Man and His Symbols

Man and His Symbols

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....

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Title:Man and His Symbols
Author:C.G. Jung
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Edition Language:English

Man and His Symbols Reviews

  • Owen Spencer

    My university professors never introduced me to Carl Jung. I understand why, I guess, but it's a shame that I didn't read Jung's work until now. Jungian psychology is amazing. It addresses the unconscious and the "self"/"psyche" in a unique and enlightening way. 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

    My university professors never introduced me to Carl Jung. I understand why, I guess, but it's a shame that I didn't read Jung's work until now. Jungian psychology is amazing. It addresses the unconscious and the "self"/"psyche" in a unique and enlightening way. 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 can't recommend this book highly enough. I strongly encourage whoever is reading this sentence to purchase a copy of Man and His Symbols immediately. You won't regret it. It's one of the best books I've ever read. I plan to read the rest of Jung's writings now.

  • Nandakishore Varma

    This is one of the three books which influenced my literary and mythical outlook (

    and

    being the other two). 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. I have also been fascinated by journeys in literature, myth and movies.

    Jung tied it all together for me, in this collection of essa

    This is one of the three books which influenced my literary and mythical outlook (

    and

    being the other two). 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. I have also been fascinated by journeys in literature, myth and movies.

    Jung tied it all together for me, in this collection of essays which is very much accessible to the layman. Especially interesting are the third chapter on the process of individuation and the final one, the case history of one man's dream analysis.

    Well worth reading.

  • Ali

    اگر تعبیر خواب و رویای فروید را خوانده اید، از "انسان و سمبول هایش" لذت مشابهی خواهید برد. با این همه کتاب سوم در این زمینه "زبان از یاد رفته" از اریش فروم است که به اندازه ی هر دوی اینها جالب و خواندنی ست. این هر سه کتاب روند نگاه به رویا را در طی سه دهه نشان می دهند، از فروید که عناصر رویا را در ارثیه ی روحی و روانی و جنسی شخص از روزگار رشدش می داند، تا یونگ که ریشه های رویا را در گذشته ی اساطیری و آیینی انسان می بیند و بالاخره اریش فروم که به مخلوطی از این دو اشاره می کند، و جهان رویا را از گ

    اگر تعبیر خواب و رویای فروید را خوانده اید، از "انسان و سمبول هایش" لذت مشابهی خواهید برد. با این همه کتاب سوم در این زمینه "زبان از یاد رفته" از اریش فروم است که به اندازه ی هر دوی اینها جالب و خواندنی ست. این هر سه کتاب روند نگاه به رویا را در طی سه دهه نشان می دهند، از فروید که عناصر رویا را در ارثیه ی روحی و روانی و جنسی شخص از روزگار رشدش می داند، تا یونگ که ریشه های رویا را در گذشته ی اساطیری و آیینی انسان می بیند و بالاخره اریش فروم که به مخلوطی از این دو اشاره می کند، و جهان رویا را از گذشته ی اساطیری و خاطرات ازلی انسان تا وقایع همین امروز دور و برش، می گستراند. شگفت زده می مانید که هنگام استراحت جسمی، مغز انسان این چنین در زمان و مکان، می چرخد و سیر می کند و در رویایی کوتاه، آسمان و زمین را بهم می دوزد.

  • Trevor

    I have a strange love / hate relationship with Jung. There are so many things about him that I find utterly fascinating and then others that I think are just crazy. I would rather think one thing or the other, but since he was obsessed with dualities, perhaps he would be happy with my conflicting and opposite feelings towards him.

    There are things about his ideas that I find incredibly appealing. A personal story might help make that clear. I started reading this book a while ago now – before I s

    I have a strange love / hate relationship with Jung. There are so many things about him that I find utterly fascinating and then others that I think are just crazy. I would rather think one thing or the other, but since he was obsessed with dualities, perhaps he would be happy with my conflicting and opposite feelings towards him.

    There are things about his ideas that I find incredibly appealing. A personal story might help make that clear. 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’. I’ve forgotten what Jung called them, but since my name is better than his could possibly be (no matter what it was) we will go with that. The idea is that sometimes in life you have an ‘illness’ which has symptoms which mirror the psychological conditions you are suffering from. You may not be able to walk, for example, but this has little to do with your legs, but much to do with how you feel trapped in a particular relationship in which you feel you can’t escape from, even though on a deep level you know escaping would be the right thing to do. So, it is as if your mind has said, ‘if you can’t walk away from this then don’t walk at all’.

