Sigmund Freud’s answer to why do we dream is that the conscious mind wants to suppress the desires of the Id. Sigmund Freud categorized human behavior into three areas, Id, Ego and Superego with the Id being the most primitive of the three urges. The reason we dream is because the subconscious mind wants its desires conscious. The conscious mind (Ego, Superego) is always in conflict with the Id’s urges.
Freud’s analysis of why we dream is broken into two components, manifest and latent. The actual components of the dream are manifest. For example, the dream contains a man carrying a picnic table on his head while holding an umbrella. Freud would look at the manifest components then Freud would have the individual break them down by free association to understand the latent meaning. During free association Sigmund Freud would ask the patient to refrain from censoring their responses. The reasoning behind free association is that when the individual responds without thinking about it, the Id is able to communicate. The ego/superego do not have enough time to censor the comment into a socially acceptable response. Through this detailed process it is discovered that the picnic table on the man’s head represents a time when he went on an outing with his family. The umbrella represents that it began to rain and the outing was cut short. Through more free association it is revealed that the man held resentment at his family for cutting short the picnic even though it was impractical to remain there during the rain. The unresolved conflict (Id) wishing to disobey his parent’s wishes remained in his subconscious. Freud would say the ego/superego repressed the urges until they manifested in the form of that dream.
After free association is completed Sigmund Freud developed a process of five steps of dream analysis. All dreams follow one of these five means.
Displacement is when an individual displaces their desire for a certain person or object onto another person or object.
Projection is when an individual puts their desire onto another.
Symbolization is when the dream is full of symbols that represent hidden meanings that are significant.
Condensation is when the important urge of the dream is overlooked by other actions in the dream. The significant parts are condensed until more analysis reveals their importance.
Rationalization is the healthiest part of dream analysis. At this stage, the subconscious mind organizes the dream in a coherent story where the manifest and latent are treated as literal.
Sigmund Freud’s body of work pertained mostly with the results he obtained from the mentally ill. He has become infamous for his theory on sexual connotations in dreams. Freud saw phallic symbols and female genitals in common objects—towers, knives, bowls or caves. The argument has been posed that his work is biased, but it cannot be argued that his answer to why we dream may be researched with healthy individuals. His theory of the Id, ego, and super ego and how they influence the subconscious and conscious mind is available to anyone who dreams.
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