A Horse Jumps out the Window

A seventeen year old girl dreams:

I was coming home at night. Everything is as quiet as death. The door into the living room is half open, and I see my mother hanging from the chandelier, swinging to and fro in the cold wind that blows in through the at night. I get up and discover that a frightened horse is tearing through the rooms. At last it finds the door into the hall, and jumps through the hall window from the fourth floor into the street below. I was terrified when I saw it lying there, all mangled.

Jung’s comments:

The gruesome character of the dreams is alone sufficient to make one pause. All the same other people have anxiety dreams now and then. We most therefore look more closely into the meaning of the two main symbols, “mother” and “horse”. They must be equivalents, for they both do the same thing, they commit suicide. “Mother" is an archetype and refers to the place of origin, to nature, to that which passively creates…. It also means the unconscious, our natural and instinctive life… The word “mother" which sounds so familiar, apparently points to the best-known, the individual mother, to “my mother.” But the mother-symbol points to a darker background which eludes conceptual form…

If we apply our findings to the dream, its interpretation will be, “The unconscious life is destroying itself.”

It is evident that “horse” is an equivalent of “mother,” with a slight shift of meaning. The mother stands for life at its origin, the horse for the merely animal life of the body. If we apply this meaning to the text of our dream, its interpretation will be, “The animal life is destroying itself.”

Both dreams point to a grave organic disease with a fatal outcome. This prognosis was soon confirmed.

Dreams, C.G. Jung, pages 106 – 109.


Similar to the dream of the minute mastodon in an earlier blog, Jung predicts a serious organic problem that becomes confirmed at a later time (although in this case there is no indication of what the disease actually was).

The interpretation of this dream is not as obscure as the one about the mastodon; both, however involved symbolic animals that were in trouble. The images of a mother hanging herself and a horse jumping out a window do not forebode well, whether or not one does a detailed analysis of the dream.

What is particularly interesting and valuable about Jung’s method of interpretation is that he goes far beyond the individual idea of the individual mother, and relates the dream to the archetypal level of the mother -- the origin of life which is destroying itself.

Again, I find these dreams that are diagnostic of medical conditions quite astounding, and continue to wonder why dreams are not more part of the medical model of working with patients. Is there something missing in the model?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would be terrified too if I saw a horse jumping out of the window. But it's not fear what I would feel but sorrow and sadness for the death of that beautiful animal. When I'm sad I tend to buy Viagra Online.