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Dreaming Men Are Haunted Men

  • Date Submitted: 10/15/2011 05:58 AM
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“Dreaming men are haunted men,” wrote Stephen St. Vincent Benet, and the two greatest classical theoreticians of psychoanalysis and the importance of dreams would have agreed with the poet. But Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung would have differed – and indeed in their lifetimes often did differ – on what it is that haunts us in our dreams. This paper examines the differences in Freud’s and Jung’s theories on the interpretation of dreams. Because their theories on the importance and meaning of dreams cannot be extricated from the rest of their work, a brief overview is first given of the context of the importance of dreams to each researcher. After providing this needed background, the paper focuses on their work on dreams and concludes with an examination of the implications of these differences.
      Freud’s Research on Dreams
      Freud’s very earliest work (some of it almost entirely biological in focus in fact and with little bearing on psychoanalysis at all) is not particularly relevant to his work on dreams. But during the period from 1895 to 1900, Freud began to develop many of the concepts that were later incorporated into psychoanalytic practice and doctrine and have a bearing on his interpretation of dreams (Anserson, 1991, p. 132).
      After completing a body of work on the topic of hysteria and experimenting with the use of hypnosis as a cathartic procedure, Freud began during this time to substitute the investigation of the patient's spontaneous flow of thoughts, called free association, to reveal the unconscious mental processes at the root of the neurotic disturbance. This work ran parallel to his research on dreams, which are a manifestation of the subconscious (Anserson, 1991, p. 125).
      In his clinical observations Freud found evidence for the mental mechanisms of repression and resistance. He described repression as a device operating unconsciously to make the memory of painful or threatening events inaccessible to the conscious mind....


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