Two items appear below:

1 Freud and the Dream Fraud         Laurie Eddie
2 Dream Therapy Nonsense             Bob Potter


Laurie Eddie

(Investigator 42, 1995 May)

It was interesting to read in a fictional story by the famous author Arthur Machen, which was written around about 1915, that Freud's theories were viewed with some suspicion by learned people of that era. To quote the author,

Now, everybody, I suppose, is aware that in recent years the silly business of divination by dreams has ceased to be a joke and has become a very serious science. It is called "Psycho-analysis ";  and is compounded, I would say, by mingling one grain of sense with a hundred of pure nonsense. From the simplest and most obvious dreams, the psycho-analyst deduces the most incongruous and extravagant results. A black savage tells him he has dreamed of being chased by lions, or, maybe, by crocodiles; and the psycho man knows at once that the black is suffering from the Oedipus complex. That is, he is madly in love with his own mother, and is, therefore, afraid of the vengeance of his father. Everybody knows, of course, that "lion" and "crocodile" are symbols of "father." And I understand that there are educated people who believe this stuff.

It is all nonsense, to be sure; and so much the greater nonsense inasmuch as the true interpretation of many dreams – not by any means of all dreams – moves, it may be said, in the opposite direction to the method of psycho-analysis. (Arthur Machen, "The Children of the Pool.")

It is rare to find such common sense being proposed so many years ago, at a time when we considered people to be generally ignorant of many of the modem aspects of science. Yet in light of the current popularity of the interpretation of dreams, we need to look seriously at what Machen says.

The interpretation of dreams variously known as Oneiromancy, or Sonomancy, is one of the oldest methods of divination known. It originated long before humans had any real appreciation of the operations of the mind. At a time when it was believed that anything which was seen, whether awake or asleep, had a reality of its own. Later dreams were identified as messages from the gods, sent to warn people of forthcoming disasters. Thus we find examples in the Old Testament of Joseph interpreting the dreams of the Pharoah, and Daniel interpreting the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar.

It is often claimed that it can be demonstrated that dreams actually foretell the future. How true is this claim? Well, as it turns out it is really complete nonsense. When one considers that the earth has a population of just over 5 billion, and research tells as that each person averages 10-20 dreams per night. That means that every night there are some 50-100 billion dreams.

We know that the most common subjects of dreams are about things which worry people, death in the family, accidents, disasters; or about happy events, winning the lottery, a birth, a now and better job, etc. This means then that on any given night there could, for example, be some 10 billion people dreaming about some disaster.

Given such a number of people dreaming about disasters, the possible variations and permutations are infinite. Therefore, it would be extremely unusual not to have at least several hundred million individuals dream about an aircraft crashing. Of that number perhaps 100 million might dream that the aircraft crashes in mountains, 50 million might dream that the aircraft was white, (most aircraft are painted white), 10million of those might see a red insignia on its tail or body, (many airlines have red logos).

So, in the and we have 10 million who have dreamt of the most common combinations of an aircraft crash, now if only one million recall the details when they awaken, we have the potential for one million "psychic dreams." If it happens on the next day, or within weeks or months of that dream, (at a conservative estimate, some 365 million every year), is it any wonder that someone claims to have foreseen such an event?



(Investigator 44, 1995 September)

The useful contribution by Laurie Eddie (Investigator No. 42) reminds us that way back in 1915, or thereabouts, Arthur Machen correctly viewed Freudian dream therapy as 'greater nonsense' – and then proceeds to demonstrate (mathematically!) that obviously some dreams come true as a matter of statistical probability.

Freud suggested that we can interpret dreams and that they always constitute a wish fulfilment of some kind referring to wishes relating back to traumatic events that happened during the first five years of life of the child, who represses the desire and other intentions at the time – these repressions produce the dream and so on…

But incredibly, when you look at the book Freud considered his most important contribution to psychology, The Interpretation of Dreams, you will find that Freud examines more than a thousand dreams, fifty of them his own, yet there is not a single case where he makes any reference in his interpretations to repressions of infantile wishes.

Every illustration poses a wish, but every wish is either a wish of conscious reflection or is a suppressed wish of post infantile origin.

If you find that most text books and most teachers of psychology refer with awe to the Freudian interpretations as supporting his theory, when in actual fact his own interpretations are completely at variance with his theory, you may well wonder just what is going on in the mystical realms of psychoanalysis…!!

Incidentally, did Freud ever look at a single dream? The answer, surely, has to be 'no' for it has been clearly established that unless you write down your dream immediately, you forget it in a few minutes. This has been demonstrated over and ever again, yet Freud instructed his patients not to write them down – and he would ask them to recall them days or even weeks later. What they 'remembered' and what they told him would bear little relationship to what they actually dreamed.

I'm sure the readers of the INVESTIGATOR are well able to devise little tests whereby they can check the accuracy of what I am reporting.

Bob Potter

More articles by Laurie Eddie and Bob Potter on this website: