Sigmund Freud was a frontrunner in many psychological theories, including the interpretation of dreams. There are many issues involving Dr. Freud that some do not consider when they begin to use him as a source of information. For example, his work was typically conducted on Caucasian men usually in their early to middle age adult life. This can provide a foundation for research but should not be a definitive determination for all future researchers. One of the psychological issues that Dr. Freud dealt with was the interpretation of dreams.
Dream interpretation involves listening to dreams and then determining what those dreams may mean. Dr. Freud tended to put a sexual connotation on every thought, memory, behavior and even dream. Dr. Freud was adamant that his structure of the meanings of dreams was so accurate that he wrote some books on the subject. His preconceived notions were many times baseless but because he was self-assured he refused to listen to critics of his diagnoses or his theories. This limits many who look at dream interpretation by following Dr. Freud’s research.
Dr. Freud’s contradiction
Sigmund Freud states in his book: Dream Psychology: Psychoanalysis for Beginners that the dreamer would be able to interpret his own dreams. He also contradicts this statement by clearly saying that one cannot be relied upon to determine the interpretations of their own dreams without the help of a trained analyst. His indication that one can analyze their own dreams by using this book but also recommending that they seek professional assistance in their interpretation is cause for concern. Dr. Freud’s arrogance shows through in underestimating the intellect of the layperson.
Alfred Adler’s criticism
Alfred Adler, another prominent psychiatrist, addressed Freud’s dream interpretation theory and decided differently. Where Freud believed there was separation between the conscious and unconscious mind, Adler believed there is much more of a connection between the two. Not only did he argue against Freud’s dream theory, he even indicated that he believed that dreams were not always a method for the mind to decipher events that had already passed, but also a method which they could be a way to see into the future. For example, one may have a problem with an issue and be able to dream the solution to the problem, being able to complete a task or resolve the issue in their conscious existence (Lombardi, & Elcock, 1997).
The Interpretation of Dreams
When Freud introduced his book, The Interpretation of Dreams, for peer review, it was scoffed by many of his peers. They found that there was a lack of “rigor” in his book, and that the ideas were contrived and not to be taken seriously (Van Gagner, 2009). The belief by the reviewing cohorts was that Freud gleaned most of the information in the book from his own limited personal experiences with little research and that the book did not seek to help others with their dreams (Pigman, 1999).
Dr. Fleiss found the book to be quite accurate, where another associate, Dr. Strachey, found that the book seemed more like an autobiographical account than a scientific novel based on fact (Pigman, 1999). The comments of supporters were acknowledged, but Dr. Freud scoffed the critics. He included only those remarks that would corroborate or support his interpretations.
Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Sigmund Freud’s interpretation of dreams, one should be sure to check many resources and theories and make certain that the theory, interpretation, and mentality of the psychiatrists who have theorized and researched the topic. They should also consider that some theories might not even be created to support how dreams are interpreted.
Lombardi, D. N., & Elcock, L. E. (1997). Freud versus Adler on dreams. American Psychologist, 52, 572-573. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.52.5.572
Pigman, G. W. III (1999). The interpretion of dreams: Reviewed, California Institute of Technology, retrieved from http://wf2dnvr11.webfeat.org/SJQTN1236/url=http://content.ebscohost.com/pdf19_22/pdf/ddd/pdh/pap/pap-18-2-401.pdf?T=P&P=AN&K=pap-18-2-401&S=L&D=pdh&EbscoContent=dGJyMMTo50SeprY4yNfsOLCmr0ieqLBSs6u4TLaWxWXS&ContentCustomer=dGJyMPGss0q1qK5IuePfgeyx44Hy7fEA
Van Wagner, Karen (2009). The interpretation of dreams by Sigmund Freud, About.com:Psychology, retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/sigmundfreud/gr/interpretation.htm