By: Adrian Smith
Caption: Anyone who behaved in real life the way their dreams represent them would be considered insane.
Dreams often seem extremely incoherent. They display ridiculous storylines and produce the weirdest impossibilities. Our dreams represent us in ways that seem insane when we wake up. “Dreams have a wonderful poetry,” Sigmund Freud says in his famous book, The Interpretation of Dreams. In this groundbreaking work, the psychologist provides great insight into our dream-states, including a chapter in which he details the distinguishing psychological characteristics of dreams. His studies shed some light into our bizarre dream lives:
1. Dreams mainly concern visual images
Freud notes that abstract thoughts are changed into visible plastic images, which express those thoughts instead. When we sleep, the voluntary activities of our mind become obstructed as involuntary representations make their appearance.
2. Temporal order is non-existent in dreams
Those psychic states, feelings, interests and valuations that, in our waking lives, adhere to memory images, succumb to an obscuring pressure, resulting in these images being severed.
3. The strangeness of our dreams is not determined by the material in the dream
This is because, for the most part, the strange material we see is common in both dream states and waking life. But Freud mentions, “neither the simple depression of conscious psychic life, nor the distraction of the attention from the influences of the outer world are enough to explain the peculiarities of dream-life.”
4. The arena of dreams is different than the arena of the waking life of the mind Freud is quick to point out that if the arena of psychological activity were the same both during sleeping and waking states, the dream could only be a continuation of the waking ideational life, at a lower degree of intensity.
5. Dreams dramatize your ideas
According to Freud, this aspect of dream life makes sense if we admit that, in dreams, we’re experiencing, not actually thinking (which is tricky to admit because of his first characteristic). However, the psychologist claims the dream elements are by no means mere representations but true and actual experiences of the psyche—similar to those that come to the waking state by way of our senses.
6. There are no dreams that are absolutely reasonable, which do not contain some absurdity
Our dreams are psychic anarchy. They play with both emotional and intellectual functions, free of limitations (and without ends).
7. The excess of nonsense leads to waking up
At some point, something’s gotta give. Usually though, at that point, we realize something’s not quite right and wake up (in confusion).