by Jason E. Smith
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Sigmund Freud declared that dream analysis was the royal road to the unconscious. Over a hundred years later, despite extensive research into the process of sleep and dreams, as well as the experience of countless thousands of people who have been helped by engaging in the process of dream analysis, prejudice over the value of dreams in psychotherapy and in everyday life continues to persist.
It’s Only a Dream!
In the scientific study of dreams, one of the qualities most often remarked upon that differentiates dream activity from other forms of mental activity is the bizarre and almost hallucinatory quality of the images that are often encountered during dreaming. The bizarreness of dreams, and our own tendency to accept the weird happenings in our dreams at face value, is what most distinguishes the dream experience from that of normal waking life.
It is just this peculiar quality, together with the uncanny nature of so many of our dream images, that makes it so hard for our waking minds to accept the dream as having meaning and value.
As Carl Jung points out:
“The dream is often occupied with apparently very silly details, thus producing an impression of absurdity, or else it is on the surface so unintelligible as to leave us thoroughly bewildered.”