A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis

By Sigmund Freud | Go to book overview

FIFTEENTH LECTURE

THE DREAM

Doubtful Points and Criticism

LET us not leave the subject of dreams before we have touched upon the most common doubts and uncertainties which have arisen in connection with the new ideas and conceptions we have discussed up to this point. The more attentive members of the audience probably have already accumulated some material bearing upon this.

1. You may have received the impression that the results of our work of interpretation of the dream have left so much that is uncertain, despite our close adherence to technique, that a true translation of the manifest dream into the latent dream thoughts is thereby rendered impossible. In support of this you will point out that in the first place, one never knows whether a specific element of the dream is to be taken literally or symbolically, since those elements which are used symbolically do not, because of that fact, cease to be themselves. But if one has no objective standard by which to decide this, the interpretation is, as to this point, left to the discretion of the dream interpreter. Moreover, because of the way in which the dream work combines opposites, it is always uncertain whether a specific dream element is to be taken in the positive or the negative sense, whether it is to be understood as itself or as its opposite. Hence this is another opportunity for the exercise of the interpreter's discretion. In the third place, in consequence of the frequency with which every sort of inversion is practised in the dream, the dream interpreter is at liberty to assume such an inversion at any point of the dream he pleases. And finally you will say, you have heard that one is seldom sure that the interpretation which is found is the only possible one. There is danger of overlooking a thoroughly admissible second inter

-194-

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