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       Dream Interpretation

          Part 2 Theories- Alfred Adler and Frederick Perls

 

 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 draw on.

 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.

 

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