dreams not a mystery ?


 

   about dreams not a mystery!

 

Sigmund Freud (normally a dream is a fulfilment of a supressed wish or in complete wish)

Considered the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) revolutionizes the study of dreams with his work The Interpretation Of Dreams. Freud begins to analyze dreams in order to understand aspects of personality as they relate to pathology.  He believes that nothing you do occurs by chance; every action and thought is motivated by your unconscious at

some level. In order to live in a civilized society, you have a tendency to hold back our urges and repress our impulses. However, these urges and impulses must be released in some way; they have a way of coming to the surface in disguised forms. 

One way these urges and impulses are released is through your dreams. Because the content of the unconscious may be extremely disturbing or harmful, Freud believes that the unconscious expresses itself in a symbolic language. 

Freud categorizes aspects of the mind into three parts:

Id – centered around primal impulses, pleasures, desires, unchecked urges and wish fulfillment. 

Ego – concerned with the conscious, the rational, the moral and the self-aware aspect of the mind. 

Superego – the censor for the id, which is also responsible for enforcing the moral codes of the ego.

When you are awake,  the impulses and desires of the id are suppressed by the superego. Through dreams, you are able to get a glimpse into your unconscious or the id. Because your guards are down during the dream state, your unconscious has the opportunity to act out and express the hidden desires of the id. However, the desires of the id can, at times, be so disturbing and even psychologically harmful that a “censor” comes into play and translates the id’s disturbing content into a more acceptable symbolic form. This helps to preserve sleep and prevent you from waking up shocked at the images. As a result, confusing and cryptic dream images occur.

Freudian Dream Tools:

According to Freud, dreams always have a manifest and latent content.  The manifest content is what the dream seems to be saying. It is often bizarre and nonsensical.  The latent content is what the dream is really trying to say. Dreams give us a look into our unconscious. Freud believes that we can chip through the dream’s manifest content to reveal the underlying significance and its latent by utilizing the technique of “free

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association”. Using this technique, you start with one dream symbol and then follow with what automatically comes to your mind first. You continue in this manner and see where it leads.

To further help in interpreting the cryptic images of our dreams,  Freud classified the images into the following five processes:

1. Displacement

This occurs when the desire for one thing or person is symbolized by something or someone else. 

 

2. Projection

This happens when the dreamer propels their own desires and wants onto another person.

 

3. Symbolization

This is characterized when the dreamer’s repressed urges or suppressed desires are acted out metaphorically.

 

4. Condensation

This is the process in which the dreamer hides their feelings or urges by contracting it or underplaying it into a brief dream image or event. Thus the meaning of this dream imagery may not be apparent or obvious.

 

5. Rationalization

This is regarded as the final stage of dreamwork. The dreaming mind organizes an incoherent dream into one that is more comprehensible and logical. This is also known as secondary revision.

Freud is particularly preoccupied with sexual content in dreams. He believes that sex is the root cause of what occurs in your dreams. According to Freud, every long slender or elongated object (i.e. knife, cigar, gun, etc) represents the phallus, while any cavity or receptacle (bowl, cave, tunnel, etc) denotes the female genitalia.

Freud’s 5 Stages Of Personality Development:

Freud believes that there are 5 stages in the formation of your personality:

1. Oral/Dependency

This stage takes place from birth to age 2, where the child explores the world using their mouth. If needs are not satisfied during this stage, one goes through life trying to 

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meet them. Smoking, eating and drinking are seen as oral fixations. Recurring dreams, the feeling of incompleteness or unmet needs are common themes.

 

2. Anal/ Potty Training

In this second stage, the child learns to control their bodily functions. If not handled properly or if the child is traumatized at this stage, then he or she might become anal retentive, controlling, or rigid. The child can also develop obsessive compulsive behaviors. Dreams of being out of control or trying to keep things in order are common.

 

3. Phallic StageBetween the ages of 3 to 5, the child becomes aware of male and female. Personality is fully developed by this stage. This stage is also classified by the Oedipus and Electra Complexes. The Oedipus represents a male child’s love for his mother and the fear/jealousy towards his father. The Electra is the female version where the female child has anger toward her mother and exhibits “penis envy”.

 

4. Latency Period

Little new development is observable during this stage. 

 

5. Genital

Starting from age 12 to the peak of puberty, this stage is classified by the reawakening of sexual interest. 

 

As previously mentioned, Freud believes that the motivating force of a dream is wish fulfillment.  Issues of power, lack of control, or unsatisfactory love may manifest in dreams as a way of satisfying these needs.  Thoughts that are repressed during the day may also find a way into your dream as a way to getting fulfillment.

 

Freud believes that every imagery and symbol that appears in a dream have a sexual connotation.  For example, anxiety dreams are seen as a sign of repressed sexual impulses.

Critique: There are many critics on Freud’s theory of dreams.  Freud lived in a sexually repressed Victorian era. His preoccupation with sexual imagery may therefore have been a product of the times, the culture or his own relationship/conflict with sex.

 

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