From time immemorial, dreams have been an intricate point of focus for different civilizations. In Greek mythology, advice, orders or opinions from the deities were transmitted through dreams which were then considered as an omen. Over time, the leitmotiv appeared in several philosophers’ works, including in the work of Austrian neurologist, Sigmund Freud. The father of psychoanalysis, an emerging method widely known then as the talking cure, started working on The Interpretation of Dreams in 1895, which he edited seven times during his lifetime as a result of his seemingly passionate interest.
According to the Professor, dreams were considered the royal road to the unconscious. The aforesaid unconscious would lead to a list of answers as regards to the ego. Indeed, in his well-known theory, Freud asserts that during dream state the ego’s defenses are lowered thus leading repressed thoughts to appear in a distorted form. As a result, oneiric disfigurement corresponds to an act of censorship from the dreamer: topics that they do not feel comfortable thinking of or discussing are prominent. Repression of feelings is therefore frequent and alters them during the dream state. Urges and impulses are released throughout it.
Sigmund Freud thus suggests a method to analyze and interpret dreams. As he started doing research, the Professor took the habit of writing down his dreams right after waking up. In fact, as he explains, as time goes by and as the thinking increases the reality of the dream or the memories of it vanish over time. He underlines that a dream’s underlying meaning regularly refers to sexual desires. Oftentimes, spoken language describes dreams as generous desire-fulfillers, as one exclaims that he ‘wouldn’t have imagined such a thing in his greatest dream’. Universal symbols may also intervene while interpreting, although Freud reminds that one has to be cautious about all that it entails and cannot interpret the manifest content of a dream symbolized without knowing about the dreamer’s circumstances. Sigmund Freud thought, in fact, that symbols were rather
personal than universal.
In The Interpretation of Dreams, the author focuses on several cases, such as Irma’s, in order to endow the reader with the key elements that are necessary to a clear analysis of a dream. Throughout his revised editions including a myriad of explanatory footnotes and link-ups to his other ongoing research, Freud shares his widespread theory that still undergoes misconceptions on certain points today.
If you’re interested in understanding the meaning of your dreams, you ought to read this fundamental work.