From: Jung, Carl. "Approaching the Unconscious." Man and his Symbols. By Jung, M-L. von Franz, Joseph L. Henderson, Jolande Jacobi, and Aniela Jaffé. London: Aldus, 1964. 18-103. Rpt. as "Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams." Vol. 18 of Collected Works. Ed. Herbert Read, Michael Fordham, and Gerhard Adler. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. 20 Vols. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1953-1978.
Jung argues that a word or an image is symbolic when it implies something more than its obvious and immediate meaning. We use symbols to represent concepts that are beyond our comprehension. There are unconscious aspects to our perception of reality, external events becoming psychic events within the mind that are evidently unknowable. Some events, or part(s) thereof, are not taken conscious note of and later well up into the conscious, frequently in the form of a dream. The "unconscious aspect of any event is revealed to us in dreams, where it appears not as rational thought but as a symbolic image" (23). This unconsciousness within the psyche is common to all humanity. Indeed, human consciousness is a fragile thing and liable to fragmentation caused by the pressures of civilising forces.