Freud’s theories are anything but theoretical.
He was moved by the fact that there always seemed to be a close connection between his patients’ dreams and their mental abnormalities, to collect thousands of dreams and to compare them with the case histories in his possession.
He did not start out with a preconceived bias, hoping to find evidence which might support his views. He looked at facts a thousand times “until they began to tell him something.”
His attitude toward dream study was, in other words, that of a statistician who does not know, and has no means of foreseeing, what conclusions will be forced on him by the information he is gathering, but who is fully prepared to accept those unavoidable conclusions.
This was indeed a novel way in psychology. Psychologists had always been wont to build, in what Bleuler calls “autistic ways,” that is through methods in no wise supported by evidence, some attractive hypothesis, which sprung from their brain, like Minerva from Jove’s brain, fully armed.
After which, they would stretch upon that unyielding frame the hide of a reality which they had previously killed.
It is only to minds suffering from the same distortions, to minds also autistically inclined, that those empty, artificial structures appear acceptable molds for philosophic thinking.
The pragmatic view that “truth is what works” had not been as yet expressed when Freud published his revolutionary views on the psychology of dreams.
Five facts of first magnitude were made obvious to the world by his interpretation of dreams.
First of all, Freud pointed out a constant connection between some part of every dream and some detail of the dreamer’s life during the previous waking state. This positively establishes a relation between sleeping states and waking states and disposes of the widely prevalent view that dreams are purely nonsensical phenomena coming from nowhere and leading nowhere.