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The History Of Dream Theory

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The History of Dream Theory 1


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Dreams are the language of a person's subconscious mind. Therefore, taking the opportunity to understand them can lead to great enrichment. This paper demonstrates the similarities and differences between Freud and Jung's idea on dream theory. It illustrates Freud's belief that analyzing dreams could give the interpreter substantial information on that person's psyche. His concept of free association and wish-fulfillment are also explored. Jung's theories are also discussed. Although Jung began as a follower of Freud, he did end up disagreeing on some of Freud's theories. Jung's approach and beliefs are also explored. Interpreting dreams can be a challenge and no matter what approach is taken, there are several ways to complete the analysis.

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Dream analysis has been evaluated in several different directions over the last thousands of years. This alternate universe has intrigued individuals and made them want to understand their dreams. Researchers hypothesize anything from repressed thoughts to a process of elimination. Through these very different theories the meaning of an individual dream is brought to the surface. This paper will illustrate the evolution of dream theory, how it began and where is today. Although there are others, the theories of the ancients, Freud and Jung will be discussed as each of them contributed to this area in Psychology.

Dream research goes back to 1786 BC when the Egyptians began to explore these nocturnal activities. Dream incubation was then founded or identified. This is the process by which a person that wanted their dreams analyzed and interpreted would go to a temple and have a priest observe them in their sleep. It was believed that dreams were a message from their god (Holroyd, 1976).

The Greeks started out with similar beliefs about their dreams coming from their gods. However, in the 5th

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century, Heraclites was the first Greek philosopher to suggest that dreams come from the mind. Aristotle took that and said that dreams were illustrations of the individual's personal problems. It was Aristotle and his practical approach to dreams that assisted in the future of the theories proposed by Freud and Jung (Cohen, 1969).

Sigmund Freud proposed to the 20th century that analyzing dreams was important to understanding the psyche. He saw dreams as an expression of camouflaged wish fulfillment and envisioned the interpretations of dreams as being an asset in curing the psychological problems of individuals (Freud, 1950).

Although there were other researchers looking into dream analysis, such as Adler and Kant, Freud believed that their research was too rigid because it didn't allow individuals to interpret their dreams in a manner that fit their current situations. Psychologists would create lists of dream symbols along with their meaning so that they could quickly look up the meaning of a dream. Freud believed that each person associated dream symbols with different things. Free association was what Freud called his method of analysis. This allowed each person to

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develop their dream interpretation into something that was meaningful for him or her (Freud, 1900).

According to Cohen(1969), Freud's work was largely concerned with internal stimuli. It was his conclusion that in order to prevent the individual from anxiously waking up from the forbidden thoughts and unconscious desires they had to be censored in the dream. Therefore, anything such as sticks, weapons or even tree trunks were symbols for male genetalia or an erection (1969).

Freud's wish-fulfillment theory proposed that dreams were composed of two parts. First, is the manifest content. This is considered to be what the individual remembers when they wake up or the actual story content. Latent content is supposed to hold the true meaning of the dream or the symbolic content. When listening to one of his patients describing a dream, he would often ask them to repeat it. This was considered to be a true test of the manifest content and the weaknesses in the dream. The second time that the patient explained the dream to Freud, he listened intently for which words the patient would change. He believed that this was in fact the weakness of their dream and that was the part that deserved the most

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focus because it was the part of their dream that could be broken down (Freud, 1920).

Although there are many theories on dreams, Freud's is the most thought of. In his book Interpretation of Dreams, he wrote that he believed that a dream illustrates an ongoing wish that the individual may have. He was very adamant that nothing in a dream is fictitious because it is the items in the dream that are bold enough to make people think it's fake, that can be the root of the dream. He believed that they are Ð''biologically determined' and obtained from a person's need and experience. With this, another idea evolved. This is the idea of dream occurrence. This is where the dream will occur if there is too much going through a person's mind from the prior day (Palombo, 1996). Hence, if there is too much going through a person's mind with regards to regression or repression, a dream will occur.

Carl Jung began his dream research with the mindset that he was following Freud's work. However, that quickly changed once he explored it further. Jung eventually developed his own perspective and theories on dream analysis which provide valuable insight into the meaning of

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dreams, and are among the most widely accepted today (Garfield, 1981).

Jung disagreed with Freud's thought that sexual urges drove the unconscious. Jung did believe, however, that understanding the unconscious was necessary to uncover psychic problems.



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