The following 1913 review of the first English translation of Freud’s groundbreaking work The Interpretation of Dreams (published in German in 1899) was the first evaluation of the doctor’s work to appear in The Nation. The article’s author, Henry Rutgers Marshal, was equally distinguished as an architect and a psychologist. Contrary to Marshal, however, Freud’s theory of dreams has not yet been forgotten.
One cannot close this book without a sense of depression. The author is a man of great ability, who has won distinction in connection with his use of the psycho-analytic method, and who is believed to have done great service in his special field by a large group of his professional brethren, not all of whom, however, agree that his theoretical positions are valid. But his mode of thought as displayed in this book is indicative of a total lack of the characteristics which lead to scientific advance. In it he portrays himself as one whose scientific judgment cannot be trusted, and this must lead even his most enthusiastic followers to question whether they are not overestimating the value of his work in other directions. He presents an example of the dangers connected with the extreme specialization characteristic of the educational systems of our day, which fails to strengthen the sense of logical values so important to the development of a true science. Their appreciation would have led our author to use caution in the adoption of doubtful hypotheses, and to hesitate to take the attitude of a special pleader who emphasizes all evidence favorable to the hypothesis adopted, and minimizes, if he does not overlook entirely, all evidence that is unfavorable. The value of his practical work in relation to hysteria and kindred problems will be remembered long after his theory of dreams has been forgotten.
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