CommentaryI. THE SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE DEALING WITH THE PROBLEMS OF DREAMS
Freud discusses earlier writers and their contributions, and looks at the fundamental reasons why dreams are interesting and what can be gained from studying them.
Antiquity Dreams were representations of supernatural messages from gods and demons. They were generally seen as predictions of the future. It was acknowledged that there was huge variety in both the content of dreams and impressions made on the dreamer hence the problem of interpretation and dream classification developed.
Aristotle Dreams are demonic, not divine in origin. They are defined as the psychic activity of the sleeper. He noted that dreams convert slight bodily sensations perceived in sleep into intense situations in the dream therefore do dreams betray subtle physical changes otherwise unobserved during the day?
Gruppe Classifies dreams into two classes: (a) vain, dishonest and void, influenced by the present (and past), with no bearing on the future. Inclusive in this class were (i) Enuknia (insomnia) which directly reproduce an idea or its opposite e.g. hunger or thirst satiation. (ii) Phantasmata, which elaborate the given idea phantastically e.g. nightmares. (b) Valid and authentic dreams, indicative of future events. Inclusive in this class were (i) Chrematismos, oraculum explicit prophecies (ii) Orama, visio - informative of a future event (iii) Oneiros, somnium symbolic (implicit) prophecies.
Freud acknowledges that he is unique in his theory, is assuming that all dreams can be interpreted.
Artimedorus of Daldis The greatest authority on dream interpretation in late antiquitiy. His theory of supernatural origin of the dream (either demonic or divine), accounts for the 'alien' or 'foreign' perception of a dream on waking.
Still today the weight of material in favour of the divinity of dreams is greater than the explanation offered by psychology, yet to go into all of the literature in this area would be too time consuming so Freud leaves further detailed investigations here.
A. The relation of the dream to the waking state
Freud looks at two conflicting views: (A) The dream content is dependent on life experiences, either objective or subjective (as advocated by Haffner, Maas, Radestock, Lucretius, and Hildebrandt) (B) The dream content is aimed at relieving the emotions and trials of everyday life which it is argued are never to be repeated. Thus dreams and their content are designed to heal and benefit the psyche as opposed to relating to life experiences.(advocates cited are Burdach, Fichte and Strumpell).
B. The Material of Dreams Memory in Dreams
Freud recognises the phenomena defying the life-experience dependent view of dream content, namely that we frequently dream of subjects and themes, which on waking cannot be recognised as a part of one's knowledge or life experiences
Freud cites examples, and concludes that these are 'hypermnesic dreams' and as such, have access to recollections which are inaccessible to the waking state (examples cited from Delboef and Maury).
Thus dream material comes from experiences of which we accumulate almost subliminally, implicitly for example, recognising an otherwise unfamiliar word in a dream, as being that from a poster, past which one has walked daily for some time.
Freud then discusses the role of our childhood as a source of material for dreams some part of which is inaccessible to the waking state. Examples are given by Hildebrandt, Strumpell, and Volkelt.
Against this view is that of Robert, who argues that dreams only contain material from experiences (some being very slight and implicit) of the last few days.
Having established these two arguments, Freud asks a more fundamental question. What determines the experiences (from the last few days or childhood) to be represented in the dream?
(a) Delage Impressions which have been intense in the waking state are nor represented, only weaker impression enter dreams, i.e. when they are less significant in the waking state than they will be in the dream state (advocates are Hidebrandt, Strumpell, Havelock Ellis). Versus (b) Hallam argues for the contrary criteria of material selection.
There are problems though in proving the dependence of dream-content on life experiences. To trace the material of all dreams to their origin is a time consuming job, with no discrete limit to data source.
So, in summary, Delboeuf claims "that every impression, even the most insignificant, leaves an ineradicable mark, indefinitely capable of reappearing by day." So is the phenomena of dreaming solely concerned with remembering?
C. Dream- Stimuli and Sources
Here Freud addresses the theory that dreams are reactions against some disturbance during sleep without which we should not dream.
Ancients in advocating the divinity of dreams had no need for external stimuli since if a divine or demonic will was the driving force, the content was simply their special information or instruction.
Science Are there single or multiple stimuli for dreams? Is the causal explanation of dreams psychological or physiological? Both could provide stimuli. Freud lists the factors cited as causal, and explains how opinions of their order of importance differ.
(1) External (objective) stimuli e.g. alarm clock dreams, where for example ringing bells, incorporated into the dream, are assimilated into the ringing of an alarm clock on waking. (2) Internal (subjective) sensory stimuli
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