Over the past hundred years there have been many researches who have struggled over the meaning and interpretations of dreams. Some psychologist such as Sigmund Freud, believe that nothing you do ever occurs by chance. Sigmund believed that during your conscious state you often suppress hidden urges and impulses throughout the day. Sigmund believed that the mind was broken up into three distinct parts:
Id – This is the completely unconscious part of the brain that is impulsive and his the source of the basic impulses and drives in human beings. This part of brain operates on the “pleasure principle” and always looks for instant pleasure and enjoyment. This part of your mind is often depicted in movies as your “shoulder devil,” which gives you the more pleasurable option.
Superego – This is the moral part of our minds that will always choose the absolute right thing to do in any situation. It desires to be socially acceptable, appropriate and well behaved. This part of your conscious can be considered your “shoulder angel” giving you the best moral advice.
Ego – The ego works between the Id and Superego to help balance out the impractical self-indulgence of the Id and the moralism of the Super-ego.
When a person is awake, their natural desires are suppressed by the superego, which acts to enforce a moral code which has been passed on to the individual. However, when a person is dreaming, the balance shifts to the Id, which is able to act out its uninhibited desires in the form of a dream.
Freud also believed that sometimes the Id’s desires and wants can be so psychologically disturbing and dramatic that these desires will be projected into symbols that are more acceptable to society. This conversion into acceptable images in your dream is an attempt to help preserve your sleep and prevent nightmare reactions from occurring.
As of result of this translation of deep desires into acceptable symbolic imagery, Freud believed that is caused people to struggle to remember dreams at night. This was due to the fact that the superego was going to work in your conscious state trying to suppress the disturbing symbols and images that people dreamed about.
Sigmund Freud’s Dream Theory
Freud believed that dreams were separated into two distinct parts:
- Manifest Content: Upon awaking from a dream, this is what you would remember. If you were to tell a person what you dream about last night, this is the content of the dream that you would describe to them. This is the censored version of the actual meaning of the dream. The surface level meaning of the dream. It is what people use to disguise their forbidden desires with acceptable symbols and meanings.
- Latent Content: Completely opposite to the manifest content, the latent content is the true meaning of the dream. Although the latent content might be seen in the manifest content of the dream, it won’t be interpretable because there is no context for the dream to have any meaning from.
Freud believed that the dreamer takes the latent content of a dream and works to censor it by turning the content into manifest content that is more acceptable to society. This process of converting latent content into manifest content was called “dream work.” There was also a belief that the mind had specific methods to help convert content of the dream.
- Condensation – The process of condensation in a dream is taking to or more latent thoughts and combining them into one manifest dream or an image that is acceptable. The dreamer will often hide the feelings or urges in a dream by turning them into a brief image or event in a dream. This makes the dream imagery not apparent of the obvious meaning of the dream.
- Displacement – During sleep the hidden desires or emotions we have for someone or something can be displaced to hide the true meaning in the manifest dream. If you are the type of person that has a hidden love for a person you might find it represented in a new object like an iPhone.
- Symbolism – This is where objects that are similar in sound and look to are concealed in specific objects to hide sexual desire. A good example of symbolism in dreams is anything that looked like or was in the shape of an erection symbolized it. This meant that lamps and trees all represented a form of an erection. Similar to the erection, anything that had a space inside of it represented a vagina. A great example of this is entering a tunnel.
- Projection– This takes place when a dreamer projects all of their desires and wants onto another person in the dream. You might dream of someone else who represents everything that you want.
- Rationalization – Often considered the final stage of Sigmund Freud’s dream work cycle. This is where the mind organizes an incoherent dream into something that is logical and can be explained. It is sometimes called the “secondary revision” of a dream.
Note: When using Freudian theories to interpret dreams it is important to put everything in context. Freud was a man that was preoccupied with the sexual content in dreams. He believed that sex and sexual feelings were the root causes of most things we dreamed about. It is important to know that Freud grew up in the Victorian era. During this time society as a whole was very repressed sexually, which is why Freud often believed that sexual repression was the root cause of most dreams.