Dream interpretation or oneirology ( Greek ὄνειρος oneiros , German 'the dream' ) describes those activities and ideological concepts that assume a certain, mostly important symbolic message behind the images, actions and feelings experienced in the dream and try to interpret them methodically.
The modern interpretation of dreams is based on the research of Sigmund Freud , whose psychoanalytic theory regards dream events as an important source of information about unconscious ways of experiencing people. In numerous publications she presents a theory that systematizes the origin and meaning of dreams as well as their interpretation. In his work The Interpretation of Dreams , Freud calls such work dream analysis .
History of dream interpretation
Early evidence from the Middle East and Europe
Documents from the oldest written cultures also contain dreams and dream interpretations. In ancient times , a divine or demonic source was ascribed to dreams, which conveyed a message to man in this way or is said to have led him into temptation. The ancient Egyptian king Merikare saw around 2170 BC. The dream as an indication of future events. A list of 200 dream interpretations has come down to us from the time of the Middle Kingdom . Historical references to dream interpretation can also be found in the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh , clay tablets from the 7th century BC, e.g. B .: Gilgamesh dreams of stars falling from the sky. He is drawn to one of them as to a woman, and he can pick it up. His mother Ninsunna interprets this dream for him to soon meet Enkidu . And about this it says in the epic: "... Enkidu rests, he looks at dream images".
The Old Testament of the Bible contains around 20 dreams, of which Jacob's dream of the angels on the ladder to heaven ( Gen 28.12 EU ) and the dream interpretations by Joseph are particularly well known . Whereby the dreams sent by God in OT are mostly a privilege of the prophets; So Yahweh spoke from the pillar of cloud to Aaron and Miriam : "If there is a prophet with you, I will reveal myself to him in visions and speak to him in dreams" ( Num 12.6 EU ). At the same time, the OT also warns against abuse (e.g. Jer 27.9 EU ). In the Talmud and in the Jewish religious tradition in general, dream and dream interpretation played a major role. In the 3rd century e.g. B. taught Rabbi Chisda : "An uninterpreted dream is like an unread letter."
In the New Testament dreams are decisive in the course of salvation history: Jesus' father Joseph dreams that he should accept the son of his betrothed Mary, even though he was not the father of him ( Matthew 1.20 EU ); The magicians did not reveal the baby Jesus to Herod due to a warning dream ( Mt 2.12 EU ), while Joseph fled to Egypt because of a dream with his wife and child ( Mt 2.13 EU ) and returned later for the same reason ( Mt 2.19 EU ). The apostle Paul was later guided by a dream ( Acts 16.9 EU ). In spite of this, early Christianity was predominantly fearful and damning of the interpretation of dreams; only saints were granted their meaning. This changed in the High Middle Ages towards more recognition, before the ecclesiastically accepted interpretation of dreams was lost again in the turmoil of the witch hunt.
In the Greek cult of Asclepius, the expected healing treatment suggestions from the dream incubation during a temple sleep formed a specialty : the patients have to clean themselves, make a sacrifice and then go to sleep in front of the statues of the gods in the holy of holies. Sleeping in the temple was already a common practice in ancient Egypt, overseen by priests as dream interpretation specialists; thus the late Egyptian god Serapis , who sent dreams, was equated with Asclepius. Popular beliefs formed the basis of oneiromancy and are believed to have been practiced by biblical prophets like Daniel . The most important interpreter of dreams in ancient Greece was Artemidor of Daldis (2nd century AD). The history of dream interpretation or "Traumdeuterey" can be traced in Europe primarily through the so-called dream books , in which dream symbols were assigned pioneering meanings. These, too, had a long tradition: The oldest dream dictionary is that of the Antiphon of Rhamnus (480-411).
