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  • Jungian Therapy and the Meaning of Dreams : Houses

    Jungian therapy abounds with house symbols, because they are often central to the meaning of dreams — the house is one of the most common dream symbols.

    It’s a very rich symbol, archetypal in fact.  Humans seek a secure place that is fundamentally their own in which to live, whether it is the troglodyte’s cave, or the King’s palace.

    Our earliest home is the maternal womb, and all our subsequent physical homes carry its shades and tones.  In mythological traditions from all over the world, our first home is a paradise, and we are ever seeking to return to it.

     The House as Symbol of Personality

    In dreams, the home often symbolizes the dreamer’s entire psyche or personality.  Is the dream house well-kept, or does it appear neglected?  Is it made of solid stuff or shoddy materials — and thus perhaps in need of renovation?  Does the house seem well proportioned?  Are its internal spaces cramped or spacious?

    House as “Space” I Occupy

    In waking life, some houses clearly symbolize and embody the people who live in them.  So it is in the dream symbolization of the inner world, where houses reflect the person that they contain / are.  Often a house can have different levels, which may reflect different periods of time, or different aspects of the being of the dreamer.  There may be different “rooms” in the house; some familiar, and some unknown, waiting to be discovered.  Jungian therapy knows that the meaning of dreams about houses partakes in the house as a universal symbol, and also in the experiences of the individual relative to the house.

    Emotional Power of the House Symbol

    Jungian therapy

    Houses engender deep emotions in their occupants.   We can have a loving and intimate relationship with a house — or sometimes what seems like an anger or even hate-filled grim struggle.

    Dream houses may reflect our inner psychic state — or we may project our inner psychic conflicts onto our outer house in the waking world.  Most of us know the terminally “house proud” individual, whose identity has completely fused with the outer house.

    Jungian therapy fully recognizes the deep feelings at play around the house.

    The Inner Housing Crisis: Where Will I Dwell?

    jungian therapy

    We all have to dwell somewhere; this is a truth in the inner world, as much as the outer.  And, as in the outer world, so in the inner: our house has characteristics, and our relationship to it is changed by our choices.

    Often it’s a matter of greatest importance for an individual to pay attention to their inner “house”.  Its dimensions and proportions often fill our dreams.  Jungian therapy is very attuned to the theme or motif of the house in the dreams of the individual — especially at times of tension or crisis.  In addition to many other therapeutic techniques, work on the house as part of the meaning of dreams can be a powerful element in Jungian therapy.

    How has the symbol of the house appeared in your dreams?

    Next in series: Jewels



    Attribution  Noncommercial Some rights reserved Andypiper ; hockadilly ; chicagogeek  | VIDEO: “Awesome tree houses” by ricsil2037


    1. jamenta


      November 28, 2012 at 4:47 pm -

      Interesting reading this today Brian. Just last night had a dream where I was in a house. I was looking out and suddenly saw a large commercial jet not too far away in the sky heading straight down vertically. With shock I realized it was going to crash – and did so. Half of the jet disentegrated while the remaining tail end of the fuselage remained in the air – oddly the entire jet didn’t explode – making it likely there were possible survivors.

      Now I ran into the house – since the jet crash was so near to let other people know (I was a bit of coward of not going out right-away, but rather wanted to do it with other people – I didn’t want to have to deal with all the death myself).

      In the house there was a room which I was not suppose to disturb. In it were a woman who a few years ago was a good friend who then rejected me in a most severe unforgiving manner – and has refused to know me since. (I have assumed some responsibility for her rejection since then but the pain and guilt still remains.) But oddly she is in the dream – and in a room in my house with other people. I knock on the door and wait quite a while (I could have just entered) – finally I open and tell them of the event and emergency. There is no immediate reaction.

      Now I go back outside – and the entire outside of the house is clear. There was no commercial jet disaster. I realize in the dream that what I saw never happened and feel embarrassed that I went into the room and sounded the alarm.

      Then I wake up in real life this morning – and I am struck that even when I went outside and found out there was no jet disaster – that too wasn’t real as it was a dream. When I was dreaming it – my dream ego didn’t realize it. A kind of dream within a dream within a dream.


