chapter
32 Pages

Symbolic Adaptation

WithRank Otto

Before turning to the mythical elaborations of the birth trauma exhibited in such impressive compensatory creations as hero formation, one must examine those facts which touch us more closely and are of more human consequence, showing as they do in an overwhelming manner the fundamental importance of the birth trauma and the everlasting longing to overcome it. All dreams of physical sensations, even when caused by external stimuli—as the indulgence dreams are caused by inner stimuli—allow an unconstrained return to the primal situation. Before turning from dream symbolism to a comprehensive understanding of symbols in general and their use in cultural adjustment to civilization, the author emphasizes that our view of the paramount importance of the birth trauma finds its strongest support in the analytic interpretation of dreams. The study and understanding of so-called dream symbolism now enables us to trace back cultural creation to its origin in the depths of the Unconscious.