Constructive. An approach to the interpretation of psychic activity based on its goal or purpose rather than its cause or source. (See also final; compare reductive.)
I use constructive and synthetic to designate a method that is the antithesis of reductive. The constructive method is concerned with the elaboration of the products of the unconscious (dreams, fantasies, etc.). It takes the unconscious product as a symbolic expression which anticipates a coming phase of psychological development[“Definitions,” CW 6, par. 701.]
The constructive or synthetic method of treatment presupposes insights which are at least potentially present in the patient and can therefore be made conscious.[“The Transcendent Function,” CW 8, par. 145.]
The constructive method involves both the amplification of symbols and their interpretation on the subjective level. Its use in dream interpretation aims at understanding how the conscious orientation may be modified in light of the dream’s symbolic message. This is in line with Jung’s belief that the psyche is a self-regulating system.
In the treatment of neurosis, Jung saw the constructive method as complementary, not in opposition, to the reductive approach of classical psychoanalysis.
We apply a largely reductive point of view in all cases where it is a question of illusions, fictions, and exaggerated attitudes. On the other hand, a constructive point of view must be considered for all cases where the conscious attitude is more or less normal, but capable of greater development and refinement, or where unconscious tendencies, also capable of development, are being misunderstood and kept under by the conscious mind.[“Analytical Psychology and Education,” CW 17, par. 195.]