64 In 1900, Sigmund Freud published in Vienna a voluminous work on the analysis of dreams. Here are the principal results of his investigations.
65 The dream, far from being the confusion of haphazard and meaningless associations it is commonly believed to be, or a result merely of somatic sensations during sleep as many authors suppose, is an autonomous and meaningful product of psychic activity, susceptible, like all other psychic functions, of a systematic analysis. The organic sensations felt during sleep are not the cause of the dream; they play but a secondary role and furnish only elements (the material) upon which the psyche works. According to Freud the dream, like every complex psychic product, is a creation, a piece of work which has its motives, its trains of antecedent associations; and like any considered action it is the outcome of a logical process, of the competition between various tendencies and the victory of one tendency over another. Dreaming has a meaning, like everything else we do.
66 It may be objected that all empirical reality is against this theory, since the impression of incoherence and obscurity that dreams make upon us is notorious. Freud calls this sequence of confused images the manifest content of the dream; it is the facade behind which he looks for what is essential—namely, the dream-thought or the latent content. One may ask what reason Freud has for thinking that the dream itself is only the facade of a vast edifice, or that it really has any meaning. His supposition is not founded on a dogma, nor on an a priori idea, but on empiricism alone—namely, the common experience that no psychic (or physical) fact is accidental. It must have, then, its
1 [Written in French. Translated by Philip Mairet from “L’Analyse des reves,” Année psychologique (Paris), XV (1909), 160–67, and revised by R. F. C. Hull. —EDITORS.]