Dream analysis is the process of assigning meaning to dreams. In many ancient societies, such as those of Egypt and Greece, dreaming was considered a supernatural communication or a means of divine intervention. In modern times, various schools of psychology have offered theories about the meaning of dreams.
When I conduct dream analyses, I tend to use a cognitive-behavioral approach, which I will describe briefly here. I pay close attention to the actors, setting/context, action, and importantly, dreamer’s automatic thinking, attitudes, and feelings as the action unfolds. I have them account the dream in whole. I then slow the action down from frame-to-frame, inquiring about above. We rate the intensity of the feelings using the Subjective Units of Distress (SUD) scale from 1 to 10. One represents slight distress and 10 indicates maximum intensity. Then, inquire about the personal meaning in each of the dream sequences.
The behaviour of the memory in dreams is surely most significant for every theory of memory in general. It teaches us that "nothing which we have once psychically possessed is ever entirely lost" (Scholz 59)... Let us now bear in mind this extraordinary capability of the memory in the dream, in order to perceive dream theories to be mentioned later, when they endeavour to explain the absurdities and incoherence of dreams through a partial forgetting of what we have known during the day.
In dream literature the term dream symbols and dream archetypes are often used interchangeably. For our understanding here though, we will refer to universal symbols of the collective unconscious as archetypes, and reserve the term symbols to represent images that are very personal to the dreamer. From birth, our brains register images, sounds, scents, touch, and language and stores this information in our memory. As we dream, many of these personal memories are presented as symbols in our dreams. Our challenge is to dissect the symbols to understand our personal dream language. Many dreamers rely on a dream dictionary to look up a symbol. However, dream dictionaries are generic, and dream symbols are very personal.
This is a very good point as to why dream dictionaries can be inefficient, because not every symbol is the same for everyone. For example, a church can be very calming to some but very traumatizing for others. This is why understanding your dreams might provide you with a deeper understanding of yourself; you investigate what everything means to you.
This definition emphasizes two key aspects of the theory of dreams: 1. Dreams are a disguised fulfillment of a wish, and 2. This is repressed wish. We can therefore conclude that disguise is caused by repression. That is the reason why all dream researchers before Freud were not able to discover these facts: they only analyzed the manifest content of the dream, that is its outer shape at wakening time, its facade, not caring about latent thoughts giving rise to its becoming, thoughts we reach by means of the method of associations devised by Freud.
Any dream can be of a particular type. It may contain a single theme or a combination of themes, but there are, in general, five main categories: emotional release dreams, wish-fulfillment dreams, precognitive dreams, astral dreams (past-life dreams or spiritual visitation dreams), and problem-solving dreams.
The activity of the deeper layers of the psyche is clearly experienced in dreaming, a universal human experience, and it may break through in excessive form in acute psychosis. In an intensive Jungian analysis the analysand comes to appreciate the essentially help movements of the objective psyche in furthering the empirical individuation process of the ego. Some analysands learn the Jungian technique of active imagination, through which it is possible intentionally to contact these deeper layers of the psyche during waking life.
In most clinical uses of dreams, the aim is to help the dreamer see clearly the various forms of his or her own personality structure that are usually unconscious and simply acted out in the world, often causing the neurotic unhappiness that motivates a person to seek professional help. This work by the therapist is essentially similar to the natural spontaneous activity of dreams, for dreams are already attempting to lead the person out of his neurosis and into the process of individuation.
The major difference between the way ancient people interpreted their dreams and the way we generally approach them today is that ancient people were certain the dream was real, whereas we have a certainty of its illusionary quality. This enormous difference meant that ancient peoples generally approached their dreams with a conviction they could find help, healing or information from them.
In a paper published last month in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Dr. J. Allan Hobson, a psychiatrist and longtime sleep researcher at Harvard, argues that the main function of rapid-eye-movement sleep, or REM, when most dreaming occurs, is physiological. The brain is warming its circuits, anticipating the sights and sounds and emotions of waking. “It helps explain a lot of things, like why people forget so many dreams,” Dr. Hobson said in an interview. “It’s like jogging; the body doesn’t remember every step, but it knows it has exercised. It has been tuned up. It’s the same idea here: dreams are tuning the mind for conscious awareness.”
Dream analysis, in psychoanalysis, provides the possibility to decipher the mystery of neurotic disorders, specifically hysteria, and secondly, it opens the road towards unconscious. Freud's phrase: "The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious" has become famous.