Freud and Jung's snake dream interpretation

Freud and Jung's snake dream interpretation

Uncover Hidden Dream Meanings

Sigmund Freud believed the snake is connected to our sexual energy.

Sigmund Freud (the famous dream psychologist) was Jung's mentor at first, and Freud continued to build on Jung's work. However, Jung eventually developed his own theories that were quite different from Freud's. Freud was prone to assign fixed meanings to many dream symbols. Jung, however, saw that many symbols were only relevant to the dreamer. Freud's emphasis that all dreams were about sexual conflicts was also abandoned by Jung. Jung saw the unconscious as an inexplicable dumping ground for our suppressed thoughts, while Freud saw it as a mere repository of our inner ideas. Jung believed that dreams were of great importance and that we should reflect upon their meaning until it makes sense to us. In essence, Jung discovered that many patients who were depressed or disturbed weren't in touch with their unconscious. Jung claimed that unconscious messages from the subconscious are dangerously ignored.

People were often encouraged to look at dreams as a whole, rather than just individual dreams. And, to this end, Jung also believed that a series of dreams could develop a theme that was important for personal growth. Archetypes are recurring patterns of thought shared by all of us was the premise on which they both believed resulted in our dreams. These patterns emerge from an ancestral, universal psyche, which he called the collective subconscious. The archetypes are universally recognizable experiences. For example, everyone would be able to understand the concept of motherhood. So the mother is an archetypal example. Archetypal ideas can also be incorporated into inanimate objects, such as water or the sun. 

Feud identified that a person's dreams were connected to their subconscious mind. Every dream was supposed to have meaning but also Freud analyzed dreams by analyzing clients' dreams - many of his clients had reoccurring dreams, that were rather frighteningly in nature. Freud believed that the dream of snakes was connected to our libido. He defined the snake as a “phallic symbol” that is connected to male figures in one’s life. It can be associated with a “male reproductive organ” and the way in which a male is attracted to a female in life.

What did Freud say about the snake dream?

Snake dreams are connected that to the male reproductive organ. According to Sigmund Freud, snake dreams are connected that to the male reproductive organ. He believed people dream of snakes so they are connected to feeling sexual power and that a male holds a hidden fear of transformation. Sigmund Freud’s work is associated with psychoanalysis and he wrote famously on dreams and their meanings from a psychological viewpoint. Freud used “the psyche” model to describe one’s personality in life: this included id, ego, and superego. These are conceptualizations of mental functions. A famous quote by Freud was “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” when he was interviewed about the fear of snakes. Freud believed that the snake was the most important symbol for the male as the snake is associated with a male powerful bond between himself and a female and that it suggests feelings of “sexual power” in a dream - a symbol of possible fertility.

Freud believed that the snake was the most important symbol for the male as the snake is associated with a male powerful bond between himself and a female and that it is associated with feelings of “sexual power” in a dream - a symbol of possible fertility.

A psychologist known as McConnell challenged Freud’s theory that the snake dream is basically a “repressed male desire” he believed that Freud based his analysis on sex because it was associated with religion (Christianity) and the snake is associated with a sinful act. This was basically an anti-Freudian viewpoint. In Freud’s books (that I have read) he has never specifically discussed the actual penis as a snake symbol. He did carry out some introductory lectures (Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, SEXV page 155) - where he stated that male sexual symbols in dreams are snakes, reptiles, and fish. This is the closest Freud got to the snake being connected to a sexual symbol.

Freud learned about dream meanings from his own patients. Most of his patients had many strange dreams and mental health issues. One in particular a patient is known as Anna O. Anna had a dream about a snake that was attacking her. She looked at her fingers and they looked like snakes. The snakes bit her father in the dream, and we also learned in Freud’s writings that Anna’s father was actually extremely poorly in real life. Anna described the snake vanishing at the end of the dream.

So how are dreams connected to universal symbols in life? Rather than interpreting dreams contextually, Freud believed that dreams were associated with what we wish to happen in life, like a reproduction of time. In the case of his patient Anna it is not surprising to believe that the snake bites her father and consequently this will kill him. It was discussed that maybe secretly Anna wanted her father to die so that he was out of misery due to his poor health. The snakebite was an association of how to take him out of his misery. This does lead one to believe where the idea that the snake symbol in dreams is connected to the penis!

What does Carl Jung say about dreams of snakes?

Carl Jung is a famous psychologist and an expert in dream analysis using symbols. He believed that we had three psyches (the ego, the personal unconscious, and finally the collective unconscious) Surprisingly, the serpent was the most important symbol in his personal “spiritual” journey. The serpent was connected to his religion and Christ.

Jung believed that snakes appear in many different ways consciously and subconsciously. In all his books it is not clear in the writings if he supported Freud’s interpretation of the phallic meaning of the snake.

Jung believed that snakes were associated with our autonomic nervous system. This was based on brain research that there is a stem in our brain that is a reptilian. The serpent was associated with wisdom in his interpretations and he found the serpent a symbol of healing.

This can be supported and the serpent is engraved on the staff of Asclepius, which is representative of the physician's emblem. Jung also mentions in his book that the snake in dreams is connected to Christ and that the meanings of a snake dream can be plentiful. Again, like Freud, Jung used his patient's dreams in order to define an interpretation.

There is an account of a priest who had a dream where he went to the museum and could see a snake which was stuffed but then it came to life. He believed that the snake dream is associated with our conscious mind and that our dreams are aligned to our instinct and spirit. Jung created a model and believed that psychic activity had two aspects. The instinct and the spirit. He believed that the snake symbol carries both. Instinct is the matter in life and this manifests as for example a snake crawling. If the snake was hanging from mid-air, (this is not real) and will therefore be a dream of spirit.

By Flo Saul
Jul 3, 2017