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Sigmund Freud's Dream Couch Trip
symbols, condensation & displacement
Because dreams involve symbols, condensation, and displacement, there are many hidden meanings. Understanding this helps you to analyze your own dreams.
Just like poems and art, a dream always uses symbols to hide your real feelings. For example, a calm scene which turns into a storm which threatens your family may symbolise your loving outside and your angry feelings towards them inside.
In condensation a small part of the dream may represent a major, life-long psychological drive or conflict. For example, dreaming of receiving food and presents may reflect decades of feeling unloved or neglected and your enormous need for love.
Displacement is a simple way of denying some motivation, e.g. dreaming that a friend is angry at you may be to conceal that you are angry at him or dreaming that a stranger is attracted to your lover may reflect your insecurity about your lover's faithfulness.
free association
Freud had his patients free associate to each separate element or part of the dream. So one of the first questions for you is: "What occurs to you when you think of ......?" This yields lots of ideas, perhaps some "leftovers" from the day, some recent personal problems that may still be on our minds, some childhood memory, some desire you are unaware of, some wish or intention in the future, some conjecture about the dream's symbolic meaning, and so on. When you have an association to a part of your dream or have an opinion about what it means, it is helpful for you to ask yourself: "Why am I thinking this?" "Is it because I want this to happen?... my self-criticism?" ... my infantile inclinations? A dream is a complex structure of overt and hidden meanings and wishes, and should be treated accordingly.
latent and manifest dream content
Analysts assume that two other major factors influence dreams:
1. Your wishes or emotional needs, and
2. The defenses against recognising those wishes.
The interaction of these two forces results in "latent" (the true but hidden desires) and "manifest" (actual) content of a dream. In recent years dream interpreters have focused more on the manifest content and on the defenses, i.e. how each unique person censors or conceals his/her sometimes inappropriate psychological needs. One example of the "censoring" process would be denial, such as when a desire ("I'd like to kill him") is turned into a fear ("he will hurt me") or a fear ("I'm sexually inadequate") is transformed into a powerful dream ("I'm a fantastic lover"). Thus, you must always ask about your dream: "To what degree is the opposite really true of me?"
spot the psychological conflict
Analysts assume that two other major factors influence dreams:
In analyzing dreams the term "psychological conflict" is often used. It refers to the situation where there are strong motives or needs and barriers or resistance to fulfilling those motives or needs. Example: you may feel a compelling need for attention but, at the same time, fear dependency and rejection. Thus, expect dreams to have several meanings on different levels and expect the motives to be complex and ambivalent.
an example of sex and violence
One of Freud's famous cases had a terrifying and repeating dream. The 27-year-old patient dreamed that a man with a hatchet was chasing him. Freud had him free associate to the dream. He remembered an uncle's tale about being attacked, but the hatchet didn't fit in. The hatchet reminded him of once hurting his hand and once hitting his brother with a similar object. Then suddenly a memory of when he was 9-years-old occurred to him. His parents came home late at night and he heard them having intercourse and panting and moaning. He thought they were being violent, which was reinforced when he saw blood on their sheets the next day. This memory in combination with the dream enabled the patient to see the connection he had long ago made between sex and violence. The patient could also see that his wish to be approached by another man (as his brother had done) was concealed by fear in the dream.
Note: similar dreams may mean very different things - and different professionals will look for different motives!
how to do it
Finally, you must take your hints and hunches gathered during your analysis of the dream and pull it together into a feasible interpretation - or even two or three alternative interpretations. Keep in mind that one dream is never enough to base a conclusion about yourself on; you need to analyze several dreams. It will clarify your interpretation(-s) if you break it into several parts, such as:
  • Life situation and leftovers from the day.
  • Free associations to parts of the dream.
  • Common themes and the motives suggested by those themes.
  • Current, conscious psychological conflicts suggested by the dreams (e.g. dreaming a disliked employer dies in a auto accident).
  • Life-long, usually unconscious psychological conflicts possibly implied in the dreams (e.g. realising a childhood wish that a demeaning father would die, or that "defying authority is the story of my life").
  • And most of all: Try not to rule out a result that appears to be embarrasing and horrible.
Disclaimer:The Dream Interpretation Method as presented here is a free, no liabilities (no consideration, i.e. no fee) service for all internet users. We make no claims that this service will be successful. All interpretations are the responsibility of the dreamer and his or her dream. The Dream Explanatorium assumes no responsibility for any loss, damages, injury, or any other harm incurred as a direct or indirect result of using our services.

The Dream Explanatorium© is created and coordinated by The Somniloquy Institute.

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