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Freud : Dream Analysis (Assessment and intervention)

Dream Analysis 

Major technique used by Freud to unravel the secrets of his patients’unconscious was dream analysis. Freud’s task, as he saw it, was to analyze and interpret the symbols present in the manifest content of their dreams, in an attempt to discover the latent or hidden meanings. As a result of his extensive clinical experiences, Freud believed that these symbols had universal meanings. Sticks, tree trunks, umbrellas, and snakes, for example, were thought to symbolize the penis; boxes, doors, and furniture chests represented the vagina. Despite their universal nature, Freud also believed that all symbols had to be judged and interpreted in terms of the unique conflicts of the individual. Also, these symbols typically had multiple meanings, which made analysis highly difficult.
In Freud’s view, dreams are always disguised attempts at wish fulfillment. The wishes are unconscious motives that are unacceptable to the individual and are nearly always erotic in nature. During sleep, these impulses seek expression but are subject to censorship. As a result, they seek expression indirectly (via displacement) by taking on disguised symbolic forms. This indirect expression is seen in the manifest content of the person’s dreams. Often the events in the manifest content appear totally unrelated to the actual wish. Detailed analysis by Freud, however, eventually revealed the connection, as seen in the following case study. 

Freud’s patient, a young woman, told him that her sister had two sons, Otto and Charles, and that, unfortunately, Otto had died recently. Otto was the patient’s favorite, but she claimed that she was fond of Charles as well. She then told Freud that the evening before her appointment, she had had a dream in which she “saw Charles lying dead . . . in his little coffin, his hands folded; there were candles all about; and, in short, it was just as it was at the time of little Otto’s death, which gave me such a shock” (Freud, 1938b, pp. 229–230). She then asked Freud what this strange dream meant. Did it mean, she asked, that's he was so evil as to wish that her sister would lose the only child she had left? Or did it mean that she really wished that Charles had died instead of Otto, whom she loved so much more? Freud reassured her that neither interpretation was correct.

In the course of the analysis, Freud discovered that the young woman had been orphaned at an early age and had gone to live with her sister. A number of years later, the sister introduced her to a very attractive man. She and the man had planned to marry, but somehow the sister had intervened, and now the man no longer paid visits to the house. Although she had many other suitors, the young woman was unable to extend her affections to other men. The object of her interest was a professor with literary talents who often gave public lectures. 

The young woman always managed to get tickets to hear him speak, and would sit unobserved in the audience. If she learned that her friend was going to a concert, she attended also, in the hope of seeing him. The last time she saw him was at little Otto’s funeral when he offered her and her sister his condolences. Even under those circumstances, she could not suppress her feelings of affection for the professor. The motive of her dream about little Charles then became clear: it signified nothing more than her wish to see the man again. Thus, even though the dream initially seemed strange and inexplicable, Freud was able to ferret out the hidden wish, and thus helped the woman by making her real motivation clear to her

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