As what I believe, dreams are some materials that are thought to be explored, and through the process, people can better know about themselves. When this comes to Freud, things get more intriguing: there exists unconsciousness which could influence the conscious mind but remains unknown. To find out the answer, Freud uses his own dream instead of others’ in order to illustrate his methods of analysis. The reason that he chooses his own dream is clear, “In my own judgment, conditions are more likely to be favorable in self-observation than in the observation of others; in any case, it is permissible to investigate how much can be accomplished in the matter of dream-interpretation by means of self-analysis.” (Chapter 2, P11) By emphasizing the importance of testing oneself, he shows that this type of analysis can successfully achieve the ultimate goal and avoid certain criticism from other people.
The dream is about an event during his wife’s birthday party, which includes Irma as a guest and also his patient. He comes to her and complains that she doesn’t follow his solution plan. Irma, in turn, tells Freud about her pain of several organs, which leads to Freud’s worry. He checks her mouth and finds a large white plot. With Freud calling Dr.M who diagnoses her pain as infection, Leopold, Freud’s friend, also comes and finds dullness in her left chest. Eventually, they discover that Irma’s pain is due to Otto’s injection.
After this dream comes into Freud’s mind, he takes the information to analyze in details. Surely, the analysis is thought to be effective and significant: “This dream has an advantage over many others. It is at once obvious to what events of the preceding day it is related, and of what subject it treats. The preliminary statement explains these matters.” (Chapter 2, P14) Besides, it is not difficult to discover that every segment of the dream has a mean, and all these parts are illustrative of his enmity toward Irma, Dr.M and Otto, as well as blames toward him for not recovering Irma.
Actually, the analysis relates something in the dream to another one in reality. For instance, Freud mixes the personality of Irma in the dream with those of other people who are more sensibly docile, illustrating his dissatisfaction toward Irma’s refusal to his therapy. Another example is that Dr.M’s ignorant attitude of Irma’s ailment and his desire to replace Dr.M with his knowledgeable friend shows his hostility toward Dr.M. Moreover, he connects the the real-world injection of propionic acid with the dream’s liqueur of fusel oil smell and Otto’s reproach on him. This makes him unconscious willingness to retaliate Otto.
Freud also refers to a lot of easily ignored details such as “my daughter’s illness, and that of a patient with the same name; the harmfulness of cocaine; the affection of my patient, who was traveling in Egypt; concern about the health of my wife; my brother, and Dr M.; my own physical troubles, and anxiety concerning my absent friend, who is suffering from suppurative rhinitis” (Chapter 2, P21). They further Freud’s analysis by pointing to his unconscious desire to manifest his concern for the health of himself and others and professional conscientiousness.
Certainly, Freud’s use of method has some reasons. In his ideology, the nature of dreams is the fulfillment of a wish, and it is necessary to use imagination to extract the reason for it from the dreams. I here come up with two examples: searching for water means the dreamer is thirsty, and feeling cold means he or she does not wear clothes. These are, of course, simple instances that are common in people’s lives. Freud’s exhaustive analysis is seen as a mean of comprehensively fathoming the relationships among different episodes of dream and reality. “Regarded in isolation, an idea may be quite insignificant, and venturesome in the extreme, but it may acquire importance from an idea which follows it; perhaps, in a certain collocation with other ideas, which may seem equally absurd, it may be capable of furnishing a very serviceable link” (Chapter 2, P11) If furthered by this idea, people could understand the entire unconscious thoughts of an individual by analyzing dreams. Also, at the beginning of this chapter, Freud insists that “the dream actually does possess a meaning, and that a scientific method of dream-interpretation is possible.” (Chapter 2, P9) Therefore, through persuasive manifestation, Freud gains the answer to the quest previously given, and his enlightening methodology is proven by his long list of reasonable inferences from the details of his dream.
Freud, S. (1997) The Interpretation of Dreams (Wordsworth Edition.). New York, NY: Wordsworth Classics of World Literature