Man and His Symbols

Man and His Symbols

by Carl Jung

Illustrated throughout with revealing images, this is the first and only work in which the world-famous Swiss psychologist explains to the layperson his enormously influential theory of symbolism as revealed in dreams.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Psychology
  • Rating: 4.19
  • Pages: 432
  • Publish Date: August 15th 1968 by Dell
  • Isbn10: 0440351839
  • Isbn13: 9780440351832

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And, unlike most other psychologists, Jung did not shy away from unexplained phenomena and the so-called "paranormal". His theory provides insights into "unexplained" phenomena and is the only major psychological theory that includes the paranormal in a way that doesn't dismiss it as nonsense.

I started reading this book a while ago now before I started Uni this year and one of the things that made me continue with it was the idea of what I would call metaphorical illnesses. Ive had more reading than I can keep up with and more work to do than can be done both of which I guess are good predictors of stress and yet the thing that has surprised me is that I havent been grinding my teeth at all this year (trust me, I would know if I had been). This had been one of those little facts about life that had fallen into the isnt that odd category until I read this book and learned of Jungs metaphorical illnesses. There are lots of stories in this book and these stories are joined with lots of explanations of what certain symbols mean but one of the things that Ive learnt in life is that people love to hear good explanations of what something vague and obscure MEANS. I think we find it quite appealing to believe that people are more or less like books, in that they have plots and themes and characters and that we can somehow become the perfect book reviewer with peoples dreams and lives and thereby judge and explain people in much the same way we might judge and explain The Da Vinci Code. Repeatedly during this book we are told that symbols mean different things depending on the meaning they acquire within the context of the dream and the life in which they appear. All of these are problems that are not helped by the fact that it is highly questionable if there is any such thing as a sub-conscious in the first place. Unfortunately, as much as I enjoyed some of the interpretations described in this book, I was left feeling very uncomfortable by the idea that people were being reduced to characters in books. And while I understand (possibly all too well) the power our narratives have in framing our lives, I also understand that like all truly great books there simply are more than one reading that is both satisfying and meaningful to any cluster of symbols.

All my life, I have been fascinated by symbols and their near-universality: the weird way they recur in dreams and the way they keep on popping up in mythologies.

The central concept of analytical psychology is individuationthe psychological process of integrating the opposites, including the conscious with the unconscious, while still maintaining their relative autonomy. Jung created some of the best known psychological concepts, including the archetype, the collective unconscious, the complex, and synchronicity.