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The words "dream interpretation" were and still are indeed fraught with
unpleasant, unscientific associations. They remind one of all sorts of
childish, superstitious notions, which make up the thread and woof of
dream books, read by none but the ignorant and the primitive.
The wealth of detail, the infinite care never to let anything pass
unexplained, with which he presented to the public the result of his
investigations, are impressing more and more serious-minded scientists,
but the examination of his evidential data demands arduous work and
presupposes an absolutely open mind.
This is why we still encounter men, totally unfamiliar with Freud's
writings, men who were not even interested enough in the subject to
attempt an interpretation of their dreams or their patients' dreams,
deriding Freud's theories and combatting them with the help of
statements which he never made.
Some of them, like Professor Boris Sidis, reach at times conclusions
which are strangely similar to Freud's, but in their ignorance of
psychoanalytic literature, they fail to credit Freud for observations
Besides those who sneer at dream study, because they have never looked
into the subject, there are those who do not dare to face the facts
revealed by dream study. Dreams tell us many an unpleasant biological
truth about ourselves and only very free minds can thrive on such a
diet. Self-deception is a plant which withers fast in the pellucid
atmosphere of dream investigation.
The weakling and the neurotic attached to his neurosis are not anxious
to turn such a powerful searchlight upon the dark corners of their
Freud's theories are anything but theoretical.
He was moved by the fact that there always seemed to be a close
connection between his patients' dreams and their mental abnormalities,
to collect thousands of dreams and to compare them with the case
histories in his possession.
He did not start out with a preconceived bias, hoping to find evidence
which might support his views. He looked at facts a thousand times
"until they began to tell him something."
His attitude toward dream study was, in other words, that of a
statistician who does not know, and has no means of foreseeing, what
conclusions will be forced on him by the information he is gathering,
but who is fully prepared to accept those unavoidable conclusions.
This was indeed a novel way in psychology. Psychologists had always been
wont to build, in what Bleuler calls "autistic ways," that is through
methods in no wise supported by evidence, some attractive hypothesis,
which sprung from their brain, like Minerva from Jove's brain, fully
After which, they would stretch upon that unyielding frame the hide of a
reality which they had previously killed.
It is only to minds suffering from the same distortions, to minds also
autistically inclined, that those empty, artificial structures appear
acceptable molds for philosophic thinking.
The pragmatic view that "truth is what works" had not been as yet
expressed when Freud published his revolutionary views on the psychology
Five facts of first magnitude were made obvious to the world by his
interpretation of dreams.
First of all, Freud pointed out a constant connection between some part
of every dream and some detail of the dreamer's life during the previous
waking state. This positively establishes a relation between sleeping
states and waking states and disposes of the widely prevalent view that
dreams are purely nonsensical phenomena coming from nowhere and leading
Secondly, Freud, after studying the dreamer's life and modes of thought,
after noting down all his mannerisms and the apparently insignificant
details of his conduct which reveal his secret thoughts, came to the
conclusion that there was in every dream the attempted or successful
gratification of some wish, conscious or unconscious.
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