« The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind ».1 While Freud already used hypnosis and free association with his patients, he soon felt the need to include the interpretation of dreams in psychoanalysis as well. Freud decided he would developped his 'theory of dreams' to go further in his analysis. According to Freud, dreams allow unconscious desires, fears or emotions to express themselves in a disguised way. Dreams are an expression of wish fulfilment communicating through symbols.
Throughout this essay, we will ask ourselves how dreams and their interpretation can be useful to psychoanalysis. Why pay attention to night unconsciousness to go deeper in the analysis? How and why do we dream? What relationship is there between sleeping, dreaming and stimuli? How far can the interpretation of dream lead? Are there limits to Freud's theory of dreams?
Freud's theory of dreams completes the method of psychoanalysis : free association and interpretation when studying the meaning of dreams allow a deeper understanding of the patient. Through his theory's 'dream-work' process, Freud explores the mechanisms of unconsciousness to analyse the process of imaginary wish fulfilment.
Dreams and their interpretation appear to be a controversial issue never reaching consensus. Before focusing on the elaboration of his theory of dreams, Freud noticed there were three different appreciations commonly made of dreams : (1) dreams are the expression of a superior state where repressed fantasies reappear ; (2) medical experts believe dreams respond to sensorial and stomatic stimuli ; (3) the public consider dreams have a meaning.2 On those premises, Freud has developped and strenghtened his 'dream theory'.
The very first common condition to the existence of all dreams is sleep.3 To understand when, how and why dreams occur, one must make sense of the pre requisites. When our body gets too tired of receiving and responding to external stimuli w go to be to escape external sensations affecting us. « Sleep is a state in which I want to know nothing of the external world ».4 We close curtains, turn off the light, withdraw to a silent and empty room, hide under sheets to no longer hear, feel nor see : we disconnect from reality. « Our relation to the world, into which we have come so
1 FREUD, Sigmund, The Interpretation of Dreams, translated by A.A. Brill in 1911, Plain Label Books, (Chumley P. Grumley:1913)
2 FREUD, Sigmund, Sur le Rêve, (Gallimard Paris : 1998) p 46-47 3 FREUD, Sigmund, 1. Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, translated by James Strachey, (Penguin Books :
1991), p 116 4 FREUD, Sigmund, 1. Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, translated by James Strachey, (Penguin Books :
1991), p 117
unwillingly, seems to involve our not being able to tolerate it uninterruptedly ». 5A total detachment from stimuli seems impossible because if such a condition existed, the sleeper would...