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Freud and Inception

Freud's theory of dream analysis applied to Christopher Nolan's Inception.
by

Troy Hall

on 24 March 2011

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Transcript of Freud and Inception

Wish Fulfilment
&
Conflict Resolution Dreams are not meaningless, they are not absurd; they do not imply that one portion of our store of ideas is asleep while another portion is beginning to wake. On the contrary, they are psychical phenomena of complete validity - fulfilments of wishes. Cobb struggles with memories of his dead wife, Mal, who manifests within his dreams and tries to sabotage his efforts. Cobb, in an attempt to break up Maurice Fisher's energy conglomerate invades his son Robert Fischer's dreams. He uses the rift between father and son as leverage, thus exploiting Robert's need for conflict resolution. Defense Mechanisms Freud’s ideas about the sleep-protection purpose of dreams is evident when we incorporate a loud noise, such as an alarm clock or bang in the street, into our dream storyline, again keeping us asleep. This sleep-protection benefits our health. Freud says: a dream “with a urinary stimulus may lead [the dreamer] to a foaming stream,”
The dream-chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao) drinks before going under. The dream extractors then find themselves rained upon. Cobb helps Robert realize he is in a dream by pointing out the strangeness of their environment. Gravity appears to shift in their environment because they are in a high speed car chase in the layer above. This shift is incorporated in his dream state, helping Murphy remain asleep without being startled. Time “Dreams are brief […] If a dream is written out it may perhaps fill half a page. The analysis setting out the dream-thoughts underlying it may occupy six, eight or a dozen times as much space” (Freud; 819). When mapping out the dream, the team confirms that they will use the targets 10 hour flight to perform “Inception.” They then established that it would take them 10 years in dream time to accomplish this task.
Freud claims that people maintain a certain “underestimation of compression” associated with dreams (Freud; 819). Structure In Inception, dreams within dreams exist on separate physical levels and are structurally fragile.
To include something in a “dream within a dream” is . . . equivalent to wishing that the thing described as a dream had never happened. In other words, if a particular event is inserted into a dream as a dream by the dream-work itself, this implies the most decided confirmation of the reality of the event—the strongest affirmation of it. Cobb and Mal become trapped in limbo—the raw unconscious—where a person could become lost and spend an eternity.
“In the unconscious nothing can be brought to an end, nothing is past or forgotten”, but Freud believed that every dreamer dropped into exactly such a limbo nightly. Cobb warns the dream architect that he has recruited, never to construct her dreams from personal memories, or she could lose track of the distinction between dreams and reality.
Freud though says dreams are made of nothing but personal memories, and a dreamer always knows that he is dreaming, even though that awareness may not always be a part of the dream. Freud believed dreams were constructed drawing on a person's memories of places and events. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) perform an illegal corporate espionage by entering the subconscious minds of their targets, using two-level "dream within a dream" strategies to "extract" valuable information. "...with the melancholic who remains sunken in his loss, unable to acknowledge and accept the need to cleave and in a self-destructive loyalty to the lost object, internalizes it into his ego, thus furthermore circumscribing the conflict related to the loss. The lost object continues to exist, but as part of the dejected subject, who can no longer clearly define the borders between his own subjectivity and the existence of the lost object within it." Cobb cannot let go of Mal because he refuses to believe she is gone for good.
Mal is present in Cobb's "dream worlds" because she is ingrained in his subconscious
In the end he no longer knows the difference in reality and his dream state (limbo). Melancholy Freud is best known for his theories of the unconscious mind and the mechanism of repression, and for creating the clinical method of psychoanalysis for investigating the mind and treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst.
Freud called dreams the "royal road to the unconscious", meaning that they illustrate the "logic" of the unconscious mind
He wrote the book "The Interpretation of Dreams" in 1889.
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