Monday, September 20, 2021

The Art of Dreaming – The Freudian Way

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The other-worldly writer with decided quirkiness. Never writes anything from her experience. Loves to have extended use of hyperboles. Hates phoniness.

Portrait of Sigmund freud
By Everett Collection/ Shutterstock


Sylvia Plath once said, ” Dying is an art, and I do it exceptionally well.” Allow me to rephrase it. “Dreaming is an art, and I do it exceptionally well.”

Most people these days do not understand the importance of dreams. Dreams are much more than the sheer visual images our brains create from the experiences of the day. Dreams can be an insight into your future, an insight into your body, and an insight into who you are as a person. It can help you discover yourself.

If you haven’t forgotten, many great creations were a result of dreams. The Double Helix structure of DNA, to quote an example. James Watson reported having seen a dream of a spiral staircase, which resulted in the Double Helix structure of DNA. Dreams transcend definitions, and it is more of a spiritual experience. Many books have been written on this art, but to this day, the greatest and the most detailed one is undoubtedly Sigmund Freud’s ” The Interpretation of Dreams.”

In the book, Freud says that dreams are capable of being interpreted. Rather than warning dreams off as unintelligible, he says interpretations can make them more intelligible. In this article, you”ll learn a tiny bit about dreams and how they are interpreted.

Before we move any further, let’s understand how Freud, the master of dreams himself came upon the art of dream interpretation.

Freud had been engaged for many years in decoding and understanding phobias and obsessional ideas. (psycho-pathological structures, as he puts it). If a phobia or an obsessional thought can be traced back to the details in the patient’s mental life from which it all started, they can be eventually freed from it. During this, his patients were asked to detail every thought they encounter when in connection with a particular topic. The patients told Freud their dreams too. It was then that he realized, and I quote, “Amongst other things, they told me their dreams and taught me that a dream could be inserted into the psychical chain that has to be traced backward in the memory from a pathological idea.”

Below we have two common ways of interpreting a dream as put forth by Sigmund Freud.

Symbolic Dream Interpreting. 

The Art of Dreaming - The Freudian Way 1
By Cristina Conti/ Shutterstock

In “symbolic” dream interpreting, you have to break down the visuals you see. This can be explained with the help of the Pharaoh’s dream propounded by Joseph in the Bible, Freud says.

“The seven fat kine followed by seven lean kine that ate up the fat kine.”This meant a prophecy that lasted seven good years of famine in the land of Egypt would eat up the seven years of plenty. Here the seven fat kine represents the seven years of plenty, and the seven lean kine represents the seven years of famine.

So, the main key to symbolic dream interpreting is properly identifying the symbolic substitutes. Of course, it goes without saying that dream interpretation through symbolism requires artistic capabilities.

 The Decoding Method.

Freud says the decoding method treats dreams like cryptography in which each sign can be translated into another having a profound meaning. Freud has quoted a brilliant example to explain this method further. He says, suppose he dreamed of a letter and then a funeral. If he checks upon a dream dictionary, he”ll find that letter is translated to trouble and funeral to betrothal. So, the next task is to link these two keywords. It’s in the hands of the dreamer to link and give meaning to his/her dream.

In the book written on the interpretation of dreams by Artemidorus of Daldis, there is a modification to the decoding method. The method considers the content of the dream and the character and circumstances of the dreamer. Hence, the same dream will have a different meaning for a rich man, a married man, or even a writer. However, in this method, everything depends on the keywords that the dream has provided the dreamer with.

Explanation of some typical dreams

One can’t really interpret another’s dreams unless the dreamer is prepared to communicate the unconscious thoughts behind them. However, there are a lot of dreams that everyone has dreamed of. So, now you’ll learn some of the basic ideas behind typical dreams.

(A) Embarrassing dreams of being naked.

All of us have dreamed such a dream at least once in our lifetime. Freud compared the “being naked” dream to Hans Anderson’s fairy tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

“The impostor is the dream, and the Emperor is the dreamer himself; the moralizing purpose of the dream reveals an obscure knowledge of the fact that the latent dream content is concerned with forbidden wishes that have fallen victim to repression,” he says.

Naked woman in water
By Matej Kastelic/ Shutterstock

Freud concludes that they are memories from earliest childhood. It is only when we are babies that we are inadequately dressed and seen that way by people around us, and we feel no shame at our nakedness. Even as they grow up, some children show a desire to exhibit, and their guardians disapprove by saying no. We cruise back to childhood, where we were unashamed of our nakedness. We see this period as “Paradise,” and we regain this paradise through our dreams.

(B) Dreams of the death of a person who the dreamer is fond of.

The Art of Dreaming - The Freudian Way 2
By Denis Simonov/ Shutterstock

This is another typical dream. It involves the death of a parent, a relative, a sister, or a brother. According to Freud, the meaning of such dreams is a silent wish that the person in question may die. Freud explains that the wishes represented in dreams (death of a person in this case) as fulfilled may not always be that of the present day. There are all possibilities that they are of the past. These are wishes that have been abandoned and forgotten, but they continued their existence because of their re-emergence in a dream. There is also another type of death dream where the dreamer is not experiencing grief. Nevertheless, this is a rare case scenario.

(C)Flying dreams.

flying dream
By sandyman/ Shutterstock

Freud again says that these dreams are also a result of earlier memories from childhood. Children relate to games involving movements. Parents most often take the child in their outstretched arms and rush them across the room. Children are elated by such experiences. Many years later, when they grow up to be adults, these experiences are born again in their dreams. They hold their hands stretched to the sides and float.

Dreams and their studies are so vast, and we can’t learn them all at once. What was explained above is just a tiny portion about dreams. Dreaming is such an underrated art, but I urge you to dream, for they can reveal many mysteries about you that not even you knew existed.

“The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind”- Sigmund Freud.


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