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Sigmund Freud about Dream Interpretation

By J Jones

Freud showed a huge interest in dream interpretation technique. This is because he believed dreams are products of our unconscious mind just like the neurotic symptoms. Thus he considered them a natural model of the neurotic structure and in the same time the royal road to the knowledge of the unconscious.

Freud wrote the first monograph dedicated to the scientific study of dreams named Dream Interpretation, dated 1900. This book is a collection of theories and insight into the practice of dream interpretation. Here Freud analyzed his Dream of Irma injection that helped him to state dreams are the fulfillment of unconscious (repressed) wishes. Therefore through interpreting a dream one may reach the very source of the repressed wish which is the cause of the occurrence of the neurotic symptoms. Dream interpretation, maintained Freud, is interesting only during the mind cure.

For Freud dreams are products of mind activity during the sleep. The dream-work, that is the production of dreams, consists in several phases, among them:

- Condensation

- Displacement

- Figurability

- Secondary elaboration

Freud explained all these aspects of dream-work and the proper method of returning from the manifest dream, that is, the dream as we remember at the waking, to the latent thoughts that created it. This procedure is the proper dream interpretation and follows the free associations method.

Dream interpretation was fully used in psychoanalytic treatment by Freud and Freudians as well. Unfortunately many modern psychoanalysts believe that they can ignore it. The explanation is the difficulty of handling the dreams and the shortening of the cure duration.

Here's what Freud declared during his life regarding the dream interpretation:

    [...] the theory of dreams has remained what is most characteristic and peculiar about the young science, something to which there is no counterpart in the rest of our knowledge, a stretch of new country, which has been reclaimed from popular beliefs and mysticism. The strangeness of the assertions it was obliged to put forward has made it play the part of a shibboleth, the use of which decided who could become a follower of psychoanalysis and to whom it remained forever incomprehensible. I myself found it a sheet-anchor during those difficult times when the unrecognized facts of the neuroses used to confuse my inexperienced judgment. Whenever I began to have doubts of the correctness of my wavering conclusions, the successful transformation of a senseless and muddled dream into a logical and intelligible mental process in the dreamer would renew my confidence of being on the right track.

And also:

    Let us look through the volumes of the Internationale Zeitschrift für (ärztliche) Psychoanalyse, in which, since 1913, the authoritative writings in our field of work have been brought together. In the earlier volumes you will find a recurrent sectional heading 'On Dream-Interpretation', containing numerous contributions on various points in the theory of dreams. But the further you go the rarer do these contributions become, and finally the sectional heading disappears completely. (New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, Lecture XXIX, Revision of the Theory of Dreams, 1933).


Read also:

  • Freud quotes about employing dream interpretation during psychoanalytic cure - click here.

Further Resources:

  • Check our psychoanalysis site dream section to learn more about dreams interpretation and psychoanalysis (many examples of dreams interpreted are published) -> click here.
  • We explain further the dream theory and practice of Freud in our 12-lesson email course intended for beginners (Amazon Kindle edition available). Click here to learn more.

icon Two must-read books dealing with the dream interpretation according to Freud: The Interpretation of Dreams - the well-known monograph - and the Dora Case - showing how dream analysis may be part of the psychoanalytic cure.

Both may be ordered through


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