Sigmund Freud and The Interpreation of DreamsSigmund Freud published his famous book "The Interpreation of Dreams" in 1900, after years of working with neurotic patients. He found that they often discussed their dreams, and that they were often dreams that fulfilled various wishes they had. He saw the link between what the patient wanted and what they tended to dream about. At the time, few people thought dreams meant anything. They felt they were random meaningless images that happened during sleep. Freud proposed the notion that they actually contained a key to the person´s subconscious.
Freud talked about dreams having two layers of meanings. The first, the "manifest content", was that actual dream. This would be the discussion that the person left their childhood home, was late for school, lost their homework, was yelled at by the teacher. On another level, though, was the "latent content". This is where the dreamer realizes that they don´t really care (say at age 33) about homework ... but that the dream is trying to demonstrate how stressed out they are, and how they feel overwhelmed by pressures beyond their control.
The dream isn´t literally trying to tell the dreamer to do their homework, but it is using these symbols to help make clear how the person is really feeling.
It took a while for Freud´s work to become appreciated. Since the atmosphere on its initial release was firmly set in the ´dreams are nonsense´ attitude, few thought this book had any meaning. It was only after a decade, when more and more people found true applicability in the book´s lessons, that it began to garner praise and respect.
In today´s society, "The Interpretation of Dreams" is seen as a landmark book, and is studied in many colleges as a turning point in the study of human emotions.
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