While many theories exist to explain why we dream, no one yet fully understands their purpose, let alone how to interpret the meaning of dreams. Dreams can be mysterious, but understanding the meaning of our dreams can be downright baffling. Our dreams' contents can shift suddenly, feature bizarre elements, or frighten us with terrifying imagery. The fact that dreams can be so rich and compelling is what causes many to believe that there must be some meaning to our dreams.
Some prominent researchers such as G. William Domhoff suggest that dreams most likely serve no real purpose.
Despite this, dream interpretation has become increasingly popular. While research has not demonstrated a purpose for dreams, many experts believe that dreams do have meaning.
According to Domhoff:
"'Meaning' has to do with coherence and with systematic relations to other variables, and in that regard dreams do have meaning. Furthermore, they are very "revealing" of what is on our minds. We have shown that 75 to 100 dreams from a person give us a very good psychological portrait of that individual. Give us 1000 dreams over a couple of decades and we can give you a profile of the person's mind that is almost as individualized and accurate as her or his fingerprints."
Freud: Dreams as the Road to the Unconscious Mind
In his book The "Interpretation of Dreams," Sigmund Freud suggested that the content of dreams is related to wish-fulfillment.
Freud believed that the manifest content of a dream, or the actual imagery and events of the dream, served to disguise the latent content or the unconscious wishes of the dreamer.
Freud also described four elements of this process that he referred to as "dream work":
- Condensation – Many different ideas and concepts are represented within the span of a single dream. Information is condensed into a single thought or image.
- Displacement – This element of dream work disguises the emotional meaning of the latent content by confusing the important and insignificant parts of the dream.
- Symbolization – This operation also censors the repressed ideas contained in the dream by including objects that are meant to symbolize the latent content of the dream.
- Secondary Revision – During this final stage of the dreaming process, Freud suggested that the bizarre elements of the dream are reorganized in order to make the dream comprehensible, thus generating the manifest content of the dream.
Jung: Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious:
While Carl Jung shared some commonalities with Freud, he felt that dreams were more than an expression of repressed wishes. Jung suggested that dreams revealed both the personal and collective unconscious and believed that dreams serve to compensate for parts of the psyche that are underdeveloped in waking life. In contradiction to Jung's assertions, however, later research by Hall revealed that the traits people exhibit while they awake are the same as those expressed in dreams.
Jung also suggested that archetypes such as the anima, the shadow, and the animus are often represented symbolic objects or figures in dreams.
These symbols, he believed, represented attitudes that are repressed by the conscious mind. Unlike Freud, who often suggested that specific symbols represent specific unconscious thoughts, Jung believed that dreams can be highly personal and that interpreting these dreams involved knowing a great deal about the individual dreamer.
Hall: Dreams as a Cognitive Process
Calvin S. Hall proposed that dreams are part of a cognitive process in which dreams serve as "conceptions" of elements of our personal lives. Hall looked for themes and patterns by analyzing thousands of dream diaries from participants, eventually creating a quantitative coding system that divided what's in our dreams into a number of categories.
According to Hall’s theory, interpreting dreams requires knowing:
- the actions of the dreamer within the dream
- the objects and figures in the dream
- the interactions between the dreamer and the characters in the dream
- the dream’s setting, transitions, and outcome
The ultimate goal of this dream interpretation is not to understand the dream, however, but to understand the dreamer.
Domhoff: Dreams as a Reflection of Waking Life
G. William Domhoff is a prominent dream researcher who studied with Calvin Hall at the University of Miami. In large-scale studies on the content of dreams, Domhoff has found that dreams reflect the thoughts and concerns of a dreamer’s waking life. Domhoff suggests a neurocognitive model of dreams in which the process of dreaming results from neurological processes and a system of schemas. Dream content, he suggests results from these cognitive processes.
Popularizing Dream Interpretation
Since the 1970s, dream interpretation has grown increasingly popular thanks to work by authors such as Ann Faraday. In books such as "The Dream Game," Faraday outlined techniques and ideas than anyone can use to interpret their own dreams. Today, consumers can purchase a wide variety of books that offer dream dictionaries, symbol guides, and tips for interpreting and understanding dreams.
