THE PRACTICAL USE OF DREAM-ANALYSIS1

294 The use of dream-analysis in psychotherapy is still a much debated question. Many practitioners find it indispensable in the treatment of neuroses, and consider that the dream is a function whose psychic importance is equal to that of the conscious mind itself. Others, on the contrary, dispute the value of dream-analysis and regard dreams as a negligible by-product of the psyche. Obviously, if a person holds the view that the unconscious plays a decisive part in the aetiology of neuroses, he will attribute a high practical importance to dreams as direct expressions of the unconscious. Equally obviously, if he denies the unconscious or at least thinks it aetiologically insignificant, he will minimize the importance of dream-analysis. It might be considered regrettable that in this year of grace 1931, more than half a century after Carus formulated the concept of the unconscious, more than a century after Kant spoke of the “illimitable field of obscure ideas,” and nearly two hundred years after Leibniz postulated an unconscious psychic activity, not to mention the achievements of Janet, Flournoy, Freud, and many more—that after all this, the actuality of the unconscious should still be a matter for controversy. But, since it is my intention to deal exclusively with practical questions, I will not advance in this place an apology for the unconscious, although our special problem of dream-analysis stands or falls with such an hypothesis. Without it, the dream is a mere freak of nature, a meaningless conglomeration of fragments left over from the day. Were that really so, there would be no excuse for the present discussion. We cannot treat our theme at all unless we recognize the unconscious, for the avowed aim of dream-analysis is not only to exercise our wits, but to uncover and realize those

1 [* Delivered as a lecture, “Die praktische Verwendbarkeit der Traumanalyse,” at the 6th General Medical Congress for Psychotherapy, Dresden, April 1931, and published in the Bericht of the Congress; republishecl in Wirklichkeit der Seele (Zurich, 1934), pp. 68–103. Trans, from the Bericht by Cary F. Baynes and W. S. Dell in Modern Man in Search of a Soul (New York and London, 1933).—EDITORS.]

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