    Now, I’m the first to tell you that I would find such metaphorical illnesses a bit over the top and hard to believe being possible in any but the most troubled and deeply psychotic – I mean, can you really ‘make yourself’ blind because your ‘unconscious mind’ is ‘trying to tell you something’? Does this really sound likely? Well, possibly not. But then again, last year I left an intolerable job, but while I was there I found I had developed terrible headaches, or at least, not headaches as such, but more a scorching pain across the top of my head. This, I found out, was caused by the clenching of my teeth in my sleep. This year has been incredibly busy and often quite stressful, in many ways as stressful as anything I put up with last year. I’ve 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 haven’t 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 ‘isn’t that odd’ category until I read this book and learned of Jung’s metaphorical illnesses. The whole time I was working at the union – at least for the last four or so years – I felt unable to say anything about the direction in which the union was heading. I think Jung would have had no trouble in diagnosing my night time teeth grinding. As someone ‘unable’ to talk during the day, the fact I kept my jaw clenched tight shut at night was clearly a sign from my sub-consciousness of my own self-imposed voicelessness.

    Of course, the things that are nice about that story are also the things that make we feel uncomfortable about Jung in general. It is all too neat. 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 I’ve learnt in life is that people love to hear good explanations of what something vague and obscure MEANS. If someone tells you their dream and in it there is a naked black man walking about the streets of Paris (as there is, for example, in one of the dreams described in the book) it might well be that the people in the country of the man having this dream do associate Paris with a certain kind of sexual liberation and relaxed mores and perhaps associate nudity with the ‘naked truth’ and even intend the black man in the dream to represent the inverse of the white man who is dreaming the dream – or it could all just be an example of homo-erotica – or it could be an example of lawlessness – or it could be that dreams in themselves aren’t actually all that meaningful.

    How could we ever really know?

    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 people’s dreams and lives and thereby judge and explain people in much the same way we might judge and explain The Da Vinci Code. The problem is that really no one is summed up by the face they present to the world – no, not even the dumb people – and no one is so shallow as to have dreams that have only one meaning and that the meaning a therapist helps you find. 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. And this is to the good, but also time and again we see the therapist tell the patient how to interpret a particular symbol (like the number four) in a single way from the therapist's ‘deep’ knowledge and understnding of how symbols ‘mean’. For Jung the number four is the number of completeness – I believe in Chinese it is the number for death, although this is not the kind of completeness Jung is talking of, I feel. I worry when people are reduced to texts that can be studied and interpreted and understood on the basis of a subtext that is not apparent to the character, but is clear and unambiguous to the reader.

    I guess it is inevitable that Jungian psychology might come about given the rise of literary criticism over the last couple of hundred years – for isn’t that as good a definition of Jungian psychology as any other? The search for the sub-textual meaning in the lives of people when read as texts. My problem is that it is very difficult to know if the ‘reading’ by the psychologist is a valid or accurate reading, if this reading does in fact really illuminate something essential in the life of the person being read and finally just how efficacious such a reading is in ‘treating’ someone’s neurosis. 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.

    To me, the idea of there being a hidden driver of our actions, one who can’t speak to us directly but who knows the truth of our situations and leaves before us Sybil like clues and riddles as answers to our deepest troubles seems remarkably unlikely. That this veiled women who lurks in the depths of our psyches can only speak to us in dreams and is invariably right about how we should live out lives seems a hypothesis that would be impossible to prove. Even if our sub-conscious did exist, how could we ever be certain that it only ever meant to offer us clues to help us live our lives? Why couldn't our sub-conscious be occasionally as destructive as our consciousness clearly often is. Like that wonderful story of Apollo who after being repeatedly asked by someone if they should invade a city finally says yes because it will mean they will be killed and hence finally shut up and not ask him stupid questions any more.

    The problem that needs answered first is whether or not the images thrown up in dreams are any more meaningful than those elicited from ink blots. And if not, how can we know if our interpretation of these symbols is any more than ‘an’ interpretation. 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. I would recommend hesitating when coming to conclusions based on the images thrown up at us from the sub-conscious – much more hesitation than we might expend in coming to conclusions on the sub-textual elements in a novel.

  • A.

    Ultimately, never forget what Jung himself admitted :

    "Psychology and Religion" (1938). In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P.8”

    Condensed 60 years of Jungian insight on Man and his so-called "collective unconscious" as a part of everyday life and symb

    Ultimately, never forget what Jung himself admitted :

    "Psychology and Religion" (1938). In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P.8”

    Condensed 60 years of Jungian insight on Man and his so-called "collective unconscious" as a part of everyday life and symbols through Jung's knowledge, professional and personal experience. It also shows what modern man and pure materialist thought has lost ignoring an unquestionable part of us and pushing it inside a drawer. Nevertheless, there are many whom I think handle symbolism in much better ways than Jung and his apprentices - having a more global perspective and being somehow closer to it's source (like Guénon, Titus Burckhardt, Coomaraswamy...)

    Now a quote from Man and His Symbols which I found quite funny (it's not the bulk of the book or the main points, merely a funny thing):

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