The Interpretation of Dreams was first published in 1900; by the time of a new edition was being prepared in thirty years later, Sigmund Freud was ready to declare in a newly composed foreword that within the covers of The Interpretation of Dreams could be found the single most significant and valuable discoveries of his career. That assessment remains true for the most part, though the utilization of his significant discoveries have certainly shifted from the original intent.
In the century since the world of psychoanalysis was introduced to The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud has gone from being the Father of that discipline worthy of respect and emulation to the grandfather who dodders around in the background and must be carefully tended to in between moments of sublime lucidity. Finding a genuine Freudian psychologist today that ascribes to the bulk of what remain the most iconic and well-known theories and concept in the field is difficult. One reason that the findings outlined in The Interpretation of Dreams still remains very much in at the forefront of the world of psychology is their utilization has gradually moved from one centered in treatment of mentally disturbed patients to critical interpretation of the psychological motivations of fictional characters.
Interestingly, Sigmund Freud’s seminal works and theories are almost rarely used in the world of psychiatry today, as least not in any pure, undiluted sense. Freud’s theories remain at the forefront of the creative process, however. The world of critical theorizing about the underlying truths behind song lyrics, literature, film and even paintings are far more likely to develop along Freudian lines of theory than the inside of a building filled with offices of psychologists and therapists.
The Interpretation of Dreams started out as a strategic goal of Freud’s in which he could develop a kind of template for initial interpretation of common symbols, signs and archetypes which the analyst could then expand upon and interpret on individual basis for unlocking the hidden door into the subconscious. The text that result is one which offers a history of dream interpretation by various civilizations throughout history which serves as the foundation upon which Freud himself developed his own means of interpretation. By way of comparison, the book considers many of the most prevalent opposing theories for interpreting dreams popular at the time. The meat of the book, of course, are the actual case studies of patients relating their dreams to which Freud proceeds to apply his own methodology of interpretation.
Worth noting is that The Interpretation of Dreams is text in which Freud developed what is probably his most famous psychological theory: the Oedipus Complex.