The Arabic-language dream manuals of the medieval Islamic cultural area use the same formulas as ancient Egyptian and Babylonian omen texts: “When a man sees this and that in a dream”, then this and that happens. They leaned partly on Artemidor, made their introductions but the relation of dreams to the divine is clear. The most famous interpreter of dreams in the Islamic tradition was Ibn Sīrīn (d. 728), to whom numerous dream manuals have been ascribed. Most of these manuals, however, are misspellings. In the early 11th century Abū Saʿd ad-Dīnawarī wrote a comprehensive dream handbook for the Abbasid caliph al-Qādir bi-'llāh (r. 991-1031), in which he tried to balance the Muslim and Greek dream interpretation traditions. He concluded his introduction with a long list of names of Muslim and non-Muslim interpreters of dreams. His main authority, however, was Artemidor. One of the classic methods in Muslim dream interpretation has been to establish an etymological or pseudo- etymological connection between the dream and its meaning. Ad-Dinawari meant for example, that the occurrence of Christians ( nasrani ) in a dream the dreaming victory ( Nasr promise). - Numerous dreams are also reported in the Koran . The Islamic call to prayer and its text go back to the dream of a follower of the Prophet Mohammed .
Modern times to before modern psychology
The character of the dream as a messenger of messages has been philosophically questioned since the Age of Enlightenment . In the 18th century all forms of fortune-telling, as well as dreams, were increasingly suspected of superstition and charlatanry. The dream puzzled philosophers and scientists. On the one hand, a clear distinction should be made between dream and (external) reality; on the other hand, an attempt was made to systematize different types of dreams. For example, in addition to assumed supernatural causes (divine or diabolical influences), natural causes such as memories, emotional states or illnesses were discussed. Thus, in the 18th century, a secularization and psychologization took place in the interpretation of dreams. "Dreams were dismissed as a confused function of the imagination. God-sent dreams were no longer needed. Dreams came about in sleep when reason was temporarily turned off"; however, a " romantic " counter-movement to rationalism began with Johann Gottfried Herder in his Adreastea (1801–1803), where dreams became the model for poetry, especially fairy tales and novels. In 1814 Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert's influential work The Symbolik des Traum was published , in which - referring to pre-Enlightenment concepts - a “prophetic gift of combination” (p. 11) was ascribed to the “dream images”.
In the neurosciences , the importance and meaningfulness of a depth psychological dream interpretation are controversial. Crick and Mitchison, for example, attribute the dream phenomenon to neural and cognitive processes in the brain, in the course of which unimportant behavioral modes are erased; an interpretation of the dreams is therefore not necessary. Other scientists interpret certain findings of their experimental research as confirming some of the basic assumptions of psychoanalytic dream interpretation. Gerhard Roth and Mark Solms, among others, see a possible parallel between the Freudian unconscious on the one hand and a special phenomenon on the other, which they discovered by comparing the brain processes made visible by tomography with the conscious thinking content of the test subjects questioned during the experiment: the neural activity of one The brain confronted with a picture or a task to be solved increases for a while without the test person becoming aware of a thought or feeling. B. also the "decisions" to be "made" long before they become conscious. Roth regards this phenomenon as indirect evidence for the structural model of the psyche adopted by Freud , which is of essential importance for dream analysis.
Freud founded the modern interpretation of dreams and showed in his work The Interpretation of Dreams ways to uncover the dream sense. Freud put forward a theory that dreams are not the product of a mere processing of previous daily experiences and that dreams have no prophetic content. Rather, the dream is a satisfaction of a repressed instinctual desire and contains a highly intimate "message" about the situation of the dreaming, which is largely determined by the experiences of childhood. In depth psychology, the systematic " decoding " of dreams is therefore in the service of self-knowledge and is also of existential importance for psychological diagnostics , the prerequisite for well-founded therapy .
From the results of his method of dream interpretation, Freud deduced that there are psychological contents that are actively prevented from reaching consciousness . Based on a measure of power politics, he referred to the relevant displacement mechanism as “ censorship ”. The process of creating dreams is called the " primary process ". This process takes place in the unconscious . However, sleep lowers the cognitive inhibition that prevents the transition of unconscious material to consciousness in the waking state, and thus enables the contents that have been repressed into the unconscious to shape themselves into dreams and in this new form to reach the preconscious and conscious again as manifest dream contents (see below). The contents of the unconscious - which are always needs such as hunger, lust, etc. (see below) - mixed with the experiences of the previous days (so-called day remnants ), impressions from long-term memory and even parts of conscious considerations, everything " condensed " primitive or also highly complex seeming “cinematic” sequences and “ shifted ” without regard to the usual course of time in the waking state . Occasionally, the other laws of nature such as gravity also seem to be suspended, which leads to the fact that the meaning of a dream can only be discovered through the detour of analysis . The main reason for the fact that the “message” of a dream cannot be immediately understood is the censorship, which is reduced during sleep, but not completely removed.
