or Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams and The Jungian Dream Analysis
The mystery behind the dreams
Dreams. They lead us into confusion and often frighten us. For thousands of years people have tried to understand their meaning, but to this day no one knows with certainty their meaning and what is their function. Scientists know, why do we need sleep, but have no idea why we need a dream.
The physiological explanation is that the dream is a glitch, a side effect of specific brain activity. During sleep, there is something happening in our brain and this is accompanied by a stream of visual images, sailing before the inner eye of the dreamer. Why is this happening and what is the function of these visions, neuroscientists do not know. And even more so they do not know why certain things appear in dreams, not other characters and plots.
The hidden meaning of dreams throughout the history
But be that as it may, at all times people have seen in dreams a special mystical meaning and measure the forces trying to understand them. Attempts to interpret dreams are described in the Bible, in ancient Greece was made already a dream book, and in some cultures, the interpretation of dreams was (and still is?), an independent specialty.
It is possible that the desire to reveal the hidden meaning of dreams is inherent in human nature. Almost everyone can recall a dream that left a deep imprint in his heart. A dream from which it was impossible to dismiss as simple – as if it really was a special and had crucial role that insistently demanded attention …
Along with the rapid development of psychology in the 19-20 centuries, interest in the interpretation of dreams flared up, and with the filing of Freud the content of dream finally came into the sphere of scientific interests. At the turn of the century, in 1900, Sigmund Freud published a book – “The Interpretation of Dreams” and that made him famous and opened a way for emerging even psychoanalysis.
To understand the logic of Freud’s interpretation of dreams, we must remember that his theory did not arise out of the blue. Theme of sexuality was the basis of psychoanalysis, not because of a personal obsession of Sigmund Freud, but because those were the days.
Puritan mores of the Victorian era have created a fertile soil for growing all kinds of mental disorders on the grounds of sexuality. And Freud’s great achievement lies in the fact that he pulled to the surface the conflict between the demands of morality and the call of the animal nature in man, and made people start to “talk about it.”
Sigmund Freud first looked into the unconscious and it is not surprising that the first thing he’s discovered is what lays from the very top, a very hard problem – the hypocritical morality of repressed sexuality.
After decades (centuries?) of diligent displacement, the theme of sexuality was almost completely submerged in the unconscious. And since sexuality is a natural and literally vital sphere of human existence, then the energy intensity of mental conflicts that have arisen on the basis of this repression was very large and ubiquitous. We can say that at the time of Freud, each phallic symbol was actually a phallic symbol.
So it happened that Freud’s research led him to the conclusion that all mental problems are reduced to the sexual subtext. Dreams, of course, Freud saw in the same direction, but he formulated two hypotheses that are of interest to us keeping our theme.
First, Sigmund Freud speculated that dreams are the way in which the psyche acts out repressed, forgotten, or simply unavailable desire. That is, he believed that in dreams we dream what we would like to make or receive in daily life.
Second, Freud suggested to consider the images of dreams not in their literal sense, but in the form of metaphors, analogies, signs and dream symbols. That is, if the dream of a boat floating on the water, this dream is not about the boat, not the water, and not travel, but about something to which these images are symbolically indicated. The task of interpretation, just boils down to, to pave a path from the literal to the symbolic and understand what particular repressed wish is behind the vague and ambiguous images of dreams (Freud’s interpretation of dreams about boat is obvious, so we will not draw attention).
In a nutshell, the essence of the method is to ensure that the patient produced the chain of associations in some original way, and continued for as long as it does not lead him to a painful subject.
The principal disadvantage of this method is that no matter what is the original image, the chain of free associations, always leads to the most intense internal conflict – it attracts like a magnet. Therefore, Freud turned out that the image of any dream eventually led to the most charged issue – the repressed sexuality, and most were found concerned to meet the desires of sexual instinct.
Sigmund Freud has not taken into account the property of this free association, and as a result made many far-reaching conclusions based on the fact that no matter what kind of thread you pull, all sexual problems get out. And so it happened that the whole classical psychoanalysis was impregnated with this error.
Nevertheless, Freud did a great job, and his first attempts to understand the true meaning of dreams created a powerful springboard for further research. Still, even a misunderstanding – it’s much better than the absence of any understanding at all or, worse, unwillingness to understand anything at all.
