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The Interpretation of Dreams [Hardcover]

By Sigmund Freud (Author)
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Item description for The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud...

Studies dreams as subliminal expressions of unconcious thoughts and desires, and discusses their function, sources, nature, and characteristics.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/1998 page 50

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Modern Library
Pages   471
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.6" Width: 5.06" Height: 1.61"
Weight:   1.05 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 1994
Publisher   Modern Library
ISBN  067960121X  
ISBN13  9780679601210  

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More About Sigmund Freud

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The Father of Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud (1856 1939)ranks among the most important figures in Western psychology. He is responsible for the theories of parapraxis (Freudian slips), dreams as wish fulfillment, the Oedipus complex, repression, the unconscious mind, and other concepts.


Sigmund Freud was born in 1856 and died in 1939.

Sigmund Freud has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Modern Library (Hardcover)

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Mental Health > Dreams
2Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Psychology & Counseling > General
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy

Reviews - What do customers think about The Interpretation of Dreams?

nice  May 13, 2008
i did a report on this book about 11 years ago. i am still excited by the book although it is not the original more like a summary. i still enjoyed reading.
A New Translation  Oct 9, 2007
This is a new translation (2006) of Freud's Interpretation of Dreams. I hope someone qualified might soon comment on the merits or significance of this new translation. Meanwhile, the Editorial Review information offered for this book comes from an earlier edition of a different translation of Freud's work, FWIW. And the second paragraph in the editorial review prelim is entirely inappropriate--it's for another book altogether.

I give Freud's book (not the translation) a low rating because it is misleading. It's not about the interpretation of dreams in general, but more specifically it's, covertly of course, about Freud's own dreams. More basically, it's about "infantile memories" he claimed dreams concealed. (For more explanation of this point, one could consult "If Freud's Theory Be True..." in Psychological Reports (1992, 70, 611-620), which would explain how Freud himself tells us his book is not about what it appears to be about.
Don't buy NuVision Edition  Sep 4, 2007
I just got my 2007 edition copy of "Interpretation of Dreams" in the mail so I haven't had a chance to read it. So this rating is only on the particular edition that is published by NuVision. They did not include an index or any information about who translated this version. Also, the table of contents is nearly worthless; no detail what-so-ever about the chapters, not even titles of the chapters, just Chapter 1 etc. and a page number. Even though you may think a newer publication is better, this one is much much worse and more expensive. Go with the 1980 publication. I'm returning the book to this site (who gets 5 stars for customer service!)
Plenty of facts and a wrong theory  May 19, 2007
Freud's book must be read by anyone who studies dreams, because it contains about 220 dreams and valuable information about the dreamers' life experiences related to their dreams. But, his wish fulfillment theory of dreams is definitely wrong both concerning its origin and its consequences, as explained below.

Freud began to interpret his patients' spontaneously reported dreams by likening them to daydreams and psychotic hallucinations. Everyone knows that daydreams are produced for fulfilling wishes in an imaginary way, and psychologists know that most psychotic hallucinations constitute imaginary fulfillments of wishes frustrated in the waking state. But, likening waking-state products to sleep-state products does not look realistic, because the waking state is a time for fulfilling wishes, whereas the sleep state is known to realize resting and self-restoration rather than realizing new successes and gains. So, Freud's first step in dream interpretation was most probably wrong.

Nevertheless Freud became convinced that dreams meant wish fulfillments because of two dreams that he misinterpreted, as explained below.

Pepi's dream: Medical student Pepi H. was late to wake up one morning, and the landlady called through the door: "Wake up, Herr Pepi! It's time to go to the hospital!" He dreamed that he was lying in bed in a room in the hospital, and there was a card over the bed on which was written: "Pepi H., medical student, age 22." He went on sleeping, thinking that he was already in the hospital.

It is evident that Pepi had, in the disabling state of half-sleep, the incompatible wishes of staying in bed and going to the hospital. Both of these wishes were fulfilled by the image of him in bed in the hospital. This cannot be considered a true dream because of several reasons: (1) Pepi was in a state between sleep and wakefulness; (2) both of his wishes belonged to the waking state instead of being activated in the sleep state; (3) his two wishes frustrated each other; and (4) therefore the image of him in bed in the hospital, which fulfilled both of his wishes in an imaginary way, looks more like a psychotic hallucination than a true dream.

On the other hand, the image of the card on the bed, which was apparently produced after he fell asleep, can be considered a true dream element seeking to terminate the failure to go to the hospital by conveying the following message: "You are not a patient, and you are not a child; you are a medical student of age 22! So, get up and do what you have to do!" The last part of this message was only implied.

We see that, after baselessly likening dreams to psychotic hallucinations, Freud had the bad luck of encountering a mental product that was half hallucination and half dream and took it for a true dream. Below is a dream that is similar to Pepi's dream.