Dream research will undoubtedly continue to grow and generate interest from people interested in understanding the meaning of their dreams. However, dream expert G. William Domhoff recommends that "...unless you find your dreams fun, intellectually interesting, or artistically inspiring, then feel free to forget your dreams." Others such as Cartwright and Kaszniak propose that dream interpretation may actually reveal more about the interpreter than it does about the meaning of the dream itself.
A Dream's Meaning Might Depend on Your Biases
Researchers Carey Morewedge and Michael Norton have studied the dreams of over 1,000 individuals from the United States, India, and South Korea. What they discovered is that few of the college students who participated in the research believed that their dreams were simply the brain's response to random stimulation. Instead, most endorsed Freud's notion that dreams reveal unconscious wishes and urges.
What they also discovered, however, is that the weight and importance people attach to their dreams depend largely on their biases. People are more likely to remember negative dreams if they involve people that they already dislike. They are also more likely to take positive dreams seriously if they involve friends or loved ones.
In other words, people are motivated to interpret their dreams in ways that support their already existing beliefs about themselves, the world, and the people around them. The researchers found that such things as the confirmation bias and the self-serving bias even impact how people respond to their own dreams.
Because people tend to take their dreams seriously, the researchers suggest, these dreams can also become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you dream that you are going to fail an exam, you might be less motivated to study or even become so stressed out that you perform poorly.
Dreams may or may not have meaning but the fact remains that interpreting dreams has become a popular past time. Some people even base major life decisions on the contents of their dreams. Learn more about what some modern dream interpreters have to say about some of the most common dreams and what they supposedly mean.
Cartwright R.D. & Kaszniak, A. (1991). The social psychology of dream reporting. In S.J. Ellman & J.S. Antrobus (Eds.), The mind in sleep: Psychology and psychophysiology, (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.
Freud, S. (1900). The Interpretation of Dreams.
Domhoff, G.W. (2002). “Toward a Neurocognitive Model of Dreams.” The Scientific Study of Dreams.
Domhoff, G.W. (1996). Finding meaning in dreams: A quantitative approach. New York and London: Plenum Press.
Jung, Carl (1966). "The Practical Use of Dream-analysis.” The Practice of Psychotherapy: Essays on the Psychology of Transference.
After reading this essay you will learn about Dreams:- 1. Concept of Dream 2. Classification of Dreams 3. Functions 4. Theories 5. Dream Interpretation 6. Content 7. Dream Symbols 8. Examples 9. Anxieties.
- Concept of Dreams
- Classification of Dreams
- Functions of Dream
- Theories of Dream
- Dream Interpretation
- Content of Dream
- Dream Symbols
- Examples of Dream
- Anxieties in Dream
Essay # 1. Concept of Dream:
Until the first half of the 20th century, scientific study of dreams exclusively was the monopoly of psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis as a method of treatment analysed dreams for uncovering the unconscious, repressed and suppressed desires of the patients which opened the avenue of successful treatment of mental patients.
But with the introduction of new experimental techniques several laboratory investigations have been conducted on dream. In this connection the experimental studies conducted by Dement and Klertmem (1957) are note worthy.
According to Blum (1969) the discovery that “dream is accompanied by rapid eye movements (REMS) recorded electrically with the eye lids closed, made it possible for experimenters to awaken subjects from periods of light sleep (when dreams typically occur) and obtain their immediate reports of what had just transpired.”
Blum further adds that many interesting facts about dreams in general have emerged from studies of this kind. For example almost all subjects dream every night, with dreaming occupying about 20 per cent of sleeping time, the dream events do not happen in a flash as commonly believed and the presence of colour is dreams is very rare.
A finding of potential dynamic significance is that persons awakened when they start to dream tend to make up for the loss of dreaming more on subsequent nights (Dement, 1960). This effect of dream deprivation indirectly supports Freud’s belief that dreams serve a necessary function in the personality.
