Freud Dream Theory

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud was born in 1856 and he is considered the father of psychoanalysis. He believed that dreams could be interpreted and wrote a study called “Interpretation of Dreams.” Freud thought that if you could analyze dreams that you could understand the personality of someone. He believed that nothing ever happened by chance, but it happened because of your unconscious mind and how you think.

If you live in a society that is civilized, you can hold back the way that you act and not act on your impulses, but Freud believed that you had to be able to release these impulses in some way and that they sometimes came out as a disguise.

Freud believed that you could release these urges through dreams and then your unconscious mind would be content and would not do the harmful things. He believed that the unconscious mind would express itself with symbols.

He put dreams in three categories including the Id, Ego and Superego.

  • The Id is the impulses and pleasures that you have and urges that you wish to do.
  • The Ego has to do with your conscious mind and helps you to be more aware of your moral and your mind.
  • The Superego is what censors the Id and is responsible for you being moral.

When you are awake, you have impulses and desires and they Id will not act on them because the Superego stops them. When you dream, you can get an idea of what your unconscious mind wants you to do but since your guards are not up when you dream, you have the opportunity to act on your impulses and desires through the Id.

The desires of the Id can be disturbing and since your body is no longer censoring them when you dream, your dreams might be more symbolic and disturbing. When your body takes these disturbing images, it helps you to not be shocked by the images because they come in symbols instead of regular form.

Freud believed that you have a hard time remembering your dreams because of the images being so disturbing that your unconscious mind blocks them.


Freud believed that dreams comes from different content and that there are ways that you can understand your dreams even when they do not make sense. The believes that the dream is trying to give you a look at your unconscious mind and that if you look at the content of your dream that you can figure out what your dream really means.

Using the tool called Free Association can help you to understand the symbols of your dream and you can try to figure this out and see what happens next.

When you try to interpret your dreams, you can see the interpretation like this:

  • Displacement which means to desire one thing, but it shows up as a different kind of symbol.
  • Projection is when the dreamer will try to get their own desires to someone else.
  • Symbolization happens when the dreamer represses the urge to act out their desires in a metaphoric way.
  • Condensation happens when the dream was hide what they are feeling and will have dream images. The dream images will not be obvious to the dreamer.
  • Rationalization is the last stage of the dream stages and the dreams can help to organize in your mind and be more logical. This is called secondary revision.
  • Freud believes that sexual dreams are the cause of what happens in your dreams. He believes that every elongated or slender object represents a phallus and any receptacle stands for the female genitalia.

Personality Development

Freud believes that there are five stages of a personality including: oral, anal, phallic, latency period and genital.


This stage happens up the age of two and this is where the child will use their mouth to explore things. When they are not satisfied with this stage, it can lead to bad habits such as smoking or drinking because of their oral fixes. Having dreams that happen over and over again can mean that their needs were not met at this time.

Anal/Potty Training

This is the second personality stage, and this is when kids learn to control their body functions. When a child is traumatized about something during this stage it can mean that they will become anal retentive and controlling. Dreaming during this time can cause a child to have obsessive compulsive disorders. People in this situation will often have dreams that their life is out of control.

Phallic Stage

This stage happens between three to five years of age and this is when a child knows about their body and male and females. The personality is already developed, and this is also called the Electra Complexes or the Oedipus stage. The Oedipus stage is when there is a male child’s love for their mother, and they have jealousy of their father. The Electra of this stage is where the female child will love the father and be jealous of her mother. Some call this penis envy.

Latency Period

Nothing much happens during this stage and it is just getting older.


When kids are around twelve years old, they begin to go through puberty. This is a stage of sexual interest.

Freud believes that this is the stage where dream is a place where there can be fulfillment. If a person has problems with power or being out of control, this can come in their dreams and they can see what they need. This is a time where they will repress their thoughts and they will dream so they can be fulfilled.

Freud believes that each image or symbol that happens in a dream has to do with sex. Anxiety can mean that you are repressed from sex. Many believe that Freud was preoccupated with sexual imagery and he had his own relationship problems and that is why he came up with this theory.