The "lowest" content of dreams come from Freud's theory, according to the time , the far-reaching with the unconscious is identical - so instinctual needs that should be met: partly because they are essential for the preservation of the organism (eg the urge to. Nutrition), partly because it is necessary for its reproduction ( sexual needs).
These biologically anchored wishes, to which those of curiosity and those of a social nature are added - mother-child and group bonding needs - form, according to Freud, the main reservoir of psychic energy, the so-called libido . From its source the entire biological organism and the structure of the psyche , which Freud distinguished according to three instances : the id , the ego and the superego . All three instances are connected to specific, also organically represented functions that cooperate without conflict in the state of mental health. Only the upbringing of morality and cleanliness, the rules and norms of which are internalized by the superego during childhood, are responsible for the fact that this cooperation is disturbed and that certain parts of the id's own instinctual wishes no longer reach the ego-consciousness. Nevertheless, they remained in the unconscious, and so every dream represents an attempt by the id to make the ego conscious of these instinctual wishes, contrary to the demands of the super-ego. The so-called latent content of the dream , its message disguised in symbols and requiring interpretation , emerged from these conflicting demands . The latent dream contents are also called dream thoughts by Freud .
In contrast to this, the manifest dream represents what stuck in the dreamer's memory in the form of symbols, which are usually incomprehensible to him, when he woke up; it therefore does not correspond to the message “latently” present “under” the consciously remembered surface, which can only be uncovered through analytical work. The psychoanalyst arrives at it primarily through the free associations that his client is supposed to make about every symbol of his dream. For the free association , the dreamer is asked to gain spontaneous, uncritical as well as specifically descriptive ideas about the symbols of his dream. With the help of this additional information, the (latent) message that remained hidden under the remembered dream surface can then be found. With the help of here z. The dream can be more easily deciphered by the mechanisms of dream work mentioned in some cases, such as displacement, compression, visualization and symbol formation. To these mechanisms one can add the mechanisms of secondary processing, that is, the natural tendency of the dreamer to create a form of "meaning" or "story" from the various elements of the manifest content.
Carl Gustav Jung understood the dream as an immediately clear representation of the inner reality of the dreaming, i. H. it does not need any free associations from this in order to be able to understand the dream. Jung found that by freely associating any object, you can reach your own complexes in the same way. An investigation according to Freud's methods leads to personal complexes and thus away from the specific dream sense. The special thing about dreams, however, are the symbols specifically used in the dream. In order to understand the specific dream meaning, Jung suggests, instead of the free associations that lead away from the dream material, a "circumambulation, the center of which is the dream image" as a method for dream interpretation. By enriching every single symbol of a dream with directly related personal associations, as well as with the impersonal amplifications , the dream sense can become clear.
Jung also coined the term collective unconscious , an area from which the same motif images emerge regardless of culture - e.g. B. Animus and anima as “personifications of the unconscious”, as an image of the soul, which in dreams mostly shows itself in a female form in the man and as a male form in the woman.
