" Dreams are the Royal Road to the
With his psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud opened the door for dreams to become a subject of scientifical research. He became interested in dreams when dealing with his patients because they were telling dreams spontaneously. He soon systematically included interpretation of dreams in psychoanalysis right beside hypnosis and free association. In the end of 19th century he eventually researched the mechanism of dreaming. The analysis of dreams is indispensable tool in therapy for each psychoanalyst since then, and for Freud, dreams are even the key to theoretical understanding of subconscious. He explained also dreams of people, who did not suffer from mental illness, in psychoanalytic way and so he was changing his psychotherapy in theory in the very beginning.
When we become tired of receiving of and responding to stimuli from environment we try to fall asleep. The main characteristic of psychical state of a sleeper is therefore a withdrawal from reality and cessation of taking all interests in it. We try to fall asleep by disconnecting from all sources of external stimuli. We lay down in a silent, dark room and cover our body to keep it comfortably warm and so minimize input from environment. Of course, an absolute withdrawal in which we would stop to perceive environment is not possible. In other words, the sleeper does not have a 'switch' to switch off at the time of sleeping and switch on back, when the time for awakening comes. After all, if such absolute withdrawal was possible to achieve, the sleeper would risk not to wake up again, since more and more strong stimuli in the morning are exactly what wakes up the sleeper. These stimuli disturb us also during the sleep, and our mentality is forced to respond to them - with dreams.
Freud derived dream symbols from the resistance of dream interpretation. He noticed that resistance regularly occurred with certain elements of dreams even in dreams of mentally healthy people. He claimed that formation of visual answer on stimulus (dream) is not coincidental. He figured out that some parts of manifest content typically correspond with certain latent content. Freud called these manifest elements symbols - to which he ascribed constant meaning. The dream symbols are in his opinion more or less sexual.
Number three has in dreams symbolic meaning of man's sexual organ. All dream ideas which consist of three parts can mean the man's sexual organ. Phallus is symbolically substituted with all things that are similar to it by their form, namely long things that jut out: mountains, rocks, sticks, umbrellas, poles, trees... Then objects for which the penetration in the body and harming is characteristic - weapons: knifes, daggers, lances, sabres, swords... and fire arms: guns, rifles, revolvers, cannons... Obviously, the phallus is also substituted with objects from which water runs: pipes, watering-pots, fountains... and with objects that can be lengthened: hanging lights, extensible pens, aerials... Balloons, airplanes, helicopters, rockets, etc. are symbols of erection. Less evident male sexual symbols are reptiles and fish, especially a symbol of snake. A hat and a coat as well as various machines and appliances have the same meaning.
Female genitalia are symbolically represented with hollow objects that can contain things: shafts, pits and caves, vessels and bottles, boxes, suitcases, tins, pockets, closets, stoves, ships... The same holds for house with entrances, passages and doors, churches, chapels, castles, mansions, fortresses and even landscape itself. The material such as wood and paper as well as objects made of them: a table, a book... symbolize the same. Typical female symbols among animals are snails and mussels and their shells. Apples, peaches and fruits in general symbolize breasts.
All kind of playing (playing instruments also), sliding, slipping and breaking branches are symbols of masturbation. The teeth falling out and extraction of them are symbols of castration as a punishment for masturbating (castration's complex).
Various rhythmical activities such as dance, riding, raising and threatening with weapon symbolize sexual intercourse itself. Typical activities that symbolize sexual intercourse are also climbing and going down the ladder or stairs and running inside a house. The queen and king or empress and emperor and similar relations symbolize parents. The fall into water or raising out of it symbolizes birth.
Many dreams which seemed puzzling before, become more clear when considering Freud's symbols and the censorship of dream. Although dream symbols allow for direct interpretation of dreams, we must never do that without previous knowledge of patient's psychological background. The dream can be understood, Freud held, only in light of the dreamer's associations to it. After telling the dream, the therapist has to ask the patient to engage in free associations stimulated by certain element of the dream. When following the spontaneous flow of thoughts and feelings, the patient is asked to describe it as fully as possible. The patient, however, has to consider an agreement that s/he will tell every idea without trying to censor or control it in any way. We tell the patient "a rule that must not be broken: when telling [dreams] s/he must not leave out any idea even if s/he gets one of four objections: that idea is irrelevant, too senseless, that is not connected with the issue or is too embarrassing." (Freud 1977) Only such a rule will ensure efficient relationship between the dream teller and dream interpreter.
1.Seven Ways to Look At a Dream by Margot Born
2. The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud
3. Dreams as Viewed by Freud and Jung by Brlizg
|"Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream by night."|
Edgar Allan Poe