Dream Analysis

...Our night dreams too are nothing other than fantasies...Yet if, despite this pointer, the meaning of our dreams usually remains obscure, the reason is that at night we are visited by desires that we are ashamed of and must conceal from ourselves, that have for this very reason been repressed, pushed into the unconscious. Such repressed desires and their derivatives can be allowed to express themselves only in a grossly distorted form...

Sigmund Freud, The Uncanny

Dreams are unique to the individual. The dream language is created by the unconscious of the dreamer, and is composed of symbols and shorthand that are relevant only to the dreamer herself. The dream language can be difficult to decipher, as the symbols and associations employed have been employed partly to protect us from desires or motivations that we would find it difficult to accept consciously.

As we get older, our accumulated impressions and experiences add increasing complexity to the dream language, but our dreams will throughout our lives show the influence of early experiences and primal drives.
I spent a lot of time analyzing dreams for a few years in my 20s. I wrote down the dreams I could remember, and then put effort into working out strings of association. I think this was an important part of trying to get in touch with much that was repressed or unconscious, along with writing, automatic writing, drawing or painting and even dancing.

On resistance (briefly, conflict):

...There must be one force that wants to express something and another that is striving to prevent this from happening. What thus arises as a manifest dream may be a combination of all the decisions into which the battle between the two urges has been compressed. At one point, one force might have succeeded in getting its own way and saying what it wanted to say; at another point the opposing force may either have succeeded in totally erasing the intended communication or have replaced it with something that betrays no sign of it...

Sigmund Freud, An Outline of Psychoanalysis

According to Freud, dreams are wish fulfillments. In our dreams, we want to deny 'unpleasure' by transforming/distorting disappointment into fulfillment, but 'the censor' (superego) may seek fulfillment through 'punishment' of the 'sinful' ego.

Jung's idea of the collective unconscious relates to inherited structure through which personal experiences are organized. There are symbols and archetypes which are relevant to all members of a species. Popular dream interpretation follows the idea that the symbols in our dreams have universal significance.

The idea of a collective unconscious makes sense to me, and should be factored in to the whole, but I think dream interpretation is also a very personal and individual thing, which requires a willingness to uncover one's own personal associations.

In later years I didn't put as much effort in when it came to analyzing dreams, and would only sporadically note down dreams and try to work out what they might represent. Although some dreams were vivid or interesting, very few, if any, left me with positive feelings, either upon waking, or after interpretation. I had reached a stalemate in my life. I was either too depressed and closed in to see possible solutions or things I needed to deal with, or I had actually assessed things accurately, and there was no solution that I found 'acceptable'.

Still, when I go to sleep, I hope that I will have an interesting dream, perhaps something that will make me think, or that will fulfill a conscious wish that otherwise will remain unfulfilled.















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