Contact Form * Contact Form Container */ .contact-form-widget { width: 500px; max-width: 100%; marg


Email *

Message *

Dreams and escaping into the true trauma of reality

The conventional understanding of Freud’s theory of dreams is that a dream is the phantasmic realisation of some censored unconscious desire, which is as a rule of a sexual nature

Here lies the paradox of the dream-work: we want to get rid of a pressing, disturbing thought of which we are fully conscious, so we distort it, translating it into the hieroglyph of the dream. However, it is through this distortion that another, much more fundamental desire encodes itself in the dream, and this desire is unconscious and sexual.

Why do we dream? Freud’s answer is deceptively simple: the ultimate function of the dream is to enable the dreamer to stay asleep. This is usually interpreted as bearing on the kinds of dream we have when some external disturbance – noise, for example – threatens to wake us. In such a situation, the sleeper immediately begins to imagine a situation which incorporates this external stimulus and thereby is able to continue sleeping for a while longer; when the external stimulus becomes too strong, he finally wakes up. Are things really so straightforward?

In another famous example from The Interpretation of Dreams, an exhausted father, whose young son has just died, falls asleep and dreams that the child is standing by his bed in flames, whispering the horrifying reproach: ‘Father, can’t you see I’m burning?’ Soon afterwards, the father wakes to discover that a fallen candle has set fire to his dead son’s shroud. He had smelled the smoke while asleep, and incorporated the image of his burning son into his dream to prolong his sleep. Had the father woken up because the external stimulus became too strong to be contained within the dream-scenario? Or was it the obverse, that the father constructed the dream in order to prolong his sleep, but what he encountered in the dream was much more unbearable even than external reality, so that he woke up to escape into that reality - so our ordinary reality enables us to evade an encounter with true trauma

In our ‘society of the spectacle’, in which what we experience as everyday reality more and more takes the form of the lie made real, Freud’s insights show their true value. Consider the interactive computer games some of us play compulsively, games which enable a neurotic weakling to adopt the screen persona of a macho aggressor, beating up other men and violently enjoying women. It’s all too easy to assume that this weakling takes refuge in cyberspace in order to escape from a dull, impotent reality.

But perhaps the games are more telling than that. What if, in playing them, I articulate the perverse core of my personality which, because of ethico-social constraints, I am not able to act out in real life? Isn’t my virtual persona in a way ‘more real than reality’?

Isn’t it precisely because I am aware that this is ‘just a game’ that in it I can do what I would never be able to in the real world?

 In this precise sense, as Lacan put it, the Truth has the structure of a fiction: what appears in the guise of dreaming, or even daydreaming, is sometimes the truth on whose repression social reality itself is founded.

Therein resides the ultimate lesson of The Interpretation of Dreams: reality is for those who cannot sustain the dream.

Source Slavo Zizek

Freud Lives!

Slavoj Žižek

No comments: