Dreaming LifeDreaming Life

Freud believed that dreams often express unfulfilled wishes. In "The Interpretation of Dreams", he provides as a simple example a time when went to bed thirsty after eating a salty meal, and then dreamed of drinking huge quantities of water

According to Freud, a dream is often a means of revealing an unconscious wish that you have repressed because you would find it unbearable. In many cases, dreams express unresolved or badly resolved childhood conflicts.

For example, if you dream that a loved one has died, it may reflect the fact that when you were a child, you wanted someone you love to die. You now know that such thoughts are wrong, so you repress your memories of them. Freud though that death dreams often derived from the Oedipus Complex, in which the child wants the love of parent of the opposite sex to be theirs exclusively. Therefore, a boy desires the "death" of his mother and a girl, her father.

Freud Wish Fulfilment DreamsFreud pointed out that a child doesn't truly understand what death is. When a child wishes for someone to die, all they really want is for that person to go away and stop bothering them. If, as an adult, you dream that a loved one has died, you also probably just want that person to get out of your way, or you are in the process of distancing yourself from that person in waking life.

A criticism of Freud's wish fulfillment theory is that if it were true, once your repressed wishes became evident to your conscious mind, you would no longer need to have so many dreams. As each repressed desire was revealed, your need to dream would decrease. Therefore, as people went through analysis, and they became consciously aware of their formerly repressed desires, they would have fewer and fewer dreams. This does not happen.