      1. Brian C
        November 28, 2012 at 9:42 pm -

        Thank you very much for your comment, John, and for sharing the dream. I think that there is a lot in that dream, that could very meaningfully be explored. It is very relevant to the subject of house symbolism in dreams to wonder what it is that the house symbolizes in this particular dream. It is also very striking to explore the symbol of the inner room within the house, the room that you are not supposed to disturb. You are struck by this room that you are not supposed to enter, that is occupied by this woman from your past. It is particularly surprising that you must knock before entering a room within your own house — why I wonder? Is it perhaps that this woman has claimed a space in your inner “house” that might perhaps not be hers to claim? I don’t know, but it might be important to reflect on just what it is that she is doing there.

        A striking dream, Thank you again for your comment, John.

    2. jamenta


      November 29, 2012 at 4:16 am -

      Thanks Brian for your excellent thoughts. Quite a bit to ruminate upon indeed. Ah – if I only lived closer to Ontario 😉

    3. Patrick McCurry
      November 29, 2012 at 3:28 pm -

      Very interesting post, Brian. I have had several dreams about houses in various states of disrepair, which seemed to reflect my personal development at that time. Amazing how the unconscious makes itself felt!

      1. Brian C
        November 29, 2012 at 7:35 pm -

        Thank you for your comments, Patrick, and for sharing your own experience around house symbolism in dreams. I agree with you that the uncanny way that the unconscious is, for lack of a better word, so staggeringly eloquent in the images that it creates is utterly amazing. It is not at all uncommon for the houses in dreams to reflect our state of psychological well-being. Whether the houses are “in good repair” in our dreams can often be an important indicator to us. Thank you again for your insights!

    4. Ruth Martin

      Ruth Martin

      November 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm -

      Hi John, Although it’s always dicey to try and pull meaning out of the dreams of people you don’t know, there are 2 things that struck me. (and I agree this is a juicy dream)! I wonder if this is about your experience with the rejecting woman? That jet is coming straight down also in “a severe and unforgiving manner”, similar to the rejection you encountered. But the tail of the jet remains suspended in the air-the crash is not completed, and, as you know later in the dream there was no external crisis; does it seem more likely it’s about an internal crisis? I wonder if the pain and guilt that still remains is connected to the room you are not supposed to disturb?

      1. Brian C
        December 2, 2012 at 10:30 am -

        Thank you for your comments, Ruth. I agree with you that we have to be very careful interpreting the dreams of someone when we don’t know them in depth, and don’t know all their personal associations with the dream symbols. Nonetheless, I find myself very much in accord with the points that you raise. It is very striking that the tail of the jet remains suspended in the air, and, as that later in the dream there simply seems to have been no external crisis. Certainly the dream seems to hinge on the contrast between “inner” and “outer”. Definitely a “juicy” dream, and one that illustrates the diversity and profundity of the “house” symbolism in dreams. Thanks once again, Ruth!

    5. jamenta


      November 30, 2012 at 6:03 pm -

      Thinking more about the dream Brian. It’s interesting that there is a kind of inside and outside to the dream. In the dream I am standing at the threshold looking at – sort of in-between. What I see on the outside is a technological wonder “a modern jet” – falling out of the sky in a very destructive fashion. There seems to be something a bit “collective about that” even.

      On the inside – is the past, internal, a female figure that even 8 years later is in my dreams in a closed room I cannot freely enter.

      Thinking also that in the dream – the house is very clean almost empty rooms. And I’m not even sure if it’s mine or the woman’s.

      By the way – a few years back Brian you had tried to start an online dream discussion group. But I guess it never really got going. Ever thought of trying again – maybe with a smaller group of people more interested and willing to dedicate some time? Might even be fee based (if it is reasonable for those of us without a lot of money! heh).