If we say that Freud was obsessed with sexuality, Jung, in turn, was obsessed with the study of characters. One of the central ideas of Jung’s theory was the assumption that the unconscious “thinks” universal dream symbols and most clearly expresses itself in mythological stories.
Based on the classical theory of psychoanalysis, Carl Jung stepped much further and deeper into the understanding of the device of the human psyche. For obvious and superficial spiritual conflict, he saw the problems of a different order – those that worried humanity throughout history, regardless of culture.
Carl Jung believed, and found a lot of evidence that human nature laid the foundations of the universal defining ways to respond to the surrounding reality – he called them from the archetypes to mental instincts. In the same way as the animal instincts and the need to help people fulfill their biological program, archetypes determine the structure of its perception, the basic patterns of behavior and the main driving motives.
And in dream analysis, Jung in the first place was searching for just the manifestation of these universal mental instincts. During his life, Jung analyzed by at least 80,000 dreams and put a new, more holistic approach to the interpretation of dreams. Unfortunately, for some reason he did not issue their findings in a separate book, so to get an idea of his method, you need to turn over many of his other works, in which are often found practical examples of dream analysis with extensive explanations of what and why.
The principal difference between Jung’s approach on dream analysis, is a very caring attitude for dreams content. If Freud immediately led away the patient to free associations, leaving the original story and the images of dreams without much attention, Carl Jung, on the contrary, all the time, recalls that one should not deviate far from the original images, because all worth lies in their symbolic meaning.
The most difficult part in the Jungian dream analysis is that the researcher requires deep and broad knowledge of mythology and the “symbolic philosophy.” Jung believed that without this it would be impossible to distinguish between the dream stories generated by everyday life context of the dreamer, from those that emerged from the depths of the collective unconscious, and as such have a much more important meaning.
In fact, Jung’s theory says that each person can follow in his soul a reflection of all the major mythological stories known to mankind, because the myth is not an empty tale, but a symbolic representation of underlying psychological processes that occur in every person. That is why, throughout the world and in different cultures, these themes are repeated again and again.
There are no universal dream symbols
However, we do not just dream about the myths and universal dream symbols. Paramount importance also has the dreamer’s own life experience – so-called context of the dream. Jung’s approach to dream analysis also implies the use of the association, but in contrast to Freud’s method, where each new association “thought up” to the previous one, the association always returned to the original image and forms something like a “cloud of understanding.” This makes it possible to understand and feel more deeply every image, and twist, and thus be closer to an understanding of the message.
Carl Jung also saw in another way the purpose of dreams. He thought that one of the basic principles of operation of the mental apparatus is his constant striving for balance, and in all the mental symptoms is seen the aim of restoration of this balance. Accordingly to him, he saw the dream as an attempt to restore the disturbed balance of mind. For example, a person with unnecessarily bloated egos can dream, which turns out to be naked in public. The well-known story, huh? The purpose of this dream is to move the self-esteem in a more adequate position, showing that the emperor has no clothes.
That is, from the standpoint of analytical psychology, the unconscious in dreams shows us the performances, narrated by metaphorical language, whose purpose is to restore the disturbed mental balance, and not in the sense of “calming” the dreamer, but in terms of elimination of the deep distortions in his conscious position. In general, dreams can be quite cruel in achieving this goal – the nightmares begin about a time when the person refuses to notice a milder form of the recommendations. The brighter is the emotional intensity of the dream, the more important is his message.
However, it should be made a reservation. Although Jung offered a much more profound approach to the interpretation of dreams, he still can not be considered uniquely “correct.” This was the method of Jung and it has worked well in HIS hands. In dreams there is such a common feature that they are talking with someone on what language he is ready to understand.
Carl Jung, all his life – from his youth – studied the myths and symbols, and it is not surprising that it affected his psychological theory. He saw in a man what he wanted to see, and now it is very difficult to separate the Jungian dream symbols obsession of the true nature of the human psyche. Maybe Jung was right, and maybe his theory is but a reflection properties of his own unique and, of course, a rich personality.
There is a well-known observation – Jungian dream, full of mythological parallels, fairy tale characters, dragons, and demons. But it is quite possible that this is the case, when the unconscious speaks to the dreamer in a language he understands.