Theories of Personality 9th Edition

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Chapter 4 Jung: Analytical Psychology 133

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 impression
begins to “move.” The person must follow these images to wherever they lead and
then courageously face these autonomous images 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 their collective and personal unconscious and who are willing to
overcome the resistance that ordinarily blocks open communication with the uncon-
scious. Jung believed that active imagination has an advantage over dream analysis in
that its images 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 reproducing 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 in some other nonverbal manner the
progression of their fantasies. Jung relied on this technique during his own self-
analysis, and many of these reproductions, rich in universal symbolism and often
exhibiting the mandala, are scattered throughout his books. Man and His Symbols

Carl Jung, the wise old man of Küsnacht. © Dmitri Kessel/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

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