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Man and his symbolic dreams

Have you ever considered the importance of dreams? Carl Jung did.

Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist who became the founder of analytical psychology. He had an unique and broadly influential approach towards understanding the psyche. Although he was both a theoretical psychologist and a practicing clinician, he spent a considerable time exploring other realms such as literature, arts and philosophy. Yes, Jung focused on balance and harmony, and advised everyone to integrate spirituality.

For the betterment of society, Jung discovered pioneering psychological concepts, and heavily influenced the Myers-Briggs type indicator tests. Yes, Jung had a deep influence on psychology, along with philosophy and the arts. In fact, Jung inspired much of Joseph Campbell's thoughts, alongside the New Age movement.

The birth of a dream
Jung was born in Kesswil on July 26, 1875. As a solitary introverted child, Jung felt his personality to be divided into a modern Swiss citizen and one belonging in the eighteenth century. At the same time, Jung was disappointed by his father's academic approach to faith. During adolescence, Jung read widely in philosophy and theology. As he grew up, Jung wanted to study archaeology, but his family was not wealthy enough. Instead, Jung studied medicine at the University of Basel from 1894 to 1900. In 1898, Jung wrote in his diary, “my situation is mirrored in my dreams.” These years became decisive for Jung's later development.

Jung later married Emma Rauschenbach. In addition, Jung was persuaded to become a psychiatric after reading Krafft-Ebbing. Hence, he worked at a psychiatric hospital in Zurich from 1900 to 1909. During 1906, Jung published “Studies in Word Association,” which enabled him to form a close relationship with Sigmund Freud. They first met in 1907 and talked for thirteen hours straight. In 1913 however, after the circulation of “The Psychology of the Unconscious,” Jung's and Freud's ideas diverged drastically. The disagreement was over Freud's idea of sexuality alone as the dominant factor in unconscious motivation.

The rift
The end of the father-son relationship with Freud had a profoundly disturbing effect on Jung. He had fantasies of mighty floods sweeping over northern Europe, which were prophetic visions of World War 1. After the actual war ended, Jung became a worldwide traveler, visiting places such as Northern Africa, New Mexico, Kenya and India, from 1920 to 1938.

The visits helped Jung to become fascinated with Eastern philosophies and religions. He concentrated on the integration of spirituality. As a result, Jung developed his own theories systematically under the name of Analytical psychology.

To Jung, our language is constantly full of symbols, implying something vague, unknown or hidden from us. As these symbols are explored, the mind can lead to ideas that lie beyond the grasp of reason. According to Jung, all religions employ such symbolic languages or images. Likewise, an individual too unites with symbols in the form of dreams.

Jung claimed that human beings can never perceive anything fully. Hence, there are certain events which mankind cannot consciously take note. These events appear in dreams, indicating the existence of an unconscious psyche. Jung thought our psyche is part of nature, and its enigma is limitless.

Jung's dream
However, Jung noticed that very often dreams have a definite, evidently purposeful structure, indicating an underlying intention. Though, as a rule, the latter is not immediately comprehensible. Nevertheless, there is something specific the unconscious tries to communicate. Jung believed that God speaks chiefly through dreams and visions. Hence, dreams can provide the most interesting information for those who take the trouble understanding their symbols.

Jung told everyone to observe that a dream can alter moods for the better or worse. Indeed, dreams are usually “comprehended” in subliminal way.

Even then, Jung pointed out that two different individuals may have almost exactly the same dream, yet their interpretations would be different. The reason is that the interpretation of dreams and symbols largely depend upon the dreamer's individual circumstances and his\her mind's conditions.

Surprisingly, Jung discovered that there are many dream symbols, which are not individual, but collective in their nature and origin. Elements often occur in a dream, that are not individual and that cannot be derived from the dreamer's personal experience. These are collective images of archetypes: representations that can vary in great detail without losing their basic pattern. The archetypes have their own initiative and their own specific energy.

