Royal Road To The Unconscious (Dreams) Essay, Research Paper
It was middle of the night and Dave was sound asleep. The house was completely quiet.
All of a sudden his eyes popped open and he sat straight up in bed. His breathing came in
short gasps as he looked around the room. ?What was that?? he asked himself. ?That
dream…what did it mean??
Dreams are something that happen to everyone. Babies dream, as well as
teenagers, adults, and animals. During the night, approximately every 90 minutes during a
cycle called Rapid Eye Movement, or REM, people dream. This means people dream an
estimated 4-6 times while sleeping. The REM periods last from 5-45 minutes, showing
that the dream lasts that long also. Often, the time in a dream is longer as the dreamer
sees it. This is because dreams are made up of bits and pieces taken from their own
setting in time. Someone may take a memory that took place a year ago and combine it
with something recent, giving the feeling of a dream that lasted a year. But do dreams
really have a meaningful purpose?
Sigmund Freud was the founder of psychoanalysis and had his own theories of
dreams. Freud, born in 1856, wrote The Interpretation of Dreams in 1900 in eight
editions with the ideas never really changing. (Lewis 95) He said that dreams were ?the
royal road to the unconscious,? showing ?manifestation of repressed desire,? usually
sexual in nature. (Time-Life 57)
Freud thought that dreams only occurred as we wake up because of hunger, sexual
urges, or need to use the bathroom. The part of mind, labeled the censor by Freud,
transforms content to hide the real meaning. This was so people didn?t wake up by strong
emotions if we dreamed about fulfillment of desires. So what does that mean?
According to Freud, dreams provide an avenue for the
expression of normally repressed desires while
simultaneously disguising and censoring our real urges. In
this view the purpose of dreams is to allow us to satisfy in
fantasies the instinctual urges that society judges to be
unacceptable in some way, such as the urge to kill a bullying
employer. If, however, we were to dream about the actual,
overt murder of our boss, the emotions evoked by the
dream would wake us up. So that our sleep is not
continually disturbed by such dreams, the mind modifies and
disguises the content of our dreams so that strong emotions
are not evoked. Thus, instead of killing our boss, we might,
for example, dream about our employer?s automobile being
accidentally crushed by a runaway garbage truck. (Freud
Freud came to the conclusion that there were five steps to the dream process.
Step one was what he called displacement. During this step, the dreamer represses an
urge which is then directed onto another object. Following displacement is condensation.
This is when the dreamer disguises a thought, urge, or an emotion by ?condensing? it into
a brief event so that the deeper meaning isn?t easily seen. Symbolization, step number
three, is the repressed thoughts are shown in a symbolic meaning. The fourth step is
projection, or the mind?s ability to push our desires onto other people. And finally, the
final stage of dream production, secondary revision. This puts everything in order so that
it has a comprehensible surface meaning, called the manifest dream.
Carl Jung, born in 1875, was a Swiss psychotherapist under Sigmund Freud.
Although he believed some of Freud?s theories, he had his own beliefs also. (Lewis 142)
Jung believed that dreams were glimpses into the unconsciousness to compensate for parts
of our total personality not shown in waking life. He also thought that they could make
up for internal imbalances and can provide the dreamer with prospective images of the
future. (Lewis 144)
Jung said that dreams could be broken into four components. The first is
exposition of the setting, or what the setting is made up of. Second, the plot development
which shows the dream unfolding. Next, the culmination and last, the conclusion and
solution, called the lysis.
He also categorized dreams into objective or subjective. Objective dreams were
from a person?s daily life. They showed relationships with other people and certain
events. Subjective dreams show a person?s inner life. It mixes their emotional thoughts
and feelings. (Lewis 144)
Scientists have another theory. Some see dreams as an unnecessary collection of
information being cleaned from your memory during sleep. Others feel they are a
mechanical product of random brain activity. Part of the brain in control of your emotions
and motivation possibly play a part in dreaming. They say that people?s emotional and
visual imagery are very highly activated during REM while the logic and planning are shut
off. Scientists believe this contributes to why dreams are vivid and emotional while, at the
same time, make no sense most of the time.