A more recent survey on dreams by Foulkes (1964) suggests that the thought content reported by subjects when awakened during a period of rapid eye movement is much more disguised, bizarre and dramatic than thoughts elicited from awakening in prior non REM periods.
Blum (1967) states further that “the active processes of distortion during the dream phase tend to corroborate Freuds description of condensation, displacement and symbolism. The pre REM periods on the other hand seem to reflect the day residues, undisguised memories or recreations of recent events in the dreamer’s life which later get elaborated and woven into the dream fabric.
This transition seems to contradict Freud’s assertion that the dream appears from unconsciousness suddenly like fire work which takes hours to prepare but goes off in a moment.”
Blum points out “experimental investigation of day residues dates back to 1917 (Poetzl) when it was demonstrated that manifest content in dreams can be influenced by very brief exposures of unnoticed stimuli. Subjects were first shown landscapes for about 1/10 second and then asked to describe and draw what they had been.
Told subsequently to take note of any dreams that night, they returned the next day and narrated dream content related to aspects of the landscape which have not been reported in the previous session. Numerous replications and extensions of this phenomena have been carried out by Fisher and Paul (1959), Luborsky and Shevrin (1956).
Essay # 2. Classification of Dreams:
1. Dreams have been divided into different types by Klein (1928):
(a) Premonitory dreams:
Those dreams which leave for the dreamer with a feeling that the dream has some future significance.
(b) Prophetic dreams:
It is supposed to indicate directly or symbolically some future event. This prophetic dream owes its popularity largely to tradition. Once the author of this article dreamt that her mother is seriously ill and after a week it came out true.
(c) Pradromic dreams:
Pradromic dreams are prophetic in a vague way. A man dreamt of being operated for appendicitis. He was extremely distressed and wake up only to discover that there had been no operation and. he was in good health. But later on, he developed an attack which suggested a relationship between the dream content and the initial stage of appendicitis.
2. Dreams have also been classified into collective, kinesthetic and paralytic types:
(a) Collective dreams:
Collective dreams suggest instances of two or more people having the same dream at approximately the same time. Once some soldiers heard that the house in which they lived was haunted by ghosts. During sleep some of them also see this dream when there is discussion about a particular issue among some persons. Some of them may see a common dream related to this discussion. This refers to collective dream.
(b) Kinesthetic dreams:
Dreams of soaring, floating and falling have relationship with the real experience. The rise and fall of the soaring experience seems to correspond with the rise and fall of the chest in respiration. Similarly the falling dream has been attributed to changes in heart action and blood pressure, the relaxation of the voluntary musculature and to a gradual awakening from a soaring dream.
(c) Paralytic dream:
It is a type of dream where the individual is unable to move which often ends in waking with horror. It is explained by partial awakening, prior to the return of general muscular tension.
If the dream goes on without awareness of the fact that the body is not moving, there is no disturbance or no dream of paralysis but if during this period there is partial awakening to bring awareness of the relaxed condition of the body, there may be the dream of paralysis.
A person visualised a dream that his speech muscles were paralyzed. After awakening he found that he was sleeping with his mouth open and the nasal passages were stopped.
3. The third classification of dream by Klein is as follows:
(a) Dreams of the blind:
The dreams of the blind differ from the dreams of normal people. The images most frequently present in the dream context of the normal people are conspicuous by their absence in the dream content of the blind person.
Wheeler found in his blind subject that their dream corresponded to that of waking stage. When more than one sense organ is defective the images in dream are much more limited. This is described by Hellen Keller.
(b) Recurrent dreams:
Recurrent dreams are specially found in neurotics. During war years soldiers suffer so much from anxiety dreams related to terrifying war experiences that sometimes they rather want to remain awake than to experience such terrible anxiety in sleep.
Alexander (1980) has classified dreams as follows from the standpoint of the sleep disturbing stimuli:
Essay # 3. Function of Dream:
1. The function of a dream is to help rather than to disturb sleep. It also prevents the dreamer from being awakened by internal stimuli. It perfects one’s sleep.
