Sharing my learnings from the book, Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung
Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung
Man and His Symbols owes its existence to one of Jung’s own dreams. The great psychologist dreamed that his work was understood by a wide public, rather than just by psychiatrists, and therefore he agreed to write and edit this fascinating book. Here, Jung examines the full world of the unconscious, whose language he believed to be the symbols constantly revealed in dreams. Convinced that dreams offer practical advice, sent from the unconscious to the conscious self, Jung felt that self-understanding would lead to a full and productive life. Thus, the reader will gain new insights into himself from this thoughtful volume, which also illustrates symbols throughout history. Completed just before his death by Jung and his associates, it is clearly addressed to the general reader.
- For our ancestors, symbols were a part of everyday life. But to day, we largely ignore them – consciously, at least. The psychiatrist Carl Jung believed that, unconsciously, our minds still speak the language of symbols – primarily in the realm of dreams. According to Jung, dreams contain messages, advice, and even warnings. Our rational minds can interpret these and apply them to our waking lives.
- Our conscious minds use language to think about and express ideas. Our unconscious minds, on the other hand, employ pictures and symbols. And the symbols chosen by the mind are highly individual.
- Dreams can provide helpful advice and warnings. Dream analysis can help us reconcile the two warring parts of the psyche: conscious and unconscious.
- Archetypes are symbolic representations of ideas and concepts of great significance to the human experience. Their details often vary greatly across cultures, but their central motifs remain the same. Archetypes, belong to humankind collectively.
- The archetypal pattern of the hero myth is embedded deep in each of our psyches – and it’s often expressed symbolically in our dreams. Our minds show us the hero myth at different stages of our lives to help us develop maturity and individuality. The mentor figures, for instance, represent parts of the psyche that can help us grow. And when the hero dies, that usually means we’ve succeeded in becoming mature individuals. At that point, we achieve what Jung calls ego-consciousness – an understanding of our own selfhood that indicates we’re ready for the next stage of life.
- If you started to interpret your dreams consciously and change your attitude or behaviors accordingly, you’d see the patterns shift in subtle ways. This process of identifying patterns in your unconscious mind and altering your conscious actions in response to them is what Jung called individuation. Through individuation, we can counter our negative character traits, unlock new creative talents, and come to terms with our personal struggles.
- When the Self takes a particular shape within a dream, that shape conveys a message. The wise old man or woman, for instance, can provide guidance, assisting the dreamer’s ego in overcoming its destructive characteristics. A youthful representation of the Self, on the other hand, can help to revitalize the dreamer, helping her see new possibilities and adventures in life. The Self can also appear in another significant shape: that of a gigantic, omnipresent being that both embraces and contains the entire universe. This figure is called the Cosmic Man. When the Cosmic Man appears in a person’s dreams, he often presents a creative solution to the dreamer’s struggles. But following his advice is not always easy or agreeable.
- Artists reveal in their work the spirit of an age. The time in which they live influences – consciously or unconsciously – the symbols that appear in their creations. Today, our art gives voice to the disordered state of our unconscious minds and the existential anxiety that grips this era of human history.
- Dream symbols must be carefully analyzed. By listening carefully to our unconscious, we can possibly achieve maturing and achieving true autonomy.