Study Guide

The Interpretation of Dreams Language and Communication

By Sigmund Freud

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Language and Communication

Ain't no one loves a double entendre like Sigmund Freud loves a double entendre, and you can take that nugget to the bank. Throughout The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud argues that dreams are essentially word-puzzles. That means that in order to understand their true meanings, we need to learn to interpret them properly—that is, to learn the unique, playful, and often deceptive languages that they speak.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. In Freud's view, what is the relationship between words and images in our dreams?
  2. According to Freud, will it always be possible to fully interpret the true meaning of a dream?
  3. Why is it that wordplay plays such an important role in Freud's theory of dreams? How exactly do puns, double entendres, and other linguistic jokes contribute to dream-formation?
  4. According to Freud, what is the origin of "speech" in dreams?

Chew on This

Freud's talent for wordplay and his knowledge of multiple languages directly influenced his theory of dreaming. Without them, he could never have formulated his influential concepts of dream-condensation and dream-displacement.

As Ritchie Robertson has argued, "[t]he extremely verbal character of Freud's mind leads him to underestimate visual imagery in dreams" (source). Although Freud's remarkable love of wordplay made him an excellent interpreter of his own dreams, it may have hindered his ability to understand the dreams of those whose minds worked differently from his own.

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