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The Interpretation Of Dreams Essay, Research Paper

Sigmund Freud is called the Father of Modern Psychology. His work with patients suffering from hysteria, a psychological ailment characterized by extreme anxiety, led him to study the next to every facet of human existence from parent and child relations to human psychological defense mechanisms. Many of Freud s works have been published today including the monumental work The Interpretation of Dreams. This book discusses Freud s theory on the importance and meaning of dreams.

Freud realized his dream theory shortly after his father died. The death of his dad was very traumatic to him, and he had a recurring dream that he would be standing at the gates of the cemetery where his father was buried, but he could not bring himself to go inside and see his father s grave. This seemed odd to Freud because he was very close to his father. After much soul searching, which included Freud undergoing hypnosis, he discovered that he had unresolved anger for his father that he pushed into his unconscious. Freud believed that he was getting even with his father in his dream by not visiting his grave.

To Freud, understanding dreams was an integral part in understanding the true inner feelings of people. Freud believed in the theory that dreams have meaning and have two main dynamics: one, displacement (in which the mind protects itself by displacing the troubling thought with a symbol); two, condensation (in which the mind places symbols on top of one another in layers in order to make the troubling thought hard to find). He also believed that dreams are phylogenetic, i.e., inherited as a species; they are not ontogenetic, i.e., created by environmental factors. However, not every psychologist agrees with this view. Many of Freud s colleagues subscribed to the idea that dreams are nothing more than random brain activities or poppings. These scientists do not believe that dreams have any meaning or use in the therapy of people. Freud s theory is a very important contribution to psychological thought and should not go overlooked. While the random poppings theories may be more biologically correct, Freud s theory explains a part of the human psyche that science cannot measure.

According to Freud, dreams are a disguised form of wish fulfillment, a way to satisfy unconscious urges or resolve unconscious conflicts that are too upsetting to deal with consciously. For example, sexual desires might appear in a dream as the rhythmic motions of a horseback ride; conflicting feelings about a parent might appear as a dream about a fight.

Freud s dream theory had its share of detractors as well. The biggest criticism of the Freudian dream theory is that it is based solely on subjective, unproven, nonscientific evidence. No brain wave measuring machine on earth can possibly show the internal conflicts that rage inside a person s unconscious. Thus, it is impossible to fully prove Freud s theory. The patients that Freud tested his hypothesis on are also a major criticism. Since Freud tended to only work with rich, white Austrians, that demographic is the base of Freud s research. Rich, white Austrians are not a proper representation of the world s populations. Thus, it can be argued that the theory does not apply to everyone.

While I am very interested in Freudian theory, I find some of his other theories are incredibly far fetched, and I can easily see why Freud s critics can attack his work. For example, in Freud s theory of development, he hypothesized that humans go through three stages: the oral stage, the anal stage, and the phallic stage. In the oral stage, everything revolves around the mouth. Babies inspect things by sticking them into their mouths. In the anal stage, whether, or not, a person tightens their rectum while going to the bathroom can determine what kind of person they will be. In the phallic stage, a person s main motivation is to have sex and appease their inner sexual desires. However irrational they seem, Freud s theories must be judged on an individual basis. Just because a few of his theories are outlandish does not mean that all of them are. Freud did extensive research on all facets of human behavior, and it is expected that not all of his theories will be correct. You cannot judge the dream theory by another theory.

After reading The Interpretations of Dreams. I am definitely interested in Freud and psychoanalytic thought. Freud is definitely a pioneer in the field of psychology. In the past, psychologists dealt strictly with data they gathered through observation. Freud was the first to sit and talk with his patients. He strove to get to the root of his patients problems by delving deep into their mind and uncovering repressed feelings and experiences. At the time Freud lived, he was considered outlandish and crazy, but from the late 20s to the 60s, psychoanalytic thought became the prominent form of mental treatment in the world. However, when behavioral psychology became the leading school of thought. Freudian theory seemed to disappear. While behavioral psychology, which has roots in biology, does explain many superficial actions done by human, it does not explain the inner motivations that drive every human being. Though Freud is the most famous psychologist in history, his work has little meaning in modern psychology. This is very surprising to me. The man that the psychological community uses as a measuring stick for theories has very little effect on modern thought. Freud deserves better for the contributions that he has given to the world. The fact that psychoanalytic thought is not one of the leading forms of modern therapy almost seems irrational.

While I do not agree with everything that Freud says. I believe that his development theory is completely off track, but many of his ideas are arguably correct despite the fact they are based on circumstantial evidence. By far my favorite theory of Freud s is the dream theory. I am a strong believer in the idea that dreams have meaning, and Freud s ideas are right on. I like the idea that dreams have hidden meanings, and that the brain disguises true feelings to protect the dreamer from his true feelings.

Whether we love or hate Sigmund Freud, we all have to admit that he revolutionized the way we think about ourselves. Much of this revolution can be traced to The Interpretation of Dreams, the turn-of-the-century tour de force that outlined his theory of unconscious forces in the context of dream analysis. It introduced the id, the superego, and their problem child, the ego. Freud advanced scientific understanding of the mind immeasurably by exposing motivations normally invisible to our consciousness. Although there’s no question that his own biases and neuroses influenced his observations, Freudian dream theory is a very important part of psychological thought. Not only does is explain the origin and meaning of dreams, but it helps people understand themselves and their problems better. Though biology does have its place in dream theory, Freudian theory explains a part of humanity that cannot be measured by any machine.

This book is no light reading, even for those accustomed to reading long books. Freud’s style presents no difficulties, but moral courage and determination is needed to finish. Nevertheless for those courageous and determined enough there is also incredible rewards here. The ideas in this book are incredible. Personally I thought it was very challenging to read. It’s too dense and long. Those who wish to try a shorter version of the same volume should purchase Freud’s “On Dreams.” But for the diehard fans of Freud or anyone who needs a great deal of details this book is a must.


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