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Interpretation of Dreams Critical Essay

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Updated: Jun 19th, 2019

Freud Sigmund argues that the main reason why people dream is to protect sleep. When people go to bed, the lights are put off, and curtains are drawn there is an indication that we are moving from reality to a world of fantasy (Freud, 1953). When people go to sleep, the mind shields them from any disturbance that may be caused by temperature, light, pain and the desire to urinate among others (Freud, 1953).

In addition, the mind keeps internal stimuli in check by ensuring that some desires are not aroused. These internal stimuli include the other day’s activities, frustrations, fears, and negative emotions by formulating dreams (Freud, 1953).

Freud’s work was mainly concerned with internal stimuli. For an individual to keep on sleeping the negative emotions, unconscious desires, restricted thoughts have to be concealed in some way (Freud, 1953).

This is because if an individual is faced with negative emotions and thoughts their sleep will be disturbed forcing them to wake up. Therefore, dreams play a major role in ensuring that people are able to sleep well without internal or external disturbance (Freud, 1900). Dreams help people to satisfy desires that they were not able to meet in the conscious life, which eventually leads to a relaxed mind and good sleep.

Freud speaks about the manifest and latent meaning of a dream. Manifest meaning is what actually happens in a dream while the latent meaning is the hidden meaning that we find out when we analyze dreams.

Freud Sigmund concentrates more on the latent meaning because it gives a gateway to understanding psychology of the dreamer (Freud, 1900). He adds that the latent content of a dream overshadows the manifest content. There is always more than we see in a dream. For instance, driving a car in a dream may mean that one will be travelling soon (Boothby, 2001).


From Freud Sigmund’s dream “Irma Dream” and “Mulholland Drive”, it is clear that all dreams have some components that are not manifest, but can be understood by interpretation of the dream (Brauckhoff, 2008). Additionally, dreams give individuals the opportunity to meet desires that they are unable to meet in their conscious minds.

Irma’s dream

Irma dream is the first work of Freud where he did a self-analysis based on dreams and their latent meaning (Boothby, 2001). The dream starts with a big hall full of people where Freud sees Irma and goes to talk to her. He goes ahead to ask about how she is feeling, Irma explains that she has pains and Freud checks her to confirm (Brauckhoff, 2008). He later calls a doctor, Mr. M and his friend Otto to inspect Irma further.

However, in the dream, Mr. M looked very different from his usual self; he walked with a limp and was very pale (Brauckhoff, 2008). Freud wonders what the problem is. As he ponders about this Mr. M points, out that Irma’s conditions was because of an infection.

At this point, Freud remembers that his friend Otto had given Irma an injection earlier (Thurschwell, 2009). He feels that the injection was done carelessly probably with a not so clean needle. However, Mr. M reassures them that Irma will be fine (Brauckhoff, 2008).

The interpretation of the dream from Freud’s point of view is as follows; Freud accuses himself for being careless in handling his patients, although, in the dream he blames other people for not being careful in health matters (Thurschwell, 2009). The latent meaning is that he is not comfortable with how he handles his clients putting them in unnecessary risk (Brauckhoff, 2008).

Secondly, there is wishful thinking on Freud’s side where he tries to take away the guilt and responsibility for Irma’s sickness by blaming others. Clearly, he expels himself from the situation and uses other people’s weaknesses to take away his guilt.

Generally, Freud feels that he has not been careful enough, but he finds it difficult to take the blame (Boothby, 2001). Therefore, this dream enabled Freud to achieve his desire to avoid blame placed on him for handling his patients poorly. In addition, it allowed him to sleep peacefully forgetting his frustrations (Freud, 1953).

Mulholland Drive

The other work that has been used to emphasize on the concept of dreams based on Freud Sigmund’s interpretation of dreams is the movie “Mulholland Drive” Most critics have argued that the movie has placed much focus on the concept of dreams and not reality. Therefore, for anyone to understand the movie they need to look at it from a dream perspective (Demorest, 2005).

The movie is based on the premises that dreams have a latent meaning that connects with our day-to-day activities. From Freud’s writing Interpretations of Dreams explains that although dreams look meaningless and confusion of emotions they play a big role in explaining what people think or feel (Blencher, 2001).

Therefore, understanding dreams helps us to understand what happens in the conscious mind. In addition, Freud views dreams as a way to release mental pressure that maybe locked inside our minds.

The movie is divided, into two sections, which have a manifest and latent meaning of the dreams that characters in the movie go through (Demorest, 2005). The movie revolves around one main character Diane Selwyn who appears to have a strange dream. The movie begins with two young actresses Diane and Camilla who seek to make a name in Hollywood (Brauckhoff, 2008).

The two actresses end up in a romantic relationship which breaks when Camilla’s dream begun to take shape. Camilla was given a leading role in a movie arousing envy and jealous in Diane (Demorest, 2005).

