While the names most people associate with dream
theory and the interpretation of dreams are those of
Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, there are a number of lesser
known but nevertheless important figures in the world
of dream research and dream interpretation. Two
of the most important of these are Alfred Adler and
Frederick Perls, and they are the focus of this article.
Alfred Adler (1870-1937)
Adler believed that dreams could be used to understand
and solve the problems experienced in the waking world.
He believed that by bringing dreams into the waking
world, the dreamer could solve the problems experienced
in daytime experience.
While Freud believed
that repressed sexual impulses where behind all types
of behavior, Adler believed that motivation and drive
were the responsible parties. In addition, Adler
did not believe that conscious actions and behavior
were ruled and dictated by the unconscious. Unlike
Freud, Alfred Adler believed that people were motivated
to do the things they do by their striving for perfection.
For this reason, Adler believed that feelings
of inferiority or inadequacy were strong actors on behavior.
When it came to dreams, Alfred Adler thought that
they were a path toward the true thoughts, actions and
emotions of the dreamer. For instance, to Adler,
dreams were a way for dreamers to clearly see their
aggressive desires and impulses. To Adler, dreams
were a way to overcompensate for perceived shortcomings
in the waking world.
One example of this overcompensation is the dream
about a boss. The dreamer who is scared to stand
up to an overbearing boss in real life may dream that
he or she lashes out and tells of his or her boss in
a dream. This dream can be seen as a socially
acceptable, yet still satisfying, way of getting revenge
on an overbearing authority figure.
Frederick Perls (1893-1970)
Frederick Perls is best known as the inventor of
Gestalt therapy. The focus of Gestalt therapy
is to allow patients to fill their emotional void so
that they are able to become whole. To Perls,
dreams contained the rejected and disowned parts of
the self. Therefore, in Perls dream interpretation
theory, every person and every item in the dream represented
an aspect of the dreamer's self.
Perls rejected the theory of dreams popularized by
Carl Jung. Carl Jung believed that the images
in dreams were part of a universal symbolic language.
Perls rejected this archetypal explanation of
dream imagery in favor of his own theory that the objects
in dreams were representations of the self. To
Perls, each dream is unique only to the person who dreamed
it, and there were no universal archetypal images to
Perls also felt that it was important to retell the
dream in the present tense in order to understand and
discover the part of the dreamer that is being disowned
or disavowed. In addition, Perls felt it important
to verbalize the feelings engendered by each part of
the dream, even those feelings stirred by inanimate
objects. Perls felt that by looking at things
from a different perspective the dreamer could understand
feelings that he or she had overlooked.