The Interpretation of Dreams, by Sigmund Freud

Preface to the Second (German) Edition

THAT there should have been a demand for a second edition of this book — a book which cannot be described as easy to read — before the completion of its first decade is not to be explained by the interest of the professional circles to which I was addressing myself. My psychiatric colleagues have not, apparently, attempted to look beyond the astonishment which may at first have been aroused by my novel conception of the dream; and the professional philosophers, who are anyhow accustomed to disposing of the dream in a few sentences — mostly the same — as a supplement to the states of consciousness, have evidently failed to realize that precisely in this connection it was possible to make all manner of deductions, such as must lead to a fundamental modification of our psychological doctrines. The attitude of the scientific reviewers was such to lead me to expect that the fate of the book would be to fall into oblivion; and the little flock of faithful adherents, who follow my lead in the therapeutic application of psycho-analysis, and interpret dreams by my method, could not have exhausted the first edition of this book. I feel, therefore, that my thanks are due to the wider circle of cultured and inquiring readers whose sympathy has induced me, after the lapse of nine years, once more to take up this difficult work, which has so many fundamental bearings.

I am glad to be able to say that I found little in the book that called for alteration. Here and there I have interpolated fresh material, or have added opinions based on more extensive experience, or I have sought to elaborate individual points; but the essential passages treating of dreams and their interpretation, and the psychological doctrines to be deduced therefrom, have been left unaltered; subjectively, at all events, they have stood the test of time. Those who are acquainted with my other writings (on the aetiology and mechanism of the psychoneuroses) will know that I never offer unfinished work as finished, and that I have always endeavoured to revise my conclusions in accordance with my maturing opinions; but as regards the subject of the dream-life, I am able to stand by my original text. In my many years' work upon the problems of the neuroses I have often hesitated, and I have often gone astray; and then it was always the interpretation of dreams that restored my self-confidence. My many scientific opponents are actuated by a wise instinct when they decline to follow me into the region of oneirology.

Even the material of this book, even my own dreams, defaced by time or superseded, by means of which I have demonstrated the rules of dream-interpretation, revealed, when I came to revise these pages, a continuity that resisted revision. For me, of course, this book has an additional subjective significance, which I did not understand until after its completion. It reveals itself to me as a piece of my self-analysis, as my reaction to the death of my father, that is, to the most important event, the most poignant loss in a man's life. Once I had realized this, I felt that I could not obliterate the traces of this influence. But to my readers the material from which they learn to evaluate and interpret dreams will be a matter of indifference.

Where an inevitable comment could not be fitted into the old context, I have indicated by square brackets that it does not occur in the first edition. 1

Berchtesgaden, 1908

1 Omitted in subsequent editions.

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