However, Diane faces the reality at Mulholland Drive party to celebrate Camilla’s success makes her realize that Camilla has moved on. She sees her kissing another woman and Adam announces his wedding to Camilla (Demorest, 2005). This becomes hard for Diane to bear making her to contact a hit man to kill Camilla.

In reality, Diane seemed so sure of her decision to kill Camilla, however, in the dream, she seeks to undo and avoid responsibility in killing Camilla (Freud, 1953). While the second part of the movie is based on Diane’s inability to hide her failures because her parents remind her of how terrible she is. In this part, Diane meets Betty a young ambitious actress and Rita who dodges death twice on Mulholland Drive (Freud, 1953).

Firstly, Rita tried to escape from her problems by going to sleep, but she does not get sleep because nightmares would not allow her. She helps Betty rehearse for her auditions, which ends up badly when Betty is denied the lead role in the movie that she was looking forward to feature in (Freud, 1991). This leads Betty to a self-discovery journey where she seeks to find out who she is.

She ends up in Diane Selwyn’s bedroom where they find a dead body on the bed. The two women end up together as Betty tried to help Rita escape from her problems. This situation brings them closer than before and they end up making love that night (Freud, 1991).

However, their sleep is interfered with when Rita started dreaming at night. Later on Rita asks Betty to accompany her to club Silencio, which she kept mentioning in her dream (Freud, 1953). Here, Betty and Rita discover a blue box, which makes them to vanish.

This part shows how dreams are closely related to reality as explained by Freud in the Interpretations of dreams. This is because dreams can be as a result of things or people that we interact with or blocked pressure in the mind (Freud, 1991). The second, part features Diane who is disturbed by Camilla’s death who goes to sleep hoping that sleep will make her forget her problems (Freud, 1953).

However, she finds it hard to sleep because Camilla haunts her. This leads her to a state of sadness and loneliness she misses her sexual encounters with Camilla. She then goes through a moment of flashbacks recalling events that occurred before Camilla’s death (Thurschwell, 2009).

Finally, Diane finds it hard to live with her mistakes because of the hallucinations that keep recurring about Camilla and her parents (Blencher, 2001). This marks the end of her life as she seeks to run away from her dreams, which will not allow her to rest. She seems to blame her parents for her misfortunes and their faces look at her in a mocking way, which makes her to lose interest with life (Freud, 1900).

From the movie it is evident that dreams pave way for hidden emotions to be released allowing individuals to sleep well. Additionally, dreams guard sleep by granting people the wishes that they cannot have in real life. It also enables people to move away from the world of reality to that of fantasy, which is more interesting.


According to Freud Sigmund, dreams work as guardian of sleep and not its disturber because they take people to a world of fantasy. When the lights go off, curtains are closed and people go to bed dreams take over. This happens because the external stimuli are blocked. In addition, the internal stimuli such as negative emotions and thoughts are removed to ensure that the sleeper is not disturbed.

In dreams, people are able to do away with what they do not want and fantasize with what they would like to have. By so doing dreams ensure that, a good peaceful sleep is achieved. In addition, dreams show the hidden emotions and desires that people are not able to release in their conscious mind. Freud argues that interpretation of dreams is the key to understanding the human mind (Rodley, 2005).

Freud used sexual interpretation in explaining many dreams because he believed that most people who have sexual problems as children go through psychological issues as adults (Marcus, 1999).

From “Irma Dream” and “Mulholland Drive” we discover that dreams guard sleep by giving us the opportunity to live in fantasy for a while and be happy. In dreams, people can acquire what they have not managed to get in real life. Therefore, dreams are not disturbers but guardian of sleep (Rodley, 2005).


Blencher, M. (2001).The Dream Frontier. New York, NY: Routledge.

Boothby, R. (2001). Freud as Philosopher: Metapsychology after Lacan. New York, NY: Rutledge.

Brauckhoff, I. (2008). Identity Construction in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive: It’ll be Just Like in the Movies – We’ll Pretend We Were Someone Else. Munchen: GRIN Verlag.

Demorest, P. (2005). Psychology’s Grand Theorists: How Personal Experiences Shape Professional Ideas. New York, NY: Routledge.

Freud, S. (1900). The Interpretation of Dreams. London: Hogarth Press

Freud, S. (1953). The Interpretation of Dreams and On Dreams. London: Hogarth Press.

Freud, S. (1991). The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund

Freud: (1900-1901). The interpretation of dreams. London: The Hogarth Press.

Marcus, L. (1999). Sigmund Freud’s the Interpretation of Dreams: New Interdisciplinary Essays. Hampshire: Manchester University Press.

Rodley, C. (2005). Lynch on Lynch. London: Macmillan.

Thurschwell, P. (2009). Sigmund Freud. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

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