Freud Dreamwork 1 INTRODUCTION Although Jung was a pupil of Freud, and one would think they shared the same idea about the interpretation of dreams, that is not exactly true. Freud proposed the notorious idea that dreams are a reflextion of subconsciousness, but Jung expanded on Freud and added another dimension to this relation. In Jung’s view, dreams not only lead to personal subconsciousness, but also to collective unconsciousness. This paper attempts to present the two theories of dreams and stress the unique qualities in each of them. I believe the reader will excuse a ‘clinical’ tone of paper, knowing that originally this text was written as school assignment.
In 1995, I wrote this paper under the guidance of Branka Bajgoric, who was my psychology teacher in the high school I attended. I omitted the technical part of the paper: identifying problem and developing the thesis. I also did not include a part in which I discussed the implications of becoming lucid in dream on the interpretation. Not that it would be inappropriate, but I think that subject is so broad that it demands a separate paper in order to sufficiently cover it. I think that nowadays, where there are so much alternative (occult) explanations of dreams available, we often forget about the old thinkers.
What is even worse, we tend to think they are out of date or irrelevant in this rush of global spiritual evolution. However, I find the following two scientists, and Jung particularly, extremely contemporary. I hope the following paper will attract some of reader’s interest to further study the rich work of both, should I say big men? Ljubljana, July 1998 2 THEORETICAL INTRODUCTION 2.1 FREUD’S PSYCHOANALYTIC INTERPRETATION OF DREAMS With his psycho-analysis, 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 psycho-analysis 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 psychoanalitic way and so he was changing his psychotherapy in theory in the very beginning. 2.1.1 A desire to sleep 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. Disturbing stimuli can be either external or internal. External stimuli come from environment and from inside of our physical body. Their task is to warn of imbalance in the body (e.g.
full bladder, thirst) or else they contain information about disturbances in environment (e.g. low room temperature, noise). There are lot of evidences how dreams maintain sleep in such cases. For Freud though, the external stimuli are important only to the extent that suggest analogous existance of more important, psychical pressure on sleeper: an internal stimulus. This internal stimulation emerges either because of the continuation of our diurnal mental activity or pressure of our unsatisfied instinctive aspirations.
The latter are in psychotherapy very important, because they can express those conflicts, which are the cause for mental disease. The possibility that such disturbance occures during the sleep lies in relation between conscious ego and unconscious id1. Suppressed aspirations of id do not conform to ego’s desire to sleep and thus gain certain independancy. These unsatisfied aspirations fight their way through conscious ego in a dream, which is unlikely to happen during the day. The dreams are therefore above all psychological and not somatic phenomenon. If it was that simple, we would be able to reveal the meaning of dreams with ease.
In truth, this process is much more complicated. Conscious ego never gives up completely. Under the influence of superego, it transforms and hides id’s aspirations, because the task of dream is to maintain sleep and protect the sleeper from being disturbed. The effort to hide inadmissible instinctive aspirations forms manifest and latent content of dream. 2.1.2 Manifest and latent content The manifest content of dream is the content which the dreamer remembers and relates. Behind this content there is usually hidden the latent content of dream as the dream we remember [sic] is not exactly the right thing, but rather a deformed substitute for dream. (Freud 1977: 116) I say usually, because we also know dreams in which latent content matches with manifest content.
Such kind of dreams are often experienced by little children as a result of not yet developed ego and superego, which would transform unsatisfied instinctive aspirations. However, this type of dreams occur to grown-ups in certain circumstances as well and Freud called them infantile dreams. In the process of interpretation of dreams, the therapist translates manifest content in latent content using special technique. It is exactly the opposite process of that when dream arises: we need to discover initial internal stimulus. The therapist directs patient at particular elements of dream, which are unknown to him, to discover residua of the day.2 In connection with residua of the day and other patient’s associations regarding manifest content (which are determined), the therapist gradually completes his/her suggestions and discovers the latent content of dream.
There are some problems with this though. The manifest content is more or less confined to visual answer on internal stimulus and can thus be quite distant and difficult to connect with latent motive. It is also common that parts of dream are missing and patient cannot or does not want to remember them. This is the work of so called resistance, which serves the same purpose as ego in the rise of dream; it just does not allow morally inadmissible instinctive aspirations to become conscious. The more patient’s associations needed to discover latent content of dream, the greater resistance. The blanks in recall of dream are as a rule latent content itself or without exception they prove to be crucial for discovering it. With the analysis of dreams it is usually possible to overcome the resistance, which also means we are well on the way towards healing or removal of conflict (e.g. hysteria, nevrosis).
The same resistance can occur when the therapist explains the latent content to the patient. The presentation of latent motives seems alarming rather than pleasant, and the acknowledgement of them, even as mere dream-wishes, is not entirely easy. (Watkins 1997) In this case, the patient will not accept the interpretation, deny it as nonsense or will even become aggressive toward the therapist. In Freud’s opinion, this reaction can be regarded as a direct hit: the resistance is a certain sign for conflict; something resists what wants to be expressed. (Bras 1977: 196).
In what follows we will try to understand the nature and role of this process. Special psychical instance, which causes the difference between manifest and latent content Freud called the censorship of dreams. 2.1.3 The censorship of dream It is obvious from relation between latent motive and manifest realization of dream that initial internal stimulus undergoes a lot of changes until it realizes as dream. Some parts of latent content appear differently, or not at all, in the manifest content. This transformation is a result of the censorship, which deforms dreams because of scandalous wishes3 that arise when we sleep.
The censorship is therefore a quite systematic process of disguise and distortion of things, which are painful or otherwise unacceptable to the dreamer. (Watkins 1997) Throughout the life and especially with upbringing, we inherit social norms, beliefs, habits and patterns of behaviour typical for our culture, which are not in conformity with primary instinctive needs. If we do not succeed in satisfying these needs in one way or the other, we suppress them deep in subconsciousness; a process that is called repression. In dreams, when relation between ego, superego and id becomes loose, these repressed wishes arise as internal stimuli. Dreams are not only an answer to them, but also a way of satisfaction of these wishes. Infantile dreams are especially suitable for observing this as manifest and latent content are identical.
Those wishes, which have not been satisfied during the day are fulfiled in dreams. This seem logical if we concider the fact that dreams care for peacful sleep. The internal stimulus is in this case unsatisfied wish on which our mentality answers with hallucinatory fulfilment if the wish is admissible. Hence the dream can be called a wish-fulfilment. When these wishes are not in conformity with superego, the task of censorship is to preserve ethically and esthetically clean ego. In some cases the wishes are too intense and the censorship cannot just transform them.
Then we experience a feeling of anguish, which is a sign that suppressed wish proved to be stronger than the censorship. In consequence, this uneasyness wakes up the dreamer before suppressed wish is fulfilled – something which is in contrast with the censorship. In this case the dream did not manage to complete its task but its purpose did not change thereby either. Even a watchman needs to wake up the sleeping, that is when he feels too weak to remove disturbance or danger alone. (Freud 1977: 212). The censorship, however, is not a precisly fixed centre in brains, it is rather a term for some dynamic realtionship (Freud 1977: 141) between answering on internal stimulus and admissibility of this stimulus for superego. When such suppressed wish is strong enough, the censorship takes care of leaving out, modification, and shift of material and so forms manifest content of dream.
The resistance of dream interpretation is also a result of censorship, which task is to preserve deformed dreams even when the dreamer already wakes up. The understanding of how the censorship works is essential for dream interpretation. We can only discover latent content of dream when concidering the work of censorship. The censorship is that code without which translation of manifest content would not be possible. It is not the only one though.