The aim of this book is to give a sane interpretation of the significance of dreams based upon a thorough investigation of the incidents of each dream recorded and of the circumstances under which it occurred. Dr Rivers especially calls attention (a) to the inadequacy of Freud's theory of wish fulfilment as an explanation of dreams ; (b) to the exaggerated importance assigned by the psycho analytic school to incidents in the dreamer's early life to the neglect of recent conflicts, which he regards as more important as causal agents ; and (c) especially to the fallacies of Freudian inter pretations of symbolism, and particularly of sexual motives and symbols, which have been responsible for most of the opposition to Freud's teaching. Dr Rivers's chief argument is that dreams are attempts to solve in sleep conflicts which are disturbing the waking life. The character of the dream, at any rate in so far as its emotional aspect is concerned, depends upon the degree in which this attempted solution is successful. This scheme of interpretation is an attempt to bring dreams within a formula closely comparable with that by which in his book Instinct and the Unconscious Dr Rivers explained the psychoses and psycho-neuroses. These were interpreted as attempts, successful or unsuccessful, so far as the patient's comfort is concerned, to solve conflicts which are disturbing the normal course of life.
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