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  Interpretation, in psychiatry, a method developed by Freud for the analysis of material brought up in free associations and dreams, consists of looking at two types of context: latent and manifest content. The manifest content is what is actually said to the analyst or what is actually seen in the dream; the ideas behind these are the latent content. Freud\'s masterwork The Interpretation of Dreams spends much of its large volume looking at the relationship between the latent and manifest content, and the systems of defence which operate in the presentation of ideas or the memories of dreams. The latent content in dreams, for Freud, consists of wish-fulfilling phantasies, compared with the reporting of everyday occurrences, and of neurotic symptoms which could be the outcome of actual experiences; all of which can be the focus of interpretation.

Memories, recollections of recent events, reports of feelings and the telling of dreams are examined by someone with a knowledge of symbolism and an understanding of unconscious processes. Accuracy is tested by the patient\'s response: he or she will either confirm it by relating some other experience which corresponds to the interpretation, or will not respond to, or accept, the interpretation for reasons of resistance, or because the analyst has not interpreted correctly. The function of interpretations is to increase self-awareness and to aid integration by making the patient conscious of his or her internal unconscious workings and motivation. MJ

Further reading Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams; , C. Rycroft, Imagination and Reality.



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