59 pages 1 hour read

Sigmund Freud

The Interpretation of Dreams

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1899

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Chapter 6Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 6 Summary and Analysis: "The Dream Work"

In Chapter 6, Freud delves into the topic of the "dream-work," which he defines as the process by which the latent dream thoughts are transformed into the manifest content of the dream. He argues, “the dream-content (manifest content) appears to us as a translation of the dream-thoughts (latent content) into another mode of expression” (191) and that this translation is governed by certain "laws" (191) or principles. It is these laws this chapter explores.

A. Condensation

The first principle is condensation, which refers to the process by which multiple thoughts and wishes are combined into a single image or idea in the dream, such that a dream is relatively short, yet its interpretation yields multitudes. Condensation allows the dreamer to express a number of repressed thoughts and wishes at once, rather than having to deal with each one separately.

For example, a dreamer may dream of being in a house, which represents different aspects of their life, such as their home and their family. As this example suggests, condensation organizes groups of thoughts into “one of their conceptual elements” (194) that is capable of representing or otherwise uniting them: It “is a veritable nucleus, and, for the dream, the meeting-point of many trains of thought” (195).