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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Whether we love or hate Sigmund Freud, we all have to admit that he revolutionized the way we think about ourselves. Much of this revolution can be traced to The Interpretation of Dreams, the turn-of-the-century tour de force that outlined his theory of unconscious forces in the context of dream analysis. Introducing the id, the superego, and their problem child, the ego, Freud advanced scientific understanding of the mind immeasurably by exposing motivations normally invisible to our consciousness. While there's no question that his own biases and neuroses influenced his observations, the details are less important than the paradigm shift as a whole. After Freud, our interior lives became richer and vastly more mysterious.

These mysteries clearly bothered him--he went to great (often absurd) lengths to explain dream imagery in terms of childhood sexual trauma, a component of his theory jettisoned mid-century, though now popular among recovered-memory therapists. His dispassionate analyses of his own dreams are excellent studies for cognitive scientists wishing to learn how to sacrifice their vanities for the cause of learning. Freud said of the work contained in The Interpretation of Dreams, "Insight such as this falls to one's lot but once in a lifetime." One would have to feel quite fortunate to shake the world even once. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This volume of essays (part of a new series) reflects a wide range of disciplines: sociology, history, literature, and philosophy. Several are works of historic importance by major thinkers, including Wittgenstein and Erikson. Others are more recent works informed by modern thinkers, most notably Lacan. Though of limited appeal to the lay reader in its assumption of a working knowledge of Freud's dream work and its failure to link the essays, the book will interest scholars, particularly those in the humanities concerned with psychoanalysis. Several essays, particularly Meredith Skura's concerning the literary use of dream interpretation, are outstanding commentaries on Freud's landmark work. Paul Hymowitz, Psychiatry Dept., Cornell Medical Ctr., New York
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Publisher: NuVision Publications, LLC; 3 edition (March 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595479368
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595479365
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,930,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is one of the twentieth century's greatest minds and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology. His many works include The Ego and the Id; An Outline of Psycho-Analysis; Inhibitions; Symptoms and Anxiety; New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis; Civilization and Its Discontent, and others.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Karen Batres on February 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Make up your own mind about Freud, but in the meantime, this is one of his great works that anyone can read without having technical knowledge about psychology. Freud included much about his own dreams, and the reader will suspect that he didn't "tell all" about his own introspection--nor would most of us! But this work, along with "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life" and "Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious" are for all readers. It is worth your while to peruse one of the most influential books in human history. As for the violence of the controversy that Freud inspires--well, that vehemence must mean something: a hundred years later, we are still at it. Decide for yourself.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Richard Stephenson on June 9, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Most reviewers see the value of this great work, which lays out the dynamics of the unconscious mind. Others have a variety of misconceptions: first, he was not a cocaine addict. He misunderstood cocaine [as most people did] and, briefly, recommended it to others, including his fiancee. When his close friend died of it, Freud realized his error.
Second, one reader states that you can't find "measurements" to prove anything about dreams. As one who has practiced in the field, I can say that the reader can measure the truth of Freud's theory by using it to understand him or herself, by analyzing one's own dreams.
The dynamics of dreams are:
first, dreams are phylogenetic, i.e., inherited as a species; they are not ontogenetic, i.e., created by environmental factors.
R.E.M. studies have shown for fifty years that our eyes move rapidly while dreaming as is we were watching a film. However, all of the people in a dream are different fragments of ourselves, of our wishes, of our interests.
Second: this phylogenetic inheritance includes an innate propensity to think in pictures. Moving up the scale of consciousness, in Ucs. [unconsciousness, thinking is mostly pictorial but sometimes verbal]; in Pcs. [preconsciousness, i.e., in daydreaming, thinking is pictorial and verbal and partly in our control]; in Cs. [consciousness, thinking is mostly verbal but partly pictorial].
Dreams have two main dynamics: one, displacement [in which the mind protects itself by displacing the troubling thought with a symbol]; two, condensation [in which the mind places symbols on top of one another in layers in order to make the troubling thought hard to find].
Read more ›
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
The best translation available is by J. Strachey. Don't get the one by Brill. This books is no light reading, even for those accustomed to reading serious books. Freud's style presents no difficulties, but moral courage is needed. Nevertheless for those courageous enough there is also enormous entertainment here. Personally I find it extremely difficult to read it often. It's too dense and challenging. And much of it is also deeply flawed because the author was overly confident. Despite all this, this may well be the greatest book of the 20th century, and those who want to take the challenge ought to try it. My pragmatic advice is to skip the first chapter, which is a rather dated review of literature.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Charles Sniadecki on March 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Freud's thesis, The Interpretation of Dreams, can be summed up as follows - all dreams are the mind's subconscious effort at wish fulfillment. For some dreams this is obvious - if you eat salty foods before going to bed, you may then dream that you are drinking water. This is a simple example of you wanting something and your subconscious trying to fulfill that wish. For most dreams, quite a bit more analysis is required to undercover what exactly you are wishing for, and Freud dedicates the bulk of his book to giving examples of such analysis. Freud argues that dreams are distorted because the upper layer of the mind is trying to censor what the lower layers of the mind are wishing for - usually out of embarrassment, guilt, etc. For example, I may be envious of my friend's success, so I will dream that my friend fails, but I am also embarrassed at wishing ill will on my friend, so the dream is distorted - perhaps the activity that he fails at will be obscure, twisted, strange, etc. Freud also makes the point that all dreams have their trigger in the preceding day's events, and once triggered the dream has access to all the experiences a person has gathered during his lifetime, as long as the experiences can be linked back somehow to the trigger event. Since the mind thinks in terms of symbols, the dreams must by analyzed by trying to understand how the various symbols can be translated into wishes, or the suppression of wishes. Thus the inner layers of the mind, or the Ego (prime desires), will generate a basic wish based on the experiences of the previous day. The Super Ego (refined sense of culture, guilt, morality, consciousness, etc.) then regulates the Ego's basic wish to fit within the mind's framework of right and wrong behavior.Read more ›
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on May 25, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the book that started the revolution in our view of human psychology: it uncovered the (always disputed) existence of the unconscious mind as well as created an entirely new mode of thinking about the human psyche.
Strangely enough, it is also a fun and very informative read: there are great case studies of patients, charming autobiographical asides, and a rigorous snapshot of the science of dreams at the time. It is also beautifully written: ironically, though never the recipient of the Nobel prize, Freud did win the Goethe prize in Germany for his writing style. As Walter Kaufman said so eloquently, with his rich ironies and attention to the individual, Freud offered a way to reintroduce poetry into science.
Certainly, much of what Freud thought is now disputed and discredited. Like Copernicus, whose model of our solar system failed in many respects, Freud also made fundamental errors, in particular his notorious over-emphasis of sexuality and the phallus. But we do not blame Copernicus for not seeing what Kepler, Newton, and later Einstein discovered: we value him as a step towards the unknown, as a pioneer, however timid. Freud will come to be seen the same way, as the discoverer of the unconscious mind.
Warmly recommended.
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