We are talking about some topic, it hits me and I say: “I actually dreamt about that last night!” My mother laughs. “You and your dreams.” Indeed, me and my dreams. I think I bring them up quite occasionally (when they are relevant) because I can remember them (usually) quite well, unlike most people I know. A world without dreams would be a world much less colourful to me – they are some sort of unconscious creativity in my eyes and genuinely interesting.
Freud considered dreams to be the ‘road to the unconscious’ as it is in dreams that the ego’s defences are lowered so that our mind is less vigilant during sleep and repressed things come through to awareness, usually in distorted form to make them more acceptable (e.g. going up a ladder might be interpreted as desire to have sex). Freud distinguishes between the manifest content of the dream, the consciously remembered material, and the latent content, the symbolic meaning of the dream. Dream interpretation involves the translation of the (inevitably distorted) manifest content into the (truthful) latent meaning. Understanding the various distorting processes would help us to understand the latent meaning of a dream. The process of condensation is the joining of two or more ideas/images into one. For example, a dream about a man may be a dream about both one’s father and one’s lover. A dream about a house might be the condensation of worries about security as well as the worries about one’s appearance to the rest of the world.
There are various other theories of dreams (e.g. to organise the mind to give it a fresh start for the next day, to connect different thoughts and emotions in a safe environment (psychotherapy)…) and dream interpretation, which you can read a lot about here.
Through my experiences I have come to the belief that dreams, mainly incorporating things occupying me at the present, desires, hopes and fears, are a means of dealing with these issues. I truly love dreaming because I think it’s a mysterious and magical way of exploring myself and my mind somewhat unconsciously. For example if I dreamt of a particular place, it might be interesting to actually go there. Isn’t it a common view that the unconscious knows more than the conscious? So maybe there’d be something ‘waiting’ for me in that place… and if not, a holiday is never bad 😉