Theory of Sigmund Freud – Why Do We Dream? – How the Creative Writing Takes Place

Nancy B. Alston

Sigmund Freud’s influence is not restricted to just psychoanalysis. His great impact is felt on literary theory and criticism as well. Freud’s theory of why do we dream, ‘unconscious’ and ‘working of mind’ are remarkable achievements in the field of literary theory. His Dream Work is a seminal work. Learn more how creative writing takes place.

Freud says that the most common activities are influenced by our unconscious mind and there is only one way i.e. the dreams to reach the unconscious. He differentiates between the manifest and latent dreams where both feed on each other to some extent. He talks about the night dreams and day-dreams. Basically Freud gives the four stages for dreams such as consolidation, displacement, representation and revision. He explains these terms by saying that the thoughts, first of all, are abridged and displaced and represented orderly in a form and the activity would be finished by revision. But in his later writing Freud leaves the last phase out.

Freud’s categorization of Id, Ego and Super-ego is peculiar. He says that most of the thoughts are the product of Id that would be repressed and suppressed in Ego or Super-ego, and finally they would find their place in dreams. In this way dreaming is very important activity. He also puts forward the idea of ‘talking-cure’. Freud is much influenced by the idea of how creative writing takes place.

Freud observes that creative writing and day-dreaming are similar activities. In order to explain this, Freud talks about ‘child’s-play’. Child creative his/her own would in his/her play. He orders and arranges his work. The child is very much conscious of his play. He differentiates his play with reality. In other words, he would not mistake his play with reality. Something analogous to this happens in creative writing process. Freud further explains that in his later phase i.e. adulthood, the child ceases to play. Now he indulges in what is called ‘fancy’ or ‘day-dreaming’. Like child’s play the writer also arranges his material in an orderly form. His is also conscious of his work. He does not mistake his writing for reality.

Freud compares child’s play with day-dreaming as creative (writing) process. The only difference between the child and the adult (writer) is that the child is not ashamed of his play whereas the adult hesitates to tell his day-dreaming or reveries. The adult does not play in physical sense like the child but he will fancy and would build a castle in the air. In this way, the play of childhood is a continuation of/ and a substitution for day-dreaming. Both create heir own world without mistaking them for reality. Freud suggests that day-dreaming is inseparable part of the human-psyche and is very essential for creative writing.

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