Psychology - Is dreaming meaningful?


Freud's dream theory

Freud was an Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis who set up his clinic in Vienna, in 1886. Freud thought the mentally ill needed hep because nothing was being done for them as he realised the mind was powerful and could cause mental health problems. He focused on how important sexual issues were, he often talked about repressed unconscious thoughts being repressed sexual wishes and desires. He died in exile in the UK, in 1939, after leaving Austria to escape persecution from Nazis as he was Jewish. 

  • Manifest content - what the dream is said to be about by the dreamer
  • Latent content - the meaning underlying the dream
  • Condensation - when many thoughts and elements from the unconscious are represented in the dream in one symbol
  • Displacement - when something that seems to be unimportant in the dream is made central to shift attention from what is really important
  • Secondary elaboration - how the dreamer builds a story when telling what the dream is about, adding to and changing things, which makes the analysis hard
  • Psychoanalysis - Freud's therapy, designed to help release unconscious thoughts
  • Free association - a method used by Freud in psychoanalysis where the patient is encouraged to express a flow of consciousness to help uncover links which can then be interpreted 
  • Slip of the tongue - when someone uses the wrong word for something, it can help uncover unconscious thoughts
  • Dream analysis - a method used by Freud to help uncover unconscious thoughts, by analysing dreams and uncovering symbols
  • Freud thought that dreams were a very important part of a person's life because through dreams unconscious wishes and desires could be understood
  • The unconscious is the large part of the mind that is hidden completely and some of what is in the unconscious is repressed because it is too hard to deal with - the unconscious thoughts guide our behaviour
  • The conscious mind is what we are aware of, can remember, discuss and deal with
  • Up until the late 1800s very little was known about mental health issues and sufferers were put into mental asylums mainly because no one knew what to do with them
    • The 1800s showed a major change in attitudes towards mental health and Freud was part of this wave of progression but reforms to asylums didn't happen until the latter half of the 1800s and were so successful, they forced asylums to revert to restraints and sedatives as they were overloaded with patients
  • Psychoanalysis aims to reveal unconscious wishes, desires and emotions to the patient, once they know the content of their unconscious, will no longer have mental health issues as they can deal with the cause
  • Psychoanalysis uses three main methods
    • Slips of the tongue, free association and dream analysis
    • These help gain a lot of information to work with and use as evidence for conclusions about unconscious wishes 
  • Dreams have a manifest (the story the dreamer tells) and latent (the underlying meaning of the dream)


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