Faculty of Health & Behavioural Sciences


The philosopher Karl Popper (1963) stated that Freud’s theories could not be regarded as scientific because they were not falsifiable. Hobson (2000) disputed the concept of Freudian dream interpretation arguing that dreams are simply a manifestation of the brain in sleep, so that interpreting them is like interpreting an ink blob. Domhoff (2003) wrote that symbolic dream interpretation is a type of fool’s gold. These criticisms aim at the larger question of whether Freudian dream interpretation has any validity at all, rather than at any particular element of his theory. Lear (2005) on the other hand, aims at only a particular aspect of Freud’s dream theory, but in so doing, undermines its overall validity as Freud presented it, because he attacks Freud’s logic. This is different to claims based on indefinite evidence, because it is postulating clear, identifiable evidence that Freud’s theory doesn’t make sense. He divides Freud’s theory into two parts, with the second being the additions related to symbolism after 1900. Lear (2005) attempts to make the illogical overall theory logical, by ‘surgical incision’, or the removal of the post 1900 additions.

The potential teeth of this claim lies in the fact that Lear’s criticism has been based on an analysis of the logic of KNOWN FACTS, and an illogical foundation undermines whatever structure one builds upon it. A search failed to find anyone who has addressed this issue raised by Lear, leaving it as one of the most important recent criticisms of Freud needing to be examined. The examination of Lear’s claim not only focuses attention on whether Freud’s dream theory has any validity at all, it also focuses attention on the bigger issue of the logic of symbolic dream interpretation generally, and whether symbolic dream interpretation has a logical place in psychotherapy. My examination of Lear’s claim leads me to conclude that Lear (2005) is incorrect in his assertion, and that symbolic interpretation of dreams has a legitimate place in Freudian theory and practice. I am also led to conclude that the main tenets of Freudian dream theory maintain an inherent cohesion and logic.