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Anspaugh, K. (1995). Repression or Suppression? Freud's Interpretation of the Dream of Irma's Injection. Psychoanal. Rev., 82(3):427-442.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Review, 82(3):427-442

Repression or Suppression? Freud's Interpretation of the Dream of Irma's Injection

Kelly Anspaugh

Every dream has a meaning, although a hidden one.

— Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams

Yet may not my unconscious breast

Harbour some guilt to me unknown?

Some wish impure, which unreprest

You blush to see, and I to own?

— Matthew Lewis, The Monk

Wishful Thinking: the Secret of the Dream

Any serious “return to Freud” must take into account the specimen dream of psychoanalysis, otherwise known as the “dream of Irma's injection” (Freud, 1965, pp. 128-154). Freud himself insisted on its monumental status: in his letter of June 1900 to his confidant Wilhelm Fliess, he anticipates the placement of a “marble tablet” on the house where he dreamt the dream, bearing the following inscription: “Here, on July 24th, 1895, the secret of the dream revealed itself to Dr. Sigm. Freud” (Freud, 1985, p. 417). Although Freud goes on to say of this prophecy that, at the time, there was “little prospect” of its fulfillment, such a tablet did appear in its appointed place on May 6, 1977 (1985, p. 418). The power of Freud's discourse is such that it can make dreams — at least Freud's dreams — come true.

Freud's dream of Irma has received a good deal of attention lately within the context of the Emma Eckstein controversy. Eckstein was a patient whom Freud referred to Fliess for an operation that Fliess botched, nearly resulting in Eckstein's death.

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