Freud decided to wait a few months to publish The Interpretation of Dreams in 1900. | Image: Creative Commons
Dreams are frequent events or images in all people that take place when sleeping. Despite the fact that many maintain that they do not sound, we all do it, although we do not always remember what. It has even been verified that some animals are capable of doing so .
The content of dreams varies depending on who is having them, as well as their emotional charge, but many times those that leave a bad taste in our mouths predominate. In them, we can represent unreal scenarios that seem to have been created from nothing; other times we are located in places that we usually frequent or used to frequent and we are faced with unbelievable situations.
We can even get to dream with known people. Some dreams follow a universal theme to all , for example those in which they chase us, attack us, fall into the void or feel that we cannot move. Actually the combinations are many, since a part of our brain is still activated and therefore creating dream material.
The importance of the psychoanalytic tradition
Since the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the school of psychoanalysis has been trying to offer an explanation that clarifies the reason for dreams and their true motive.
Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis, gave vital importance to the content of dreams, since for him and the theorists related to his school, they contain very relevant information about our way of being , which is normally kept hidden.
According to his explanations, this occurs because the repressive mechanisms of certain thoughts remain active during wakefulness., while when sleeping and entering deep stages of sleep, they are deactivated, favoring their emergence to consciousness. However, the next morning we will remember everything in a distorted or fragmented way and without following an orderly sequence.
What do dreams mean?
Freud tries to infer how the unconscious mind acts in the elaboration of dreams. As supported by the work “The interpretation of dreams”, there would be two kinds of content: the manifest and the latent.
- Manifest : the one we remember from the dream and can relate, more accessible and evocable even after time has passed.
- Latent : one whose symbolic meaning tries to mask some hidden desire or thought, expressed through dreams. Even nightmares, which are a priori distressing moments we experience while sleeping, would contain some kind of longing.
Another element with relevance for psychoanalysis are the traumatic experiences that we have suffered at some point in our childhood , which would remain buried in the depths of this part of the psyche. When the walls imposed by the Self during wakefulness, which would keep all this material at bay, diminish, giving way to the unconscious material that was repressed to be uncovered to a certain extent.
In this way, there is a hidden or subliminal meaning in what we sound. With the help of the therapist, who will guide the patient to decipher all this compendium of apparently unconnected and random representations, it will be deduced what this meaning is.
If it is done successfully, even the details to the least importantgranted or those that suddenly return to our memory when we seem to have forgotten about them, will make sense .
Despite the fact that both the process of dreaming and the fact that the unconscious contents are camouflaged to emerge into consciousness are a universal phenomenon for this discipline, it is worth clarifying that the hidden interpretation of them will vary depending on the person. because the details of each dream are constructed according to the subjectivity of each individual.
The method of free association as a way of liberation
This procedure, which aims to make the patient “unleash” his mind to release the unconscious material that he harbors, must be followed with the help of a therapist. What is intended to be achieved in this exercise is thatthe mechanisms that keep unconscious thoughts repressed relax .
Free association allows the expression of these in an indirect way, to later use the language and rework them. It consists of letting the patient tell everything that is going through his head at that moment, without any type of guide or censorship on the part of the professional; thus, without realizing it, the subject’s barriers to repression diminish. All issues about what the subject is saying are interpreted as being conditioned by his unconscious activity.
The role of the therapist is to detect and analyze the use of symbols or metaphors; or issues that the patient avoids talking about and seem important to discuss. Next, he must transform all the ideas that he has been collecting that seem relevant to transform them into a new one and transfer it to the subject. This new meaning will fit in with what it is most difficult for him to express consciously, and he will be forced to face this unprecedented analysis of the situation.
The importance of Freud
As we have seen, Freud was the first to give importance to the role that the unconscious plays in us, at a time when until then only what happened in the conscious stages was discussed. He was also a pioneer in the study of affective and emotional determinants in our lives., such as fears or anxiety.