2. Dreams satisfy many biological, physical and psychological needs of the individual. The basic physiological needs like hunger, sex and thirst are satisfied in very simple type of dreams. The hungry and thirsty subject dreams that he is eating a nice plate of food or drinking a glass of cold water or a bottle of Pepsi in summer.
This hallucinatory experience leads to temporary gratification of such needs. Likewise a person who has been separated from his sexual partner for a long time, apparently may dream that he is having sexual intercourse with her. Thus, all dreams deal with wishes which for some reason cannot be accepted into the conscious and waking stage.
3. Dreams fulfil the unsatisfied physiological needs of the individual such as desire for power prestige and recognition, security and affection etc.
4. Dreams are significant in psychoanalysis particularly for helping the analyst to uncover the unconscious processes of the individual. It is through his dreams that the analyst tries to make the patient conscious of his unconscious conflicts. Therefore it has been said that dreams are the royal road to unconscious.
5. Problem solving function of Dream:
Franz (1950) states every dream can be considered as an attempt to gratify wishes consistently with internal standards and external conditions. This might be called the problem solving function of the dream. Various cases indicate that dreams may present the solution for different intellectual problems. Various mathematical problems and puzzles in chess have been repeatedly solved in dreams.
6. Tension Relieving function of Dream:
A dream is an attempt to relieve tension caused by repression with as little conflict as possible.
A dream is an attempt of the organism to protect sleep from disturbing stimuli like thirst and hunger, from unsatisfied desires which life does not grant, illegal wishes and unpleasant works which press upon the mind or a guilt conscience. Dreams attempt to eliminate tension by imaginary gratification of the physiological need.
Essay # 4. Theories of Dream:
Certain theories of dream have been developed to explain the causes of dream:
1. Supernatural theory:
In the ancient world and even today, in some cases dreams were considered having some supernatural significance. This is mostly the prescientific view which suggests Gods and Goddesses come in dream and predict the future to the dreamer. Sometimes through dream they warn the dreamer about his dos and don’ts.
A working lady who was under severe mental trauma apprehending her transfer, visualised a dream where ‘Ma Santosi’ told her not to worry for her transfer, as nothing will happen. After only a few days she got her transfer order and subsequently it was cancelled.
2. Physiological dream theories:
The physiological dream theories maintained that dreams have no psychological significance but are the results of rudimentary activities in the brain cortex which reflect impressions of the previous day incoherently.
3. Stimulus response theory of dream:
The stimulus response theory which existed prior to Freud is based upon the associationistic stimulus response view. This theory stresses the relationship between brain changes during sleep and changes in perceptual efficiency. Some disturbing stimuli force activity into one portion of the cerebral cortex.
For example, the smoke coming from the next room when enters the nose of the sleeping person, it disturbs the activity of the cerebral cortex with corresponding changes in dream. Such a theory of dream is in the line with experimental work on the effects of sensory stimulation upon the dream content.
Stimulus response theory also recognises the role of desire as an instigator of dream. It also recognises the fact that those desires which are not satisfied in reality are satisfied in dreams. Hence the stimulus response theory also supports the kind of dream theory initiated by Freud.
4. Psychoanalytic theory of dream:
Advanced by Freud, the psychoanalytic theory of dream stands as the most valid and fundamental among all the theories of dream.
As pointed out by Franz (1950) Freud always considered his theory of dream as the best founded portion of psychoanalysis. This has been confirmed by the fact that his theory has been little changed either by himself or by his followers.
Freud’s special importance to dream theory is too obvious from his classic book “Interpretation of Dreams”. It is noteworthy that no one before Freud has advanced a comprehensive theory to explain dreams though later on some psychologists vaguely anticipated some of Freud’s views.
Freud’s theory of dreams can be divided into two parts:
(1) Wish fulfilment theory and
(2) Attempted wish fulfilment theory.
Simple wish fulfilment dreams are common in children. But adults express their wishes directly, only rarely and under unusual circumstances. Most adult dreams however appear senseless, disconnected, dis-organised fragmentary.
It not only does give direct satisfaction, but sometimes cause anxiety. But these senseless and disconnected dreams according to Freud have real meaning and can be explained psychologically.
