Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) is universally considered the ‘‘father’’ of psychoanalysis, a term that he first used in 1896. Upon his father’s death, Freud began a process of intensive self-analysis, which resulted in the writing of The Interpretation of Dreams (1899). This ‘‘magnum opus’’ (as many have called it) puts forth Freud’s early theories of the unconscious, which he was to develop throughout the remaining forty years of his life. The Interpretation of Dreams includes extensive, detailed analysis of many of Freud’s own dreams, as well as those of his friends, family, and clinical patients. He asserts that, contrary to the current scientific opinion, dreams are meaningful and that though they often seem nonsensical and absurd, dreams actually function according to a logic and language different from that of waking life. It is the task of the analyst to ‘‘translate’’ the language of dreams, which resembles a form of ‘‘hieroglyphics,’’ or word-pictures, into everyday speech. Through this process, analysis of dream-content can reveal valuable insight into the workings of the unconscious mind.
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Josef Breuer (1842–1925) was an Austrian physician with whom Freud co-wrote Studies in Hysteria in 1895. Their findings were based on Breuer’s work with a patient, referred to by the pseudonym ‘‘Anna O.,’’ who suffered from hysteria. Breuer found that Anna O.’s symptoms were relieved after he put her in a state of mind resembling hypnosis and she described an early childhood experience that had brought on her illness. Anna O. called this process the ‘‘talking cure,’’ a term that Freud and Breuer adopted to describe their new method. By the late 1890s, Freud, in his characteristic way, found that his intense ten-year-long friendship with Breuer had cooled, in part due to differences regarding psychoanalytic theory. However, Freud considered Breuer, and not himself, to be the true father of psychoanalytic theory. In The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud refers to Breuer by the pseudonym ‘‘Dr. M.’’ in describing his appearance in the ‘‘Irma’’ dream. Freud had this dream the night after writing down the case history of a patient named Irma to present it to Breuer for further consultation. In the dream, Breuer appears with several colleagues who examine Irma. In this same dream, Breuer appears as a ‘‘composite figure’’ with one of Freud’s brothers; he makes the association between the two that ‘‘I was out of humor with both of them’’ for rejecting suggestions he had recently made...
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