By November 15, 2012 1 Comments Read More →

Dreams and Their Symbols Open Window Into the Psyche

Anna Hunt, Contributing Writer
Waking Times

“The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.”Carl Jung, The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man

During recent years, dreams have been subjected to empirical research and scientific study to help researchers get insight into emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety. Much of this study has been based on the work of Carl Jung, a well-respected psychologist and psychiatrist, who believed that dreams are filled with symbols that stem from the unconscious, giving us a glimpse into the mind.

Dr. Lance Storm, a visiting research fellow with the University of Adelaide‘s School of Psychology in Australia, recently published a new study in the International Journal of Jungian Studies, which suggests that analyzing archetypal symbols in dreams can provide insight into mental health problems and aid in their treatment.

“[Jung] described the most common archetypal images as the Hero, in pursuit of goals; the Shadow, often classed as negative aspects of personality; the Anima, representing an element of femininity in the male; the Animus, representing masculinity in the female; the Wise Old Man; and the Great Mother,” Storm continues. “There are many hundreds of other images and symbols that arise in dreams, many of which have meanings associated with them – such as the image of a beating heart (meaning ‘charity’), or the ouroboros, which is a snake eating its own tail (‘eternity’). There are symbols associated with fear, or virility, a sense of power, the need for salvation, and so on.” – (source)

Dr. Storm’s research claims that a common set of archetypal symbols and their related meanings can be objectively validated, instead of randomly and individually interpreting them. Jung believed, these symbols allow a glimpse into the brain’s “unconscious code.” Storm argues that this code can be decrypted and employed in clinical treatment for conditions such as depression. Yet, Jung himself warned about the esoteric nature of dreams:

“It is plain foolishness to believe in ready-made systematic guides to dream interpretation. No dream symbol can be separated from the individual who dreams it, and there is no definite or straightforward interpretation of any dream.”Man and His Symbols

Jung’s efforts to help people overcome mental conflict and enable them to naturally cultivate personal growth led him to develop the process of Individuation.

“By observing a great many people (at least 80,000 dreams) Jung found that not only were all dreams relevant . . . but, they seem to follow an arrangement or pattern. This process Jung called ‘the process of individuation.’”

“The process of individuation is real only if the individual is aware of it and consciously makes a living connection with it.”Man and His Symbols

The complexity of the human mind and its capacity of self-perception, self-reflection and consciousness development continues to baffle neuroscientists. Learning to interpret dreams and their symbols is perhaps another step towards understanding both the physical brain and the totality of the Psyche.

About the Author

Anna Hunt is a writer and entrepreneur  with over a decade of experience in research and editorial writing. She and her husband run a preparedness e-store outlet at, offering GMO-free storable food and emergency kits. Anna is also a certified Hatha yoga instructor. She enjoys raising her children and being a voice for optimal human health and wellness. Read more of her excellent articles here.

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  • Great article; however, the source that is quoted doesn’t have it quite right.

    ” the Shadow, often classed as negative aspects of personality”

    Yes, it’s true that it is often classed as negative aspects, but this is erroneous if you read Jung himself. The true meaning is that those things we have repressed throughout our life are contained in the shadow. If you were criticized by your art teacher in 3rd grade and suppress the feelings of shame, it ends up in your Shadow. Jung felt that the Shadow is where you found the gold and often in middle-age, we uncover and recoupe various aspects of our personality. This is why many people seem to “suddenly” become artists or take up an all-engrossing hobby. The Shadow is nothing to be feared and while it does contain some “negative” aspects of personality, it also contains the hidden gold, which can be worked with and brought to the surface.
    I was a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist for 15 years and I studied under a Jungian and have studied Jung’s works.

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