11 Feb 2006

Interpretation of Dreams

Interpretation of Dreams, Freud, tr. James Strachey

This is good. I read it very slowly over a year, and I started to pay more attention to my dreams because of it.

As a scientific work, it's pretty rigorous. Although there are numerous parts where I felt that Freud was not addressing some obvious objections, most of his theory is a hundred times more solid than people seem to give him credit for. I get the feeling that people generally expect Freud's dream theory to explain up front the content of any possible dream. But it's not that: instead, he meticulously examines what the limits of our knowledge of dream, given of course that we can never record them nor ever really be sure what anyone actually dreamt. He establishes the limits of what we can know, and then without trespassing these limits he argues his hypothesis.

While it remains a theory, and one that demonstrates a few faults, it's still the only theory I've ever heard about dreams that reaches this level of completeness. So, until I find a better theory, this one has a lot of potential.

Is this a good read? The first chapter is super boring. Then, it gets much, much better. I would almost recommend skipping section one, or just skimming through it, or maybe reading it last if you feel interested.