Essay about Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams
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Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams
Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams was originally published in 1900. The era was one of prudish Victorians. It was also the age of the continued Enlightenment. The New Formula of science, along with the legacy of Comte’s Positivism, had a firm hold on the burgeoning discipline of psychology. Freud was groomed as both scientist and Romantic, but his life’s work reflected conflict of the two backgrounds and a reaction against each one. It is my opinion that The Interpretation of Dreams was not simply written as a methodology of deconstructing dreams and assigning them meaning, but its latent content (as it were) was a critique of science’s New Formula, and was designed to…show more content…
The implications of this novel understanding spilled over into the budding field of humanistic psychology, as well as into many new theoretical writings spanning areas from social sciences to fine arts. Freud’s work made interesting contributions to general psychology because, in offering the idea that dreams have meaning that could be comprehended and interpreted, he was taking the side of the ignorant and the superstitious against the positivist philosophy of early science psychology. Thus, the text can be read not only in the context of social and intellectual traditions impinging on fin-de-siecle culture, but more generally in relation to a broader framework of changing western conceptions of the nature and importance of dreams. Freud’s writings on dreams provide an ideal psychology of modern life, and this is especially clear if his work is viewed in the context of the major transformations in the understanding of dreams that have characterized different periods of development within psychology. For Freud, the possibility of dream interpretation is contingent on the premise that their puzzling and seemingly nonsensical elements actually contain a series of clues from which their originating ideas can be deduced. Dreams are, in some sense, designated to conceal events/emotions that would be too painful for a person to recall, but nonetheless do so in such a way as to still communicate those very events or emotions in a
He uses a self-analysis of his own dreams in order to prove the theory he puts forward about how dream psychology works. In the work, Freud differentiates between dreams that are at the surface and unconscious level dreams. He suggests that dreams have their own language and thus need to be interpreted. He suggests that most dreams are a sort of way for the unconscious mind to express its desires. He continues to explain that even the most distorted of dreams, when carefully examined will reveal their meaning. Thus, he proposes that one way of gaining insights into a person's desires is through an analysis of their dreams, no matter how far-fetched they are.
Freud began his work by exploring past literature which had been written on this subject of the dream world. Indeed, there were many theories that had been written on the subject. However, he noted that the interest in dreams over the issue for more than a thousand years had not yielded much. Initially, early man believed that dreams were some sort of divine message form the gods. He also notes that recent scientific theory of his time indicated that dreams originated from excitation of the senses. In other words, it was a way for the sleeping mind to deal with the real world. This was done in an effort to keep the individual from waking up.
However, he was not wholly convinced about this theory of excitation of the senses. For instance, he wondered why a dream did not simply recount the event of the day in a simple manner as they had occurred. In addition, he noted that the theory of physical excitation did not always hold. In fact, the mind would sometimes block out all sensory stimuli. Besides this, he also noted that many dreams people recounted had an ethical angle to them. Consequently, he concluded there was no way dreaming could be that simplistic. His interest in dreams during his practice with mental patients. During their sessions, they would describe to him horrific nightmares. On further investigation, he noted a pattern in this dreams. Thus, he decided to investigate the matter. He noted that when treating the mind, a dream should be regarded as a symptom just like other ailments. When he finally decided to write this work, he had worked on thousands of such cases involving dream interpretation.
He postulates that when someone awakes from the dream, what he or she can recall is the manifest part of the dream. This part of the dream is quite meaningless and of little value to a psychoanalyst, according to him. He adds that one begins to scratch the surface the real meaning of what the dream are revealed. He suggested that this meaning was normally hidden because of the restrictions society places on individuals. In most cases, this deeper meaning tended to have a sexual undertone. The mind thus uses symbolism to hide the real meaning of the dream. This was out of a desire by the mind to protect its moral integrity.
In order to interpret dreams, Freud would utilize a method he termed as free association. He would request the dreamer to relive his dream. After that, the dreamer would be requested to associate various objects with realities of the real world. By so doing, the psychoanalyst could then examine any events in the dreamer's life and draw up a conclusion. He argues that a dream is very important to the continued sane existence of an individual. For instance, instead of one acting out on incestuous desires, the individual can have their odd sexual cravings fulfilled in the dream world and thus they can function normally in society. Further, a dream can help one deal with the loss of a loved, according to Freud. In addition to helping an individual deal with loss, dreams help lower aggression in society. He goes on to explain that an individual who has desire to commit revenge may find fulfillment in a dream. Thus contributing to the peaceful existence of society.
His work, at one point led him to believe that this was one of humanities three humiliations. He noted that the belief long held of humans being in total control of our actions had ow been debunked. This idea brought him into disrepute especially in the United States. The problem with Freud's theory was that there was no way of proving if a treatment had worked. Later studies in the nineteenth century even refuted the idea of dreams being linked to desire. As a result, his work became less and less appealing over time. However, recent research has revived the interest in the link between desire and dreams. For instance, researchers have noted that areas of the mind charged with desire seem overly active during sleep. This conclusion was arrived at by using an MRI scan on a sleeping person. This research does appear to validate Freud's work, albeit cautiously, so many years after it was refuted as pseudoscience.
It is important to note that this theory coincides with a deeply religious time in history. At the time, the common belief was that God or other spiritual beings inspired all dreams. As a result, his work was not given the opportunity to grow and be fully investigated. Since his time, many others have tried to come up with their own theories as to how dreams work. All of them wholly or partially based upon Freud's original work. However, there is no denying that Freud's revelation of the unconscious mind had a great influence on humanity.