During Rapid Eye Movement, the mind?s creativity is at work. This is the state in
which people dream. It?s been stated that if someone is woken up during REM, 90% of
people will report a vivid dream. Only 10% of people report dreaming during a non-REM
state. (Kalb 1)
Throughout history there have been hundreds of ideas on what the purpose of
dreams are. Some say they are the sorting process to understand ourselves, refine values,
solve some of lives problems, and show why people react to certain things the way they
do. Dreams could be one of the most practical and effective forms of intelligence and
keep our body and mind in a healthy state. But dreams aren?t always meant to be taken
literally. Dreams are something people must look a little deeper into.
All dreams are potentially meaningful. For instance, if you have the
all-too-common dream of showing up nude at work or school, it most likely has no sexual
meaning. Rather, it shows that the dreamer might be too open about their personal lives
or that they have a lot of self-consciousness or low self esteem. It may even resemble an
over abundance of confidence in some cases. Dreaming of death resembles change or the
dreamer?s helplessness to a certain change in their life. The dreamer may be going beyond
their self imposed limitations if they dream about flying. Little kids often dream of
monsters. Although a figment of their imagination, they seem very real to tiny children.
Dreaming of monsters often shows domination, or fear of it, and insecurity. Free falling
exhibits anxiety and a loss of control. The deeper meaning all depends on the other details
of the dream such as where it took place, who was with the dreamer, and the sounds they
Dreams are composed of recent things the dreamer has seen, heard, and thought,
but they can?t make dreams happen. They just occur. Other people cannot observe a
dream while it is taking place, so it?s hard to perform accurate and informational studies or
observations. Stimulus before sleep usually will not have any impact on what the dreamer
is to dream about, which is contrary to the belief that if a person thinks hard enough about
what they wish to dream about, it will happen.
Everybody dreams in color whether they think they do or not. Unless they?re
paying attention to color in their dreams, their mind is tricked into believing it?s black and
white. If they normally see color and then all of a sudden dream in black and white, it may
be more meaningful or have more significance. This also goes for if they normally see
black and white and then notice color. It tends to be individual, so the dreamer should try
to notice the variations.
?A dream not interpreted is like a letter to the self unread.? (Time-Life 23) This is
written in the Hebrew Talmud. If a person leaves their dreams as they are, they?ll never
know the real meaning. There are three steps to self interpretation of dreams. The first
step is to have the dreamer write down the dream as soon as they wake up. They should
write it in as much detail as they can, including colors, sounds, feelings, characters, and
description of the setting. Then they should just set it aside for at least a day or two and
come back to it. Have the dreamer read what they wrote as if it were a story. Step three
is to try to decipher what the plot is. Try to describe the story line in a single sentence and
look for the hidden meaning.
Some people think that they do not dream. This is false. Everyone dreams, but
not all remember. Dreams are easily forgotten because they are sometimes incoherent and
the mind doesn?t want to remember the repressed images that appear in our dreams. It?s
not abnormal for the dreamer to forget what they dream about. It could be a sign of
reduced sleep if they forget their dreams very often. If they awaken rapidly and rush in the
mornings, they are most likely not going to remember. Those who meditate, write, or are
interested and involved in the arts have a more likely recollection of their dreams. Also,
females have a better tendency to remember their dreams more than men do. Dream from
the early and middle periods of sleep are permanently forgotten. (Lews 156)
Dream do, if fact, have a meaningful purpose. Whether people believe in Freud
and his belief that dreams are a nearly pure sexual desire, or Jung with the theory that
dreams are the hidden messages that people can?t see in waking life. Or maybe they
believe that dreams are just a bunch of garbage that collects in the mind and is cleaned
away each night. It doesn?t matter if they remember their dreams or not. They still hold a
very important meaning.
Dave lays back down after carefully writing down what just happened in his dream.
He makes sure to write down who was with him and where he was and everything that he
saw and heard. He closes his dream journal and sets it next to his bed on the night stand
and reaches over to shut off the light. Snuggling back underneath the warm blankets, he
dozes off to sleep knowing that his dream had to have meant something.