Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
In March, 1931, in a foreword to the third English edition of The Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud expressed the opinion that the volume contained the most valuable of all the discoveries he had been fortunate enough to make. The author’s estimation of his work concurs with that of most students and critics. The ideas that dreams are wish fulfillments, that dreams disguise the wishes of the unconscious, that dreams are always important and significant, and that dreams express infantile wishes—particularly for the death of the parent of the same sex as that of the dreamer—appear in this masterpiece of psychological interpretation. In this work, the Oedipus complex is first named and explained, and the method of psychoanalysis is given impetus and credibility by its application to the analysis of dreams.
It is a common criticism of Freud to say that the father of psychoanalysis, although inspired in this and other works, went too far in his generalizations concerning the basic drives of the unconscious. Freud is charged with regarding every latent wish as having a sexual object, and he is criticized for supposing that dreams can be understood as complexes of such universally significant symbols as umbrellas and boxes.
Although Freud argues that repressed wishes that show themselves in disguised form in dreams generally have something to do with the unsatisfied sexual cravings of childhood—for dreams are important and...
(The entire section is 1741 words.)
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Freud opens The Interpretation of Dreams by stating the nature of his theoretical accomplishment in writing the book:
In the following pages I shall provide proof that there is a psychological technique which allows us to interpret dreams, and that when this procedure is applied, every dream turns out to be a meaningful, psychical formation which can be given an identifiable place in what goes on within our waking life.
The Scientific Literature on Dreams
Freud provides an overview of the scientific and theoretical findings on the interpretation of dreams up to that point in history. He notes that the first written work on dream psychology dates back to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle’s tract On Dreams and Dream Interpretation. However, he claims that no convincing theory of dream interpretation has yet been formulated; he asserts, ‘‘In spite of being concerned with the subject over many thousands of years, scientific understanding of the dream has not got very far.’’ He laments that ‘‘little or nothing touching the essential nature of the dream or offering a definitive solution to any of its riddles’’ has been accomplished.
All Dreams Are Wish Fulfillments
Freud observes that, while scientific opinion has come to dismiss the idea that dreams can be interpreted, ‘‘popular opinion’’ has ‘‘stubbornly’’ held on to the...
(The entire section is 1339 words.)