Carl Jung man and his symbol quotes

30 Powerful Quotes from Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung

Last Updated on January 29, 2024 by The Unbounded Thinker

In his book, ‘Man and His Symbols,’ Carl Jung explains why we dream and examines the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind. Carl Jung also reveals the importance of the primitive perception of life, and how rationalism has eradicated our spiritual values.  

Carl Jung’s book is amazing for individuals who want to know more about dreams. I became obsessed with analyzing my dreams after reading the book and surprisingly, I realized that Carl Jung’s ideas on dreams are right.

I gathered the following nuggets of wisdom from Carl Jung. Enjoy:

  1. ‘Man, as we realize if we reflect for a moment, never perceives anything fully or comprehends anything completely. He can see, hear, touch, and taste; but how far he sees, how well he hears, what his touch tells him, and what he tastes depend upon the number and quality of his senses.’
  2. ‘Whoever denies the existence of the unconscious is in act assuming that our present knowledge of the psyche is total.’
  3. ‘Freud made the simple but penetrating observation that if a dreamer is encouraged to go on talking about his dream images and the thoughts that these prompt in his mind, he will give himself away and reveal the unconscious background of his ailments, in both what he says and what he deliberately omits saying.’
  4. ‘It occurred to me that it might reasonably follow that dreams have some special and more significant function of their own.’
  5. ‘Only the material that is clearly and visibly part of a dream should be used in interpreting it.’
  6. ‘The two fundamental points in dealing with dreams are these: first, the dream should be treated as a fact, about which one must make no previous assumption except that it somehow makes sense; and second, the dream is a specific expression of the unconscious.’
  7. ‘Part of the unconscious mind consists of a multitude of temporarily obscured thoughts, impressions, and images that, in spite of being lost, continue to influence our conscious minds.
  8. ‘I have found again and again in my professional work that the images and ideas that dreams contain cannot possibly be explained solely in terms of memory. They express new thoughts that have never yet reached the threshold of consciousness.’
  9. ‘In our daily experience we need to state things as accurately as possible, and we have learned to discard the trimmings of fantasy both in our language and in our thoughts thus losing a quality that is still characteristic of the primitive mind.’
  10. ‘We are so accustomed to the apparently rational nature of our world that we can scarcely imagine anything happening that cannot be explained by commonsense.’
  11. ‘Many dreams present images and associations that are analogous to primitive ideas, myths, and rites.’
  12. ‘The general function of dreams is to try to restore our psychological balance by producing dream material that reestablishes, in a subtle way, the total psychic equilibrium.’
  13. ‘Dreams may sometimes announce certain situations long before they actually happen.’
  14. ‘One cannot be naïve in dealing with dreams. They originate in a spirit that is not quite human, but is rather a breath of nature – a spirit of the beautiful and generous as well as of the cruel goddess.’
  15. ‘Dream symbols are the essential message carriers from the instinctive to the rational parts of the human mind, and their interpretation enriches the poverty of consciousness so that it learns to understand again the forgotten language of the instincts.’
  16. ‘It is plain foolishness to believe in ready-made systematic guides to dream interpretation as if one could simply buy a reference book and look up a particular symbol.’
  17. ‘But if we are to see things in their right perspective, we need to understand the past of man as well as the present. That is why an understanding of myths and symbols is of essential importance.’
  18. ‘The overall function of dreams seems to be to compensate for deficiencies or distortions in the conscious mind.’
  19. ‘Certain dreams, visions, or thoughts can suddenly appear; however carefully one investigates, one cannot find out what causes them. This does not mean that they have no cause; they certainly have. But it is so remote or obscure that one cannot see what it is.  In such a case, one must wait either until the dream and its meaning are sufficiently understood, or until some external event occurs that will explain the dream.’
  20. ‘A man likes to believe that he is the master of his soul. But as long as he is unable to control his moods and emotions, or to be conscious of the myriad secret ways in which unconscious factors insinuate themselves into his arrangements and decisions, he is certainly not his own master.’
  21. ‘Since we are dealing with invisible and unknowable things (for God is beyond human understanding, and there is no means or proving immortality), why should we bother about evidence.’
  22. ‘A sense of a wider meaning to one’s existence is what raises a man beyond mere getting and spending. If he lacks this sense, he is lost and miserable.’
  23. ‘The interpretation of dreams and symbols demands intelligence. It cannot be turned into a mechanical system and then crammed into unimaginative brains.’
  24. ‘Nothing is more vulnerable than scientific theory, which is an ephemeral attempt to explain facts and not an everlasting truth in itself.’
  25. ‘Modern man has freed himself from superstition, but in the process has lost his spiritual values to a positively dangerous degree.’
  26. ‘We have stripped all things of their mystery and numinosity, nothing is holy any longer.’
  27. Archaeologists have often described what happens to a primitive society when its spiritual values are exposed to the impact of modern civilization. Its people lose the meaning of their lives, their social organization disintegrates, and they themselves morally decay.’
  28. ‘Man feels isolated in the cosmos because he is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional ‘unconscious’ identity with natural phenomena.’
  29. ‘Man today is painfully aware of the fact that neither his great religions nor his philosophies seem to provide him with those powerful animating ideas he needs in face of the present condition of the world.’
  30. ‘We are so captivated by and entangled in our subjective consciousness that we have forgotten the age-old fact that God speaks chiefly through dreams and visions.’

I believe you learned something valuable from Carl Jung’s amazing book.


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    • Welcome Julie, I also love how he analyses dreams. At first, I was uninterested in his work, but after realizing that dreams are meaningful, I committed to studying his work and i started with Man and His Symbols. The book is awesome