A man who had been driving all night was desperately trying to stay awake and to keep the car on the road, or rather to keep the road in front of the car, as he later remembered. The car jolted twice with no apparent reason, and he woke up in a cornfield. We understand that the image of the road in front of the car had become a hallucination caused by the wish and the failure to keep the road in front of the car in the disabling state of half-sleep. It is also possible that this hallucination was then replaced by a "sleep-preserving" dream when sleep prevailed. Thus, a hallucination was produced in the state of half-sleep and was then transformed into a dream when sleep took over, just like it happened to Pepi.

Freud's dream "Irma's injection" (Freud 1900). This dream of Freud's about a hysterical patient of his gave to him the final conviction that dreams meant wish fulfillments. He had it 9 months before he delivered his lecture The Etiology of Hysteria, in which he exposed his seduction theory of hysteria, according to which this disorder is caused by sexual abuse suffered in childhood. This means that the thoughts expressed in this dream were produced in conformity with the seduction theory. But when he published the interpretation of this dream in his book on dreams, he had already switched to the fantasy theory of hysteria, which said that this disorder was caused by repressed unacceptable fantasies, or wishes, of sexual nature. Thus, the dream's thoughts were based on the seduction theory of hysteria, whereas its interpretation presented by Feud in his book was based on the fantasy theory. But despite this discrepancy, Freud produced an interpretation that is correct to a great extent. He misinterpreted only the part of the dream that explained the cause of hysteria and the part that said that hysteria was incurable, as shown below.

The dream is about Freud's failure to cure his patient Irma. Many psychologists believe that Irma represented Freud's patient Emma Eckstein and others like her, whom he had failed to cure. Freud recognized correctly the subject of the dream as the presentation of several causes of his failure to cure Irma. For example, Irma did not cooperate with Freud and did not believe his interpretations, which must have been based on the seduction theory, and physicians ignorant of hysteria influenced the therapy negatively. Freud interpreted these parts of the dream correctly, including even the part that accused Freud of believing a physician's wrong diagnosis without examining the patient himself. He had to say, "the material was, one might say, impartial." We can say that the dream expressed the truth, as it was known to the dreamer, as Jung believed. The accusations directed to the physicians were realistic external attributions of Freud's failure. Freud interpreted them as "revenge on other doctors" and "derision of physicians who are ignorant of hysteria." The dream accused physicians of ignoring that hysteria was caused by sexual abuse, as explained below, whereas Freud implied that they ignored its cause explained by the fantasy theory.

The dream explained the cause of her illness as sexual violation and declared that it was incurable because it was impossible to undo the violation. This is the part that Freud misinterpreted, knowingly or by mistake, which in reality carried the following message: "Physicians thought that hysteria could be cured by physical, physiological intervention, but this is absurd, because hysteria is caused by sexual violation which cannot be undone. You all directly know that your colleague who was staying with her gave her an injection. Injections of that sort should not be made so thoughtlessly. That was a dirty injection, and you know very well what it was." The negative idea that hysteria could not be cured by physical/physiological intervention is expressed in the dream through an absurdity (this being one of the means of expressing negative ideas in dreams): Someone suggested in the dream that dysentery would intervene and Irma would be cured. This absurd thought exposed the physicians' ignorance, but also the fact that sexual violation could not be undone and therefore hysteria could not be cured. This dream shows clearly why Freud chose to lie about the cause of hysteria and switched from the seduction theory to the fantasy theory of it. Evidently, he had thought that the only means of curing hysterical patients was to deny that the sexual abuse had happened. That was the only means of "undoing" the abuse which was said by his dream to be impossible.

Freud's overall interpretation of the dream was that it "represented a particular state of affairs as I should have wished it to be. Thus its content was the fulfillment of a wish and its motive was a wish." So, Freud became convinced that dreams meant wish fulfillments by summarizing the meaning of Irma's dream taking into consideration only what he liked in the dream and ignoring, for example, the accusations directed to him by the dream and the fact the dream said that the real cause of hysteria was being sexually abused.

Freud's final belief about the meaning of dreams is this: "A dream is a (disguised) fulfillment of a (suppressed or repressed) wish."

One of the arguments that Freud used to support his wish fulfillment theory was that the mind could do nothing but fulfilling wishes, and because realistic wish fulfillment was impossible during the sleep state, it was done in the form of perception. This argument is obviously wrong, because the mind does plenty of preparatory work before it can actually fulfill a wish, and much of such work can be non-pleasurable. Ignoring these facts, Freud interpreted everything in a dream as an actual wish fulfillment, as exemplified by his misinterpretation of his Irma dream, which presented, for example, several non-pleasurable causes of his failure to cure Irma. I have shown elsewhere that a complete dream contains three types of thought (expressed in Freud's terminology): the frustration of a wish, the causes of the frustration, and the means of fulfilling it. Irma dream was about Freud's failure to cure her but did not present a means of fulfilling it and said instead that curing her was impossible, this being his honest opinion.

Freud's idea of the disguised fulfillment of suppressed or repressed wishes had one more source. He wrote in his letter of January 3, 1899 to Fliess: "I now understand why in spite of all my efforts I have not yet finished the dream book . . . . I shall be able to present the psychic process in dreams in such a way that it also includes the process in the formation of hysterical symptoms." How Freud "discovered" that psychic process is explained below.

