Dream Interpretation Freud and Jung

Freud about Dream Interpretation

Freud wrote a great deal about dreams and his dream interpretation method. Here we provide only a few hints abstracted from his huge work. More quotes will be available soon so please sign with our newsletter (see below) to keep in touch with our news.


Definition. - A dream is a disguised fulfillment of a repressed wish. The interpretation of dreams has as its object the removal of the disguise to which the dreamer's thoughts have been subjected. It is, moreover, a highly valuable aid to psycho-analytic technique, for it constitutes the most convenient method of obtaining insight into unconscious psychical life. (From: On Psychoanalysis).

The Interpretation of Dreams. - A new approach to the depths of mental life was opened when the technique of free association was applied to dreams, whether one's own or those of patients in analysis. In fact, the greater and better part of what we know of the processes in the unconscious levels of the mind is derived from the interpretation of dreams. Psycho-analysis has restored to dreams the importance which was generally ascribed to them in ancient times, but it treats them differently. It does not rely upon the cleverness of the dream-interpreter but for the most part hands the task over to the dreamer himself by asking him for his associations to the separate elements of the dream. By pursuing these associations further we obtain knowledge of thoughts which coincide entirely with the dream but which can be recognized - up to a certain point - as genuine and completely intelligible portions of waking mental activity. Thus the recollected dream emerges as the manifest dream content, in contrast to the latent dream-thoughts discovered by interpretation. The process which has transformed the latter into the former, that is to say into "the dream", and which is undone by the work of interpretation, may be called the "dream-work".

 We also describe the latent dream-thoughts, on account of their connection with waking life, as  "residues of the day". By the operation of the dream-work (to which it would be quite incorrect to ascribe any "creative" character ) the latent dream thoughts are condensed in a remarkable way, are distorted by the displacement of psychical intensities and are arranged with a view to being represented in visual pictures; and, besides all this, before the manifest dream is arrived at, they are submitted to a process of secondary revision which seeks to give the new product something in the nature of sense and coherence. Strictly speaking, this last process does not form a part of the dream-work.

The Dynamic Theory of Dream-Formation. - The motive power for the formation of dreams is not provided by the latent dream-thoughts or day's residues, but by an unconscious impulse, repressed during the day, with which the day's residues have been able to establish contact and which contrives to make a wish-fulfilment for itself out of the material of the latent thoughts. Thus every dream is on the one hand the fulfillment of a wish on the part of the unconscious and on the other hand (in so far as it succeeds in guarding the state of sleep against being disturbed) the fulfillment of the normal wish to sleep which set the sleep going. If we disregard the unconscious contribution to the formation of the dream and limit the dream to its latent thoughts, it can represent anything with which waking life has been concerned - a reflection, a warning, an intention, a preparation for the immediate future or, once again, the satisfaction of an unfulfilled wish. The unrecognizability, strangeness and absurdity of the manifest dream are partly the result of the translation of the thoughts into a different, so to say archaic, method of expression, but partly the effect of a restrictive, critically disapproving agency in the mind which does not entirely cease to function during sleep. It is plausible to suppose that the "dream-censorship", which we regard as being responsible in the first instance for the distortion of the dream-thoughts into the manifest dream, is an expression of the same mental forces which during the day-time had held back or repressed the unconscious wishful impulse.

It has been worth while to enter in some detail into the explanation of dreams, since analytic work has shown that the dynamics of the formation of dreams are the same as those of the formation of symptoms. In both cases we find a struggle between two trends, of which one is unconscious and ordinarily repressed and strives towards satisfaction - that is, wish-fulfilment - while the other, belonging probably to the conscious ego, is disapproving and repressive. The outcome of this conflict is a compromise-formation (the dream or the symptom) in which both trends have found an incomplete expression. The theoretical importance of this conformity between dreams and symptoms is illuminating. Since dreams are not pathological phenomena, the fact shows that the mental mechanisms which produce the symptoms of illness are equally present in normal mental life, that the same uniform law embraces both the normal and the abnormal and that the findings of research into neurotics or psychotics cannot be without significance for our understanding of the healthy mind.

Symbolism. - In the course of investigating the form of expression brought about by the dream-work, the surprising fact emerged that certain objects, arrangements and relations are represented, in a sense indirectly, by "symbols", which are used by the dreamer without his understanding them and to which as a rule he offers no associations. Their translation has to be provided by the analyst, who can himself only discover it empirically by experimentally fitting it into the context. It was later found that linguistic usage, mythology and folklore afford the most ample analogies to dream-symbols. Symbols, which raise the most interesting and hitherto unsolved problems, seem to be a fragment of extremely ancient inherited mental equipment. The use of a common symbolism extends far beyond the use of a common language. (From: Two Encyclopedia Articles).

Next: Two short examples of Freud's approach of dreams here.

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