Freud, Sigmund – On Dreams

  • dreams & division: Sigmund Freud, a little while after he has finished “The interpretation of dreams”, wrote another booklet on the same topic and in a language that could reach large masses of laypeople. This booklet is named “On dreams” and, being written as a sketch drawn by an artist, I saw in it what the specialized literature calls “the division” (in Greek: “diairesis”). This division has much in comon with the older genealogies and newer taxonomies or operationalizations. For instance, Michael Naas is saying the following: “The word diairesis, from the verb diaireo, means precisely to distinguish, to divide, to draw lines… [to draw] natural lines of cleavage (diaphuen)… While diaphue can be used in Greek to refer to the natural divisions in rock or in the earth, the veins or strata in inorganic matter …[it also could mean] the divisions or… the bifurcations in organic things, the single line that divides an animal body or a nut, a walnut, for example, in two” (2018: 20 & 25). The division starts from the general, universal, genus and arrives to the individual, particular, species. Bellow I’ll show how division works in the “On dreams” book: the first chapter draw the distinction between pre-scientific and scientific perspective. At its turn, the scientific perspective is called to investigate the phenomena of dreams, phobias, obsessions, illusions, forgetfulness, slips and mistakes (chapters 2 and 8). From this list, Freud picks up the phenomenon of dreams that have two products and four processes (chapter 2). The two products are: on the one hand, the manifest content like: images and words (on the personal level) or symbols (on the collective level) – see chapter 12; while on the other hand, the latent content representing the ideas – i.e the sexual instincts or the sexual desires (also in chapter 12). Also, the four processes are called: condensation (chapter 4), displacement (chapter 5), representation (chapter 6) and intelligibility (chapter 7). Concerning the direction of them, these four processes are used in dream-work (so, in dreaming states), or in analysis-work (so, in therapeutic situations, in waking states). Besides the products and the processes, Freud discuses also the instances like: Ucs (unconscious), Pcs (preconscious), Cs (conscious) and censorship. For the first three instances he states the “repression hypothesis” (chapters 8, 9 and 10); and the “distortion hypothesis” (chapters 10 and 11) for the fourth instance. Before closing the presentation of this book, it is probably worth mentioning that the division, as well as the genealogy, taxonomy or operationalization can’t and don’t provide a universal assurance that they are leading to truth: the only thing they assure is a certain order of ideas and facts.

The image:


  • Sigmund Freud (2014): “On dreams”,, translated by M.D. Eder
  • Michael Naas (2018): “Plato and the invention of life”, Fordham University Press

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