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
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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.”