Jung shared Freud's view that dreams are a “royal road to the unconscious”. However, as indicated above, Jung's and Freud's approaches differ as follows:
- By adding the impersonal, collective meaning of the respective symbol to the personal associations. Jung emphasized that there is no such thing as “ready-to-use systematic instructions on how to interpret dreams”, “as if you could just buy a reference book and pick out a particular symbol and its meaning. No dream symbol can be separated from the person who dreamed of it; because there is no universally valid interpretation for a dream. ”Motifs and symbols must be seen“ in the context of the dream, not as self-explanatory ciphers ”. The dream interpretation "depends (...) on the personal situation of the individual". Jung emphasizes: “Two different people can have almost exactly the same dream. But if, for example, one is young and the other old, their problems are also different, and it would be absurd to interpret both dreams in the same way. ”As an example, he describes the dream of a man who is at the head of a group of young people Men riding across a wide field. The young man jumps over a moat in a dream while the others rush into it. This dream was dreamed of by a “young, cautious, introverted man”. Jung also heard a corresponding dream about "an old man with a courageous disposition who had led an active and enterprising life" and was ill at the time of the dream and caused a lot of trouble for the doctor and nurse because he did not follow their instructions. It was clear to Jung that "the dream encouraged the young man what to do, but made it clear to the old man what he was still doing and what was causing him difficulties."
- For Freud, the free associations of his patients were decisive for the interpretation of their dreams. On the one hand, his structural model of the psyche was essential to his work, and on the other, the requirement that there should be no contradiction between the needs of the healthy psyche and biological findings. Freud criticized Jung for the fact that his method neglected the natural sciences too much. Jung, on the other hand, saw himself as an empiricist - and thus a natural scientist - and in many places in his work emphasizes the hypothesis of his terms and concepts. In his discussion with Freud, however, he also discussed the importance of the researcher's personal, individual requirements for the psychology developed by an individual. He also reflected on the limits of scientific, statistical working methods for subjective questions of the individual.
- According to Jung, the dream speaks its own imagery, which must be understood, but which directly expresses what the dream has to "say". According to Freud, a censor acts in the dream, who distorts the dream statement.
- While according to Freud the dream brings a hidden wish fulfillment, according to Jung the dream is a natural phenomenon that compensates and balances the conscious attitude of self-awareness.
Calvin Hall established a theory in 1953 that dreams should be viewed as a cognitive process. Hall argued that a dream was a thought or series of thoughts that happened to one in the dream. In this sense, the dream images are visual representations of the personal imagination of these thoughts. For example, according to Calvin Hall's theory, a dream in which the dreamer is attacked by a friend would be interpreted as a fear of friendship.
Ann Faraday was partly responsible for the increasing popularity of dream interpretation in the 1970s. She published books on dream interpretation and organized groups in which dreams were narrated and analyzed. Faraday concentrated on the assignment of dreams to certain life events. In particular, Faraday found that the majority of dreams resulted from events that had happened to the dreamer in the past day or two.
In the 1980s and 1990s Wallace Clift and Jean Dalby Clift investigated the connection between images produced in dreams and the dreamer's waking life. In their publications, they described patterns in dreaming and methods of analyzing these patterns.
Dream interpretation of other psychotherapeutic approaches
In Gestalt therapy dreams are viewed as existential messages from the dreaming. The well-known psychoanalytic dream interpretation (purely verbal work with the symbols and exploring the latent dream content ) is replaced by the scenic representation of the dream as well as dialogues with selected dream parts. The dreamer can explore, recognize and integrate the occurring persons and objects as dispossessed parts of himself and his environment.
Analysis of existence
According to the analysis of Dasein , dreaming is a kind of being-in-the-world (see Heidegger ) like the waking state. The difference is characterized by the fact that the dreamer only sees what corresponds to his mood to a high degree. Dreams provide information about openness and closeness to one's own possibilities of being. There is no search for meaning behind the remembered dream surface , only the recognizable meaning content is asked. When interpreting the manifest (remembered), analogies are sought between dream events and behaviors, emotions and conflicts in the waking world. In contrast to Freud, who sees the unconscious rooted in instinctual wishes, Binswanger rejects this view and approach and opposes it with a wholeness of the person, which he bases on the terminology of Heidegger and Husserl's method .
The person-centered therapy is based on the manifest content . During the interpretation, dream mood, perception and action are taken up and used as a possibility for self-actualization . Self-actualization is understood as the inner strength for growth and self-realization.
