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Kracke, W. (2015). Freud's Dream Theory and the Recent Dream-Lab Research: Do They Clash?. Ann. Psychoanal., 38:119-130.

(2015). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 38:119-130

IV: Neuropsychoanalysis and Dreams

Freud's Dream Theory and the Recent Dream-Lab Research: Do They Clash?

Waud Kracke, Ph.D.

Dreams disturb us. We know they express—or hide—our deepest desires. Yet at times they seem pleasantly entertaining, frivolous, at other times frightening, or just nonsensical. They tease us with allusive and elusive meaning, which we grope for—as Descartes did with his philosophical dream (Cole, 1962), as Plato did in Book 9 of The Republic with his openly Oedipal dreams, as Artemidorus of Daldis tried to do systematically in his Oneirocriticon. Reflective people of all cultures have contemplated dreams for hidden meanings, which they often attribute either to the future, considering their dreams premonitory, or to the supernatural, seeing them as a glancing, timorous contact with the spirit world.

In urban U.S. society, we tend to dismiss dreams as figments, “just imaginary,” as opposed to the solidity of the daytime experience of reality that we all share—and that we, of course, always so clearly and correctly remember. Many other cultures that take dreams seriously see them as a glimpse of a deeper reality, the most direct experience an individual can have of the spiritual reality of their beliefs.

Freud, too, saw dreams as a window on another reality: The most direct view we have of our own inner reality, the unique way each of us has of experiencing the world. For Freud, as for Argentine poet Jorge Luis Borges, dreams are un sistema de palabras humanas, “a system of words a man makes” (Borges, 1960, 1964). If we reflect with Borges that we never see reality directly, but each of us perceives it from our unique perspective and attempts to construct it in memory, “a system of human words,” perhaps dreams can tell us more than we think about reality and how we perceive it.

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