History of Dreaming: In the ancient times, dreams were used for healing purposes and for communication with the Gods. It was used as a rite of passage in certain tribes where they would carry out spiritual activities in order to receive a guiding dream and then share it with the rest of the tribe after it was received. During the beginning of the 19th Century the way we analyzed and interpreted dreams where now taken to the next level. It was only recent when two influential psychiatrists Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud decided to take dreaming to the next level. Even though they had their own personal theories on what dreaming meant they both concluded that dreams where in fact an interaction between the unconscious and the conscious
During the late 19th and 20th centuries brought a new revolution for dreaming. Jung and Freud believed that the unconscious was the main part of the mind which worked in dreaming. They did, however, have differing views in terms of the understanding and meanings of dreams. Freud believed that there was a dynamic restriction which countered the unconscious during sleep while Jung disputed that dreams provided a resourceful language although very bizarre, a dream is able to reveal its underlying meaning. Jung believed that there was a subjective approach to dreaming in which every person in a dream was a representation of different characteristics of the dreamer. Fritz Perls theory was similar but different to this since he argued that the rejected and suppressed parts of the self-form projections which are our dreams. Fitiz however went on to a further state stating that objects within the dream which are lifeless serve to symbolize traits and features of the dreamer. Therefore in order to understand the context of the dream in relations to Perls’ theory, the dreamer is asked to imagine being the objects in the dream in order to relate it to his/her individuality. When you consider the application of each person’s personality and differing life situations you would realize that no two different people with the same dream will come out with the same meaning. Therefore although Sigmund Freud was the inventor of the analysis of dream symbols and the three neurologists who studied dreams all thought differently about what dreams meant, they all agreed that the meaning relied on the dreamer.
Aspects of Dreams to Consider the Meaning:
Dreams are highly phantasmagorical in nature, which means that the images in dreams are a combination and blending of different places and things. There is a part in our brain which actually stores every person, character, object, location and language. These memories or experiences are generally what make the visuals and dreams symbols which appear in very embellished and peculiar forms.
People do not realize the importance of emotions in their dreams. A single emotion or feeling that you possess in your dream can change what the symbol represents. Although the most frequent and recurrent emotion in dreams is anxiety that is brought on by nightmares. Also negative emotions are more present in dreaming rather than positive ones. Dreams also can include emotions like, but not limited to, fear, happiness, rejection, excitement and even orgasmic feelings.
Sexual dreams do not happen regularly but it occurs about 10% of the time in mostly young adults and teenagers. Adults have sexual dreams in about 8% of the time and sometimes result in orgasms and are known as wet dreams.
Color vs. black and white
Although a marginal amount of people say that they dream in only black and white, it is actually quite the opposite. We think we dream in colour but in fact we only remember our dreams in colour because of how we visualise things. Try to remember and differentiate the difference between colours in your dreams because they do have a meaning.
Recurrent dreams are reported mostly in females, as 70% of females have experienced recurring dreams while 65% of males. Although it would not be the same exact dream, as in the content being the same, the dream will follow the same form in different periods of sleeping.
Why look for meaning to your Dreams?
When you learn to understand and interpret your dreams you will have a more open and clearer view of your life, relationships, feelings and a clearer view of issues in your waking life. Once you know that your dreams are unique and no other person can have your life experiences, your dreams represent your individuality. When you see the clear view of your dreams and then you would understand your reality and know that getting to know the meaning of your dreams will give you a better perspective on life.
Although sometimes our waking mind are not ready to face the meanings, our unconscious sees that it is imperative that we face the problems in our life. When you understand the complicated plots and puns of your dreams, your life in the present, past and future would be easier to understand. Who knows maybe you’d even understand the connections you have with certain people even better and their lives as well.
“Dreams…are not meaningless…they are a completely valid psychological phenomenon, the fulfillment of wishes… constructed through highly complicated intellectual activity. “Sigmund Freud.
“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.” Sigmund Freud
“Since dreams provide information about the hidden inner life and reveal to the patient those components of his personality which, in his daily behavior, appear merely as neurotic symptoms, it follows that we cannot effectively treat him from the side of consciousness alone, but must bring about a change in and through the unconscious. In the light of our present knowledge this can be achieved only by the thorough and conscious assimilation of unconscious contents.” Carl Jung
One of the central disagreements between Jung and Freud was their differing conceptions of the unconscious.
Freud’s Position: Freud believed the unconscious mind was the epicenter of our repressed thoughts, traumatic memories, and fundamental drives of sex and aggression. He saw it as a storage facility for all hidden sexual desires, resulting in neuroses, or what we would nowadays call mental illness.
He declared that the human mind centres upon three structures – the id, the ego and the super ego. The id forms our unconscious drives (mainly sex), and is not bound by morality but instead only seeks to satisfy pleasure. The ego is our conscious perceptions, memories and thoughts that enable us to deal effectively with reality. The superego attempts to mediate the drives of the id through socially acceptable behaviours.
Jung’s Position: Jung also divided the human psyche into three parts. But in Jung’s view the unconscious was divided into the ego, the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. To Jung, the ego is the conscious, the personal unconscious includes memories (both recalled and suppressed) and the collective unconscious holds our experiences as a species or knowledge that we are born with (for example, love at first sight).
Jung’s take on the human psyche was inspired by his studies into Eastern philosophy and religion such as Buddhism and Hinduism. He also believed that the contents of the unconscious are not restricted to repressed material.
Disagreement 2: Dreams
Freud’s Position: Freud believed that we could learn much about an individual through the interpretation of dreams. Freud argued that when we are awake our deepest desires are not acted upon because a) there are the considerations of reality (the ego) and also morality (the superego) . But during sleep these restraining forces are weakened and we may experience our desires through our dreams.
Jung Position: Like Freud, Jung believed that dream analysis allowed for a window into the unconscious mind. But unlike Freud, Jung did not believe that that the content of all dreams was necessarily sexual in nature or that they disguised their true meaning. Instead Jung’s depiction of dreams concentrated more on symbolic imagery. he believed dreams could have many different meanings according to the dreamer’s associations .Freud also believed that our dreams are able to access repressed or anxiety provoking thoughts (mainly sexually repressed desires) that cannot be entertained directly for fear of anxiety and embarrassment. Thus, defence mechanisms allow a desire or thought to slip through into our dreams in a disguised, symbolic form – for example, someone dreaming of a large stick in Freud’s view would be dreaming of a penis. It was the job of the analyst to interpret these dreams in light of their true meaning.
Jung was against the idea of a ‘dream dictionary’ where dreams are interpreted by fixed meanings. He claimed dreams speak in a distinctive language of symbols, images, and metaphors and that they portray both the external world (i.e. individuals and places in a person’s day to day life), as well as the persons internal world (feelings, thoughts and emotions).
Jung agreed that dreams could be retrospective in nature and reflect events in childhood, but he also felt that they could anticipate future events and could be great sources of creativity. Jung criticised Freud for focusing purely on the external and objective aspects of a person’s dream rather than looking at both objective and subjective content. Finally, one of the more distinctive aspects of Jung’s dream theory was that dreams could express personal, as well as collective or universal contents. This universal or collective content was displayed through what Jung termed ‘Archetypes’.
Archetypes are universally inherited prototypes which help us to perceive and act in a certain way. Jung argued that our distant ancestor’s experience of universal concepts like God, water, and earth were transmitted through the generations. People in every time period have been influenced by their ancestor’s experiences. This means that the contents of the collective unconscious are the same for each individuals within a culture. These Archetypes are symbolically expressed through dreams, fantasies and hallucinations.