The founder of Focusing , Eugene T. Gendlin , sees the dream work as an access to parts of the personality that are remote from consciousness. Physical reactions are interpreted when the dreamer plunges into the dream images one more time while awake. The questioning about the physical resonance, the so-called felt sense , enables new aspects of meaning. The dreamer can also take on the role of parts of his dream, similar to the dream work in Gestalt therapy.
- Lucid dream
- Dream diary
- True dream
- Wild strawberries , a film by Ingmar Bergman in which dream interpretation plays a central role
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- Hansueli F. Etter (2018): Wisdom from dreams. The evolutionary psychological meaning of inner images. P. 13 f.
- see Gen 37.5 EU , Gen 40.2 EU , Gen 41.1 EU and the following
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- Hansueli F. Etter (2018): Wisdom from dreams. The evolutionary psychological meaning of inner images. Pp. 38-41
- Hansueli F. Etter (2018): Wisdom from dreams. The evolutionary psychological meaning of inner images. P. 18
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- Hansueli F. Etter (2018): Wisdom from dreams. The evolutionary psychological meaning of inner images. P. 23
- Sirriyeh: Dreams and Visions in the World of Islam. 2015, p. 28.
- Sirriyeh: Dreams and Visions in the World of Islam. 2015, p. 30.
- Sirriyeh: Dreams and Visions in the World of Islam. 2015, p. 63.
- Sirriyeh: Dreams and Visions in the World of Islam. 2015, pp. 92–94, 104.
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- Hansueli F. Etter (2018): Wisdom from dreams. The evolutionary psychological meaning of inner images. P. 33
- Annemarie Schimmel (1998): The dreams of the caliph: dreams and their interpretation in Islamic culture. Munich (Beck). P. 146. Quoted from Hansueli F. Etter (2018): Wisdom from dreams. The evolutionary psychological meaning of inner images. P. 33 f.
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- Freud: About the dream, Die Traumdeutung , inaugurated in 1899, published in 1900, Möller-Hartmann, mündl. Communication, September 27, 2007, advanced training series over 100 years of dream interpretation 2007.
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- The archetype is a tendency to generate ideas that are very variable without losing their basic pattern . See CG Jung: Dream and Dream Interpretation . CG Jung Paperback edition in eleven volumes, Volume 4, edited by Lorenz Jung. Quoted from the 12th edition 2005, ISBN 3-423-35173-X , p. 54 (chapter: The archetype in dream symbolism ).
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- CG Jung u. a .: Man and his symbols. Patmos Verlag, Düsseldorf / Zurich 1968. First edition Man and his Symbols , London 1964. The following page number comes from the 16th edition 2003 of the special edition from 1999, p. 66 (in the chapter: The type problem).
- CG Jung: The Contrast Friend and Jung. In: Freud and Psychoanalysis. In: Collected Works. Volume 3. Walter-Verlag, Solothurn, Düsseldorf, 1995, ISBN 3-530-40079-3 , par. 775 u. 784.
- E.g. in the letter from CG Jung to Henry A. Murray from August 1956. In: Briefe , Volume 3. Walter-Verlag, Olten / Freiburg 1973 (3rd edition from 1990, ISBN 3-530-40760-7 ), p. 50.
- CG Jung: Dream and Dream Interpretation . CG Jung Paperback edition in eleven volumes, Volume 4, edited by Lorenz Jung. 12th edition. 2005, ISBN 3-423-35173-X , p. 50 ff. (Chapter: The archetype in dream symbolism ) and p. 25 ff. ( The language of dreams ).
- CG Jung: Dream and Dream Interpretation . CG Jung Paperback edition in eleven volumes, Volume 4, edited by Lorenz Jung. 12th edition. 2005, ISBN 3-423-35173-X , p. 50 (Chapter: The archetype in dream symbolism ).
- A Cognitive Theory of Dreams
- Ann Faraday: The Dream Game. Harper Prism, 1990, p. 3
- [Jean Dalby Clift: Core Images of the Self: A Symbolic Approach to Healing and Wholeness. The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992, ISBN 0-8245-1218-9 .]
- Jean Dalby Clift, Wallace Clift: The Hero Journey in Dreams. The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1988, ISBN 0-8245-0889-0