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The meanings of dreams for CG Jung

Hello friends!

As many of you already know, we study Jung’s Complete Works on our Jung Course website. Before entering psychology school, I was already interested in the work of this important Swiss psychologist. And it was with great joy that I acquired a recently published book entitled: Seminars on Children’s Dreams, by Editora Vozes. In this text, I will comment with you about the text: “About the Dream Interpretation method”, about 4 types of dreams and 5 origins for their contents.

To think that dreams have meaning is a bold thesis. In antiquity, many people thought that the dream had meaning and some special subjects, like prophets or priests, had the ability to transcribe the message in an understandable language. With the emergence of modern science, our Western culture has increasingly devalued this thesis. The dream turned into a banality, an absurdity, something without logic and meaninglessness.

Only with the work of Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, dreams regained importance in the knowledge that each subject has of himself. Yet many, many people continue to believe that dreams are meaningless.

For Jung, “The dream is, as you know, a natural phenomenon. It is not the result of an intention. We cannot explain it from a psychology that comes from conscience. It is a specific mode of operation that does not depend on the will and desire, intention or purpose of the Human Self. It is an unintentional event, like all events in nature” (JUNG, 2011, p. 16)

Certain people also dismiss the relevance of dreams because they say that they cannot remember what they dream and even doubt that they are dreaming. The truth, scientifically proven, is that we all dream. We just can’t remember all the dreams or we can and, throughout the day, we forget, with the continuity of conscious activity.

Jung, throughout his career, found 4 types of meanings for dreams:

Despite being long, the quotation below is essential for us to understand his conception of dream life:

1) The dream represents the unconscious reaction to a conscious situation. A certain conscious situation is followed by a reaction from the unconscious in the form of a dream, bringing contents that – in a complementary or compensatory way – clearly point to an impression that was obtained during the day. It is evident that the dream would never have formed in the absence of a certain impression obtained the previous day.

2) The dream represents a situation that is the result of a conflict between conscious and unconscious. In this case, there is no conscious situation that can, to a greater or lesser extent, be held responsible for it, rather, we are dealing here with a certain spontaneity of the unconscious. The unconscious adds to a given conscious situation another situation, which differs from the conscious situation in such a way that a conflict is formed between the two.

3) The dream represents the tendency of the unconscious whose objective is a change of conscious attitude. In this case, the opposite position assumed by the unconscious is stronger than the conscious position: the dream represents a slope that originates in the unconscious and goes towards consciousness. These are especially significant dreams. They can completely transform someone who assumes a certain attitude.

4) The dream represents unconscious processes that no evidence a relationship with the conscious situation. Dreams of this kind are very peculiar and, owing to their strange character, cannot easily be interpreted. The dreamer wonders so much for dreaming something like this, for not even a conditional relationship can be established. It is a spontaneous product of the unconscious that bears all activity and is highly significant. They are imposing dreams. Dreams that primitive people call “big dreams”. They are of an oracular nature, “somnia a deo missa” (dreams sent by God). They are experienced as enlightenment (JUNG, 2011, p. 18).

Therefore, we can speak of 4 types of dreams, according to the conscious and unconscious relationship. The first dream indicates a typically conscious type of dream, of an event or situation from the previous day. The second comes from a conflict between the conscious position and the unconscious position. The third means a way in which certain unconscious contents interfere with consciousness in order to modify it. And, in turn, the fourth are the rare dreams – called “big dreams” – and which serve as guidance for an entire phase of the personality. These include childhood dreams and life-changing dreams.

5 possibilities of origin of dreams

1) Somatic origin: events that occur inside the body and can give rise to contents in dream activity.

2) External events: such as noise, cold or heat, lighting that can be unconsciously perceived and affect the context of the dream.

3) Psychic events: events that may occur externally and that affect – albeit in an unknown way – the message of the dream. Jung cites two examples. From a child who dreamed that angels were taking his brother and when he woke up, the brother was dead. And the second, in which a child dreams that his mother wants to kill herself and, waking up with a start, finds his mother about to commit suicide.

4) Past events: memories can also serve as a source for what we dream, both close and remote events.

5) Future events: events that have not yet happened, but which are foreseen and appear in dreams. I remember here a colleague from my postgraduate course who dreamed that a co-worker was handing her a key to a yellow VW Beetle. She wrote down the dream and totally forgot. 2 years later she bought this Beetle. This is a simple example, but it describes a possibility for the emergence of dreams that is not infrequent, sometimes with greater symbolism.


In this text, I describe only a few excerpts from the book Seminar on Children’s Dreams, from Jung. It’s a big book, about 700 pages. Unlike some of the author’s theoretical works, this is a simpler book to read, precisely because it is a Seminar and has oral language. I highly recommend the purchase!

And it will also be a pleasure if we meet at the Jung Course

Questions and comments are always welcome!

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