The Dream-Work The Structure of Dreams as posed by Freud
Who was Sigmund Freud? • Sigmund Freud was… • An Austrian neurologist who became the father of psychoanlysis • Some may argue that he is the father of modern psychology (as nearly EVERY branch of psychology arose as an attack on his theories) • An avid consumer of cigars and cocaine
Freud’s Influence • That being said… • His influence cannot be quantified, as his introduction of the “unconscious” into the world changed the way that people viewed humanity. • Side-Bar: Derrida • So let’s set aside our reservations, suspend disbelief, and see what this guy has got to offer…
Freud—The Basics • The Unconscious • The unconscious is where we store our repressed memories and desires—memories so hurtful that we banish them from our memory, and desires so dark and twisted that we suppress them so we are not tempted to act on them. • Everything we forget is as a result of our unconscious suppressing something dark tied to that memory.
Freud—The Basics • Example: “I forgot to do my homework.”
Freud—The Basics • So, how do we access this inaccessible part of our being? • Dreams! • According to Freud, dreams are fueled by our desire to get at what we truly desire—the dark dream-wishes that our unconscious has hidden away. • Dreams, however, are designed to hide the truth, which they do through condensation and displacement. • All of this contributes to the structure of the dream-work.
What is the Dream-Work • As described by Freud: • “All other previous attempts to solve the problems of dreams have concerned themselves directly with the manifest dream-content as it is retained in the memory…for us a new psychic material interposes itself between the dream-content and the results of your investigations: the latent dream-content, or dream-thoughts…We develop the solution of the dream from this latent content, and not from the manifest content.”
And this means…? • Manifest content • What we remember from our dreams • i.e. I dream that there is a chicken running through my house. The manifest content is that there is a chicken in my house. • Latent content • What the symbolic, hidden (or “latent”) meaning is of our dreams. • i.e. I dream that there is a chicken running through my house. The latent content is that the idiot my brother is letting stay with us for 3 days is loose in my house…
How about you? • Take out the dream that you wrote about yesterday: • Pair Up (2 minutes each): • Describe the manifest content • Start guessing at what the latent content might be
More from the Mouth of Freud • “We develop the solution of the dream from this latent content, and not from the manifest content.” • “The dream-content appears to us as a translation of the dream-thoughts into another mode of expression, whose symbols and laws of composition we must learn by comparing the origin with the translation.”
Translation…? • We can only understand what a dream means through the latent-content, NOT the manifest-content. • The manifest-content is the translation of the latent content into a form we can understand. • Think a Navajo-English dictionary: • It takes the language we do not understand (Navajo) and provides us with the English word for the Navajo one so the word is comprehensible to us.
What is the Dream-Work Translating? • Condensation: Compacting the manifest content • According to Freud, the manifest content of a dream may fill half a page, while the latent content could fill half a dozen times that. • In math terms: X = (y² - 45z ± 4/3 ÷ 7762.9)^ ∞ⁿ • Displacement: Relocating the manifest content • Attributing a manifest symbol to latent meaning meant to confuse what the true meaning is. • In math terms: Given the same formula as in “Condensation,” only now you’re told “X” actually equals “3Q”
Huh? • Essentially… • Freudian dreams SCREW WITH YOUR HEAD • Condense the meaning from long to short… • Then displace the meaning to something (possibly) entirely unrelated!! • So by the time we get our manifest content, the unconscious has basically transformed it into something that is so obscurely related that the meaning is totally distorted.
What do we do with this? • Our job, then, is to do the opposite of what our dreams have done. • Instead of sculpting the latent-content into manifest-content (as our dreams do)… • We dig out the latent-content from the manifest content. (And dig DEEP)
What does this Accomplish? • From the latent-content, we can find our “dream-wish.” • Basically our darksuppressed desires. (The unconscious is always dark) • These desires are distorted through the way they are represented in the manifest-content via condesation and displacement. • Our job to pull the latent-content out of the manifest-content and discover the dream-wish. • What is at the center of the dream? • The Desire that fuels the Fantasy of the Dream
Formula • Manifest = what we are presented with • Latent =All of the possible hidden meanings of what we are presented with (obscured through condensation and displacement) • Dream-Wish =underlying dark desire fueling the latent content • More Clarity? • Image = Babushka Doll
Taking Apart the Dreamwork • Practice time!! • Look back at the dream you were working with beforehand • Identify: • The Manifest Content • At least 2 layers of latent content • Identify at least 1 way in which each of these layers have been displaced and condensed. • And the dream-wish—then DEFEND it!