The Practice of Psychotherapy: Essays on the Psychology of the Transference and Other Subjects

On Dreams I have no theory about dreams, I do not know how dreams arise.

And I am not at all sure that – my way of handling dreams even deserves the name of a “method.”

I share all your prejudices against dream-interpretation as the quintessence of uncertainty and arbitrariness.

On the other hand, I know that if we meditate on a dream sufficiently long and thoroughly, if we carry it around with us and turn it over and over, something almost always comes of it.

This something is not of course a scientific result to be boasted about or rationalized; but it is an important practical hint which shows the patient what the unconscious is aiming at. Indeed, it ought not to matter to me whether the result of my musings on the dream is scientifically verifiable or tenable, otherwise I am pursuing an ulterior-and therefore autoerotic aim.

I must content myself wholly with the fact that the result means something to the patient and sets his life in motion again.

I may allow myself only one criterion for the result of my labours: does it work? As for my scientific hobby – my desire to know why it works – this I must reserve for my spare time.

“The Aims of Psychotherapy” (1931). In CW 16: The Practice of Psychotherapy. P.86

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