59 pages 1 hour read

Sigmund Freud

The Interpretation of Dreams

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1899

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Chapter 2

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 2 Summary and Analysis: "Method of Dream Interpretation: The Analysis of a Sample Dream"

In Chapter 2, Freud “propos[es] to show that dreams are capable of interpretation” and describes his method for interpreting them (70). This means rejecting the leading scientific concept that dreams are irrational psychic acts brought on by somatic stimuli, instead arguing that they are “a substitute for some other thought-process, and that we have only to disclose this substitute correctly in order to discover the hidden meaning of the dream” (70, emphasis added). In other words, dreams have hidden psychic content they express through images, and interpreting these images reveals the psychic struggle occurring in the dreamer’s unconscious mind.

In discussing some lay methods for dream interpretation, Freud mentions the “symbolic method” (70), which suggests dream images have stable symbolic meaning, as is common in popular-dream symbol books that are still read today. There is also the “cipher method” (70), which suggests dreams have secret meanings. Although Freud’s dream analysis does work on images and suggests these images have hidden meanings, Freud’s method differs “in that it imposes upon the dreamer himself the work of interpretation" (72, emphasis added). Freud mentions this to differentiate his theory as based on individual psychical content, thereby stressing the importance of psychoanalysis as a method.