Psychology and Alchemy-or-Return to Wolfgang Pauli's Dreams

Return to Jung -or- Soulwork in the Global Village

If Jacques Lacan's "return to Freud" provided a re-working of Freudian concepts of language, consciousness, the unconscious, and dreams, then it is my intention to provide a similar re-working of Carl Jung's "Psychology and Alchemy" in a similar close reading fashion.  

In "Psychology and Alchemy", Jung discusses his "method" of "deciphering a fragmentary text", by examining "the context". Jung believes that; "The psychological context of dream-contents consists in the web of associations in which the dream is naturally embedded." The "web of associations" that Jung speaks of, are a symbolic combination of both personal and cultural connotations, idioms and allusions that provide a contextual symbolic communication "frame" of dream work. 

One of the first problems that we are faced with, is that Jung does not disclose that the dream series that he is interpreting in Psychology and Alchemy are those of the physicist Wolfgang Pauli. This fact would be disclosed long after both Pauli and Jung had passed on. In fact many of Pauli's dreams are reportedly still under lock and key due to confidentiality reasons. Jung himself admits that some of Pauli's dreams were not discussed, the reason; "because the dreams touch to some extent on the intimacies of personal life and must therefore remain unpublished." 

Those so-called "intimacies" (of Pauli) as Jung refers to them, are somewhat known today, and are evident from almost the first dream in the series that Jung presents. These "intimacies" lay bare not only Pauli's problems, but instead the dark psychological problems of "European culture" as a whole, some of which are still evident to this day. Many of these cultural problems relate to the "psychology of religion". 

Many of my interpretations of Pauli's dreams will re-work the individual dream interpretations that Jung provides. There is however much less dispute with Jung's global interpretations of Pauli's dream series, especially as it relates to his symbolic ideas about the archetypes of the alchemy, individuation, and wholeness. As well, I distance myself from Jung's "religious symbolism" and prefer the idea of a "spiritual" archetypal journey that the universal individuation process entails. In this sense, my ideas and views of "theodicy" are best expressed in the dream interpretation "The Sacred Canopy of the Dream".

Many spiritual practices can be found in a number of dream interpretations posted at the International Institute for Dream Research (IIDR) website. Some of the spiritual practices of "faith-work" that are found at the IIDR website include; prayer, confession, study of scripture, meditation, Feng Shui, and yoga. Some experience conflicts in their faith-work (what James Hillman calls "soul work") as exemplified in the dream interpretation "If I Ever Loose My Faith in You". 

Many of Jung's alchemical archetypal symbols of the ouroborus, mandala and temenos are in fact all related to the archetype of the "Great Mother". This archetype is discussed in the interpretation "The Great Mother and Creation Mythologies" . A great deal of the work of re-reading "Psychology and Alchemy" will encompass the re-working of Pauli's "world clock" dream. Jung himself understood that at the time of his writing "Psychology and Alchemy" that his interpretation of the world clock dream was incomplete. In Jung's own words; "I do not wish to labour this argument, for such an interpretation lies beyond my powers of proof." 

The "world clock" dream provides the formal symbolic logical key to understanding Pauli's insights into the archetypes of "natural history", the existence of life in the universe, and cosmology. Psychology and physics have advanced sufficiently that a realization of Jung and Pauli's dream of an integrated philosophical paradigm of consciousness, mind , body, dreams and the "numinous" (or what Freud called the "Oceanic feeling" is within our reach. Read the dream interpretation "Quantum Mysticism". 

Here are Pauli's first two dreams reported by Jung; 

Dream 1 

"The dreamer (Pauli) is at a social gathering. On leaving, he puts on a stranger's hat instead of his own." 

A "hat" can be viewed as a cultural metaphor and psychological distinction for a social role. The fact that it is a "stranger's hat", indicates that Pauli is taking on a new role, or persona. Most likely the "psychologist's role", which is just as strange to Pauli, as the "physicist's role" is to a psychologist. Jung in "Psychology and Religion" had already informed Pauli that at the risk of shocking him, that his dreams will provide all the necessary information about his psychological problems. This psychological idea and "exchange of hats" was most likely "strange" for Pauli. In terms of the beginning of the dream series, I believe that the psychologist and the physicist (Jung and Pauli) meet in Bertram Lewin's book "The Image and the Past", which discusses visual memory, the "head image" and visual thinking as part and parcel of what Paul Schilder investigated from a psychoanalytic perspective, namely the human "body image". 

Dream 2 

"The dreamer (Pauli) is going on a railway journey, and by standing in front of the window, he blocks the view for his fellow passengers. He must get out of their way." 

Freud in "Interpretation of Dreams" uses the primary metaphor of "trains of thought" going on in dreams.  We can return to Jung's idea of "web of associations" embedded in the dream, these associations can be seen as Pauli's visual thinking about his past (memories) and his present visual perception. Pauli actively "blocks the view for his fellow passengers", which is Pauli defensively saying that he is trying to hide, "obfuscate" and conceal his past from others view. By keeping people in the dark, he effectively censors any communication about his past and his personal as well as the European cultural landscape which he is viewing. In this sense, we can already see that Pauli is suffering from a culturally "divided self". From a therapeutic point of view the dream correctly signals that; "He must get out of their way.", so that they can see and understand the "psychodynamic problems" he (and the therapist) is faced with. 

Further Reading: 


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