(A review of
‘The Interpretation Of Dreams’ (1899)
by Sigmund Freud,
First written on July 16, 2020)
A detailed investigation of dreams in which Freud discovered a way of exploring the unconscious, recognized that dreams, like neurotic symptoms, are products of a conflict and compromise between conscious and unconscious impulses and was able to classify the differences between the primary and secondary processes of thought – between the modes of functioning in the unconscious and conscious regions of the mind. In addition, Freud was led to revise his methods of treatment for neurotic patients by introducing the valuable technical adjunct of dream-interpretation and to develop, largely based on this work, his revolutionary theories of the Oedipus complex and on the profound importance of infantile life and sexuality for the development of adults.
If you are someone from East reading Freud or Jung for the first time, one of the things you will notice is how much culturally defined their assumptions are.
Freud also never stops to think that most of the dreams he is studying are from patients of neurosis. Freud’s approach seems to be also limited by strong self-confirmatory bias in several other ways. Moreover, they are fail-proof because everything that might disprove them is super-ego suppressing it. All dreams are wish-fulfillment and if you had a dream about a wish you don’t recognize, it is a wish you are suppressing. You just can’t disprove such a theory.
Moreover, it is easy to see sexual symbolism in almost anything. Flowers, locks, keys, horses, etc. He never stops to think that some people’s subconscious may not as pervert as that of his (or mine). A lot of things are either circular or straight, Freud will conclude seeing any such things in dreams is an allusion to some suppressed instinct because of similarity of tools involved.
Still, it is an interesting read – particularly when it is making simple observations rather than giving theories to explain those observations. And you can always imagine how amusing his therapy sessions must have been. A teenager comes to him all depressed and tells a dream about how he was swimming and he could go like, “so it seems to me you are jerking off a lot, right? right?”
There is a certain kind of courage needed to speak your truth when you know speaking it will only get you universal criticism. Freud definitely had that courage.
Copyright – Sidharth Vardhan