2/21: Dreams and Transference

Welcome to the course blog. Please read between class sessions. This is where you’ll post your discussion questions and where I’ll post information that pertains to the class.

So, post a question as a comment to this post. It should be in response to the readings for Tuesday’s class – thus the subject line above. You only need to respond to one of the readings and it needs to be in the form of a question aimed at helping generate a class discussion. The question needs to be substantial and needs to engage with ideas in the reading. Keep it short and to the point. You may refer to the reading directly if that helps you formulate an excellent question.

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See you in class Tuesday.




  1. Freud’s claims to understand Dora’s unconcious better than she understands her own seems to create more internal conflict for Dora, especially in regard to supposed hidden desires. Specifically, why does Freud claim to understand her unconscious better than she does? Is this feeling a product of being a respected psychoanalyst or does gender have a role in this? How would a feminist approach respond to this?

  2. In the piece, Freud introduces an ironic notion regarding Dora’s role as a bargaining chip in the peculiar love-rectangle as he states, “Of course, the two men never concluded a formal agreement in which she was the object of barter… In fact, however, each of the two men avoided drawing any conclusions from the conduct of the other that might be unwelcome to his own desires” (Freud, 28). What might the silent complacency of Herr K. and Dora’s father say about their own psyches? What could this silent trade-off suggest about Dora’s position as a young woman within an overarching system of societal and familial patriarchy while she also tries to make sense of her sexual traumas?

  3. In the Psychoanalysis video, a woman discusses how Freud approaches his analysis backwards. I would have to agree. It seems as though he finds a conclusion and then uses his Psychoanalysis to justify what he has already concluded. This can clearly be seen in his analysis of Dora’s two dreams.

    Is this the best approach to psychoanalysis in terms of accuracy/lack of bias? What other flaws can we see in Freud’s analysis of Dora’s dreams?

  4. Freud states, “the usual sexual attraction brought father and daughter closer together on one side of the family, mother and son on the other.” He believes sexual attraction influences the dynamic of the relationship. What do you think of this theory? Do you agree or disagree?

  5. Freud analyzes Dora’s dreams as a type of jealousy she undergoes when experiencing the relationship her father has with Frau. He mentions that he did not like the results of this case. Why do you think he had a bad conclusion? Does he also see these as important?

  6. Throughout the case study, Dora struggles against the male authority figures in her life such as her father, Herr K., and Freud and attempts to assert her own voice. How does Freud’s psychoanalysis reflect 19th-century attitudes towards women?

  7. Freud writes, “the denial that you hear from patients after you confront their conscious perception with repressed ideas confirms the repression and its firm establishment, and so to speak tests its strength” (Freud, 49). How does Freud’s idea about denial effect the client/ doctor relationship when it comes to transference?

  8. When Herr K. kissed dora and she had said she felt repulsed, why was he surprised and almost disbelieving? “This reaction confirms for Freud that Dora is a hysteric, because a normal girl would have felt sexually excited.” What does this reveal about his thoughts of Dora?

  9. According to Freud, “The mental events in all psycho-neuroses proceed for a considerable distance along the same lines before any question arises of the ‘somatic compliance’ which may afford the unconscious mental processes a physical outlet… a phobia, perhaps, or an obsession – in short, a physical symptom” (Freud, 41-42). In reference to Freud’s statement, what is the relationship between the mind and the body and how strong of an influence does the mind have over the body?

  10. Why do you think that Dora decided to end her treatment early? Could Freud have done something different with his treatment?

  11. In the beginning of Chapter 2 Freud writes, “This has not in fact been an unnecessary piece of work; it was an essential preliminary. It is equally the case that when we try to understand the real dreams of a real person we have to concern ourselves intensively with his character and his career, and we must get to know not only his experiences shortly before the dream but also those dating far back into the past. It is even my view that we are still not free to turn to our proper task, but that we must longer a little more over the story itself and carry out some further preliminary work.” (pg. 41)

    I thought in the process of understanding dreams you have to not only know what the dream itself is but understand the person. When we know someone inside and out it is easier to be able to try and interpret what their dreams are about. My question for this would be how long does it really take to fully understand the complexity of someones mental state; especially when we need that to be able to interpret ones dreams?

  12. Would Dora’s dream make more sense if it were interpreted another way besides the Freudian? Would Gestalt theory of dream analysis be more suitable?

  13. Freud writes, “she would have seen what a strong weapon she had in her hands, and would certainly not shrink from exploiting all the possibilities of illness on every future occasion” (33). Here, Dora has the complete ability to use her “illness” as an advantage over the adults in her life. Is this beneficial or detrimental?

  14. What does the Jewel-Box represent in the first dream? (P.55).

    Is the Second Dream a representation of Vengeance? And what does the smoke represent according to Freud?

  15. Freud often presents his theories as a matter of fact rather than an idea or proposed thought. When he speaks about the natural sexual attraction between primary caregiver and off spring, Freud speaks about the dynamic affecting the relationship; but, this is presumptuous of gender and prescribed sexuality. How does the dynamic differ for individuals outside of the hetero- normative? Does the dynamic remain the same if the attraction were to a parent of the same sex ?

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