Elephant and the blind men

Final remarks

    Jung, in the foreword to his ETH Childhood Dream seminar put it this way: "What we have to know when someone dreams of an elephant, is not what I as the analyst think about elephants, but rather what it is connected with for the person who had the dream. Perhaps he was at the zoo in the evening before he had the dream, another was in a wilderness and had an experience with an elephant, a third was told by his wife: You are a bold elephant, and so on. For each, the elephant means something else. You must ask carefully about what happened the day before. When this contextual information is being collected, one must see that the person whose dream is being interpreted does not make free associations, but rather keeps to the dream image. Because the dream image is not something random - else we must indeed say: in nature is everything random, a chaos; there is no explanation. We must assume that dreams exist within a regulated world, thus there is a certain causality, not just pure arbitrariness. There exist certain reasons why the dream is just as it is and not different. When you investigate the individual imaginations of the dream precisely in terms of the context, you'll discover that certain contents - though by far not in all dreams - are of an archetypal nature. ...

    "The final act consists in the interpretation: one drafts a hypothesis concerning the possible meaning of the dream. This formulation must be suggestive. You must place the expressions you have found into the dream text with other words, formulating the dream once again, but this time with the expressions that were found; then you come to the meaning of the dream." (Jung 1976, pp. 8 - 9) (my translation).

    Mary Louise von Franz, in the Fraser Boa film interview which was later published as a book, put it this way: "The dream symbolism in our experience is very much more individual. You need the individual associations. What's important is always what the symbol means to the dreamer and what the dreamer has experienced with it. You can sometimes be inspired by looking at one of these modern dictionaries to see what all the possibilities are - the possible meanings of the snake, or the possible meanings of the peacock - but you have to return to the dream and ask, 'What does it mean to the dreamer?' and that is always much more specific." (Boa, 1988, p. 52).

    Boa F: The Way of the Dream. Toronto: Windrose Films Ltd., 1988.
    Jung CG: Kindertraumseminar: Winter 1940 - 41. Zürich: Schippert & Co., 1976.

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