Monday, October 12, 2009

The Theme

As you all know by now, Freud never looks just at the surface. For him, everything stems from something else or has a deeper meaning. Freud believed that dreams could not be directly translated but that their meaning was buried beneath what we remember. Our mind censors everything so our unconscious must warp and distort the meaning of information to allow us to “view” it in a dream. Because of this, Freud argues we must dig deep and try to extract the meaning underneath the obvious.

Freud also believes that everything stems from our past, our roots. You are who you are today because of how your parents raised you.

The question I pose to you is, do you agree with Freud on this? Are dreams our subconscious fulfilling desires or are they just random bursts of stimuli that our brain weaves into a story? Are we who we are today because of what our parents did, or did we shape our own destiny?

12 comments:

  1. Aaron, you pose a few really thought-provoking questions here. In terms of dreams, I'd have to say it's a little bit of both, plus more. Based on what dreams I can remember, I know a lot of what I dream tends to focus on goals or wishes that I have that I hope will one day be fulfilled, whether they be scoring the championship goal, settling down with a family one day, or just being able to successfully do anything for that matter. These dreams tend to give me a sense of accomplishment. There are also dreams that are completely random and sometimes I feel like I'm just in a dizzying haze of nothing - I'm not really sure what to make out of those dreams. And then there are nightmares. How do you think Freud would classify those?

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  2. We might also think about the importance that Freud places on literature and the way that he sees literature as forming a kind of collective (I'm using that term very, very loosely) past for all of us.

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  3. Kelsey O'Brien13 October, 2009 07:30

    Aaron, I think you've summarized Freud's ideas well. As for necessarily classifying dreams as either desires or random bursts of stimuli, I'd argue that the two are eventually codependent thus inhibiting us from choosing one over the other. It seems to me that the desires that surface in our dreams are rather randomly represented; that is, they are typically referenced indirectly (which harkens directly to displacement). For instance, a dream expressing one particular desire may occur several times, each time assuming different manifest content all the while holding the same latent meaning. Thus they are random, possessing the ability to take many forms of expressing the same meaning, and also often (if not always) are composed not so covertly of our inner desires.

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  4. Aaron, you definitely nailed it when you said that Freud never fails to look past the surface. He's interested in the deeper stratosphere underlying essentially everything about human life and consciousness. I also agree with Kelsey that the desires surfacing in dreams are randomly represented-- there really seems to be no logic to the whole process, but it is the human process of analyzing and assigning a logical backdrop to the symbols in our dreams that constructs an element of reason in dreaming. In this way I think Freud would definitely be a fan of the contructivist approach.

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  5. Interesting questions, ultimately illusive to us as mere humans with subjective ways of thinking. I think there are arguments for both claims; we are shaped by our upbringing and experiences, which dreams will reveal, yet there is also evidence that some dreams are just the hiccups of our overtired brains as they rest and therefore are merely arbitrary messages. Additionally, I believe that we all have some level of autonomy in how we shape and perceive our life experiences, and the same goes for dreams, those same experiences only in a different state of consciousness. I think, in this way, that it's important to remember that a cigar truly is sometimes just a cigar :D

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  6. Interesting you say that a cigar is truly sometimes just a cigar...hahah I was just reading that exact quote by Freud in my old psychology book!

    I agree with what Kelsey said...often we have dreams with different manifest contents yet the same underlying meaning. It's almost as if our unconscious is trying to tell our brain something that it can't comprehend, so the unconscious is trying even harder and being more persistent to make the concept understandable. I disagree with the previous post in that I don't think dreams are just hiccups of our overtired brains. I think they're meant to teach us something - whether we remember the lesson the next morning or not. But, I do think we have some control over it...i.e. lucid dreaming. When we lucid dream, we are able to control our dreams and the direction they go in. It's actually a pretty cool thing to try out. Before going to bed, just think about whatever you want to dream about, concentrate really hard on it, and before you know it, you'll be drifting away...

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  7. I wish I had a cigar right now, but anyway. It sounds to me like were getting into the classic nature v. nurture argument. I agree with Freud that we are all products of how we were raised but I do think that many other things go into the mix besides just our parents. These days, most kids are raised by the TV anyway. Its said but it makes a point about where the nurture actually comes from.

    In terms of dreams, like we talked about in class yesterday, there definitely must be something that occurs where your brain is filling in a lot of the gaps regarding what you narrate for yourself during the day. yea there are a lot of theories that say its your brain rebooting itself etc... but in the end from what I've experienced many dreams do have some relation to current events in your life, even if its just a distant connection. For example, if you just flunked a test chances are you are going to have a fairly terrible dream that night. It doesn't have to be about tests, but its definitely going to be bad

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  8. Again, I'd point us back to Freud's conclusion that the dreaming mind breaks down either/or binary propositions, arguably suggesting that humans are--by nature--poststructuralist. If that's the case, why so much energy devoted to understanding/defining exactly what dreams are? Moreover, might we be wrong to imply that dreams themselves are somehow different than waking reality? Aren't the two always already intermingled? Can't waking merely be another form of dreaming?

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  9. "Can't waking merely be another form of dream" - That is quite a question and in a very academic/philosophical snobbish manner I shall respond with - "Cogito Ergo Sum".... It doesn't matter if it is just another form of dreaming as we are still thinking.

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  10. I'd have to agree with those who have taken a noncommittal stance in responding to the question that Aaron poses. Certainly, dreams can be revealing in helping us to understand the processes of our psyche. However, applying meaning to every dream one has is a potentially dangerous thing. I believe that dreaming has a quality to it that serves as a recording capacity. That is, people often dream of those things which occurred recently simply by virtue of the fact that these happenings are fresh in one's mind. Attempting to derive meaning from every dream (and every aspect of a dream) no doubt leads to over-analysis. (Thus, the "cigar is just a cigar" comment).

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  11. I agree with the previous posts that dreams (and their possible interpretations) is a complex theory/idea. I'm not sure how much I agree with Freud on his idea of what dreams are and how to interpret them but I certainly do agree that our subconscious is an extremely complex network of our hidden thoughts and desires; therefore, it seems, our dreams are the only pathway to our subconscious. It's also very important to realize (as Freud has argued) that no single object in our dreams is a direct representation (or symbolism) of specific thoughts or desires. We can't interpret a single object in our a dream as a representation for a certain desire, thought, or a wish. Instead, the collection of objects and their relationship to one another in our dreams is the single most important factor in dream interpretation. And, of course, only the 'viewer' is able to interpret his/her own dreams because even the smallest detail can impact dream interpretation.
    Personally, I wouldnt narrow down every single dream to repressed sexual thoughts and desires but I do believe that our dreams 'show' us our thoughts that we are completely unaware of (and refuse to be aware of).
    Our consciousness is only able to recognize thoughts, wishes, desires that are acceptable by our instilled moral values; and thus, we can't be aware of anything that is assumed to be 'inappropriate' or 'unacceptable'. Therefore, our hidden, repressed thoughts are altered and their complexity is changed into a linear story when they appear in a dream.

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  12. "Again, I'd point us back to Freud's conclusion that the dreaming mind breaks down either/or binary propositions, arguably suggesting that humans are--by nature--poststructuralist..."

    we have covered this in class already, but i thought i'd say something anyway...
    In one of the subchapters of Freud's "Dream Works" he does talks about binary propositions. I think what Freud was trying to point out is that our subconscious is very complex and vast network incomprehensible by our conscious mind. thus when we recall a certain dream everything in the story is simplified- it's either this or that, it's simple, it's never both perhaps because a conscious human mind seeks certainty and simplicity something completely opposite of our subconscious...

    i hope this makes sense!

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