November 4, 1899: Sigmund Freud’s book The Interpretation of Dreams is first published in German and post-dated to 1900. Freud was an Austrian neurologist who took up the study of brain functioning and interpretation. He was born in 1856, a brilliant child who excelled in academic endeavors. He went to medical school, one of the few options available to Jews in that place and time.
His study and lectures offered him a decent living. This book, however, was not a “best-seller” at the time of its first publication. It took several years for the first printing of 600 books to finally sell. Freud was paid around $209 for the book. He revised it a total of eight times. It was first translated into English and Russian in 1913 and six other languages by 1938.
The book discusses the idea of sublimation of thoughts by the subconscious during waking hours. At night, without strict control, the preconscious allows these thoughts to emerge in a warped sense into the conscious. One must interpret the meaning behind the warped images to understand the essence of the dreams. In this book, Freud first mentioned that sexuality was an important part of childhood – an idea that was shocking at the time. Freud called dreams the “royal road to the unconscious” which mirrored “wish fulfillment” in the awakened dreamer.
Freud first introduced the ego, super-ego, and id – his names for the conscious, preconscious, and unconscious respectively – in an essay written in 1920 called Beyond the Pleasure Principle. He expanded these ideas in a book entitled The Ego and The Id that was published in 1923.
“What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult.”
“Just as no one can be forced into belief, so no one can be forced into unbelief.”
“If you can’t do it, give up!”
“The first human who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization.”
“The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water.” – all from Sigmund Freud
Also on this day, in 1839 the Newport Rising failed miserably.