Sample Questions

1. Discuss the relationship between Freud's fourth metapsychological paper (on dreams) with his initial work "The Interpretation of Dreams".

Look at the conclusion that Freud drew in this first work (see our study guide or the full text). Namely the distinction he drew between the 'manifest dream content' and the 'latent dream thoughts', and his proposal that these latent dream thoughts were transformed into manifest dream content via the 'dream- work' processes of condensation, displacement, representation by symbols and reversal. He also looks at the sources of dreams, and proposes that most dreams are constructed around the fulfilment of a wish, although a few can be seen to be unsolved problems and worries carrying over from the day. He also looks at the role of repression and its relation to the material used in dreams, as well as the synthesis of conscious and unconscious data in dreams.

However in this Metapsychological Supplement to the Theory of Dreams, his focus is slightly shifted. Concentrate on isolating the similarities and differences between the two papers. In this paper he looks more at the findings of comparing certain states and normal pathological affections - dreaming being an instance of this.

In this paper he looks at the regression to childhood that he noted before - but here he sees sleep more as a return to the intra-uterine existence - fulfilling the conditions of warmth and repose and exclusion of stimuli. He also therefore finds an important similarity between sleep and psychoneurotic states, in that in each a temporal regression is found, in dreams one restores the ego's primitive narcissism and the other returns to the state of hallucinatory satisfaction of wishes. In this paper Freud introduces another new idea - that of projection in sleep - in which internal processes are externalised. Look at the detailed interest that Freud shows in the relation of schizophrenia, its hallucinatory processes and 'reality testing', to sleep and dreams. Why is this discussed in much more detail here than previously?

Freud concludes this second paper on dreams with the idea that they are residues of mental activity, made possible by incomplete establishment of narcissistic state, and thus can be seen to relate to the topographical process of regression found in mental disturbances.

Thus it can be seen that his two accounts have different areas of emphasis. Why should this be? Have Freud's further 15 years of clinical experience, given his writing a more psychopathological basis? Very likely. Is this bias good though? In sum it seems that the two papers are different especially with respect to their emphasis and direction, however developmental trends from the first top the second can be seen, so whilst their contents are different relations can be seen.

2. How does an unconscious instinct become a conscious idea?

Look at the various points of view of the unconscious the topographical versus temporal and functional hypotheses. What does the content of the unconscious consist of? What does the content of the conscious consist of? What mechanisms and vicissitudes does Freud cite as influential between the two? What is the role played by the Preconscious in the transition of an instinct through to consciousness?

Having described these details, it remains to note that it is also interesting to note the relation of these ideas to the id. Ego and super-ego, and the other forces and conflicts surrounding the mental structure. In conclusion, Freud's suggestions surrounding unconscious and conscious thoughts seem justified yet they must not be looked at in isolation as there are alternative and more contemporary versions to consider too.

3. Is it true to say that Melancholia is simply an extreme instance of the ambivalence of love and hate?

Define Melancholia, and define the ambivalence of instincts and Freud's views of the particular instances of love and hate.

Look at the relation between mourning and 'how' it does with melancholia, does this illustrate the mechanisms underlying melancholia? If so, are they in line with those concerned with ambivalent emotions?

  By PanEris using Melati.

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