Unlike the children, the unfulfilled wishes of the adults are checked by internal obstacles. Dreams come in disguised form and hence the difficulty in understanding them arises. For instance, a wish to kill a near one which is irrational and antisocial if is expressed in dreams directly, the conflict and fear becomes severe arousing fear and guilt.
But if the desire is disguised in dream by displacing the object of hostile impulse in someone whom the dreamer can justifiably hate, the unconscious tendency is expressed and the conflict with conscience is avoided.
The main activity of dream is to preserve sleep. But the cause of disturbed sleep is the increasing tension of unconscious excitation, owing to the action of dream censorship. The apparent absurdity of the manifest content is the result of a compromise between the repressed and the repressing forces. The manifest content is an allegorical expression of unconscious latent content.
Essay # 5. Dream Interpretation:
The interpretation of dreams is based on the deterministic assumption that everything has a cause and an effect. According to Wolman (1979) “The continuity of human mental life is established when one accepts the Freudian idea that the dream is an expression of unconscious materials”.
The dream always represents some unconscious processes which the dreamer does not know he knows and thinks he does not. Reinforced by the dream interpretation of Freud in particular, this problem of dream has got added attention.
Freud considered dream as the royal road to unconscious and his book, “The Interpretation of Dreams” (1900) opened the avenues for psychoanalytic movement providing major impetus to it.
Freud never maintained as is popularly held that all concealed desires responsible for dreaming are sexual in nature. To show how false this is he calls attention to the wish fulfilment dreams dealing with the gratification of most obvious needs.
Essay # 6. Content of Dream:
In any dream there are two aspects:
(1) The Manifest content.
(2) The Latent content.
A large amount of the dream content consists of the events of the day. Thoughts prior to sleep and even postures during sleep and sounds influence dream content. Freud also viewed that besides the simple wish fulfilment dreams, more complicated forces also influence the content of dream. Dreams also represent in disguised fashion the wishes and unacceptable thoughts of the unconscious.
1. Manifest content:
Brown (1940) views that the manifest content is the content of the dream exactly as it is presented to or remembered by the dreamer. In other words the dream we actually see or what appears to us in dream is called manifest content.
The common man only knows the manifest content of a dream. In manifest content the actual desire of man is disguised to cheat the super ego and the desires never show them in real form.
In the words of Brown (1940) “This is the dream with all its bizarre associations, its quick changes and its fantastic sequences”.
2. Latent content:
This aspect deals with the actual repressed wishes which get themselves satisfied in dream. The actual repressed desires can be known by analysing the latent content of the dream by the psychoanalyst.
A common man cannot know the real implication behind the latent content of the dream. According to Brown (1940) “By the latent content of the dream is meant the underlying unconscious wish which comes into consciousness through adopting the disguise of the manifest content”.
Brown further remarks that in some dreams manifest content and latent content largely concede such as in the simple wish fulfilment dreams. In other dreams the latent content may be discovered only when one knows the life history of the individual and what he has recently been doing in real life and when one has gained the complete free association of the dreams about it.
Essay # 7. Dream Symbols:
When an attempt is made to interpret some dreams, it becomes necessary to take the help of dream symbols. Symbolism in dream is therefore a frequent tool of dream work and it is an indirect representation standing for something else. By having an idea of dream symbols, the manifest content of the dream is translated to the latent content. Otherwise, it becomes difficult to analyse a dream.
On the contrary, without knowing the dream symbols, no latent dream thoughts will be forthcoming despite every effort on the part of the dreamer to reproduce the desired material. Thus, the dream analyst has to take into note that certain facts in the manifest dreams stand as symbols to the latent dream.
In dreams, certain associations are commonly found which reveal themselves again and again in dreams experienced by different people. Thus, it is held by Freud and Jung that the unconscious uses certain symbols to indicate some very primitive and basic conceptions.
So there are certain symbols in dreams which have universal meaning i.e., appearing universally among cultures. This has been very clearly explained in Freud’s book ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ (1938).
