Views of Dreams – Carl G. Jung and Sigmund Freud

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Abstract
The study of psychology has given rise to many differing theories which provided us with a deeper understanding and insight to dreams, and has long been viewed as mysterious and incomprehensible. However, no real consensus in the definition of dreams has been reached. In this essay, we will be exploring dream theories proposed by Sigmund Freud who asserted the importance of internal stimuli and dreams as a form of wish fulfilment, and Carl G. Jung’s theory which suggested that dreams are bridges that allow one to connect with the unconscious. As such, a cross comparison will be also be done to explore the major similarities and differences between these two theories which remained influential in today’s study of dreams.

Views of Dreams – Carl G. Jung and Sigmund Freud

For centuries, dreams have been a source of mystery and regarded as divine. Dreams have been interpreted as prophecies, predictions of the future, or even symbols of current affairs. These beliefs existed for centuries until modern psychology evolved and gave rise to many theories that have attempted to give greater insight and understanding of how dreams work and how they relate to our daily lives. Dreams are otherwise defined as mental experiences during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep that have a story-like feature, include rich visual imagery, are often inexplicable, and perceived as real by the dreamer (Antrobus, 1993). There are many varying theories of dreams such as that posited by Antrobus, who suggests that dreams occur due to our brains’ interpretations of external stimuli during sleep. Another theory uses a computer metaphor to account for dreams, wherein a dream serves to remove unneeded trivialities from the memory – much like clean-up operations in a computer – in order to refresh the mind to prepare for the next day (Evans & Newman, 1964). However, for the purposes of this essay, we will be looking at two theories of dreams from Carl G. Jung and his mentor, Sigmund Freud, whose works remain influential in the modern day study of dreams. Aside from bringing forth the emphasis of these two theories, this essay will also seek to identify similarities as well as differences between the two. A cross-comparison of these two theories will reveal how similar they are in terms of explaining dreams with regards to the unconscious mind, and yet, differ greatly in meaning due to the different assumptions and approaches taken. According to Jung, dreams are the undeviating, natural expression of the present state of one’s mental world (Jung, 1963). He believes while dreams are a form of communicating and acquainting yourself with the unconscious mind, they are not attempts to conceal your true feelings from the waking mind; they are more of a window to your unconsciousness. Jung mentions that there are two major functions to dreams – to compensate and to provide prospective images to the future. The imbalance of the dreamer’s psyche is compensated with unconscious contents that the conscious mind has overlooked or even actively repressed. For example, a person who is overly intellectual can have dreams in which they have outbursts of rage, anger, or a mix of emotions. These dreams will attempt to restore the balance by fulfilling certain impoverished areas of a dreamer’s consciousness. Greater psychological balance is achieved if the dreamer recognises and accepts these unconscious contents. Similar to Freud, Jung considers past experiences to be a factor in dreams. However, he argues that dreams do not only look back to the past, but also forward to anticipate how the dreamer’s future will turn out; specifically, that dreams do not hold predictions but are more of a suggestion as to what might happen. Although dreams are deemed personal, Jung (1993) theorises that they are also part of a “collective unconscious”. He further deconstructs this into several parts, where elements of our dreams often cover universal themes and symbols that are...
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