We consider literalism a normal childhood state – children’s literalism can be funny and charming. We first grow into the ability to understand metaphors and later develop a capacity to conceptualize symbols with various levels of meaning. Later in life literalism can serve as a regressive defense against uncertainty. We see this particularly when the ego feels disempowered or threatened and then refuses to confront unwelcome truths from the unconscious. A symbolic attitude frees us from literalism and opens our inner world to adventure, mystery, and creativity.
We mention Man and His Symbols by Carl G. Jung
Here’s the dream we discuss:
“I had a wild animal skin. At first, I thought it was a zebra skin but then I realized it’s something more rare and dangerous, the skin of a white tiger. I knew it was wrong and illegal to have it but I loved it and it felt so warm, comfortable, and safe to be inside of it.”