Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dream Interpretation and Sigmund Freud

In the early part of the 19th century, dream interpretation had fallen out of fashion, and almost no one practiced this art seriously. In the early part of the century, dreams were thought to have no meaning at all, and to be simply the result of a heavy meal before bedtime, noises heard in the night and other trivial causes.

By the latter part of the 19th century, however, Sigmund Freud would revolutionize the world of dreams and dream interpretation with his radical new ideas incorporating dreams and deep seated childhood fears.

Born in 1865, Sigmund Freud revolutionized the world of psychiatry and dream interpretation with his seminal work “The Interpretation of Dreams”. Freud started to analyze the dreams of his patients, and he used this dream analysis to diagnose and treat their psychiatric ills.

Freud also studied dreams as a way to understand certain aspects of the personality, especially those aspects that lead to psychological problems and disorders. Freud believed that nothing human beings did happened by chance, and that every action, no matter how small or seemingly trivial, was at some level motivated by the unconscious mind.

Of course in order for a civilized, modern society to function, certain primal needs and desires must be repressed, and Freud’s theory was that these repressed urges and desires were released by the unconscious during dream sleep.

Doctor Freud saw dreams as a direct connection to the unconscious mind, and he studied that connection through the interpretation of symbolic objects found in dreams. The theory was that with the conscious mind acts as a guard on the unconscious, preventing certain repressed feelings from coming to the surface. During sleep, however, this conscious guard is absent, and the subconscious mind is free to run wild and express its most hidden desires.

Freud was especially interested in the sexual content of dreams, and he often saw ordinary objects in dreams as representations of sexual desire. To Freud, every long, slender item encountered in a dream, from a knife to a flagpole, was a phallic image, while any receptacle such as a bowl or vase, represented the female genitalia.

Freud believed in five stages of personality, and he saw dreams as manifestations of desired stemming from each of these five stages. To Freud, personality formation consisted of:

Stage One – Oral/Dependency

Freud’s theory was that any needs not satisfied during the oral/dependency stage would cause the person to go through life trying to meet them. Thus, to Freud, habits such as overeating, drinking to much and smoking were all oral fixations. People suffering from these oral fixations often dreamed about their unmet needs and desires.

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