As a consequence many have thought that the subconscious is some sort of "mystic" area where all the secrets are hidden. These secret parts have also been considered to have negative connotations. Research done in the area after Freud suggests that the subconscious remains "hidden" not because this is its final and fundamental characteristic, but because the individual does not go through with a powerful process of introspection. The mysteries which are hidden in the subconscious remain hidden until the person decides to take a good look inside him, analyze himself and face his fears.
A further critique that can be brought to Freud's theory regarding the interpretation of dreams refers to the powerful sexual dimension which he gives to the symbols in dreams. While the theory is very interesting and many associations can be demonstrated, such is not the case with all of them. Numerous voices have wondered to what extent can all the symbols in dreams be associated with sexuality? How can this be demonstrated beyond any doubt? If both people with mental problems and without have their dreams exhibit the same variety of symbols, does this mean hat to a certain extent all the people have issues with their sexuality?
Freud explains how tings or events may mark the individual- even without him being aware of them. The fact that they had a relevant impact upon the person can be demonstrated by their appearance in dreams. However, the author does not explain the mechanisms through which the associations are made. Are they made in an arbitrary mode? Do we dream all the things/events which mark us in a conscious and unconscious manner? And if not, why is it that we dream only some and the others not? Looking at Freud's work, it is clear that he left many unanswered questions.
"The interpretation of dreams" however is very well structured. In the first part the author is concerned with explaining the relevance of such a theme, namely the relation which exists between dreams and "real" life. Do dreams impact life in a state of consciousness? What is the role of dreams? Do we always dream, regardless of the fact if we remember the dreams or not? Do we always remember the last dream we had before waking up? Does the time duration perceived in dreams correspond to their real duration? These are some of the question which Freud tries to answers in order to make the discussion easier.
In the following chapters he explains what dreams are made of (things which are stored in our memory) and what are the stimuli which cause them. Here he mentions external sensory stimuli and internal stimuli. The internal ones are divided into subjective and organic. The subjective ones may refer to emotions, while the organic ones refer to the changes which occur inside the body. Psychical sources are also brought into discussion.
Freud also attempts to explain why people generally forget what they dreamed of immediately after waking up. He makes a list of all the characteristics which he considers to be important for the dream as a phenomenon. A further issue which he discusses is represented by the sense of morality which can be found in dreams. Last, but not lest he explains why the analysis and interpretation of dreams are important for the cure of mental diseases.
After explaining the method of dream interpretation, Freud gives some concrete examples, showing what is the significance of dreams which many people are known to have, such as "embarrassing dreams of being naked, dreams of the death of persons of whom the dreamer is fond of and other typical dreams." The fact that the interpretation is accessible to everyone implies that everyone, after having read Freud's work is able to perform such an analysis. At this point it can be stated that Freud provided people with an extra tool for introspection. While the psychotherapist remains the one who can help people solve their mental issues, having an interpretation key for dreams is a means of helping someone realize whether they have issues they are unaware of or not.
Chapter six of the book deals with other interesting issues. Among them we can mention concepts such as the work of condensation, the work of displacement, representation and representability. Freud addresses both the intellectual activity and the affects in dreams, how they are manifested and how they interact. The last chapter on the other hand deals with "the psychology of the dream processes," namely "the forgetting of dreams, regression, wish-fulfillment, arousal by dreams- the function of dreams- anxiety dreams, the primary and secondary processes- repression, the unconscious and consciousness- reality." It is safe to say that the material in the book is well organized, allowing the reader to start from the simplest information in order to get to superior levels of comprehension. The book is interesting for both the ones who are specialized in the area of psychotherapy and those who are not. The language is quite accessible and the book is full of examples and this facilitates the comprehension.
One of the central themes of the book is wish fulfillment. Freud states that in our dreams we have visions of our wishes being accomplished. At this point, it is safe to wonder whether the desires which we have not fulfilled yet (whether sexual or not) are the main factor which cause us to dream. The answer that Freud provides is negative. He argues that if such were the case, the interpretation of dreams would be quite simple. In reality, the desire suggests that the dream occurs in order to communicate something. However, the dream can be interpreted as an attempt to make the wish come true.
It must be underlined that the unconscious desires are not directly translated into dreams (this would make the deciphering process a lot easier) since distortion mechanisms intervene. Although he does not explain how and why, Freud says that the desire is somehow censored and that the dream must be divided into its components- afterward connected with biographical data- in order to get to the originating source.
The dreams of convenience are another concept which has drawn the attention of the general audience after the publishing of the book. Speaking of its roles, Freud declared that on the one hand, it was meant to fulfill the wish. On the other hand, the convenience dream acted as a sort of guardian of the sleep process. While the author provides various suggestions which can help the reader in his attempt to interpret dreams, there is no exact recipe that can solve the mysteries contained in each and every dream. It is the author of the book himself who underlines the fact that the manifestations of the instincts and the mechanisms of defense and censorship are presented as a mixture in dreams. The dream is called "of convenience" also because of the fact that it prolongs sleep, it allows the body to remain in that relaxing and regenerating state.
The things which are to be found in the subconscious find themselves there because the individual has a hard time acknowledging them. Reading between the lines, we understand that there is conflict between the values that the ego declares to have and the values which are reflected by these characteristics. If the person is not audacious enough in order to face this contradiction and realize what his real self is, then these "elements" are censored and sent into the subconscious. They many manifest themselves in dreams, but the censorship mechanisms continue to function. Distortion intervenes and this makes it difficult to interpret the dream and to understand its real meaning.
Freud's contribution to psychotherapy through the theory of interpretation of dreams is huge. It is thanks to him that the area of dreams begins to be thought of a language and a research object. While there are numerous aspects which have remained open to discussion until nowadays (such as the sexual connotation of all the symbols encountered in dreams), the theory of dreams as symbolic meanings coming out of the human subconscious has changed the manner in which psychology in general approaches the human being and the issues that may be associated with the psyche.
The difficulty of interpreting dreams derives from the mechanisms of defense, which distort the original thought / desire. "Displacement is facilitated by dream censorship, resistance and defensive needs to conceal conflicted thoughts from the dreamer's ego. Freud was fond of illustrating the concept of dream displacement by the tale of a town in which a tailor had committed a crime punishable by execution. As the town had only one tailor, but had three butchers, it was decided to execute a butcher instead." (Trosman, 3) This is why the biography of the dreamer is so important for the proper interpretation and analysis of dreams, in order to provide better insight upon the past of…