How Do Psychologists Interpret Dreams?

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How do psychologists interpret dreams? While dreams may be baffling, psychologists may use dream interpretation to explore what they many mean to the subconscious.

Understanding How Do Psychologists Interpret Dreams

Dream interpretation theories are numerous and include such venerated psychologists as Freud, Jung, Hall, Domhoff and more. The content of dreams is wide and varied, leading to interpretations that are equally wide and varied. While no textbooks answer the question of why people dream exactly, experts and psychologists believe that dreams are rich and compelling because they have meaning.

Some theories of dreaming include information and emotional processing. The idea behind those theories is that information and emotional content of the day must be processed from short-term experience to long term memory. Dreaming may be a part of that process.

Freud and Dreaming

Sigmund Freud was a well-known psychologist who published many books, papers and theories over the years on the interpretation of dreams, psychology and the unconscious mind. He believed that the content of the dream (its imagery and events) were an expression of the dreamer's unconscious mind. It was Freud's contention that dreams were the way the id (the primal aspect of the self) communicated its deepest, darkest desires. Dreaming happens during a state of "ego collapse" as the id and the superego (ideals) focalize on the ego.

Jung and the Unconscious

Carl Jung was both a philosopher and psychologist. He believed that dreams revealed information from both the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. For Jung, all humans share a connection to the collective unconscious, the primal experience of the entire race. Jung believed that humans could once access this collective unconscious actively, but lost the ability over time. Dreams are all that remain for humans to make that connection.

Hall and Cognitive Process

Calvin S. Hall is a psychiatrist and psychologist who focused on understanding how dreams affect cognition. Cognitive process involves the dissemination of information from experience to emotional and intellectual understanding to long-term storage. Hall believed that actions, experiences, and conversations needed to be divided into content and associated in order to be remembered and that dreams play a part in that. Hall's theories required identification of the actions, the objects, the interactions and the setting of a dream in order to obtain understanding.

Domhoff and the Internalization of Life

G. William Domhoff studied with Hall and became known as a dream researcher. The researcher's studies indicated that dreamers internalize the thoughts and concerns of their daily lives through dreams. Dreaming allows individuals to work out their fears, their motivations and their day-to-day needs in order to solve problems and issues.

Studies and Dream Interpretation

Dream studies and interpretations became popular in the 1970s as authors; researchers and psychologists sought greater understanding of why people "dream" in the first place. Books such as:

Dreams are highly personal experiences and while there continues to be no definitive reason for people to dream. How do psychologists interpret dreams? They interpret based on their areas of study, expertise, and theories. Research suggested that dreams were vital to the human experience, that a person must dream as they sleep and that even when dreams are not remembered, a dreamer dreams.

While psychologists and dream researchers continue the debate about what dreams mean, how they impact people and what process they serve, people will continue to dream.

How Do Psychologists Interpret Dreams?