Dreaming can be defined as "a sequence of perceptions, thoughts and emotions during sleep that is experienced as a series of actual events. The nature of these events, the dream content, can be known to the interviewers only in the form of a verbal or written report. Despite the originality and creativity that is exhibited in the cognitive construction of dreams, most dreams are more realistic and based on everyday life than is proposed by previous traditional dream theories.
Clinical observation has revealed the importance of using Dream Interpretation in psychotherapy. In particular, three types of gains are described as a result of dream interpretation.
Psychoanalytic dream interpretation is a type of dream interpretation as well as a form of psychoanalysis invented by Sigmund Freud in the early twentieth century. Psychoanalytic dream interpretation is the process of explaining the way that unconscious thoughts and emotions are processed in the mind during sleep, and the meaning of dreams.
There have been multiple methods used for interpreting the meaning of dreams, including Freud's method of dream interpretation, the symbolic method, and the decoding method. For the last century, the Freudian method is the most prominently used in psychoanalysis for therapeutic purposes. At the beginning of the psychoanalytic movement, Freud and his followers considered dreams to be the main tool of self-analysis, as well as a prominent part of the treatment.
Freud believed that dreams represented a disguised fulfillment of a repressed wish or desire. He believed that studying dreams provided the easiest road to understanding the unconscious activities of the mind. His theories state that dreams have two parts: the manifested content, which is the remembered dream after we wake, and the latent content, or the dream that we do not remember which is considered part of the unconscious.
He proposed that the latent, or unremembered, dream content is composed of three elements: the sensory impressions during the night of the dream, the residues left from the day before, and the ego's (Id's) drives that are already part of the dreamer themselves.
More recent developments suggest that people's dreams are more similar than different because they dramatize people's conceptions and concerns in relation to personal issues, which probably does not vary much from country to country as culture does. In particular, the content of everyday dreams reflects the dreamer's waking states and concerns, and elements from people's dreams can be related to corresponding waking or psychological events. Research findings have revealed that the occurrence of recurrent dreams, nightmares and unpleasant everyday dreams is related to one's psychological well-being.
In addition, dreams have considerable consistency across time and countries because they express personal interests, worries and emotional preoccupations about family, friends, social life, recreational interests, and relationships at work. There are sometimes distortions in settings, sudden scene changes, or unusual aspects to familiar characters, but dreams are in general a reasonable simulation of the dreamer's conception of his waking reality in terms of characters, social interactions, activities and settings.
In the times of Freud dreams were brought to the forefront of psychoanalysis. The two were inseparable from one another. In order to understand the self one needed to understand the subconscious; the gateway of which were dreams. The psychoanalysts that use Dream Interpretation most often will use the Freudian dream theory. If there are other therapists, such as humanistic and cognitive-behavior therapists, that use dream interpretation in therapy; they are more likely to use a different method than the Freudian dream theory a majority of the time.