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The Interpretation of Dreams

June 19, 2013 on 3:36 am | In Dream Types, Interpreting Dreams | 3 Comments
The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud

The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud

Through dreams, the unconscious seeks to resolve conflict. Distorted by the censorship of the preconscious mind, the messages relayed to the conscious by dreams require interpretation. This revolutionary 1899 text introduces Freud s theory about the relationship between dreams and the unconscious.

Whether we love or hate Sigmund Freud, we all have to admit that he revolutionized the way we think about ourselves. Much of this revolution can be traced to The Interpretation of Dreams, the turn-of-the-century tour de force that outlined his theory of unconscious forces in the context of dream analysis.

Introducing the id, the superego, and their problem child, the ego, Freud advanced scientific understanding of the mind immeasurably by exposing motivations normally invisible to our consciousness.

While there’s no question that his own biases and neuroses influenced his observations, the details are less important than the paradigm shift as a whole. After Freud, our interior lives became richer and vastly more mysterious.

These mysteries clearly bothered him–he went to great (often absurd) lengths to explain dream imagery in terms of childhood sexual trauma, a component of his theory jettisoned mid-century, though now popular among recovered-memory therapists.

His dispassionate analyses of his own dreams are excellent studies for cognitive scientists wishing to learn how to sacrifice their vanities for the cause of learning. Freud said of the work contained in The Interpretation of Dreams, “Insight such as this falls to one’s lot but once in a lifetime.” One would have to feel quite fortunate to shake the world even once. –Rob Lightner

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  1. Forget the controversy Make up your own mind about Freud, but in the meantime, this is one of his great works that anyone can read without having technical knowledge about psychology. Freud included much about his own dreams, and the reader will suspect that he didn’t “tell all” about his own introspection–nor would most of us! But this work, along with “The Psychopathology of Everyday Life” and “Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious” are for all readers. It is worth your while to peruse one of the most influential books in human history. As for the violence of the controversy that Freud inspires–well, that vehemence must mean something: a hundred years later, we are still at it. Decide for yourself.

    Comment by Karen Batres — June 18, 2013 #

  2. masterpiece The best translation available is by J. Strachey. Don’t get the one by Brill. This books is no light reading, even for those accustomed to reading serious books. Freud’s style presents no difficulties, but moral courage is needed. Nevertheless for those courageous enough there is also enormous entertainment here. Personally I find it extremely difficult to read it often. It’s too dense and challenging. And much of it is also deeply flawed because the author was overly confident. Despite all this, this may well be the greatest book of the 20th century, and those who want to take the challenge ought to try it. My pragmatic advice is to skip the first chapter, which is a rather dated review of literature.

    Comment by Richard Stephenson "samms2" — June 19, 2013 #

  3. the dynamics of dreams are the bedrock of thinking Most reviewers see the value of this great work, which lays out the dynamics of the unconscious mind. Others have a variety of misconceptions: first, he was not a cocaine addict. He misunderstood cocaine [as most people did] and, briefly, recommended it to others, including his fiancee. When his close friend died of it, Freud realized his error.

    Comment by Anonymous — June 19, 2013 #

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