The Psychology & interpretation of DREAMS

Dreams can be very coincidental and mysterious. Throughout history dreams have been associated with revelation and prophecy. And so the story goes, that a dream revealed the molecular structure of carbon to a scientist.[1] And so, just as we can wonder what a certain dream means to the dreamer, we can argue about what causes dreams in the first place. Yet, in spite of modern science, dreams still remain mysterious. In this paper I will; give some interesting information I learned about dreams and psychology.

Sigmund Freud once called dreams the “Royal road, to the unconscious,” and I think that statement will remain true in psychology forever. Freud’s well-known text, The Interpretation of Dreams, contains some of his greatest work. I cant even begin to summarize Freud’s work here, but I will point out that Freud believed every dream is a wish fulfillment, and he kept this theory to the end, even though he gave up his idea that all dreams have a sexual content. For Freud, the concept of wish fulfillment didn’t necessarily mean that a pleasure was what the person is looking for, because a person could just as well have a wish to be punished. Although, this idea of “secret” wishes hidden in dreams remains most important to classical Freudian theories.

Of course, there are other ideas about dreams besides Freudian theories. Some people believe that dreams have certain specific meanings. It’s said that if you dream about oranges, it means good health; if you dream about onions, it means hard work, and so on. You can even buy “dictionaries” of dream interpretation. Then there are modern scientists who claim that dreams are nothing more than images resulting from random electrical activity in the brain, as it cleans house during the night. And then there are those who accept the unconscious importance of dreams and see them as more than wish fulfillment; I find dreams to be valuable hints about how to improve our lives—and even keep us from self-destructing.

To use dream material in a clinical way, in what is called -psychotherapy-, people need to realize that we never use the actual dream itself. That might sound weird, but think about it. When you tell someone about a dream, it’s impossible to pick apart the jumble of images that you perceived while you were sleeping. All you can do is put the dream into words in an imperfect attempt to describe what you experienced. So, in the end, to talk about the dream you really talk about the text of your perception of the dream.

Text, stands for, language, and, it’s already a form of interpretation of the actual experience. So does it even matter if the images came to you because of random electrical activity, or because of that greasy pizza you ate before going to bed, or whether they are revelations from your unconscious mind? Your attempt to make sense of those images, wherever they came from, reveals something about your current emotional state of mind.

The clinical work of dream interpretation, involves three things. First, you need a written text of the dream. It’s best if you write it down right after you wake up from the dream. But sometimes it’s possible to remember a dream—or a piece of the dream—that you haven’t written down, so whoever you are telling the dream to can write down what you say.
Second, you have to describe and understand the psychological associations to the different images in the dream. These associations must come from your personal life, not from a “dictionary” of dreams. This means asking yourself, “When you think of this particular dream image, what other things come to mind?” Such as, dreaming about Mrs. Smith from your childhood, for example, doesn’t necessarily “mean” anything, but what you thought about Mrs. Smith when you were a child—like, what her life, behaviors, and values suggested to you then—might have something to say about the problems you struggle with today.
Third, you have to discover the links between all these associations. This process is a bit like those “connect the dots” puzzles that reveal a hidden picture. Psychologically, you simply need to understand what this set of associations from the dream is telling you specifically, at this exact time of your life, about your current problems and conflicts . Quite often, these associations are purely emotional; meaning, you can take a graphic dream image, examine your emotional reactions to it, look back into your past for times when you felt the same emotions, and then ask yourself in what way those situations from the past have any influence on what is happening in your life now.

Here are some helpful and interesting points about dream interpretation:It’s easy to forget your dreams. In order to interpret your dreams you have to remember them, so forgetting them is a real problem. In fact, those who chronically forget their dreams tend to claim that they don’t dream. Dreams are remembered only if you wake up during, or just at the end of, a dream. But if you just turn over and fall asleep again, you’re not likely to remember a thing in the morning. So to remember a dream you have to write it down as soon as you wake up from it. It helps to keep a note pad and a pen by your bed—and tell yourself, before you fall asleep, that you want to write down any dreams you can remember that night.

Dreams often mean the opposite of what they seem to mean. The technical, psychoanalytic explanation for this is complicated, but it has to do with the fact that we often see our own desires as they are reflected (and mirror-reversed) through others. For example, if you dream that you’re embarrassed for being in public without clothes, it likely means that you have a deep unconscious need for some hidden aspect of your being to be shown to others in its “naked truth.”

You don’t have to interpret your dreams in order to solve your problems. But just as there is the saying that “Death cures cigarette smoking,” you might find that listening to your dreams may help you solve your problems before you run out of time. Similarly, although dream analysis does not necessarily have to be a part of your well being, your understanding of yourself can be enhanced if you make the effort to interpret your dreams. But understand there are other great things you can do that have nothing to with dreams to enhance your personal well-being and solve your problems.

There is so much information on dreams I have researched, but it is impossible to explain everything to you in one essay. Keep in mind that dreams are not just crazy random stories your unconscious mind makes up while your asleep, they have meaning and explanation, and can sometimes tell you things about yourself that you did not know. Dreams could also have a lot to do with images resulting from random electrical activity in your brain.

In conclusion, if you are wondering what a specific dream interprets or has to do with what you are feeling inside, write it down, pick it apart, analyze it and research it, you might be very surprised at what you find. But do not stress if you cannot figure out what a dream is telling you, some are meant to remain a mystery and pose as a challenge for you to overcome in life.