59 pages 1 hour read

Sigmund Freud

The Interpretation of Dreams

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1899

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Chapter 3

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 3 Summary and Analysis: "The Dream as Wish-Fulfilment"

In his shortest chapter, Freud aims to take stock of his argument so far and emphasize his most crucial point regarding dreams: “When the work of interpretation has been completed the dream can be recognized as a wish-fulfilment” (88, emphasis added). In other words, dreams are a form of legitimate psychic activity that works to represent the unconscious wishes of the individual.

As Freud will explain in later chapters, these wishes are unconscious either because they arise in infantile life, and cannot be remembered, or because they are repressed by conscious life as being undesirable for one’s self-image. Freud will also note that this process of exploring unconscious wishes in dreams helps to cleanse the psyche of unconscious "pressure," and is therefore necessary for mental health.

In this chapter Freud also continues a technical formula initiated in Chapter 2 and stretching to Chapter 5, which will use example dreams from Freud’s life and those of his patients to illustrate his concepts. To begin, Freud provides some simplistic examples of wish fulfillments. Some dreams, such as dreaming of water when one is thirsty, or of menses when one does not wish to be pregnant, are clear examples.