The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to the knowledge of the unconscious in mental life. – Sigmund Freud
Accepting that we have an unconscious life is one thing, but gaining access to it is something entirely different. Just like in the Star Wars movies, where characters have to accept the concept of the force before they can gain any access to it, we have to believe that there is an unconscious in order to get to it. Why should that be? Why should we have to believe in the idea before we can gain any access to it? One way to answer these questions is for us to look at our dreams. On the surface, dreams can be just the strange happenings of our sleeping minds. If we look deeper, we can uncover associations and meanings that seem to be hidden in the metaphors and images of the dream.
Freud was convinced in 1900 when he published his book “The Interpretation of Dreams” that he was publishing something that would offer “the most valuable of all the discoveries it has been my good fortune to make”. Even though the book did not arrive in 1900 with the same public acceptance of, say, Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species”, it was nevertheless as important to psychoanalysts as Darwin’s work was to biologists. Freud’s work became, and still is to a large extent, the backbone of psychoanalysis. Developing the ability to interpret images in dreams and understand the way in which the unconscious and conscious mind interact is at the foundation of understanding how we make conscious the unconscious.
Freud identified several key ways in which the conscious mind either masks, deflects or represses unconscious wishes, desires and fears. When patients would share dreams with Freud he would have them associate as freely as possible with images in the dream to get to deeper meanings and understandings of the dream images themselves. He understood that the images themselves where a kind of mask for underlying wishes and fantasies. Through a carefully thought out and constructed process, Freud felt that the process of free association could get to deeper unconscious material and thereby make conscious the unconscious thoughts and feelings. The process that was set forth in Freud’s book became the foundation of not only dream interpretation, but the bedrock of analytic practice that is still at the center of analytic work today.
The Jedi is able to free their conscious minds to feel the ebb and flow of the force much in the way the psychoanalyst is able to move past the conscious thought to a deeper feeling and understanding of impulses and actions. For both, moving past the conscious understanding of the self allows for a deeper experience and deeper understanding of the self. Once we have a connection with, and deeper understanding of, our own mind, we can begin to see and understand more fully how we are affected by our environment and how we in turn affect our environment.
— Stephen M. Taylor, M. D.