Dreams Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other staff.


I read a book once by Carl Jung called The Undiscovered Self and got really interested in my dreams. I've been thinking of getting help with learning his way of interpreting dreams. Is the dreamwork of Carl Jung the same as the Jungians?


Good question! You've raised a very interesting issue about the difference between Jung and Jungians. Jung once said he would be very unhappy having to be a Jungian. But most Jungians are happy to be Jungians and probably feel they are doing dreamwork with their clients or analysands as Jung indicated.

The paradox here is that Jungian Analysis is supposed to lead to individuation, with means that each person has to find his or her own unique path. The upshot of this is that each Jungian you go to will have similar ideas and approaches but will do dreamwork in their own way.

Now the issue is further confused in that Jungian thought has influenced humanistic psychology and the human potential movement which moves the practice of many psychological techniques out of the therapist's office and into the hands of those who strive for self improvement & awareness on their own. Thus many people now claim to be Jungian, and its usually unclear just exactly what they mean by this. Dream work within the therapeutic container or relationship can be very different than work in other venues, even with the same techniques.

I subscribe to the inoculation theory of learning. Get exposed to as many viewpoints as possible. A good starting point is to read Andrew Samuel's Jung and the Post-Jungians (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985). This book spells out the differences within the various Jungian schools or branches, not only about dreams, but other topics as well. To contact a Jungian Institute for classes, programs or analysis, see the List in the Dream Library.

Since you mentioned The Undiscovered Self, I'd like to end with a quote which I feel is Jung's most profound statement about dream work: "It goes without saying that (the dream interpreter) should hold no preconceived opinions based upon a particular theory, but stand ready in every single case to construct a totally new theory of dreams."
C. G. Jung


Richard Wilkerson is general editor for The Internet Dream E-zine, Electric Dreams, and director of DreamGate, the Internet Communications and Dream Education Center. He writes the Cyberphile column for the Association for the Study of Dreams Newsletter.


Please help support our SelfhelpMagazine mission
so that we may continue serving you.
Choose your
support amount here: