Freud’s Interpretation Of Dreams Sigmund Freuds The Interpretation of Dreams by Jackie Zee Sigmund Freuds The Interpretation of Dreams was originally published in 1900. The era was one of prudish Victorians. It was also the age of the continued Enlightenment. The New Formula of science, along with the legacy of Comtes Positivism, had a firm hold on the burgeoning discipline of psychology. Freud was groomed as both scientist and Romantic, but his lifes work reflected conflict of the two backgrounds and a reaction against each one. It is my opinion that The Interpretation of Dreams was not simply written as a methodology of deconstructing dreams and assigning them meaning, but its latent content (as it were) was a critique of sciences New Formula, and was designed to question, and even undermine, the possibility of objective methodology in psychology, and indeed in the sciences as a whole.
The importance of his innovations were wholly unappreciated; Freud was an anomaly. Many of his contemporaries rejected his work on the grounds of invalid methodology and inconsistency. Neurologists and psychiatrists today still continue to discount his theories. The point of Freuds subversion of contemporary mental science, was, however, quite missed, and many critics and reviewers continue to systemically assail his work, utterly oblivious to the inclusive meaning of his theories, rather than the meanings of his words themselves. Clinical studies convinced Freud that hysterical symptoms could be analyzed and deconstructed to understandable statements expressive of some underlying and utterly logical thought.
From this interest, Freud embarked on a comprehensive study of dreams, and in the process, created a theory that drew meaningful attention to the unconscious, a previously unaddressed part of the human psyche. Freuds dreambook presented a new psychology for the times, as well as a new understanding of dreams. The implications of this novel understanding spilled over into the budding field of humanistic psychology, as well as into many new theoretical writings spanning areas from social sciences to fine arts. Freuds work made interesting contributions to general psychology because, in offering the idea that dreams have meaning that could be comprehended and interpreted, he was taking the side of the ignorant and the superstitious against the positivist philosophy of early science psychology. Thus, the text can be read not only in the context of social and intellectual traditions impinging on fin-de-siecle culture, but more generally in relation to a broader framework of changing western conceptions of the nature and importance of dreams. Freuds writings on dreams provide an ideal psychology of modern life, and this is especially clear if his work is viewed in the context of the major transformations in the understanding of dreams that have characterized different periods of development within psychology. For Freud, the possibility of dream interpretation is contingent on the premise that their puzzling and seemingly nonsensical elements actually contain a series of clues from which their originating ideas can be deduced.
Dreams are, in some sense, designated to conceal events/emotions that would be too painful for a person to recall, but nonetheless do so in such a way as to still communicate those very events or emotions in a disguised and indirect form. Freud distinguishes between latent (hidden) and manifest (surface) contents of dreams. There is a complex process of partial concealment, both the function and method of which require elaboration. Freud began to analyze his own dreams, and was quite excited by the analytic insight which he believed his first dream interpretation produced. This dream specifically became known as the dream of Irmas Injection, and serves as the specimen dream that Freud uses for the starting point of The Interpretation of Dreams.
The interpretation of this dream, as of any other, depends on the spontaneous association of the dreamer to each of its elements. It is the dreamer, and not the analyst, who provides the interpretation. Therefore, in this case, Freud begins the analysis with his own immediate reactions to the dream. It comes to light that dreams are organized in terms of relationships between events and emotions concerning these events. The dream also clearly makes sense in the context of the dreamers current waking preoccupations and activities. The dream-thoughts appear absorbed in characteristically mundane themes, yet, considering what initially appears to be incidental elements in this dream, Freud is compelled to recall events from a more remote past.
Thus, distant events are connected with incidents from the previous day through an unpredictable series of links. The dream-thoughts are consistent and logical, it is only the complexity of the allusions through which they are expressed that give rise to the appearance of over-complication and arbitrariness. So-called indifferent material in the dream can serve as a useful bridge between two sets of events on the day previous to a dream. It is also characteristic, Freud claims, for each element of the dreams content to be overdetermined, i.e., to be over-represented in the dream-thoughts. Though Freud occasionally refers to the ultimate meaning of a dream, the meaning of a dream consists simply in the dreamers articulation of associations to its images.
A problem here is that this process of anatomizing and connecting the elements of the dream with memories of both significant and indifferent events might be continued indefinitely, with no certainty of reaching a definite interpretation. What can be difficult for the reader to understand, is the manner of representation that characterizes the process of dreaming. Freud uses an example of a botanical monograph dream to explicate a few general features of dreams, through which dream-content is related to underlying dream-thoughts. He discusses the problem of connecting the two in terms of a translation: The dream thought and the dream-content are presented to us like two versions of the same subject matter in two different languages. Or, more properly, the dream- content seems like a transcript of the dream thoughts in another mode of expression, whose characters and syntactic laws it is our business to discover by comparing the original and the translation.
The dream-thoughts are immediately comprehensible, as soon as we have learnt them. The dream content, on the other hand, is expressed as it were a pictographic script, the characters of which have to be transposed individually into the language of the dream-thoughts. If we attempted to read these characters according to their pictorial value instead of according to their symbolic relation, we should clearly be led into error (S. Freud, 1971, Vol. 4, p.277). There is a diversity and richness to the meaningful associations that emerge from what is dreamt as a simple image.
Processes of condensation and displacement of meaning are key elements to the understanding these associations. The most significant rel …