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.Â He referred to dreams as: “The Royal Road to Integration”, because he felt that part of the task ofÂ psychotherapyÂ was toÂ integrateÂ theÂ different parts of the personality, which had become split off from each other, or ‘disowned’.Â 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.Â He alsoÂ believed (like Jung)Â that every dream contained a very important existential message for the dreamer.
Here is an example of how a therapist could proceed:
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Ask the dreamer to re-tell the dream in the present tense, adding as much detail as Â Â Â Â Â Â possible. (This brings the dream to life in the HERE and NOW, so it can moreÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â readily be enacted.)
- If the dream is long and involved, ask the dreamer which bit intrigues him/her the Â Â Â Â most.
- Begin to enact, or speak as, the different parts: characters; objects; animals; moods; supernatural forces. You can go with the main things that stand out, but usually it is the little incidental aspects that the client scarcely mentions, which are the things to go for, because that little insignificant detail represents the most disowned part of the personality.
- Ask the client what he/she thinks the whole dream means. What is his/her unconscious mind trying to tell him/her? He/she created the dream, so what is the message?