Some dreams leave a lasting mark on us. Strange or repetitive, they intrigue us, preoccupy us throughout the day. We dream that we are pursued by a beast or threatened by a tsunami. The young mother dreams that her baby slips out of her arms, the student that he fails his exam. And a question then torments us: what can this mean?
From Antiquity, the meaning of dreams questions us. The Treaty Oneirocriticism of Artemidore by Daldis written in IIand century will moreover serve as a reference for Freud for his Dreams interpretation in 1899. The father of psychoanalysis then shifted the interpretation of dreams from divination to self-knowledge.
“The dream is the royal road to the unconscious, explains Monique Lauret, psychoanalyst (1). It stages a repressed desire and constitutes an attempt to resolve what causes conflict psychically. » Interpreting one’s dreams in therapy would thus make it possible to overcome certain past traumas.
As for this insomniac woman. Every night, the same dream plays out again: the ceiling collapses on top of her, in a crushing sensation. “In a few sessions, a very distant childhood memory finally resurfaced. A scene of bombing during the war. Once this memory was verbalized, this woman was able to find a more serene sleep”, says Monique Lauret. Also a psychiatrist, the therapist regrets “a real split operated since the 1970s between neurosciences and psychoanalysis” and pleads for a renewed dialogue.
→ CHRONICLE. What to do with our dreams?
Although they are careful not to enter the field of interpretation, neuroscientists today formulate hypotheses on the functions of dreams. For Antti Revonsuo, researcher in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Skövde in Sweden, it would consist of an ultra-realistic simulation of the world: “The dreamer’s brain simulates attacks, chases, wanderings… If we have relationship problems or strong anxieties, they will appear in the form of bad dreams in which we will have to face them and try to survive them. The dream is like the flight simulator in which pilots train. »
→ CRITICAL. Sándor Ferenczi, an empathetic psychoanalyst
A way to better prepare to face reality. Thus a study conducted by sleep specialist Isabelle Arnulf on 700 medical students shows that those who dream of failure obtain a better success rate in the exam.
No “automatic decoding” of dreams
For the psychologist and ethnopsychiatrist Tobie Nathan, dreams do not tell us about our past, as the Freudian tradition argues, but rather constitute “a draft of the next day”, he writes in his New Dream Interpretation published in 2011.
Questions relating to our future are posed to us during our dreams: for the specialist, it would therefore be necessary to interpret them in order to be able to take action and make informed choices. However, he warns against all “universal automatic symbolism or decoding”, advocated in the “dictionaries of dreams” in particular. It is up to everyone to find their own answers, linked to their history, culture and aspirations.
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Neurosciences and psychoanalysis: do our dreams have a meaning?
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