Review: Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud

This book probably gets a perfect score from all psychoanalysts everywhere. But for the rest of us living in the real world this book serves better as the thoughts of a poet in action than any actual psychological applications. Nearly all of Sigmund Freud’s findings have been refuted with good evidence. For example, Freud thought Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s epilepsy was caused by guilt over his father’s death when in fact his sons exhibited the same epilepsy,

Nevertheless these ideas are highly tempting and extremely fun to work with. In fact, for the artist they are helpful to one of the highest degrees. It is a highly compelling idea, to take one of the book’s biggest conceits, that all dreams are wish fulfillment dreams. The fact that it takes much teasing to bring out that tendency doesn’t detract from the thought because we honestly have no idea what dreams are. Some say dreams reflect wish fulfillments and fears, and this seems to be closest to the truth since mankind’s first emotion is fear, but dreams are so grotesque, non-sensical, and emotionally charging that it seems so much more is involved with them than beats the eye. Indeed, when Freud is not over-complicating things he is actually over-simplifying them. But this may be the trapping of every person who studies dreams.

Freud’s views are heavily rooted in scientific observation so that lends a lot of credence to his theories. In that sense it’s easy to see why his views took off in America where they didn’t take off in Europe. It’s also easy to explain his ascension in America by the fact that Americans don’t want to take responsibility for their actions and would rather blame “supernatural” forces such as the id and the super-ego (as opposed to just the ego). Indeed, it’s easy to see how some of Freud’s more ridiculous ideas stemmed from this simple seed of a book. He did not form his Oedipal Complex theory yet when this book came out, which was probably his most famous theory, but it’s only too easy to see how much bullshit could spring from this one book, which was his first. Sigmund Freud may have ultimately been a charlatan, but I personally believe that he was genuinely on the search for truth. “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Indeed, and so sometimes humans are utterly flawed and it’s a wonder we can cipher out the truth in any instance at all, let alone the least likely of instances.

Final Grade: A-

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