Conference honors 100 years of Freudian dream theories

Benjamin Sandell

It has been 100 years since Sigmund Freud published his renowned book, “The Interpretation of Dreams.”
The University celebrated the anniversary this past weekend by hosting the “Interpretation of Dreams/Dreams of Interpretation” conference in the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum.
The international conference allowed Freud enthusiasts to take part in discussions and lectures about the famous psychologist’s theories. More than 100 psychoanalysts and professors from around the world gathered to share their insight.
“There is a significant controversy of what the importance of (interpreting dreams) is,” said John Mowitt, University associate professor of cultural studies and comparative literature (CSCL) and one of three major organizers of the event.
“We tried to bring together people whose works interact in interesting ways and ought to be aware of one another,” he added.
Freud’s controversial book was one of the first to state that the human mind contains memories and emotions that may not always be consciously available.
He explained dreams have hidden meanings revealing forgotten feelings and deal with wish fulfillment that might be strongly related to sexual desires.
The conference, sponsored by the Humanities Institute, attracted scholars from a number of different countries including Argentina, Bulgaria and Australia. About 50 graduate students also attended.
Catherine Liu, CSCL associate professor and a conference organizer, explained that the University is a hotbed for people interested in cultural studies and Freudian ideas, making it an ideal place for this kind of gathering.
Liu said Freud’s book inaugurated psychoanalytic theory practice, which is the use of dream interpretation and feelings to examine mental and emotional disorders.
“There’s a confluent convergence of interested professors at the University right now,” she said, adding that one reason for the conference was to “bring together psychoanalytic theorists from around the world to inaugurate a new era of discussion of psychoanalytic issues.”
Approximately 30 different speakers attended the conference. Every speech related to Freud’s theories about dreams. Topics discussed ranged from sex drive to ethics to film analysis.
Willy Apollon, a psychoanalyst working in Canada, spoke about Freud’s position on dreams and how that position differs from neurologists’ point of view.
“It’s very interesting for me to meet with other people working on the dream,” he said.
Dr. James F. Pagel, researcher of sleep medicine at the Rocky Mountain Sleep Disorder Center, spoke about the definitions of dreams and Descartes’ philosophy on the subject.
“Dreams are many different things to many different people,” he said. “For a lot of psychoanalysts, a dream is a hallucinatory, mental event that can occur in either sleep or wake.”
Jacqueline K, Spicer, a CSCL teaching assistant and a conference coordinator, said it is unknown whether this will become an annual event, but there is a possibility.

Benjamin Sandell welcomes comments at [email protected]