Freud's friend Fliess claimed that hysteria could be cured by a surgical operation performed on the nose of the patient. Freud believed him, and Fliess performed an operation on Emma's nose on February 20, 1895. On March 6, 1895, a second operation was performed by another friend of Freud, and half-a-meter of gauze was removed from Emma's nose. The gauze had been accidentally left in by Fliess and had caused excessive bleeding that had nearly killed her. Nose-bleeding continued even after the second operation and was probably a consequence of the two operations. But Freud wrote to Fliess about Emma on May 4, 1896: "She became restless during the night because of an unconscious wish to entice me to go there, and since I did not come, she renewed the bleeding, as an unfailing means of rearousing my affection." And he wrote to him on February 19, 1899: "It is not only dreams that are fulfillments of wishes, but hysterical attacks as well. This is true of hysterical symptoms, but it probably applies to every product of neurosis."

We see that Freud's wish fulfillment theory of dreams and symptoms was a consequence of baseless generalizations, misinterpretations of some dreams, invalid arguments, and the wrong and wishful interpretation of a physiological phenomenon. Thus, Freud's theory is untenable as far as its origin is concerned. It is equally without proof concerning its consequences, as explained below.

Freud believed that every event that a dreamer could associate with the images of his or her dream in the waking state was part of the meaning of the dream. And he interpreted all that material as wish fulfillment by using devices such as displacement, inversion, and other types of disguising to make the dream fit his theory. It is evident that any event can be interpreted in any way one wishes by using such devices. Even this procedure shows that Fred's theory is wrong.

Freud's theory is refuted also by the difficulty he experienced in explaining the emergence of anxiety in dreams and his total failure to interpret the so-called "incest dreams." He wrote in a footnote added to a later edition of his book on dreams that anxiety was experienced in dreams by consciousness when an unacceptable wish was fulfilled without being sufficiently disguised. But if this were true, "incest dreams" interpreted as wish fulfillments would be dreams of highest anxiety, which is not the case. They are found revolting in the waking state by being interpreted wrongly as wish fulfillments. I explained elsewhere that "incest dreams" mean that sex partners must intimately know, love, and respect each other. The wish fulfillment theory has not been useful in psychotherapy either.

However, to repeat, Freud's book must be read by anyone who studies dreams, because it contains about 220 dreams and valuable information about the dreamers' life experiences related to their dreams. The book also contains some of Freud's own dreams, of which the correct interpretations tell much about his life experiences and the true geneses of his theories. Moreover, the book exposes the importance of unconscious thinking, although Freud misinterpreted the contents of the unconscious and the aims of its products, as I further explained elsewhere.

Cognitive-Behavioral Cybernetics of Symptoms, Dreams, Lateralization: Theory, Interpretation, Therapy

Theory Construction and Testing in Physics and Psychology
Dreams = Wish Fulfillment   Mar 18, 2006
Freud's thesis, The Interpretation of Dreams, can be summed up as follows - all dreams are the mind's subconscious effort at wish fulfillment. For some dreams this is obvious - if you eat salty foods before going to bed, you may then dream that you are drinking water. This is a simple example of you wanting something and your subconscious trying to fulfill that wish. For most dreams, quite a bit more analysis is required to undercover what exactly you are wishing for, and Freud dedicates the bulk of his book to giving examples of such analysis. Freud argues that dreams are distorted because the upper layer of the mind is trying to censor what the lower layers of the mind are wishing for - usually out of embarrassment, guilt, etc. For example, I may be envious of my friend's success, so I will dream that my friend fails, but I am also embarrassed at wishing ill will on my friend, so the dream is distorted - perhaps the activity that he fails at will be obscure, twisted, strange, etc. Freud also makes the point that all dreams have their trigger in the preceding day's events, and once triggered the dream has access to all the experiences a person has gathered during his lifetime, as long as the experiences can be linked back somehow to the trigger event. Since the mind thinks in terms of symbols, the dreams must by analyzed by trying to understand how the various symbols can be translated into wishes, or the suppression of wishes. Thus the inner layers of the mind, or the Ego (prime desires), will generate a basic wish based on the experiences of the previous day. The Super Ego (refined sense of culture, guilt, morality, consciousness, etc.) then regulates the Ego's basic wish to fit within the mind's framework of right and wrong behavior. The greater the conflict between the Ego and Super Ego, the more distorted the dream becomes. All dreams are wish fulfillment, without exception.

Freud successfully makes his point within the first 75 pages of the book - the remaining 400 pages are a dry, archaic, tiresome, and in my opinion are not worth the time to read. Much of the book is dedicated to analysis of the dreams of either Freud or Freud's patients. Since Freud lived in early twentieth century Germany, the dreams described are anachronisms and for the most part are irrelevant. Also, I think a lot of meaning is lost in the translation from German to English.

Bottom line, Freud successfully explains the fundamental truth on dreams, put this pioneering analysis is archaic and difficult to read by today's standards. For the layman, I would look for something more current.


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