Freud often described dreams as wish fulfilment. Freud first made this observation in his book The Interpretation of Dreams. Noting a dream, primarily about a patient of his called Irma, Freud reached the conclusion that the motive of this dream was a wish and the content of it was its realisation. During this particular dream, the first which Freud had thoroughly analysed and then documented, he noted that he was taking revenge on those he was harbouring anger towards.


In this dream Freud replaced his patient Irma with another person who was more docile and sensible. The reason for this exchange was because in life Irma was an unresponsive patient whom Freud was unable to heal. He believed her unresponsiveness to his methods of psychoanalysis was because of her inability to fully comprehend and engage with the procedure. Her unresponsiveness, in turn, reflected badly on his practises. In the same dream Freud takes revenge on Otto, a fellow doctor. In life Otto had insinuated that Irma's continuing condition and unresponsiveness was Freud's failing. Otto had also presented Freud and his wife with a horrendous gift, a foul tasting bottle of alcohol. In the dream Freud compares Otto unfavourably to a more reliable doctor and accuses Otto of careless and inappropriate medical treatment. This is Freud taking his revenge.

None of the interpretations are arrived at easily, in fact they require lengthy analysis, but all ultimately indicate that Freud, in his dreams, was fulfilling his wishes. Freud noted that each and every single dream has at the very minimum one point which is unfathomable, incapable of meaningful interpretation. He described it as a central point, a connection with the unknown. Realising which segment of the dream is worthy of analysis and interpretation and which is unfathomable is by no means an easy task or a definite science. Knowing where to find hidden meaning, and where not too, is rather difficult. Circumstance and context will determine that one particular portion of a dream has fathomable significance in one instance but not in another. It is not that the unfathomable part has no significance, Freud insisted that it does, but the task of identifying, interpreting and understanding it is so mammoth that one would surely go far astray investigating it.

This particular dream that Freud analysed and interpreted took place in 1895, on the 23rd and 24th July. From here Freud began to develop the Freudian interpretation, his method of psychoanalysis, that would become the cornerstone of modern psychiatry.