The father of psychoanalysis, Freud changed the game with his studies of dreams, his work The Interpretation Of Dreams was a true inspiration for modern psychologists.
Freud begin to study his patients dreams in order to understand aspects of their personality. He believed that nothing you do occurs by chance; every action and thought is motivated by your unconscious mind at some level. In order to live in a civilised society, we must hold back our urges and repress our instincts and impulses. However, these urges, instincts and impulses must still be released ; they have a way of coming to the surface in disguised forms.
One way these emotions are released is through our dreams. Because the content of the unconscious may be extremely disturbing or harmful, Freud believes that the unconscious expresses itself in a symbolic language.
Freud categorised aspects of the mind into three parts:
Id - centered around primal impulses, pleasures, desires, unchecked urges and wish fulfillment.
Ego - concerned with the conscious, the rational, the moral and the self-aware aspect of the mind.
Superego - the censor for the id, which is also responsible for enforcing the moral codes of the ego.
When you are awake, the impulses and desires of the id are suppressed by the superego. Through dreams, you are able to get a glimpse into your unconscious or the id. Because your guards are down, your unconscious has the opportunity to act out and express the hidden desires of the id. However, the desires of the id can, at times, be so disturbing and even psychologically harmful that a "censor" comes into play and translates the id's disturbing content into a more acceptable form. This helps to preserve sleep and prevent you from waking up shocked at the images. As a result, confusing and cruptic dream images occur.
According to Freud, the reason you struggle to remember your dreams, is because the superego is repressing them. It is doing its job by protecting the conscious mind from the disturbing images and desires conjured by the unconscious.