The moon had two hands, one holding a bow and arrows and the other a burden strap of a woman. The moon then offered to the dreamer to make choice, but would often try to confuse him by crossing its hands. If he became the possessor of the burden strap, he would be condemned to live as a woman for the remainder of his life. He would be required to dress as a woman, marry another man, and undertake womans work. Such people were known as a bedache in the Oglala Sioux and suicide was the only way to escape this fate.
This is a description of a puberty dream in the Oglala Sioux tribe, this was a very popular ritual that consisted of a young man sleeping in a special place in the wilderness and hoping for a dream that would tell him his role in the tribe. Such dream interpretations were very popular among ancient civilizations and have always held value. However ancient interpretations were based on religious beliefs and cultural adaptations and arent as nearly as revealing as the modernist interpretation theories of Freud and Jung that are based on life experiences, personality traits and psychological condition.
As man developed logic he inquired into the meaning of his dreams. The first developing societies believed that the dreamer enters another real world, the world of power and spirit. This world was seen as real or more real then the waking world, but certainly a more powerful world. The dreamer would then call on tribal elders, matriarchs, patriarchs, priests and shamans to interpret his dreams. Other societies believed that dreams were divine messages from god or could show them how to lead their lives.
Among such societies were the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans. The Egyptians believed that some of the dreams were omens from the spirit world, but they did not seem to believe that the soul could leave the body and go to a higher level while the person slept. (Delaney 15) They were the first to establish a book of dreams that had many interpretations of dreams and their conclusions. The Greeks respected dreams believing that they were messages from gods, that they foretell the future, that they are a means of curing illness and that they enable one to speak with the dead and witness events taking place at great distances(Delaney, 33.) The Romans inherited most of their views about dreams from the Greeks. Artemidorus, a roman philosopher developed a five volume elaborate collection about dreams, called Oneirocriticon, in which he argued against several Greek beliefs.
The two most recognized names in psychology and dream interpretation are Freud and Jung. Freud has been the most controversial psychologist of the 20th century if not of all time. His book, The Interpretation of Dreams was more than just his account of his psychological theories; it was a collection of his most deeply held feelings and beliefs. In this book Freud explains the how dreams originate, the relationship between dreams and other abnormal psychological phenomenon such as phobias, obsessions, and delusions, and develops a new technique for interpretation. Freud also said that while other psychological researchers have dismissed dreams as the nonsensical products of sleep impaired mind, he is going to show that dreams do have psychological meaning and can be interpreted (Bulkeley, 16.) He states that two methods of interpretation have come down to us through history, symbolic analogy and decoding. He says that both of these methods are arbitrary subjective and essentially superstitious, but psychologist of his time are foolish to dismiss dreams as a subject of serious scientific investigation. Freud said that he agrees with popular traditions that dreams if properly interpreted are profoundly meaningful. He goes on to say I must affirm that dreams really have a meaning and that a scientific procedure for interpreting them is possible(Bulkeley, 16.)
Freud believed that all dreams were fulfillments of wishes. These wishes go through a process called dream-work in which the latent content is disguised in symbols to form the dream images that are the manifest content. This process is necessary because latent wishes are often immoral, or antisocial or relating to basic sexual aggressive instincts of human nature. He develops the theory of the Oedipus complex, the deeply unconscious desire in all men to kill their fathers and sleep with their mothers. Some of his critics have argued that Freuds beliefs are that all dreams arise from sexual desires, however Freud has always denied this popular misunderstanding. He says that sexual desires do express themselves in dreams but other wishes appear as well.
This process of distortion is necessary for the dreamer to stay asleep, because sleep is necessary to rest our psychic apparatus.
The process of dream-work is produced from two sources and evolves in four stages. The first source is day residue, neutral or indifferent memories from our day-to-day life. The second source is distant memories from the dreamers past, such as childhood instinctual wishes. The four stages are condensation, displacement, considerations of responsibility and secondary revision. Condensation is putting two or more outside stimuli into one element in a dream. Displacement is when the dreamers emotions in a dream are inconsistent with what actually happens in the dream. For example an incident might take place that would cause the dreamer to react with hysteria that would not cause that reaction in waking life. Consideration of responsibility is a major part of dream-work in which latent thoughts are transformed into visual images. Freud acknowledges the difficulty of translating these images back into its latent content, but he says that is exactly the intention of dream-work. The last step in the process of dream-work is the secondary revision in this stage the dream is revised and to make the appearance of the dream more coherent. It fills in the gaps and makes revision and additions to the dream to make it flow better. However this process also disguises the latent meaning of the dream.(Bulkeley, 21-22)
To discover the meaning of these latent dreams, Freud used free-association.
This process involved the patient lying down on a couch with Freud sitting on a chair behind him. This was so that the patient cannot see his Freuds facial expressions. After the patient has told Freud about his personal life and the dream he had, Freud would bring up particular elements and images of the dream and the patient would have to answer with the first thing that came to mind relating to the image, no matter how embarrassing, foolish, or bizarre the answer is. Then Freud would consider the relationship between the responses and come up with a logical wish that the dreamer wants fulfilled.
