Emil Kraepelin's dream speech: a psychoanalytic interpretation

Int J Psychoanal. 2003 Oct;84(Pt 5):1281-94. doi: 10.1516/00207570360720461.


Freud's contemporary fellow psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin collected over the course of several decades some 700 specimens of speech in dreams, mostly his own, along with various concomitant data. These generally exhibit far more obvious primary-process influence than do the dream speech specimens found in Freud's corpus; but Kraepelin eschewed any depth-psychology interpretation. In this paper the authors first explore the respective orientations of Freud and Kraepelin to mind and brain, and normal and pathological phenomena, particularly as these relate to speech and dreaming. They then proceed, with the help of biographical sources, to analyze a selection of Kraepelin's deviant dream speech in the manner that was pioneered by Freud, most notably in his 'Autodidasker' dream. They find that Kraepelin's particular concern with the preservation of his rather uncommon family name--and with the preservation of his medical nomenclature, which lent prestige to that name--appears to provide a key link in a chain of associations for elucidating his dream speech specimens. They further suggest, more generally, that one's proper name, as a minimal characteristic of the ego during sleep, may prove to be a key in interpreting the dream speech of others as well.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Dreams / psychology*
  • Famous Persons*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Mind-Body Relations, Metaphysical
  • Psychiatry / history
  • Psychoanalytic Interpretation*
  • Speech*

Personal name as subject

  • Sigmund Freud
  • Emil Kraepelin