You can’t explore what dreams are without glancing at the ideas of Freud on dreams. Dr. Sigmund Freud worked extensively on dreams and concluded that they were the key for understanding our unconsciousness.
That sole idea would change science, medicine and arts forever. It would bring to culture what we know today as psychiatry, surrealism and subconscious, What Dr. Freud said on dreams affected our society in a very decisive way.
As we mentioned in the previous post, the doctor shook the world with his revolutionary ideas, and changed the way we think of ourselves forever.
His theory of the subconscious was critical for understanding the human mind. “Did you know that he was the first one to use the term subconscious?” I asked Doris, a talented teenager with a quasi prosecutor attitude.
“Yes. Although he never claimed the credit for it, you may say that he invented the term. He was also the first one to apply other terms which are common in today psychology. Some examples are: repression, the super-ego, libido and psychoanalysis”.
“I must admit that I got one good idea from Freud” Doris said, “He believed in the interpretation of dreams”.
“You are right! And he was the first scientist to propose that too. He wrote a very famous book called The Interpretation of Dreams were he defined dreams as manifestations of our deepest desires and anxieties coming from our subconscious”.
“Wow! Is that truth?”
“No. Not really; at least not as Freud suggested. There are many scientific studies that prove it wrong (*), but the fact that dreams may be used to solve psyche problems has not being denied. In fact, until today, studying the patience’s dreams is a wide spread technique among doctors.
“It doesn’t make sense to me” Doris said. “If the stimuli don’t come from the subconscious, why is it helpful?”
“Stimuli don’t come from the subconscious the way Freud proposed (we will see Jung’s proposal later) but it’s still much related to dreams. Remember when we talked about how the brain puts images in our dreams?”
“We said that the brain completes the sense of the information received by the stimuli, and it does that by bringing back images that has previously stored in our memory. Do you remember how these images are stored?”
“Oh! Yes, yes, yes. I remember… the limbic system takes the information coming from our senses and code them, mixing them with the emotions we felt about them”.
“Very good, Doris! You have a great memory. No pun intended” I said. “The brain puts not only images to our dreams but also include the emotions stored along the images”.
“…Those emotions provide valuable information to doctors about the way we react to things. Our behavior – in this case, how we react to things – is strongly influenced by our subconscious. That’s why dreams are a great way to find out about our subconscious”.
“Our subconscious hides behind our memories?”
“That’s a good way to put it, Doris”.
“So, if the stimuli for our dreams don’t come from our subconscious, where do they come from?”
“Be patient, Doris. That will still take some time to explain. I will leave you with some clues to see if you can find out for yourself”.
“Oh, great! I loooove homework!” Said Doris dramatically.
“Think about this: why do babies dream twice as much than adults? They obviously need to dream more than grownups. What is there in dreams that the babies need more than adults?”
“They are just smarter, that’s all”
“Maybe, or maybe not just that
(*) For scientific prove refer to Fisher, Seymour & Greenberg, Roger P. Freud Scientifically Reappraised: Testing the Theories and Therapy. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1996, pp. 13-15, 284–285