Essay, Research Paper: Dream Interpretation


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There are many facts that are unknown about dreams and their meanings. For
centuries, philosophers and scientists have tried to understand the meaning of
dreams. They have all been fascinated by the fact that the content of dreams may
have meanings relating to one’s life. Are dreams just thoughts in people’s
minds, or are dreams in fact representations of different areas in people’s
lives? Dreams represent many different areas of one’s life in physical,
emotional, and mental ways. Dreams can relay to people facts about their lives
that they are not even aware of. There are also many ways that dreams can help
cure different physical, emotional, and mental problems in one’s life. This
paper will discuss dreams and their meanings, and ways of interpreting a dream
using such methods as hypnotherapy and psychoanalysis therapy that can help a
person in physical, mental, and emotional ways. The first fact that will be
discussed is what dreams are and how they work for people in allowing the person
to discover more about himself. Dreams can be defined as “a conscious series
of images that occur during sleep” (Collier’s, vol. 8). Dreams are usually
very vivid in color and imagery. They reveal to the dreamer different wishes,
concerns, and worries that he or she has. Dreams usually reflect every part of
who the dreamer is. The content of the person’s dream is usually made up
according to how old the dreamer is and how educated the he or she is
(Collier’s, vol. 8). Dreams are not planned out or thought up. The unconscious
part of the mind brings out bits and pieces of information in the dreamer’s
mind and places them together. According to Encarta, dreams are almost always
visual. Forty to fifty percent of dreams have some form of communication present
in them and a very small percentage of dreams give the dreamer the ability to
use his or her five senses (Encarta). Dreams allow one to take a closer look
into his mind and himself in a quest for self-discovery. Dreams can be used to
solve all different types of problems. In Sigmund Freud’s book, The
Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud states: “As regards the dream, all the
troubles of waking life are transferred by it to the sleeping state […]”
(Freud 113). They relay things about a person that the person may not be able to
see. Sigmund Freud says that certain images in dreams sometimes have significant
meanings relating to the person’s life. Different objects in the dream may
serve as a symbol (Kalb 77). Symbols in dreams usually mean something much
deeper than simply being an object that just happens to be in the dream. They
represent different areas of one’s life that deal with one’s physical,
mental, and emotional being. These symbols will relay information about one’s
life if these symbols are interpreted. Dreams are “a private language, known
only to ourselves” (Cartwright 5). Dreams have the ability to relieve all
people of their everyday problems in life. They have a way of setting one free
from reality, which includes all of one’s problems. Dreams help one to
overcome these stresses and help people to get on with their lives. Sigmund
Freud states, “The waking life never repeats itself with its trials and joys,
its pleasures and pains, but, on the contrary, the dream aims to relieve us of
these” (qtd. in Burdach 474). This statement means that though a certain
experience in a person’s life can never happen again, dreams allow the person
to relive those memories, and they can also allow the person to overcome the
stresses of other memories that bother him or her. Memories that continue to
stay in people’s minds from their childhood are very often included somehow in
the dream. No memory that a person has once experienced will ever be lost
because it is stored within the person’s mind and kept there. A person’s
conscious mind is the mind that he uses when he is awake and aware of what he is
doing. The conscious mind has the ability to make distinctions between reality
and the fantasy world. A person is able to think in a reasonable manner and have
a higher order thinking along the lines of placement of time and space. A
person, in this state of mind, has complete control over everything he or she
does including speaking, thinking, and the way that he or she acts around
people. A person can evaluate what is reality and what is not reality while in
this state of mind. Treatment such as hypnotherapy and psychoanalytic therapy
cannot be given during this state of mind because the person is fully aware of
what is going on around him and also fully aware of how he is acting and what he
is saying. When a person falls asleep or is almost asleep, then he or she leaves
the conscious mind and drifts into the unconscious mind (Beck). Alex Lukeman
explains that people’s conscious minds are very much related to the
unconscious part of people’s minds (Lukeman 61). All thoughts that a person
thinks while he or she is conscious comes from the person’s unconscious (Lukeman
61). During dreaming, the mind travels from the conscious to the unconscious.
