What are dreams, what allows them to happen, and what do they mean?
Today I will discuss with you two theories of dreaming. Sigmund Freud’s 1899 ‘Interpretation of dreams’ (Freud, 1995) theory as well as Carl Jung’s The Archetype and The Collective unconscious (Jung, 1971). Modern-day psychologists perceive dreams to be the result of unsystematic brain activity that occurs while asleep, other psychologists consider the famous dream theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, who hypothesize that dreams can reveal and perceive a person’s conscious desires and beliefs.
Theory 1- Freud
Sigmund Freud began his studies in 1896, where he would analyse the brains of voluntary patients to understand individual personality within dreams and the way in which they relate to pathology. He transformed the way at which neuroscientists perceived the study of dreams with his 1899 work ‘The Interpretation Of Dreams’ (Freud 1995) . His book discusses the motivation of your conscience and the effect it has on your dreams. The outcome of your dreams are determined and motivated by your unconscious. Humans subconscious is what allows them to hold back sexual or secretive impulses created by the brain. Freud’s theory is that these urges are released through the form of symbolic dreams that can represent aggression or sexual desire.
Slide 3 Sigmund Freud was popularly known for his work on the Human Psyche Structural Model, first introduced within a seminal paper he released in 1923 “The Ego and the ID”. Freud’s model closely defined his theories of id, ego and superego, all of which are of value within the function of psychoanalysis.
The ID is engaged with Freud’s 1920 principle of pleasure that states urges such as sex, hunger and thirst deserve urgent gratification despite possible consequences. The ID is revolved around the response of biological impulses and urges that humans experience. In theory; the ID is connected to the unconscious components of the mind, unlike the ego and superego. It remains juvenile from birth to adulthood and is not influenced by actions or external reality.
The ego is described by Freud as ‘the part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world.’ (Freud, 1923, p. 25). The id works with the pleasure principle, while the ego works with the reality principle. The ego analyses the urges created by the id and creates compromising fulfillment in order to reject negative consequences. Unlike the id, the ego functions with logic and apprehension with the consideration of social standard, rules and civility. Freud related the ego to be ‘like a man on horseback, who has to hold in check the superior strength of the horse.’ (Freud, 1923, p. 15). Therefore, the ego is fragile in comparison to the power of the urges provided by the id.
The super-ego is a suggestible function fused by morals that are implicated during the stages of psychosexual development by parents or other authoritative figures. The purpose of the superego is to control the urges that defies the norms of society, such as aggressive and sexual action. Its role is to influence the ego to seek for more rational and realistic goals. The super-ego subsists of two structures; ego-self and the conscience. The ego-self works to produce a representation of a human’s aspirations in terms of their future, career and behaviour. The conscience exists to discipline the ego when it fails to overcome the urges of the id. This discipline is supplied through the feeling of anxiety and guilt.
Each of these functions produce distinct features. However, they cooperate together in order to control human interaction, decision making, as well as dreams. Freud’s theory states that through the use of dreaming, humans are able to release and fulfil these impulses and pleasures in their unconscious sleeping state. When awake these desires produced by ID are suppressed by the ego and censored by the superego. Through the use of dreaming people are able to release and view these impulses in their dreams.
Sigmund Freud’s theory was also heavily based around the concept of the interpretation of symbolism within one’s dreams. In his work, the ‘Interpretation Of Dreams’ Freud discusses his theories on the symbols and sensors exhibited within human sleeping state, His theory states that the ID, as mentioned before craves the fulfillment of its desires, when unconscious the ego is able to fulfill these repressed impulses through the visual interpretation of dreams. However; these sexual or aggressive urges can appear to be psychologically harmful so the superego is able to sensor the imagery with symbols that can preserve sleep and as a result cause unexplainable and ambiguous visuals.
Humans are normally represented in dreams to be a house, with holding their beliefs, thoughts and needs
Parents are represented in the form of King’s and Queen’s, due to their authority
Children are represented as small animals, due to their vulnerability and reliance on their carers.