      1. Brian C
        December 2, 2012 at 10:05 am -

        Thank you for your comment, John. I agree that it is striking that there is a definite “inside” and “outside” to the dream. I think that there probably is something collective about this image of the falling airliner. If the airliner does in some sense represent collective hopes and aspirations (flying often does have to do with aspiration or spirit) then there is some sense in which, collectively viewed, something is falling from the sky. Or so it appears. But then, after your experience in the inner rooms, it seems that appearance is gone. Why, I wonder? I feel that you’re onto something in one thing you say — that it is not clear whose house this is, whether it’s yours or the woman’s. As you stand on the threshold, the answer that you give to that question may be very important indeed. Reframed, I wonder whether the real question that the dream may ask is, something along the lines of, “Whose life is this, anyway?” I very much appreciate your sharing the dream. We have to be very careful in dealing with it in an online situation like this, but I genuinely appreciate that you have brought it forward as an example of “dreaming about the house”. Thank you, John!

    6. Edy Kizaki
      December 1, 2012 at 10:35 am -

      Hello, thanks for this website, just glancing at the topics alerts me that I will spend fruitful time exploring here. The house dreams… one of the most significant of my life… I lived in Japan 14 years, and toward the 3/4 mark I was married (to a Japanese man who, while a good person, was about 100 years ago in social orientation compared to me from San Francisco) with 2 little girls, and very busy teaching English and having art shows for American artists… I had so many dreams about houses I would wake up exclaiming “I dreamed about another house!” They were always back in the US, and I was often showing people around or looking through them thinking of buying them, they were usually old big empty houses (no furniture) and the exploration would go on and on, finding hidden nooks and staircases, contemplating the views out windows, walking through rooms with the bare floorboards echoing underfoot and tossing out comments to the people with me… years later in the US I became a real estate agent and now that is my profession, but I at that time felt it had to do with that need to know where I lived, where I belonged, what my call was, what my home should look like/be… but there was also a feeling that that was just part of it. Thanks again for this, I am definitely contemplating in an expanded way those house dreams…

      1. Brian C
        December 2, 2012 at 10:48 am -

        Thank you for your comments, Edy, and for describing your very compelling experiences with dreams about houses. I can certainly see that, in the particular context of your life in Japan, the house dreams you describe would relate to “that need to know where I lived, where I belonged, what my call was, what my home should look like/be…”, and to the profound questions around home — where is home? Where do I feel secure? Where do I belong? I discussed these issues in a couple of posts that I did some time ago on the symbolic power of home. I think that all of this relates to the whole profound issue of the psychology of place, and the way that our psyche relates — on a deep unconscious level — to the places of our lives. I’m sure that it also relates to the whole deep symbolism in dreams of the house as self. I know well that dreams can function on more than one level at a time when this kind of symbolism is involved. Very often with dream symbolism it is “both…and..” rather than “either…or…”

        Fascinating that you are now a realtor, and that you profession is now finding homes for people! Probably not an accident, in my opinion. I would wonder whether this symbolism of the house does not occupy a very deep place in your life, and warrant some very in depth exploration.

        Thank you for these comments, Edy.

    7. Nancy


      December 4, 2012 at 10:33 am -

      Hi Brian,

      Thank you for your really interesting article on houses and their symbolism in dreams – last year whilst undertaking a lot of therapy in the course of an MA in Dramatherapy I was subject to a number of dreams which seemed to mirror my psychological state perfectly. Initially there were big old houses with many rooms where I could not quite fully access – there were also a lot of people wandering around inside who seemed to want to escape from the houses but were unable for some reason to do so. Another dream with yet another house was this time with many dark rooms in the cellar where creatures lurked angry and fearful. This was then followed by another dream about a glass house where there was no privacy at all and everything could be seen inside and out in every room. At last the dreams about houses ended (this series at least) with a dream about me building another house, a curvey, yellow, squishey house with really deep foundations.
      All highly symbolic of what I was going through…cheers Nancy

      1. Brian C
        December 5, 2012 at 8:00 pm -

        Hello Nancy,

        Thank you very much for your comments. It seems as if you have had a fascinating array of dreams about houses, all in the relatively short time that you were doing your MA. The theme of a “new room” or a “room difficult to access” is a common motif in dreams about houses, and suggests aspects of the personality that are not very well seen or acknowledged by consciousness. Often, too, the cellar relates to the unconscious, and possibly shadowy contents. The glass house with no privacy might well symbolize a need for more comprehensive boundaries. It is fascinating that you finally arrive at the very unique “curvey, yellow, squishey house with really deep foundations”. Sounds like a house made just for you…

        Thank you again for sharing your experiences, Nancy!

