The Scientific Literature of Dreams-problems (up to 1900-S.Freud-2
The pre-scientific conception of the dream which obtained among the ancients was, of course, in perfect keeping with their general conception of the universe, which was accustomed to project as an external reality that which possessed reality only in the life of the psyche. Further, it accounted for the main impression made upon the waking life by the morning memory of the dream; for in this memory the dream, as compared to the rest of the psychic content, seems to be something alien, coming as it were, from another world.
It would be an error to suppose that the theory of the supernatural origin of dreams lacks followers even in our times; for quite apart from pietistic and mystical writers - who cling, as they are perfectly justified in doing, to the remnants of the once predominant realm of the supernatural until these remnants have been swept away by scientific explanation - we not infrequently find that quite intelligent persons, who in other respects are averse to anything of a romantic nature, go so far as to base their religious belief in the existence and co-operation of superhuman spiritual powers on the inexplicable nature of the phenomena of dreams (Haffner).
The validity ascribed to the dream life by certain schools of philosophy - for example, by the School of Schelling - is a distinct reminiscence of the undisputed belief in the divinity of dreams which prevailed in antiquity; and for some thinkers, the mantle of prophetic power of dreams is still a subject of debate. This is due to the fact that the explanations attempted by psychology are too inadequate to cope with the accumulated material, however strongly the scientific thinker may feel that such superstitious doctrines should be repudiated.
To write a history on our scientific knowledge of the dream problem is extremely difficult, because, valuable though this knowledge may be in certain respects, no real progress in a definite direction is as yet discernible. No real foundation of verified results has hitherto been established on which future investigations might continue to build. Every new author approaches the same problem afresh, and from the very beginning. If I were to enumerate such authors in chronological order, giving a survey of the opinions which each has held concerning the problems of the dream, I should be quite unable to draw a clear and complete picture of the present state of our knowledge on the subject.
- I have therefore preferred to base my method of treatment on themes rather than authors, and in attempting the solution of each problem of the dream, I shall cite the material found in the literature of the subject. But as I have not succeeded in mastering the whole of this literature - for it is widely dispersed and interwoven with the literature of other subjects - I must ask my readers to rest content with my survey as it stands, provided that no fundamental fact or important point of view has been overlooked.
- In a supplement to a later German edition, the author adds:
I shall have to justify myself for not extending my summary of the literature of dream problems to cover the period between first appearance of this book and the publication of the second edition. This justification may not seem very satisfactory to the reader; none the less, to me it was decisive. The motives which induced me to summarise the treatment of dreams in the literature of the subject have been exhausted by the foregoing introduction; to have continued this would have cost me a great deal of effort and would not have been particularly useful or instructive. For the interval in question - a period of nine years - has yielded nothing new or valuable as regards the conception of dreams. either in actual material or in novel points of view.
- In most of the literature which has appeared since the publication of my work, the latter has not been mentioned or discussed; it has, of course, received the least attention from the so-called 'research workers on dreams', who have thus afforded a brilliant example of the aversion to learning anything new so characteristic of the scientist. "Les savants ne sont pas curieux", said the scoffer, Anatole France. If there were such a thing in science as the right of revenge, I, in my turn, should be justified in ignoring the literature which has appeared since the publication of this book. The few reviews which have appeared in the scientific journals are so full of misconceptions and lack of comprehension that my only possible answer to my critics would be to request that they should read this book over again - or perhaps merely that they should read it!
- And in a supplement to the fourth German edition which appeared in 1914, a year after I published the first English translation of this work, he writes: Since then, the state of affairs has certainly undergone a change: my contribution to the 'interpretation of dreams .is no longer ignored in the literature of the subject. But the new situation makes it even more impossible to continue the foregoing summary. The Interpretation of Dreams has evoked a whole series of new contentions and problems, which have been expounded by the authors in the most varied fashions. But I cannot discuss these works until I have developed the theories to which their authors have referred. Whatever has appeared to me as valuable in this recent literature, I have accordingly reviewed in the course of the following exposition.
- Reference: Freud- The Interpretation Of Dreams: Sigmund Freud
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