Latent content and manifest content are two concepts introduced by Sigmuend Freud to help people understand the meaning of their dreams. The manifest content is the parts of a dream that people remember, or the story line of the dream. Latent content is the hidden, inferred part of the dream that people cannot usually recall but shows the true meaning of the dream.
Freud believed that uncovering the true meaning of his patients' dreams could help them overcome problems and fears in their lives. The manifest content is the literal interpretation of the dream, with no hidden meaning uncovered. He reasoned that people who were experiencing conflict in their lives may bury their true issues within the latent content of dreams as a way to avoid anxiety. According to Freud, this method of deciphering dreams allowed people to uncover issues or memories that are too painful for the person to address when they are conscious. He believed that if he was able to move past the manifest content of a person's dream that held no deeper meaning and discover the true meaning of the latent content, he would be able to understand the conflict that the person is experiencing and work past it with them.