Dreaming allows the unconscious part of the mind to relay all information to the
person that sometimes that the person does not even know exists. Lukeman
explains that one’s unconscious mind does not deal with issues such as
morality, ethics, or cultural essentials (Lukeman 62). People often feel scared
of just the thought of the unconscious. People do not like the thought of having
something not completely under their control. Through analyzing a patient’s
unconscious mind, a therapist is able to see all of the patient’s choices that
he makes during his life and also his health. The Freudian theory deals with the
issue that the unconscious involves memories or events that are from the
person’s childhood (Encarta). Bad childhood memories that affect the person in
present day may even be relayed through the unconscious. Through some kind of
therapy, a person may become aware of his problems and different things that are
bothering him or her (Beck). Dreams have a way of telling the person about
sickness and disease that he or she is experiencing at the moment or will be
experiencing. Dreams are sometimes trying to tell a person that he need to stop
doing something or start doing something for his own well being (Garfield). In
Alex Lukeman’s book, What Your Dreams Can Teach You, Lukeman states “If we
pay attention, our dreaming consciousness will forewarn and advise us about
health of our bodies and the course of any disease process with which we are
involved (Lukeman 4). Dreams tell people when something is not right in their
bodies. Shakespeare even states that sleep and dreams are “nature’s soft
nurse” (qtd. In. Cartwright 5). Most people, however, would rather not know
what their dreams are trying to tell them. Some people have a certain fear about
dreams because dreams are part of the unconscious. People do not like not being
in complete control of their thoughts and actions. They feel that if they have a
dream about something like death, there will be death in the near future. Most
of the time, when dealing with dreams like this, people would rather not find
out what the dream means (Lukeman 67). Psychoanalytic Therapy is a treatment
that psychologists use for helping people to overcome mental, physical and
emotional torment. It is often called the “the talking cure” (Beck).
Psychoanalysis can be described as a “specific method of investigating
unconscious mental processes and to a form of psychotherapy” (Encarta).
Psychoanalytic therapy is mainly based on the idea that how people act, their
thoughts and their attitudes and how they are arranged by the unconscious
portion of the person’s mind and are not within one’s usual conscious
control. Psychoanalytic therapy is performed by the patient lying on a couch
allowing him or her to totally relax. The psychoanalytic therapist beings
talking to the patient. The therapist invites the patient to talk about his or
her past, angers, fears, and fantasies. This form of talking helps the patient
gain control of his life by confessing to the therapist his or her needs,
motivations in life, wishes and memories. Sometimes there are difficulties in
the progress of a person’s ability to talk about what is bothering him or her.
This difficulty of making progress is called resistance. An example of
resistance is when the patient becomes unable to talk to the therapist any
longer, or stops communicating feelings, or does not want to talk about certain
topics. Transference is another problem that sometimes occurs through the course
of the therapy. This problem occurs when the patient feels certain strong
emotions towards the therapist. Certain emotions can be either a strong feeling
of love, or a strong feeling of hate (Antrobus). Psychoanalytic Therapy is
successful for the patient as soon as the patient is comfortable with himself in
relation to his feelings, and having a relatively good sense of being able to
feel feelings without the urge to act them out. As soon as the patient can relay
all of his feelings to the therapist without any resistance, the therapy is
completed. However, achieving complete recovery takes a person’s lifetime.
There is always some area where the person is weak and needs to overcome
different problems that are holding the person back from having the fullest life
possible (Beck). Through diligent work, however, a person may be able to return
to his normal, healthy state of mind and life. Hypnotherapy is another form of
therapy that uses the subconscious and dreaming to understand and analyze what
the patient’s problem could be. Using hypnosis, a psychiatrist is able to look
into the subconscious where emotions that the patient has experienced, the
patient’s memories, and the patient’s imagination are held. The subconscious
also holds the feelings that one has relating to the person’s place that they
hold in the world. This type of therapy can, in time, help the patient to
conquer all of his or her fears, emotional problems, and physical problems such
as a type of pain control. In the seventeen hundreds and early eighteen
hundreds, hypnosis was used very often as an anesthetic during surgery. The
patient would not have any other type of anesthetic in his or her body. Donald
Jackson states: “Since World War II, it has slipped quietly and discreetly
into the clinical mainstream, to the point where the America Medical
Association, many HMOs and even Medicare now recognize it” (Jackson 128). A
patient has to develop his hypnotic skills in order for the best results
possible using hypnotherapy. Hypnosis will help the patient live a much fuller
life with new confidence in himself and the world, and will also improve
concentration and management skills. The use of this type of therapy can
actually spark one’s interest and potential in various activities one engages
oneself in that one finds interesting. Hypnosis has also been used during major
surgery as an anesthetic with no other anesthetics present. Donald Jackson tells
us that psychiatrists, medical doctors, psychologists, and other people who have
tried it have used hypnotherapy for two centuries to treat people with different
sicknesses and pain (Jackson 127-128). Hypnotherapy can give a patient that is
in very bad pain, relief that lasts for a long time. Hypnosis has been reported
to give many people that have been through it feelings of happiness and total
bliss (Churchill). There are many misinterpretations that people pick up that
are related to hypnosis. Many people believe that the patient is “under a
spell” and will do anything that the hypnotist says to do. Instead of the
patient losing control, the person gains more control of his or her life and
himself than he had ever experienced before. During hypnosis, a patient is well
aware of what is taking place. Hypnosis is simply allowing the patient to have
the ability of great concentration on one subject. Hypnosis is an everyday
occurrence in everyone’s lives. People experience hypnosis in reading a book,
in the state of mind right before sleep, and while watching a movie or
television show. Each time one experiences hypnosis, the more in depth the
concentration is for the patient. Though deeper concentration sounds more
therapeutic for the patient, it is not. The deeper the hypnotic state, the more
likely it is that one will experience loss of consciousness and hallucinations.
