Dreams as the road to the unconscious

It was Sigmund Freud who asserted that dreams are the royal road to the discovery of the unconscious. Dreams provide us with opportunity to enter the deep content of our psyche. They are considered a symbolic language, through which the unconscious communicates with the conscious part. During the night, we process unconscious material made up of our emotions that are particularly latent in our life, worries that trouble us in current life situations and everything else that currently emerges for us. Through the dream analysis, we can get in touch with our repressed emotions, fears or unfinished processes.

Freud believed that dreams are a pathway to consciousness, allowing repressed thoughts, emotions and desires to surface. For him, dreams are the result of two mental processes. The first is that of the subconscious forces that form the desire that the dream then expresses. The second is the process of censorship that distorts the expression of that desire. Freud claimed that every content is linked to our experiences that happened during the previous day. From this the content of the dream is then formed.  These can be significant experiences for us, whereby several such experiences that are formed into one through a dream. It can also be an internal significant experience that is presented in a dream through the representation of some recent but not significant experience.

Carl Jung expanded on Freud’s idea by claiming that some of the symbols that appear in dreams are collective – shared by all of humanity. Through dreams, one can reach a deeper exchange of the collective human experience and connect with the unconscious mind.

Fritz Perls considered dreams an existential message, which communicates about finding one’s place in life.  Psychotherapist Branka Jakelić believed that dreams have the power to teach, heal and reveal dimensions that are not available to reason and everyday consciousness. It is important after we have dreamed a certain dream to link it to what is happening to us in a conscious state. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that a dream never talks about what we already know, but opens the way to areas we have not yet consciously entered and possibilities we have not thought about before.

“Bone by bone, hair by hair, the Wild Woman returns. Through night dreams, through events half understood and half remembered…”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run with the Wolves

Dreams are therefore a valuable tool for understanding ourselves. Each part that we dream of in a dream represents some aspect of ourselves. With this insight, it is good to analyze the dream. It is important to discover what it reveals to us that we have not had the opportunity to discover about ourselves. Dreams can also be pointing to internal conflicts that are arising in us, so it is good to link that aspect of our current situation to the dream. It is useful to write down the dream and go through it one more time to see which topics often come up for us in the dream, and how we can relate them to topics that appear in our everyday life. This allows us to integrate the parts of us that have been waiting in the recesses of our psyche for us to finally pay attention to them. That is why interpretation of dreams gives us an insight into the breadth of our own experience and indicates which emotions and topics eagerly await our attention.

Whichever explanation you choose, dreams represent the royal road into the unconscious content of our psyche, into emotions, fears, longings and hopes. Dream analysis can help us expand our insight into the hidden corners of our psyche.