In 1895, Sigmund Freud had been worrying about a patient of his named Irma. In a dream, he was at a party with the patient when a chemical compound flashed before his eyes. The chemical was for a drug that another doctor had given Irma previously. When he awoke, he was convinced that in administering the drug, the doctor had used a dirty syringe. Because of this, Irma was not responding to his own treatments. In 1900, the father of modern psychology, Sigmund Freud, devised his theory of dream interpretation.
Dreams are manifestations of deeply held thoughts and wishes, displayed in an inoffensive and suggestive way. One of Freud’s patients deeply disliked his sister-in-law. He frequently referred to the woman as a “dog”. In one of his dreams, he dreamt he was strangling a small, white dog. The man’s dream echoed his deeply held dislike and quite probably, his wish to strangle his sister-in-law. However, the manifestation was not of strangling his sister-in-law, which would have been quite traumatising and likely incurred feelings of guilt, but in the form of a small animal which will have been more palatable. As in the above example, dream interpretations can offer an accurate look at the subconscious mind, its desires and its repressed thoughts and beliefs. It cannot offer any accurate insight into the real-world or, as some argue, the future.
If dreams are a glimpse into an individual’s thoughts and desires, why do many of us have similar dreams? Many people have dreams in which their teeth fall out or giving a presentation in front of a room full of people without any clothes on or studying for exams despite completing school many years previously. If our dreams were a glimpse into our subconscious thoughts, why are so many of us dreaming of the same thing? The universal and shared element of dreams seems to undermine the conclusion that they can unlock a deeper understanding of the individual.
[P1] Dreams are manifestations of deeply held wishes and thoughts. [P2] A skilled dream interpretation will reveal these wishes. [P3] Therefore, dreams contain information about the individual's repressed desires.
[Rejecting P1] Dreams are too universal to be an indication of an individual's thoughts.