Freuds theory that all dreams are wish fulfillments was challenged because it did not explain the occurrence of nightmares. In response Freud said that nightmares do represent wishes as well and the fear is a result of the censoring agency failing to mask the wishes good enough. Freuds second explanation for nightmares was that some people have a masochistic component in their sexual constitution, (Bulkeley, 18) a sense pleasure from being hurt. For such people a nightmare might be a fulfillment of a wish.
Carl G. Jung was Freuds colleague and leading student but their views on dreams among many other psychological interpretations were so different that they parted. Jung unlike Freud believed that dreams are a direct expression of the dreamers conditions of his inner world and arose from the collective unconscious. He does not agree with Freuds theories that dreams try to fool the dreamer by disguising their meaning. But instead he believes they give an accurate self-portrayal of the psyches actual state. Jung said to me dreams are a part of nature, which harbors no intention to deceive, but expresses something as best it can, just as plant grows or an animal seeks food as best as it can(Bulkeley, 30). He believed that dreams appear strange not because of deceit but because our conscious minds do not always understand that the special symbolic language of the unconsciousness, and if we want to discover the real meaning of our dreams we have to learn the distinctive language of image symbol and metaphor.
Jung believes that dreams serve two functions. The main function is the process of compensation. The theory of compensation Jung believed worked as follows. Our psychological health depends on the balance between our consciousness and the unconscious. Dreams are a powerful agent of sustaining the overall balance between the two. They bring about unconscious thoughts that the ego has either ignored, not valued sufficiently, or actively repressed. Jung supports this with a personal anecdote where he is treating a patient and his dialogue with the patient becomes increasingly shallow. He felt something wrong but he didnt know what it was. The night before the next session with this patient he had a dream that he was walking in a valley with a steep hill on the right. On the top of the hill is a castle, and on the highest tower he sees a woman and in order to look at her he had to strain his neck. When he awoke he realized that the woman was the patient and the dream meant: If in the dream I had to look up at the patient in this fashion then in reality I had probably been looking down on her. Dreams are after all compensation for the conscious attitude. Jung told the patient of the dream he had and his interpretation and it produced an immediate and positive change in the therapeutic relationship (Bulkeley, 31.)
The second function Jung believed was to give a perspective look into the future. Jung agreed with Freud that dreams look at past experiences. But he argued that dreams could also foretell the future. He didnt mean that all dreams predict the future but some can give some insight into what might happen and the possibilities the dreamers future might hold.
Jungs interpretation techniques were substantially different from Freuds. Unlike free-association Jung used ampliphicaton. He believed that instead of leading the dreamer away from the dream with free association, the interpreter should circle around the dream images again and again, in an effort to find deeper element of the dreams meaning. Another aspect of interpretation Jung talks about is relating the dream into the dreamers objective or subjective level. The objective level being reality, something that has happened in the physical world, the subjective level is within the dreamer, such as an emotional conflict of some sort. Jung used the subjective level more often then the objective. He once compared dreams to a theater in which the dreamer is himself the scene, the player, the prompter, the producer, the author, the public, the critic. . . . The subjective approach conceives all figures in the dream as personified features of the dreamers own personality.(Bulkeley, 32)
The last idea Jung disagrees with Freud on is the idea of symbolism. Jung believed in archetypal symbols, this theory originated in one of his dreams, in which he is in a house, one that he believes to be his own, he goes downstairs and finds that the first floor has medieval furniture and decorations. He then goes to the cellar which is a dwelling of the ancient Rome, he sees a stone slab on the floor, opens it, and descends into a dark cave containing bones with bones and two skulls, very old and disintegrated. He interpreted this dream to have special meaning. He thought that the human mind has a collective unconscious which consists of archetypes and archetypical symbols. The collective unconscious is passed on from generation to generation. Archetypes are universal human thinking patterns that underlie all human functioning. He argues that archetypes are not specific images, feelings, or experiences but the blueprints for personality and thought development. Jungs principal archetypes were the persona, shadow, anima, animus and self. The persona, Jung said is the mask we put on when we are in public. The shadow is our unconscious elements and energies. The anima is our feminine qualities. The animus is our masculine qualities. And the self is our desire to achieve psychological wholeness. Archetypal symbols when appear, can provide the dreamer with profound insight and guidance into the dreamers thoughts. These are symbols that are passed down through with the collective unconscious. They reflect natural wisdom ingrained deeply within the human unconscious. (Bulkeley, 33-34.)
When people began to interpret dreams, they were thought to be supernatural visions from gods. Today we are aware that dreams are a part of psychology, because our society is based on science, instead of religious beliefs. Modern theories are much more insightful into the real meaning of dreams, because they have developed through out the years with concrete facts supporting them. Modernist such as Freud and Jung support their interpretations with rational and scientific evidence. That is why they are more revealing and effective in interpreting dreams.