Study Guide

The Interpretation of Dreams Friendship

By Sigmund Freud

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The Interpretation of Dreams isn't exactly a bromance, but sometimes it comes pretty close. Throughout the book, Freud's analyses of his personal dreams let readers learn about the professional relationships that shaped his career and personal life. Some of his medical mentors and colleagues appear as father-figures and authorities in his life; others appear as trusted friends, enthusiastic supporters, and confidants.

Not only does The Interpretation of Dreams tell us something about Freud's own friendships, it also offers a unique glimpse into a close-knit community of medical men who were working to revolutionize knowledge of the human body and mind.

Questions About Friendship

  1. Which of Freud's medical mentors and colleagues appear as father-figures in Freud's personal dreams?
  2. Which of Freud's man-friends—past and present—make the most frequent appearances in his dreams?
  3. In some of Freud's dreams, two or more friends are "condensed" (merged together) in the appearance of one person. Which friends are brought together like this, and why?
  4. How do women stand in relation to Freud's community of male colleagues and friends? Are there any suspicious circumstances in which the male community closes ranks against a woman?

Chew on This

When Freud speaks of his friend Wilhelm Fliess throughout The Interpretation of Dreams, he is often intensely affectionate and appreciative. However, as many Freud scholars have noted, Freud's friendship with Fliess eventually broke off. In this way, The Interpretation of Dreams may be read as the chronicle of a friendship with a fast-approaching expiration date.

Freud states in The Interpretation of Dreams that he has always had need of an "intimate friend" and a "hated enemy" throughout his life (6.9.50). Not only does this give us insight into Freud's character as a friend, but it also serves as another example of Freud's fascination with patterns of recurrence and repetition in his own and other people's lives.

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