Elsa Salim Karam
April 3rd, 2012.
Dreams: The Field of our Subconscious.
Have you ever tried to understand your dreams, reveal the hidden message your subconscious is trying to make you see? Dreams are successions of images, ideas, emotions and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. (Dictionary.com) Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis, said that nothing occurs by chance. In fact, every action and thought is motivated by our subconscious. Still, to live in a civilized society, we tend to repress our urges and our impulses. However, these urges and impulses must be released in some manner; one of them are dreams. I therefore agree with Sigmund Freud in his statement: “The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.” Dreams are the unspoken words of our minds, words that can and will affect our lives, for the best or the worst. Joseph Heller, American author and dramatist, once said: “I want to keep my dreams even the bad ones, because without them, I might have nothing all night long.” Why do we dream? Dreams are a secret outlet for repressed desires. Freud used dream analysis to interpret the underlying language of dreams, which is very different from normal conscious thinking. To support his research, he categorized aspects of the mind into three parts: Id, Ego, and Super-ego. The Id is defined as the oldest part of the mind from which the other structures are derived. It is a sense of psyche that causes us to act on impulse; to follow our primary instincts and ignore the consequences. The Id is based on the “pleasure principle” – it doesn’t care about anything but its own satisfaction. In his book The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud describes this part of our mind as the following: “It contains everything that is inherited, that is present at birth. […] It is filled with energy reaching it from the instincts, but it has no organization, produces no collective will, but only a striving to bring about the satisfaction of instinctive needs subject to the observance of the pleasure principle”. The Ego is that part of the psyche representing consciousness. It employs secondary process that is reason, common sense. This self-aware aspect of the mind allows us to understand that other people have needs, and that acting impulsively can be harmful. As for the Super-ego, it is the censor of the Id. It enforces the moral codes of the Ego – tells us the difference between the wrong and the right- and is formed as the child gradually acquires cultural and ethical ideas, at the age of five. This third division of mind is described by Freud as follows: “The long period of childhood, during which the growing human being lives in dependence on his parents, leaves behind it as a precipitate the formation in his ego of a special agency in which this parental influence is prolonged. It has received the name of super-ego.” When awake, the desires and impulses of the Id are suppressed by the Super-ego. Since our guards are down when asleep, the unconscious or the Id has the opportunity to act out and express its hidden desires. However, those may be psychologically harmful at times, which is why a “censor” translates the Id’s disturbing content into a more acceptable symbolic form: dreams. Therefore, as Freud said, dreams are a way to express the unconscious emotions arising from the Id – otherwise we would be constantly disturbed by them in our sleep and soon wake up. Also, the reason we struggle to remember our dreams, is because the Super-ego is at work. It is doing its job by protecting the conscious mind from the disturbances conjured by the unconscious. So, answering the question above, why do we dream? We dream to protect our sleep. Dreams are also very helpful in retrieving long-lost memories. Repression is one of the most haunting concepts in psychology (Loftus, 1993). Something shocking happens, and the mind...
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