Examples of symbols in dreams having universal meaning:
— taken from the “Interpretation of Dreams”
All elongated objects, sticks, tree trunks, umbrellas, poles, pointed and sharp weapons, knives, daggers represent the male member. Small boxes, chests, cup-boards, ovens, stoves, fire places, cavities, ships and all kinds of vessels symbolize the female organ.
A room represents generally a woman. The sexual intercourse may be expressed in climbing, mounting, dancing, riding etc. Ladders and stairs and going up and down them are symbolic representation of sexual act.
In case of a few symbols, the representation is by opposites. Such as neckline may be represented by clothes and uniforms. The dream of walking through a suite symbolizes a brothel or a harem. It is also used to represent marriage as suggested by H. Sachs. A woman’s hat may represent the male genitals. Necktie may stand for penis.
The fish, the snail, the cat, the airship, the mouse, and the snake are symbols of male members. All complicated machines and appliances are probably the genitals, as a rule the male genitals. Many of the landscapes in dreams such as bridges or wooded mountain may be taken as description of genitals. To play with or beat a little child may represent masturbation.
Castration may be represented by baldness, haircutting, the loss of teeth etc. Small animals and vermin’s represent little children. In some dreams, the genitals are represented by other parts of the body, the male member by the hand or the foot, the female genital is represented by the mouth, the ear and even the eye.
The secretions of the human body, mucus, tears, urine, semen etc., may be used in dreams interchangeably.
Active and passive homosexual dreams refer to an earlier phase as anal sadistic dreams. Dream s indicating strong unconscious guilt or dramatizing prosecutory situations help in the prognosis of obsessional states. Tension dreams are significant in cases where suicidal tendencies are suspected.
A careful analysis of the above dream symbols pointed out by Freud from his long years of experience on dream analysis in his classic book. “The Interpretations of Dreams”, indicates that since symbols have constant meaning, one can analyse dreams with symbols.
The field of mythology, anthropology, folklore, philosophy and religion contain many parallels to dream symbolism. Indeed the domain of symbolism embraces a realm far more extensive than might be inferred from the study of the phenomenon of dream alone.
Essay # 8. Examples of Dreams:
A middle aged young German businessman had severe depression accompanied by suicidal tendency. Depression developed 18 months after his return from war as a military officer. He saw the following dream, “I am taking a walk with one of the ranking officers of the Russian army and became aware that it is the Tsar.
Suddenly a stranger appears with a sword and wants to kill the Tsar. I wish to intervene to save the Tsar, but it is too late, that Tsar is killed.
The analysis of this dream leads to the contention that both the parties promised not to shoot for one month. But one day while the Russian army was moving with the dreamer, he killed him. Here the Tsar represents little father and actually the dreamer had a hostile attitude towards his own father. Stranger here signifies the strange part of his personality which killed the Tsar.
The mechanism of projection is used because the hostile action foreign to the ego, but belonging to the unconscious part is projected over the stranger:
(2) He substituted for the father, the Tsar, a common symbol of father.
(3) In the dream he tried to save his victim. This is an example of over compensation. Instead of killing, he tried to save Tsar.
The patient had a strong Oedipus complex. As a result he regressed to the earlier stage and showed hostility towards his father.
Brown (1940) has mentioned the following dream of a young woman student in an eastern coeducational university, she dreamed “I was in New York with Bill, the young man to whom I am almost engaged.
It was a cloudy day and he was carrying an umbrella. We went for a ride on a Fifth Avenue Bus, when Bill suddenly got up and said, “I will leave you my umbrella, and you may pay the cheque. He ran out through the restaurant door and I woke up in a panic because I had no money.”
Analysis of the life situations and the free associations of the young lady indicated that the lady was having an emotional conflict regarding the young man during this period. He was begging her to become his mistress with the hope that later on they might be married.
Her family upbringing and her ambition to be a respectable married woman would not enable her to agree to the proposal of the man. They had spent a lot of time riding on Fifth Avenue buses.
The Youngman suggested that they go to the apartment of a friend of his and prepare a dinner and spend the evening there. The young woman refused to do this, because she realized that under such circumstances she would have a considerable conflict between her social ideals and her erotic wishes. It was at about this time the dream occurred.
