This article is a basic look into dream analysis. It will mainly be covering the work and findings on dream analysis by Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung. Plus I will be adding some of my own interpretations and views into the meanings of dreams.
Freud analysed what he called manifest content (what the dreamer remembers) and latent content (symbolic meanings within the dream).
Freud believed that dreams were the result of the unconscious, and largely if not entirely originating from the sexual instinct. He suggested dreams were a mechanism in which suppressed or repressed thoughts or activity is brought into consciousness, therefore expressed. He also believed they gave important insights into how the unconscious was functioning in a more general way.
When we are awake, ego defence mechanisms are active, repressing certain aspects of ourselves, including personality traits and beliefs. In the dream world it’s purely the unconscious that is active, and the various ego defence mechanisms are absent. This allows those repressed aspects and desires to come into awareness or consciousness.
Freud believed that dreams mostly manifested out of the desire for the fulfilment of wishes. Some wish fulfilments will stand out as obvious, these are wish fulfilments that we are conscious of. However, we can also have desires which we are unaware of, those desires which are repressed by ego defence mechanisms.
Dreams are a window into your deepest and most secret desires. So secret in fact, that you yourself only become aware of them through dreaming. This is why Freud gave so much importance to dream analysis, he believed it was a vital part of psychoanalysis.
Dreams are also a world of symbolism which requires deeper level thought to understand their meanings. Freud suggested that our unconscious often used symbolism as a form of defence mechanism. If you had a desire for revenge, perhaps to cause harm to someone, that desire could be fulfilled in the dream world. However, the person you wish to cause harm to, is replaced with something else, like an object or animal.
The unconscious does this because the thought of causing harm to another human is too disturbing or distressing, this also allows us to remain asleep. This is a form of the defence mechanism, (displacement) operating in the dream world. This form of defence mechanism operating within our dreams is called Dreamwork.
Jung provided some other interpretations and explanations beyond Freud’s theory of wish fulfilment. Jung saw dreams as a place where the conscious and unconscious comes together. This coming together of the conscious and unconscious was known as individuation. Individuation is a process that can happen in the waking world as well as in the dream world.
Jung suggested that dreams provide a type of compensation. The compensation comes from conscious or unconscious desires or requirements which have not been met. This compensation that stems from the unconscious could be considered a counter balance. The unconscious is seeking balance by compensating for something that is lacking, in order to stabilize the ego.
Archetypes are often represented in dreams as symbols, these symbols originate from the collective unconscious. We may see symbols in our dreams that are not unique to us as individuals.
Archetypes are stories, personalities, images and patterns of behavior that are built into each of us at the level of biology. They reside in the collective unconscious.
Jung also investigated the idea of telepathy in dreams. “I would not assert the law behind them (telepathy) is “supernatural”, but merely something which we cannot get at yet with our present knowledge” C Jung.
I can say from personal experience that I have had some strange connections between the real world and the dream world. These connections can either be explained by very unusual coincidences, or perhaps something else, like telepathy.
Where Jung & Freud Disagreed
Carl Jung differed with Freud’s work on dream interpretation in a few other important ways. While Freud mainly believed that dreams were a place of hidden desires, Jung saw dreams as a place where everything was revealed. “Dreams reveal more than they conceal” C Jung.
However, because of the symbolic nature of the dream world, their meanings were not always so obvious. Jung also disagreed with the belief that dreams are all or mostly manifested out of the sexual instinct.
For more on Carl Jung see. The shadow and projection, accepting your darkside.
Common Dreams & Meanings
Our fears often come true in our dreams. These dreams are often simply the dream manifestation of these fears. For example, being late or forgetting something important. These are simple anxiety dreams.
Other common anxiety dreams are. Teeth falling out, being chased by something or someone, being naked or partially naked in public, and dreaming of falling. These dreams often symbolize general fear/anxiety, being judged (social anxiety), fear of losing control, or actually losing control.
Dreaming of waves or water, or perhaps being underwater may suggest emotional instability. Water in our dreams is believed to be symbolic for our emotions.
The world is ending. This dream may suggest a major change in our life. The world is ending theme is symbolic for a major change.
More serious or disturbing dreams which manifest from stress or anxiety are nightmares or night terrors. Or perhaps you just watched a horror movie.