Sigmund Freud - Dream Interpretation

Freud Hints about Dream Interpretation
During the Analysis

The following quotes are from an article Freud's published in 1912 about the employment of dream interpretation in the psychoanalytic cure. We stress here two main points: dreams may be approached only through the technical rules of  analysis and the nature of dreams occurring during the treatment.

1. I submit, therefore, that dream-interpretation should not be pursued in analytic treatment as an art for its own sake, but that its use should be subject to those technical rules that govern the conduct of the analysis throughout. Naturally, one can at times adopt the other course and give way a little to theoretical interest but one should always be well aware of what one is doing. Another, situation to be considered is that which has arisen since we have acquired more confidence in our understanding of dream-symbolism, and in this way know ourselves to be more independent of the patient's associations. An unusually skilful interpreter will sometimes be able to see through every dream a patient brings without requiring him to go through the tedious and time-absorbing process of dissection. Such an analyst does not experience these conflicts between the demands of the cure and those of dream-interpretation. And then he will be tempted to make full use every time of his interpretations, by telling the patient all that he has seen in the dream. In so doing, however, he will be conducting the analysis in a way which departs considerably from the established method, as I shall point out in another connection. Beginners in analytic practice, at any rate, are urged against taking this exceptional case as a model.

2. In conclusion, I will mention a particular type of dream which, in the nature of the case, occurs only in the course of psycho-analytic treatment, and may bewilder or deceive beginners in practice. These are the corroborating dreams which follow, as one may say, like "hangers-on";  they are easily translated, and contain merely what has been arrived at by analysis of the previous few days' material. It looks as though the patient had had the amiability to reproduce for us in dream-form exactly what we had been "suggesting" to him immediately beforehand in the treatment. The more experienced analyst will certainly have some difficulty in attributing any such graciousness to the patient; he accepts such dreams as hoped-for confirmations, and recognizes that they are only to be observed under certain conditions brought about under the influence of the treatment. The great majority of the dreams forge ahead of the analysis, so that, after subtraction of all that in them which is already known and understood, there still remains a more or less clear indication of something hitherto deeply hidden.

(From The Employment of Dream-Interpretation in Psycho-Analysis, first published in Zentralblatt, Bd. II, 1912.)


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