According to the famous Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis , SIGMUND FREUD –
“THE INTERPRETATION OF DREAMS IS THE ROYAL ROAD TO A KNOWLEDGE OF THE UNCONSCIOUS ACTIVITIES OF THE MIND “.
He believed dreams to be conscious expression of the unconscious fantasies or impulses which are not accessible to the individual in wakefulness , there by providing satisfaction by wish fulfilment in dreams .This process is known as dream work. According to this theory , dream work consists of following mechanism :
- Symbolism – in our dreams , what we see can be the symbolic representation of person , places , our desires , fear , parents , children , death , birth etc . People do see snakes , cats, mountains , rivers , sun, their old house etc are all symbols which may or may not have any significant meaning .
- Displacement -means dream-distortion, involving a shift of emphasis from important to unimportant things , or the replacement of something by a mere illusion , the transference of emotions, ideas, or wishes that can cause anxiety and disturb sleep .
- Condensation – means multiple thoughts and ideas , displacements in our mind combined and we see them in dream as a single idea and it tend to form a series of association .
- Projection – it is out of body experiences which we have sometimes during sleep as if soul and body are two different identities or it can happen when the dreamer places their own personal desires and wants onto another person.
- Secondary elaboration ( Rationalisation) – so as to have an logical thinking in our primary thinking process and to organise an incoherent dream into something much more comprehensible and logical for the dreamer which can be final stage of dream work .
In psychology , projection, displacement , rationalisation are all defense mechanism.
- Psychological projection is a defense mechanism in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.
- Displacement is an unconscious defence mechanism whereby the mind substitutes either a new aim or a new object for goals felt in their original form to be dangerous or unacceptable.
- Rationalization or rationalisation is a defense mechanism in which controversial behaviours or feelings are justified and explained in a seemingly rational or logical manner to avoid the true explanation, and are made consciously tolerable—or even admirable and superior—by plausible means. It is also an informal fallacy of reasoning.
so , what actually consist of dream content ? Dream content can be our those unconscious forbidden feelings, wishes or impulse and fantasies which can disturb your sleep and can evoke anxiety which can be mentally distressing . What we see in dreams can be our day to day activities , our experiences , our thinking , our fears , guilt etc . For example , during exam times , many students are so much in stress that they tend to see themselves giving a exam and they fail as they have a fear of failing in a exam and not performing up-to mark . And, on the other hand , few might see themselves scoring good . This is all our dream work .
Most of the time , we do not remember our dreams , sometimes we remember a bits of it and sometimes complete , this is all work of our mind which is working continuously. People tend to see their loved ones , their childhood memories etc in dreams as they are so attached to them and in our unconscious mind these are present . Even , sometimes they tend to see people or places not known to them and sometimes , we tend to see same dream again and again , there are dreams which tend to be very disturbing and confusing that to keep on thinking on it and want to know its meaning. Few people think there is always some hidden message in our dreams which should be interpreted or it can be our inner self which is giving you some indication to focus or start working on it before it get too late .
What we think, experience, our desires etc are all stored in our brain and when we sleep, brain tend to process all the information stored and we tend to see that in our dreams . And , one think which , I always wonder , are our dreams sometimes escape from reality which we do not want to accept ? Is our past life experiences , people or places etc also manifest in our dreams ? Dream interpretation is one thing that always and will always remain the topic of research and learning . And it always amaze me our brain works and would we humans ever be able to know it fully ?