Dreams: a Comparative Contrast Between Two Theories of the Possible Functions and Meanings of Dreams

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Abstract
Both Freud and Jung provided important and interesting theories on dreams; encompassing their functions, their roots, and their meanings. Freud looked at dreams as a result of repressed memories, particularly repressed sexual memories from our childhood. Jung however, believed that dreams delved beyond sexual repression during younger years, to other problems, be it trauma, anxiety etc. Jung also believed dreams changed predominately through middle adult years, while Freud believed the opposite. There is little empirical evidence to reinforce either Freud or Jung’s theories, however, their contributions to the study of dreams in psychology cannot be lessened or denied.

Dreams: A comparative contrast between two theories of the possible Functions and meanings of dreams

Who among us hasn’t woken up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat following a nightmare, or indeed woke up and wished the dream they had just had was in fact real! Dreams have always been important to people as they have been considered different and paranormal. Some have interpreted dreams as messages from God, that they foretold the future, and that they required decoding in order to be understood. Some believe that a dream not interpreted is like a letter not read. (Hall & Castle, 1966). Dreams are considered to be expressions of the deepest levels and most remote recesses of the human mind (Hall & Castle, 1966) and that they are a record of the past or possibly a portent of the future (Hall & Castle, 1966). They can be both foreboding and welcoming, and are often not a reflection of the waking conscious person we consider ourselves to be. Dream interpretation is the core of this essay, as it has social, medicinal, prophetic, and religious importance with implications for self-knowledge. (Blum, 2000) Dreams were not always thought of in this vein. In early times dreams were idealised and devalued as nonsensical. Aristotle (350 BCE) was among later writers who considered dreams as natural rather than supernatural phenomena. (Blum, 2000) The tendency toward the idealisation and devaluation of dreams continued as dreams were considered by many scientists and physicians prior to Freud as being babble, the irrational product of a sleepy mind in a sleeping brain. Since the publication of the “Interpretation of Dreams,” which first appeared on November 4, 1899, dreams were given an exceptional position by Freud and the pioneer analysts. Why are dreams of scientific interest? Like the Himalayas, the pyramids and the infinite galaxy around us; they exist, and are for the most part, unexplained. They are a form of behaviour which every healthy adult devotes about an hour and a half each night, and behaviour which occupies so much time should be studied. (Hall & Castle, 1966) Since the work of Freud, dreams have become an exemplary section of psychological study and there have been countless pieces of research conducted on dreams and their interpretation. What follows is two separate dream theories which will be compared and contrasted against each other as well as critiqued in terms of their validity in the way they have presented those theories, and how modern psychology looks upon those theories.

Firstly we examine Freud’s dream theory, who arguably brought dreams into mainstream psychology with his 1900 publication of “The Interpretation of Dreams”.
Prior to the late 19th century, the general consensus of dream theorists was that dreams were brief and that they were usually a reaction to an internal or external stimulus during the process of waking. Freud attempted to blend these perspectives with his own view that a dream was like “a firework hat has been hours in the preparation and then blazes up in a moment.” (Freud, 1900)

Freud’s dream theory had many profound contentions. Freud’s most poignant claim was that wish fulfillment was the meaning of each and every dream. (Freud, 106.) Freud applied...
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