Freud Saw Meaning in Dreams

Freud Saw Meaning in Dreams

by Art Coulter, M.D.

MOST of us dream, and most of us are puzzled by the dreams we have had. Few of us take dreams very 'seriously ' nowadays, although in history the idea that dreams are omens or signs of hidden meanings has been seriously regarded indeed. . Today, there even are persons who regard an .attempt to understand dreams .as a "waste of time". Sigmund Freud was not one of these.

Freud saw, I think correctly, that dreams do have a meaning, and that the attempt to find out that meaning can be very helpful to self-understanding .

Dreams are an attempt b., the unconscious to tell us something important, about deeply, repressed, material.

The. importance of dreams may perhaps be made clearer by describing another state long known to psychoanalysts, in which the individual is fully awake, bit relaxed and with' the eyes closed. This state is called by the long name "hypnagogi.c reverie", but many people probably have experienced it under different names. In it, the individual "sees" 'real or imaginary scenes of the past with remarkable vividness almost as if he were there xit; he knows -he isn-'t ), and "hears" sounds with striking -clarity; there also May be rather strong bodily sensations.

Many readers undoubtedly have recalled past incidents in such a reverie-, and cara attest to the value .of thea experience.

The chief difference between such experiences. and dreams is simply that the dreamer ; is ,asleep, But , he- can recall, the dream, especially if he writes it down right after .waking up.. And: people- who may have had difficulty recalling in reverie might find the dream helpful -- not only in itself, but also in developing :the ability to recall in.reverie ""What do you do with a dream after you recall it?" .the reader may ask, recalling many puzzled moments. Freud developed a simple. and powerful technique which he called "dream interpretation", which may answer this question.

The first'step is to accept as true what already have discovered the actual-content- of the dream means noth -- ,ing. - The . real meaning l of - the dream is hidden; it :takes a search to find it..

The search is conducted. by the familiar tool of free association.. The patient is asked to focus his attention on each part of the dream, and fully report whatever ideas, feelings, images, etc., that occur to him, no matter how trivial or unpleasant they may be. It is often helpful to take into account events of the previous day.

This leads to the realm of dream thoughts, of which the dream itself is a distorted and disguised expression. It is here that the study of dreams reveals its value, because it not only explains the dream, it also brings to light important data of which the individual was -previously unaware For example: A dreamer was pulling a certain lady of his acquaintance out of a ditch. On free-association, it meant he "picked her .out", preferred her.