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Behav Sci (Basel). 2013 Nov 22;3(4):662-75. doi: 10.3390/bs3040662. eCollection 2013 Dec.

Jung on the nature and interpretation of dreams: a developmental delineation with cognitive neuroscientific responses.

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Institute of Analytical Psychology, Department of Applied Psychology, City University of Macau, Avenida Xian Xing Hai, Ed. Golden Dragon Centre, 19° andar, Macau; E-Mail: ; Tel.: +853-2878-1698;


Post-Jungians tend to identify Jung's dream theory with the concept of compensation; they tend to believe that Jung's radically open stand constitutes his dream theory in its entirety. However, Jung's theory regarding dreams was a product of an evolving process throughout his whole intellectual and professional life. Unfortunately, the theory has not been understood in such a developmental light. Based on a historical and textual study of all dream articles found throughout The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, this paper maps a concise three-phase trajectory of Jung's changing views on dreams and interpretation. The paper posits that Jung's last essay, "Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams" (1961), epitomizes his final stand, although such a stand is also reflected in a less explicit and less emphatic way during the latter period of the second phase. The paper also briefly addresses where Jung and Jungians have been enigmatic or negligent. For example, it has not been explicated fully why compensation as slight modifications and compensation as parallels to waking life situations are rare in Jung's cases In addition, contemporary cognitive and neuroscientific approaches to the study of dreams, as represented by Harry Hunt, William Domhoff, and Allan Hobson, among others, are presented in connection with Jung. The juxtaposition of Jungian, cognitive, and neuroscientific approaches showcases how cognitive and scientific findings challenge, enrich, and in some ways confirm Jung's dream theory and praxis.


Jung; activation–synthesis theory; cognitive neuroscience; compensation; dreams; imagistic and organismic–holistic cognition

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