Of myths and religions
Archetypes create myths, religions, and philosophies that influence and characterize whole nations and epochs of history. For example, there is the universal hero myth, which is a powerful man vanquishing evil and liberating from destruction and death. The Hero Archetype is described by Jung as a common myth of all cultures.

Another equally interesting Jungian archetype is the shadow. Jung claimed that the shadow is the part of ourselves which we don't acknowledge. Of course, this includes our darkest thoughts and behaviors. Whether the shadow becomes our friend or enemy largely depends upon our acceptance of it.

Often, another inner figure emerges, which has the opposite gender of the dreamer. Jung named this type of archetype either the anima or the animus. According to Jung, the anima is the unconscious feminine component of men and the animus is the unconscious masculine component in women.

The collective unconscious
So how did Jung locate the source of all these archetypes? Well, Jung found the answer through his concept of the collective unconscious. In a world were human beings are commonly thought of as self interested individuals, Jung pointed out that mankind carries a united, common psyche. Yes, common symbolic themes have been evident in art, dreams, religion, and in myths throughout mankind's history.

Once Jung had revealed the vital importance of the symbols produced by the unconscious, there still remained the difficult problem of interpretation. Indeed, what is the purpose of an individual's total dream life? For Jung, a complete dream life seemed to follow an arrangement or pattern. This is the “process of individuation.” According to Jung, gradually a wider and more mature personality arises, which is the “self”. This is the totality of the whole psyche, where an individual becomes intuitively aware his/her inner center. For such to happen, Jung emphasized the importance of the ego to convey an inner urge towards growth.

Truly, Jung believed that each of us has a unique task of self realization. Although many human problems are similar, they are never identical. Each person has to do something different, something that is uniquely his\her own. Thanks to Jung, there exists a sense of wider meaning to one's being which can raise mankind beyond mere getting and spending.

In 1933, Jung became nominated as president of the General Medical Society of Psychotherapy. Furthermore, Jung had five children until Emma's death in 1955. Yet, Jung continued to publish books until the end of his life. Jung died in 1961 in Zurich, Switzerland.

His last recorded words were, “let's have a really good red wine tonight.”

By Mashrur Rahman


Book review

The Lexus and the Olive Tree

Thomas E. Friedman, the author of the book, claims to have the best job in the world. Well… I really can't deny that. He can visit whichever country he wants, any time he wants and live in luxury while meeting with famous people and he doesn't have to pay for anything! He calls himself a tourist with an attitude. As the foreign affairs columnist of The New York Times, he has traveled to almost all four corners of the globe interviewing people from all walks of contemporary life. In his book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, he writes about what he has learned from all his travels on how the new world runs; in one word: Globalization.

The book is termed as one of the key books in understanding the complex issue of globalization in a very simple way as the author guides you with imageries throughout the entire book. Thomas E. Friedman points out that all the struggles in the world can be summarized into two categories: the drive for development and prosperity, symbolized by the Lexus, and the desire to retain ones identity and traditions, symbolized by the Olive tree, and thus the name of the book, which frankly if you ask me I find very queer. He argues that Globalization is not just a passing phenomenon or just a passing trend, but instead it is a new international system that has taken over the Cold War system.

The author describes the Cold War system from 1945 to 1995 as a system of walls and states and a chessboard, with US and the Soviet Union playing the game, whereas Globalization as a system where all the walls have been broken and the entire world is connected in a web and there is no longer a chessboard, where anyone who knows how to play can enter the game. The author also argues that there is no longer any developed or developing countries, but instead, slow or fast countries where the ones who can keep up, wins.

Globalization is the integration of capital, technology, and information across national borders, in a way that is creating a single global market and, to some degree, a global village. The book describes how the Cold War system gave birth to Globalization and how it evolved over time and why some companies and countries quickly rose up, and some quickly fell. In simple words, if you like staying up-to-date about how the world is being run and understanding about the political and economics struggles between countries, this is just the book for you. It is a very practical book, fun to read and in time will make you fall asleep. But you are bound to wake up understanding a lot more about the things that are continuously happening around you, and a heated feeling to start debating about them.

By Adnan M. S. Fakir


 

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