Gestalt Dream Work
Of course, Fritz Perls had trained as a Freudian psychoanalyst, so initially he would work with dreams as Freud had done, i.e., by interpreting them. Freud had done a great deal of work on dreams, publishing his famous book on Dream Interpretation in 1900.
Freud divided dreams into two levels (in fact they are multi-level):
- The Manifest Content – what the actual dream appears to be about as the dreamer dreams it. The superficial layer, which often appears to be a mish-mash of the previous days events.
- The Latent Content – which is the hidden meaning.
Freud had said that dreams were: The Royal Road to the Unconscious, and they can be extraordinarily revealing. Perls became dissatisfied with Freudian-style interpretation; he believed the person who really knew what the dream meant was the dreamer. He referred to dreams as: The Royal Road to Integration, because he felt that part of the task of psychotherapy was to integrate the different parts of the personality, which had become split off from each other, or disowned. Sometimes we do not want to know that we have the capacity to do terrible things, but we have. Perls believed that every part of the dream represented a part of the personality and needed to be integrated. He also believed (like Jung) that every dream contained a very important existential message for the dreamer.