In this article the author explores what is involved when working with dream material in a clinical setting. She starts with the difficulties Freud encountered in the Interpretation of Dreams when attempting to discuss this complicated material in a concise way. This leads the author to the matter of the interpretation itself. Using several of Freud’s articles she explores different approaches to the concept of interpretation and confronts the reader with some of Freud’s ideas on working with dreams. The theoretical part of the article concludes with a brief discussion of the Lacanian vision of interpretation according to Fink. This is followed by a substantial clinical section illustrating this theoretical material, using the case of a woman whose mourning process over the sudden death of her husband is problematic. Her dreams form an important part of the analysis in this case. The author concludes by elucidating in detail one session with the patient in which not only the ambiguity of meaning in dream material, but also the choice of a specific interpretation and its effect, is demonstrated.
In this contribution the importance of dream interpretation in the treatment of the neurotic subject is questioned. Starting from the analogy between dream work and symptom formation, it is argued that dream interpretation constitutes for a fruitful way of exploring the unconscious in the cure. In order to relate dream interpretation to the end of the treatment, dream analysis is elucidated in its entanglement with transference. As an alternative to the kind of dream interpretation that pursues illusory completeness, or an interpretation of transference which leans on authority produced by it, working through is proposed as a path to the recognition of the lack in the Other. A clinical fragment about a dream concerning the transference is used to illustrate how dream interpretation not only functions as an opening of the unconscious, but can also be useful as a way or working through that brings the subject to a point where the human capacity to provide meaning reaches its limits.
The author witnesses dream analysis in her clinical work as the via regia to the unconscious, i.e., to that unknown Other within ourselves that makes us do what we consciously do not wish to do. Fragments of dream analysis illustrate the following aspects: the transference dream marking the transition between preliminary sessions and analysis; the dream as neurosis in a nutshell; the popping up of the Other in the dream; the working through of a taboo and the subsequent subjective change; the working through of death wishes; the question of the dream as foretelling the future; the end of the analytic cure; the timelessness of the unconscious.