Active Imagination

A technique Jung used during his own self-analysis as well as with many of his patients was active imagination. This method requires a person to begin with any impression—a dream image, vision, picture, or fantasy—and to concentrate until the

Chapter 4 Jung: Analytical Psychology

Carl Jung, the wise old man of Küsnacht.

Chapter 4 Jung: Analytical Psychology impression begins to "move." The person must follow these images to wherever they lead and then courageously face these autonomous hnages and freely communicate with them.

The purpose of active imagination is to reveal archetypal images emerging from the unconscious. It can be a useful technique for people who want to become better acquainted with then collective and personal unconscious and who are willing to overcome the resistance that ordinarily blocks open communication with the unconscious. Jung believed that active imagination has an advantage over dream analysis in that its hnages are produced during a conscious state of mind thus making them more clear and reproducible. The feeling tone is also quite specific, and ordinarily a person has little difficulty reproducmg the vision or remembering the mood (Jung, 1937/1959).

As a variation to active imagination, Jung sometimes asked patients who were so inclined to draw, paint, or express hi some other nonverbal maimer the progression of then fantasies. Jung relied on this technique during his own self-analysis, and many of these reproductions, rich hi universal symbolism and often exhibiting the mandala, are scattered throughout Ins books. Man and His Symbols (1964), Word and Image (1979), Psychology and Alchemy (1952/1968), and Claire Dunne's (2000) illustrated biography, Carl Jung: Wounded Healer of the Soul are especially prolific sources for these drawings and photographs.

In 1961, Jung wrote about his experiences with active imagination during his midlife confrontation with the unconscious:

When I look back upon it all today and consider what happened to me during the period of my work on the fantasies, it seems as though a message had come to me with overwhelming force. There were things in the images which concerned not only myself but many others also. It was then that I ceased to belong to myself alone, ceased to have the right to do so. From then on, my life belonged to the generality. ... It was then that I dedicated myself to service of the psyche: I loved it and hated it, but it was my greatest wealth. My delivering myself over to it, as it were, was the only way by which I could endure my existence and live it as fully as possible, (p. 192)

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