Hypnosis skills allow the patient to completely relax. Hypnosis slows down all
parts of the body, including the nervous system, respiratory system and the
patient’s brain waves (Churchill). Rosalind Cartwright, Ph.D. has studied
dreams for 35 years. She states that “Dreams give us a chance to face
situations from real life while our bodies are totally at ease” (Williams 99).
Dreams deal mostly with things that one has experienced in the past, or at the
present time of the dream. They help one to solve problems that he or she is
dealing with. Dr. Cartwright calls dreaming one’s “internal therapist”
(Williams 99). People who have certain phobias have been known to treat their
phobia by themselves without any psychiatric help just through the wondrous act
of dreaming. Dreams help people to overcome obstacles and help the people learn
more about themselves and the lives that they live (Williams 99). Dream
interpretation has helped hundreds of people to overcome their lifelong problems
as well as daily problems. Through therapies such as hypnosis and psychoanalytic
therapy, people who have suffered great emotional, mental, and physical stress
have moved on to live happier, fuller lives. Dreams do, in fact, represent many
different areas of people’s lives in physical, emotional, and mental ways.
Dreams can relay things to a person about his or her life that he or she are not
even aware of. Interpreting one’s dream is a method of self-discovery that
lets one in on parts of his or her life that he or she never could have
imagined. Dreams can help cure different physical, emotional, and mental
problems in one’s life. People have depended on dreams to guide them in their
actions and also for self-discovery for hundreds of years. People will continue
to depend on their dreams as a means of guidance, just as their ancestors have
done for years to come.

BibliographyAntrobus, John. Dream Theory 1997: Toward a Computational Neurocognitive
Model. 16 Feb. 2000
. Beck, Henry W. What is Psychoanalytic Therapy?
. Cartwright, Rosalind, and Lynne Lamberg. Crisis Dreaming: Using Your Dreams to
Solve Your Problems. Harper Collins Publishers: New York, 1992. Churchill,
Randal. “The Transformational Nature of Hypnotherapy.” Become the Dream: The
Transforming Power of Hypnotic Dreamwork. Transforming Press, 1997. 16 Feb. 2000

. “Dream.” Collier’s Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. 1984. “Dreaming.” Microsoft
Encarta 96 Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corporation. Funk & Wagnall’s
Corporation. CD-ROM. 1996 ed. 1993-1995. ---. “Psychoanalysis.” Microsoft
Encarta 96 Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corporation. Funk & Wagnall’s
Corporation. CD-ROM. 1996 ed. 1993-1995. Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of
Dreams. New York: Macmillan Company, 1923. Freud, Sigmund. Modern Critical
Interpretations: The Interpretation of Dreams. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York:
Chelsea House Publishers, 1987. Garfield, Patricia. The Healing Power of Dreams.
Simon & Schuster: New York, 1981. Jackson, Donald Dale. “Hypnotism: You
Will Feel No Pain.” Smithsonian Mar. 1999: 126-140. Kalb, Claudia. “What
Dreams Are Made of.” Newsweek Nov. 8, 1999. 77. Lukeman, Alex. What Your
Dreams Can Teach You. St. Paul, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 1990.
Williams, Gurney. “What do your dreams mean?” McCall’s Aug. 1998: 98-101.
Works Consulted Green, Philip. Hypnotherapy. 8 Mar 2000.
. Thornton, Stephen. The Theory of the Unconscious. Internet Encyclopedia of
Philosophy. 8 Mar 2000.
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