all too easily departs, and the patient can be led back to the natural law of his own being.
The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man (1933)
Dream psychology opens the way to a general comparative psychology from which we may hope to gain the same understanding of the development and structure of the human psyche as comparative anatomy has given us concerning the human body.
The dream shows the inner truth and reality of the patient as it really is: not as I conjecture it to be, and not as he would like it to be, but as it is.
The dream is specifically the utterance of the unconscious. just as the psyche has a diurnal side which we call consciousness, so also it has a nocturnal side: the unconscious psychic activity which we apprehend as dreamlike fantasy.
The primitives I observed in East Africa took it for granted that “big” dreams are dreamed only by “big” men -medicine-men, magicians, chiefs, etc. This may be true on a primitive level. But with us these dreams are dreamed also by simple people, more particularly when they have got themselves, mentally or spiritually, in a fix.
Dreams are often anticipatory and would lose their specific meaning on a purely causalistic view. They afford unmistakable information about the analytical situation, the correct understanding of which is of the greatest therapeutic importance.
The real difficulty begins -when the dreams do not point to anything tangible, and this they do often enough, especially when they hold anticipations of the future. I do not mean that such dreams are necessarily prophetic, merely that they feel the way, they “reconnoitre.” These dreams contain inklings of possibilities and for that reason can never be made plausible to an outsider.