A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis

By Sigmund Freud | Go to book overview

SIXTH LECTURE

THE DREAM

Hypothesis and Technique of Interpretation

WE must find a new path, a new method, in order to proceed with the investigation of the dream. I shall now make an obvious suggestion. Let us assume as a hypothesis for everything which follows, that the dream is not a somatic but a psychic phenomenon. You appreciate the significance of that statement, but what justification have we for making it? None; but that alone need not deter us from making it. The matter stands thus: If the dream is a somatic phenomenon, it does not concern us. It can be of interest to us only on the supposition that it is a psychic phenomenon. Let us therefore work upon that assumption in order to see what comes of it. The result of our labor will determine whether we are to hold to this assumption and whether we may, in fact, consider it in turn a result. What is it that we really wish to achieve, to what end are we working? It is what one usually seeks to attain in the sciences, an understanding of phenomena, the creation of relationships between them, and ultimately, if possible, the extension of our control over them.

Let us then proceed with the work on the assumption that the dream is a psychic phenomenon. This makes it an achievement and expression of the dreamer, but one that tells us nothing, one that we do not understand. What do you do when I make a statement you do not understand? You ask for an explanation, do you not? Why may we not do the same thing here, ask the dreamer to give us the meaning of his dream?

If you will remember, we were in this same situation once before. It was when we were investigating errors, a case of a slip of the tongue. Someone said: "Da sind dinge zum vorschwein gekommen," whereupon we asked—no, luckily, not

-78-

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