NEUROSIS: befriending our broken places

Oct 8, 2020

Although neurosis is no longer a clinical diagnosis, it is often used to describe anxious attitudes and behaviors that are maladaptive to life situations. Neurosis often entails a capacity to function well despite feeling bad; emotional suffering leeches ease and pleasure from life. A neurotic symptom—a phobia, compulsion, or addictive tendency—is no different from a dream.

It is important to hear the unconscious story ego has disallowed, welcome fantasies, fears, and instinctual life, and understand their symbolic meaning. Symptoms ask us to know ourselves as we really are so that we can live the life we are meant to be living. Jung says neurosis “must be understood, ultimately, as the suffering of a soul which has not discovered its meaning.” The purpose of neurosis is to help us discover our purpose. 


“I am with my family. I go to the kitchen, as this isn’t my family’s home. I have broken glass inside my mouth; I open my mouth to try and get it out. There aren’t many shreds but they are tiny and sharp, I can’t get rid of everything, my tongue bleeds but the blood is curdled, dry, dark and thick. As I’m trying to remove the glass with both hands I realize I have broken glass on my lips, too. The shredded glass is inside both lips, and the blood is coagulated and my lips shrank. Now I have broken glass inside my nostrils; I can’t breathe from my nose. I just can’t, I breathe through my mouth. I bleed profusely but the blood is thick and dark, dry and slimy, it’s coagulated. I pull it out like an endless slime that just won’t come out all at once. I’m suffocating, no air gets through my nostrils, it’s all blocked. I call my brother for help. I complain about it saying I can’t breathe and I can’t handle it alone. But he doesn’t show up. Other things happen in the dream after this that I can’t remember, but somehow I end up again in this kitchen with blocked nostrils – because of thick blood, not glass anymore – and now the thick blood has covered my chin, my neck; it’s awful and I can’t stop it. The blood is dark, slimy and dry (not shiny like slime). I call my dad for help. He appears in front of me. I am persuaded that he’s the one who can help me. I wake up.” 

To learn more about working with your dreams, check out Dream School, our online course.


  1. Joyce Hall

    I happened upon your site looking for another program and was reminded that I used to be fascinated by Jung. So I stopped by, found the podcast and listened. I feel very refreshed and stimulated now, having been reminded of the teleological Jungian view, that we are on a journey of growth. Listening, I was making links to my own current conflict and those of the two people I am close to these days, my COVID bubble partners. These days in our curtailed social circles, we are getting strong doses of those in our tightened group. Your program has enlarged my view of these two people and enabled, I think, a more sympathetic and helpful response to them and to myself. Thank you.

  2. Derek

    Thank you so much for sharing your insights, very thoughtfully and deeply! I just wanted to point out that there seems to be somewhat of a mischaracterization of the Buddhist dharma with the idea that the message is “let it go” – this seems descriptive of Western mindfulness practices, perhaps, but grappling with the intolerable parts of the self (both conscious and unconscious) is very much a part of the dharma. Thanks!

  3. George

    An important teaching, thank you all for your study, understanding of this helpful set of teachings from our deep. Keep on


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