Sigmund Freud on Cocaine, Dreams and Our Unconscious Selves

On this day, way back in 1899, one of the most quoted, and the first modern book on dream interpretation – Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams was first released. Revolutionary back then, it has become the reference point and the birthplace of modern psychoanalysis.

Little is known that the research and work itself was made while dr. Freud was under influence of cocaine, a mere sedative back in the day, used in surgical procedures. It was Sigmund Freud who advocated its use for its undoubted benefits.

Sigmund Freud in his office

“I was making frequent use of cocaine at that time … I had been the first to recommend the use of cocaine, in 1885, and this recommendation had brought serious reproaches down on me.”

He even made a reference to cocaine through dreaming.

“I had thought about cocaine in a kind of day-dream.” 

It further shows how this was never used as an excuse to inactivity – as many addictions are… on the contrary, Freud, in his own words, states:

“Conservatism, however, is too often a welcome excuse for lazy minds, loath to adapt themselves to fast changing conditions.”

… and continues on quite a peculiar opinion on nihilism

“The dream has a very striking way of dealing with the category of opposites and contradictions. This is simply disregarded. To the dream ‘No’ does not seem to exist. In particular, it prefers to draw opposites together into a unity or to represent them as one.”

Sigmund Freud in his office

It is impossible to define whether this all was a mere saying of a pure genius, or there was a part of a cocaine talk in it, but we must admit that saying

“By exposing the hidden dream-thoughts, we have confirmed in general that the dream does continue the motivation and interests of waking life, for dream-thoughts are engaged only with what seems to be important and of great interest to us.”

in addition to

“The dream shows how recollections of one’s everyday life can be worked into a structure where one person can be substituted for another, where unacknowledged feelings like envy and guilt can find expression, where ideas can be linked by verbal similarities, and where the laws of logic can be suspended.”

indeed is the real basis for modern psychoanalysis. It is impossible to even imagine how would the today’s world look like without the works of dr. Sigmund Freud. However, we can find a consolation in his statement that

“Nothing that is mentally our own can ever be lost.”

Regardless of our personal opinion, we all have to agree on the saying that

“Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious.”

Thank you, dr. Freud.