Public Key Cryptography -or- The Secret Decoder Ring

Cryptographic Method of Interpreting Dreams -or- Are Dreams Novels with a Key? 

Everyone keeps secrets, as the TV character House tells his audience "everybody lies". From a computer and information science perspective, people can be seen as communicators using "public-key cryptography". Applying this idea we can begin to understand how people can create a public persona, while at the same time create a very different private inner life that no one can see or understand if they don't have the private key to unlock that which seems on the surface to be non-existent and/or invisible. We read about such people in the newspapers almost every day. The dream provides the private communication key, to unlock their psychophysical inner life. While this idea about the decoding of dreams seems different than most modern popular dream books tell their reading audience, it is not. 

Freud "Interpretation of Dreams" (1) informs his reading audience; "The second of the two popular methods of interpreting dreams is far from making such claims. It might be described as the ‘decoding' method, since it treats dreams as  a kind of cryptography in which each sign can be translated into another sign having a known meaning, in accordance with a fixed key." From a literary psychoanalytic perspective, this idea translates into the dream being a "roman à clef", also known as a novel with a key. 

The dream below appears to illustrate the privacy problems that the technological age of computers have created. From a popular film perspective Neo in "The Matrix" asks; 

Neo: "What are they doing to him (Morphius)?"

Tank : "Breaking into his mind. It's like hacking into a computer - all it takes is time." 

Tania, 26 American 

The only part of the dream I can remember is: 

I was in my car and I can't remember stopping, but on either side of the 2 front doors a man was standing either side. I press the central locking button so that they couldn't get in, but the button came off. Finally I put it back on and locked the doors before they could get in. Then the guy outside the passenger door smashed the window and went to grab the laptop on the seat. I kept hitting his hand so that he would let go and the next thing I know he had stabbed me in my stomach, on the left hand side. I couldn't feel anything at first and then I could feel a cramp pain. I remember walking around and telling everyone the story. Then I removed the knife myself, but it wasn't bleeding, but the pain was still there. And then I cannot remember anything after that, but still woke up with the pain!!! 

Under Private Lock and Encryption Key -or- Brute Force Attack 

The two men are trying to get inside your car, also known as an auto, which means self. You are able to "press the central locking button so that they couldn't get in". Despite the button coming off, you are able to keep the doors locked. Since they gained no entrance through the doors, "the guy outside the passenger door smashed the window and tried to grab the laptop on the seat". From a computer hacker perspective, this is known as a "brute force attack" to break into your private information which is stored in your laptop or perhaps even in your brain. In psychotherapy, clients make voluntary disclosures providing insight into private information. Confidentiality, usually protects privacy, unless of course there is "a leak". Dreams provide a private key to thoughts, feelings, conflicts and memories that the conscious mind may not be aware of at all or only vaguely. Said differently, they let you get into another person's head.

In "The Transparent Society" David Brin asks; "Have we entered an Orwellian nightmare?" Asked differently, has technology assaulted our right to privacy and thereby infringed on our freedom? On the other side of the coin, criminals, terrorists, psychopaths, black market activity all need private key obfuscation and obstruction to escape and evade detection and punishment. With a behaviourally transparent society such activity could not survive long term. It is one of the aims of the International Institute for Dream Research to provide you the reader with the collective behavioural transparency of those living on the planet using the private communication code key of dreams. 

From a popular film perspective "The Net" starring Sandra Bullock exposes the public problem of identity theft and cyberterrorism. Perhaps on a final hacker or cyberpunk note, the pain that you feel can be explained by what Morpheus tells Neo in the film "The Matrix" about the computer generated dreamworld. Neo: "I thought it wasn't real?" Morpheus: "The mind makes it real." 

Further Reading: 

  1. Sigmund Freud, "Interpretation of Dreams", Avon Books (paperback), 11th printing, p130.
  2. Joseph Weizenbaum, "Computer Power and Human Reason"


All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.