This clearly reveals a case of wish fulfilment where sexual inter-course occurs. The significance of the big meal together is that of sexual intercourse. The umbrella symbolizes the penis.
Four years after the death of her mother a lady saw a dream that she is extremely angry with her own mother and in this extreme state of anger strangled her to death.
This dream appeared very strange to the lady as she never ever was hostile to her mother in her conscious stage. She loved and respected her mother throughout her life and never for once had any ill feeling towards her.
Analysis of the childhood experiences of the lady indicated that 35 years back, when she was a child of 7 years, one evening her mother prepared some special cake for the family, while the girl was away to play. When she returned from play, she found that her mother had forgotten to keep the share of cake for her. When asked, her mother simply replied that she has forgotten all about her.
This appeared to the small girl as if her mother did neither care for her nor loved her like her other brothers and sisters. She felt terribly neglected and depressed and so much so that this feeling of loss of love or lack of love even tempted her to commit suicide.
But somehow, she managed to stay on and subsequently, forgot all about it. It was repressed. This hostile feeling towards the mother on this day was repressed and it came up in dream after a lapse of 35 years, even long after the death of the mother.
Analysis of this dream indicates the importance of unconscious mental process in dream.
Analysing the importance of dreams in unconscious mental process and psychoanalysis, Brown (1940) has remarked “The psychoanalytic theory accounts for dreams and gives us a method to find out how dreams are related to the deep unconscious urges. In the dream these urges gain satisfaction by appearing in consciousness in a disguised form.
The disguise prevents the dream from arousing undue anxiety in the dreamer’s mind and thus protects his sleep. Sometimes of course, dreams do awaken us because the conflict is too strong. It is interesting that most of us dream every night.
Most of the material of these dreams are readily forgotten because after sleep has built up the spent energies, the ego again must face reality and so represses the dream content.” According to Wolman, “dream represents demands or wishes stemming from the unconscious.
These wishes are usually repressed demands for instinctual gratification. Often the demands arise in the preconscious and are residues of the days activities in the waking state. These demands may be related to a decision that has to be made or to a conflict that has to be resolved.
Wolman says that dreams are reaction of the mind to external or internal stimuli that acts upon the organism in sleep. In dreams the individual attributes objective reality to the imagery that forms the material of the dreams. “A dream then is a psychosis with all the absurdities, delusions and illusions of a psychosis.” (Freud)
Essay # 9. Anxieties in Dreams:
The notions of wish fulfilment with unpleasant emotions create anxiety. The repressed wish behind dream is enough to threaten to overcome the censorship and achieve undisguised wish fulfilment. The dreamer’s reaction to this internal danger is the development of anxiety. In such circumstances, frequently the dream terminates when the sleep is broken. In such dreams, the distortion if any is minimal.
Example of an anxiety dream:
A young woman dreamt that she saw a large horse of an unusual reddish hue. She is frightened at the sight of the animal and starts to run. The horse pursues her. She awakes in terror.
The horse represented a man who had affair with the lady and whose hair was exactly of the same colour as that of the horse in dream. Evidently, the horse represents the man. The man had a torrid affair with the lady who had been growing quite fond of him. She was forced to brake her engagement with the man after getting certain evidences that he was immoral and his intention towards her was not good.
However, she frankly admitted that her liking for him had been very strong but she tried to banish him from her thought. Thus, she dreamt that she saw him and he pursued her. Her fear for the horse in the dream is due to fear and anxiety of the fulfilment of her own wishes in the matter.
“In anxiety dreams, the latent dream material has undergone little change and the demands are too great to be warded off. Sometimes when the threat to the ego is very great, as it is in nightmares, the individual gives up sleep and returns to a waking stage.”
Lastly, the wish fulfilment in a painful dream may be a punishment, a fulfilment, gratifying the remarkable self punishment tendencies that exist in the mind of the man. It is no exaggeration to state that Freud’s theory of dreams is the keystone in psychoanalytic theory and practice.