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THE OTHER SIDE OF SLEEP: FREUD AND DREAMS

In modern times the renewed argument over the function of dreams was triggered primarily by the pioneering work of Sigmund Freud, whose The Interpretation of Dreams was published in 1900. Freud considered dreams to be a special language of the mind, one in which repressed sexual desires arising from our childhood relationships with our parents are expressed, and therefore fulfilled, in symbolic fashion. Dreams thus serve as a form of safety valve through which we may discharge mental and emotional conflict; yet dreams protect our psyches (and our sleep) by disguising the wish in such a way as to prevent us from waking with feelings of shame, guilt, or alarm.
Dreams, said Freud, operate on two levels of meaning: the “manifest” level, made up of the specific images and details as reported by the dreamer, and the “latent” level, containing all the hidden associations and meanings that can be revealed and interpreted only through the process of careful, thorough psychoanalysis. The events depicted in dreams are drawn from actual events that occurred while the dreamer was awake; these events are somehow selected for inclusion by the dreaming mind because they can be connected or associated in some way with events or complexes buried deep within the psyche. Before appearing in the dream, however, the events undergo a process called dream work, involving some kind of transformation or censorship so that their true, and presumably horrifying, nature is disguised from our conscious perception. As his work progressed, Freud became convinced that certain symbols or themes that appeared in a dream held special meaning for the individual dreamer, and that an understanding of the associations each person makes with the symbols was required in order to grasp the significance of the dream. Thus, in the process of analysis, the dreamer is asked to associate freely on the various elements of the dream and their possible connection to other events in the past. Wrote Freud, “The interpretation of dreams is in fact the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious.”
Interestingly, although much of Freud’s work was devoted to the study of the important revelations that he perceived in his patients’ dreams, he believed that a sleep without dreams is the best—indeed, the only—desirable kind of sleep. Subsequent developments in the field of psychiatry departed from this view. For example, Carl Jung, a student and onetime disciple of Freud, held that dreams revealed not just the root of the neurosis but its prognosis and treatment as well. For Jung, dreams contained the whole range of human experience since the race began— everything from fantasy, memory, and foresight to telepathic insights and glimpses of transcendental truths.
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THE OTHER SIDE OF SLEEP: FREUD AND DREAMSIn modern times the renewed argument over the function of dreams was triggered primarily by the pioneering work of Sigmund Freud, whose The Interpretation of Dreams was published in 1900. Freud considered dreams to be a special language of the mind, one in which repressed sexual desires arising from our childhood relationships with our parents are expressed, and therefore fulfilled, in symbolic fashion. Dreams thus serve as a form of safety valve through which we may discharge mental and emotional conflict; yet dreams protect our psyches (and our sleep) by disguising the wish in such a way as to prevent us from waking with feelings of shame, guilt, or alarm.Dreams, said Freud, operate on two levels of meaning: the “manifest” level, made up of the specific images and details as reported by the dreamer, and the “latent” level, containing all the hidden associations and meanings that can be revealed and interpreted only through the process of careful, thorough psychoanalysis. The events depicted in dreams are drawn from actual events that occurred while the dreamer was awake; these events are somehow selected for inclusion by the dreaming mind because they can be connected or associated in some way with events or complexes buried deep within the psyche. Before appearing in the dream, however, the events undergo a process called dream work, involving some kind of transformation or censorship so that their true, and presumably horrifying, nature is disguised from our conscious perception. As his work progressed, Freud became convinced that certain symbols or themes that appeared in a dream held special meaning for the individual dreamer, and that an understanding of the associations each person makes with the symbols was required in order to grasp the significance of the dream. Thus, in the process of analysis, the dreamer is asked to associate freely on the various elements of the dream and their possible connection to other events in the past. Wrote Freud, “The interpretation of dreams is in fact the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious.”Interestingly, although much of Freud’s work was devoted to the study of the important revelations that he perceived in his patients’ dreams, he believed that a sleep without dreams is the best—indeed, the only—desirable kind of sleep. Subsequent developments in the field of psychiatry departed from this view. For example, Carl Jung, a student and onetime disciple of Freud, held that dreams revealed not just the root of the neurosis but its prognosis and treatment as well. For Jung, dreams contained the whole range of human experience since the race began— everything from fantasy, memory, and foresight to telepathic insights and glimpses of transcendental truths.*285\226\8*

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