Birth is expressed through the rescuing of someone from a body of water, which indicates a mother like a relationship
These are a few examples of the symbols that can be viewed in dreams, however the most extensive symbols are seen in sexual life. The greatest amount of symbols in dreams are the symbols of sex. Inanimate objects such as umbrellas, poles, trees and sticks all represent the male genitalia. Other objects could be faucets, telescopes, swords and daggers due to their powers of penetration and injury.
Female genitalia is symbolically expressed through objects that can be filled, such as; caves, bottles, jars, trunks, bags and shoes. Masturbation can be represented by tearing branches off trees. Sexual intercourse is symbolised by these objects coming in contact with each other
Now I will ask the class to use Freud’s methods of dream interpretation in order to hypothesize and analyse the following dreams;
I’m in a big field surrounded by chime-adorned trees. Rocks are strewn across the grass, and a big factory stands in the back of the field. I realize that I’m on the campus of a squirrel crematorium (squirrels are cremated in the factory and rock is put in the field to represent each cremated squirrel). Then I walk into the factory and see Douglas (the redhead boy who, IRL, was head of the yearbook when I was in sixth grade) at a big, fancy desk. I scream at him not to pull the lever next to his desk (not sure why), but he pulls it anyway, and then I wake up.
Using the Freudian method of dream interpretation, unusual dreams such as this once supposedly make a lot of sense. Scientifically speaking, squirrels fail to remember where they hide 80% of their food and nuts. When analysing this dream, Freud’s theory suggests that the dreamer could be hoarding something. The mention of cremation as well as a commemoration suggests a feeling of grief or remembrance. This dream is predominantly placed around the feeling of letting something go and holding past memories.
Theory 2- Jung
Carl Jung spent most of his life extinguishing the functions of the psyche and the way in which it influences the human. Through his work ‘The Archetype and The Collective unconscious’ (Jung, 1971) he discusses his theories of dream interpretation. Carl Jung’s theory is that human dreams are strongly based around the way in which the unconscious communicates human relationships and events within the waking self. He stated that dreams are a visual model of spiritual growth. Jung valued dream interpretation and analysis. He states that simply by recalling the situations that have taken place in life, you are able to relate these situations to the events in your dreams. However, the meaning of your dreams is a personal knowledge and dreams don’t need to be interpreted in order to fulfil their purpose.
Jung believes in the existence of the unconscious as spiritual rather than emotional or sexual. Your dreams are a connection between your waking self and your unconscious. They are able to communicate through visual imagery and Archetypes. His theory suggests that dreams are a function made to produce answers to questions and solutions to problems that occur in a waking state.
Through his studies he discovered the relationship between the personal unconscious (our personal beliefs and thoughts) and our collective unconscious (the thoughts shared across human kind). The contents of the collective unconscious is called archetypes. Archetypes are known as the unconscious’ model image of a person’s living role. Archetypes represent a human’s structure and experiences as we evolve and overcome certain experiences. As said by Carl Jung “It seems to me their origin can only be explained by assuming them to be deposits of the constantly repeated experiences of humanity” (CW7:109). Archetypes are not individually given but inherited from ancestors.
There are 4 common archetypes experienced by humans. The Shadow which withholds secret anxieties, negative beliefs and repressed thoughts. The Anima/Animus’ role is to differentiate masculine traits from feminine ones, controls gender identity. The persona is the identity within ourselves that human’s wish to express to the outside world. The self is an archetype that expresses the independent unconsciousness and consciousness of each individual. In theory, each archetype plays its own role in human dreams and personality but most oftenly one dominates the rest.
While Psychology is inconsistent within the studies of neuroscience, Carl Jung’s theory are still popular within the studies of neuroscientists. Popular applications such as the Personality Type indicator and the Polygraph Lie detector are directly based on Jung’s research and theories.