Reductive. Literally, “leading back,” descriptive of interpretations of dreams and neurosis in terms of events in outer life, particularly those in childhood. (Compare constructive and final.)
The reductive method is oriented backwards, in contrast to the constructive method . . . . The interpretive methods of both Freud and Adler are reductive, since in both cases there is a reduction to the elementary processes of wishing or striving, which in the last resort are of an infantile or physiological nature. . . . Reduction has a disintegrative effect on the real significance of the unconscious product, since this is either traced back to its historical antecedents [e.g., childhood] and thereby annihilated, or integrated once again with the same elementary process from which it arose.[Definitions,”CW6, par. 788.]
In dream interpretation, the reductive (also called mechanistic) method seeks to explain images of persons and situations in terms of concrete reality. The constructive or final approach focuses on the dream’s symbolic content.
Although Jung himself concentrated on the constructive approach, he regarded reductive analysis as an important first step in the treatment of psychological problems, particularly in the first half of life.
The neuroses of the young generally come from a collision between the forces of reality and an inadequate, infantile attitude, which from the causal point of view is characterized by an abnormal dependence on the real or imaginary parents, and from the teleological point of view by unrealizable fictions, plans, and aspirations. Here the reductive methods of Freud and Adler are entirely in place.[The Problem of the Attitude-Type,”CW7, par. 88.]