Do Dreams have a Meaning? Key Issue

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  • Created on: 17-05-15 14:23
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Do dreams have a meaning? ­ Key Issue
According to the psychodynamic approach dreams are the `royal road to the
unconscious'. Dreams are often a reflection of our unconscious desires, anxieties
etc., they are an expression of wish fulfilment.
The unconscious mind controls much of our thinking & behaviour; the ego tries to
control the demands of the id through defence mechanisms, such as repression;
however, through dreams our unconscious desires can often be expressed.
However, even in our dreams our egos still work to protect our conscious minds
from the unconscious mind: we dream in symbols.
Manifest content: the literal content of the dream, what happens in the dream?
Latent content:the underlying wishes contained in the dream, or the underlying
meaning of the dream, which can be discovered by interpreting the symbols used in
the dream & reported in the manifest content, e.g., trains going through tunnels!
3 further processes can occur in dreams: displacement (object/person causing
distress/desire is replaced by another; condensation(several aspects of a situation
are combined or condensed into 1); secondary elaboration (symbols used in dreams
are made into a narrative).
This theory of dreaming can explain the recurring nature of many dreams; we keep
thinking about the same unresolved desires/anxieties.
Dreams often do reflect our conscious worries & desires, suggesting they relate to
unconscious desires.
Solms (2000) shows that damage to the limbic system of the brain (linked to emotion
& memory processes) leads to the loss of 2 mental functions: dreaming & wishing.
This seems to suggest that dreams are somehow linked to wishes.
However, there are alternative physiological explanations for dreaming, e.g.,
activation synthesis (Hobson & McCarley, 1978); Reverse Learning theory (Crick &
Mitchison, 1983
We often dream about desires & anxieties in a very literal, non-symbolic way.
Dreams are often completely random & bizarre.
The interpretation of dreams is very subjective, so interpretations cannot be verified.
Even Freud himself famously wrote, `sometimes a cigar is just a cigar'.


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