    8. Howard Tonkin
      February 19, 2013 at 4:39 am -

      Thanks for sharing. Just woke up from a dream in which I was with my anima and she led me to a most wonderful mansion in lavish country side in which I was taken to meet my virility. I woke and went on line and came across your blog. Helped me with my dream. Thanks

      1. Brian C
        February 19, 2013 at 6:34 am -

        Hello Howard, and thank you very much for your comment. When the inner house appears as a mansion, it often suggests that the unconscious is inviting us to a more extensive view of our inner life. Might such an encounter also entail meeting with the more feminine / receptive side of your nature? Before we could say anything definite, we’d have to look at how this dream fits into the entire context of your current life. Thank you again for your comment, Howard.

    9. Guy Munson

      Guy Munson

      December 20, 2014 at 6:02 am -

      For years, I have had a recurring dream of living in a house i’ve never been to. i suspect it’s an accumulation of homes i’ve lived or been inside of.
      it’s quite vivid in detail.
      i can visualize the road it’s on, the driveway, where i park my car, the delapitated garage, an old dead garden, our neighbors, and oddly, an alley behind the back fence.
      the house itself, is an an old Victorian-type mansion, with 3 entrances, front, back, and side.
      inside are many rooms, mostly shared by by my 5 sisters and brother (who are young and seem to be my now ex’s children.)
      the back porch seems falling down, but inside seems okay. though there are two of everything in the kitchen.
      there are many bedrooms on each floor and several bathrooms…though on the 2nd floor is a large gymnasium-type shower room.
      there’s a normal-sized living room, but a huge dining room with a grand staircase leading upstairs. there’s also a small winding staircase in the rear of the house.
      the basement is dirt-floor and only accessible from the outside…though i’ve been in there and never found a furnace, though it’s always warm in the house.
      the 3rd floor is shared by two sisters who have made it a little girls’ wonderland. it’s more like an attic,as i have to bend over to reach it.
      i know it’s in the farmlands west of Chicago and have been to the town near it, but don’t know the name.
      i have no idea why i dream this, nor why my siblings are my kids, but i do remember having friends over to visit.
      it’s not menacing or depressing…just odd, and vivid.
      by the way, i’m 63 and my sisters have grandchildren.
      i even picture how we furnished the house.

    10. Cass


      November 19, 2016 at 5:21 pm -

      Very interesting read. I have reoccurring nightmares about a house I am drawn to involuntarily from the outside. As soon as I see it, I am afraid.
      Coupled with another dream about a huge mansion. In this dream I am with family on the lower level/s, however this mansion has an elevator, and as it rises so do my fears. Because I know the top level is completely haunted.
      I never go up there alone, and are often accompanied by someone I trust.
      However it is either level 22 or level 26 (I believe the earlier dream was 22 and the later, the house got bigger – it went up to level 26) that I am absolutely terrified of. It’s haunted with antique furniture and belongings and is terrifying to move through because it is thick with spirits.

      Thanks for listening.

      1. Brian C
        November 19, 2016 at 7:00 pm -

        Thank you for sharing this dream. This is a very rich dream, that I suspect is laden with personal meaning. I do not feel that it would be fair or ethical to discuss its possible meanings in public. If at all possible, I would strongly recommend that you undertake analysis with an appropriately trained and certified Jungian analyst, if you wish to explore the full personal meaning of the dream. I wish you all the very best on your personal journey. Thank you again for sharing the dream, Cass! Very best wishes, ~Brian C

    11. […] that you might enjoy hearing about on the Vibrant Jung Thing Blog. In a blog entitled, “Jungian Therapy and the Meaning of Dreams : Houses,” Brian Collinson makes the connection between houses in our dreams and the dreamers entire […]

    12. […] to an article by Brian Collinson, Jungian Therapy is riddled with home symbolism. As a secure place, our homes are akin to our […]

      1. Brian C
        April 2, 2021 at 1:04 pm -

        This is a fascinating post, and you touch on many important aspects of the archetype of home. Home is surely one of the most powerful of the archetypes—witness Homer’s Ulysses, who is driven by the single archetypal motive to return to his home. In certain ways, his journey is a reflection of all our journeys.

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