Persisting myths surrounding Sigmund Freud's dream theory: A reply to Hobson's critique of the scientific status of psychoanalysis

Claudio Colace*, Simon Boag

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    This article replies directly to the two cornerstones of Hobson's legendary transposition of Freud's dream theory, that is, the theory's presumed empirical untestability and its scientific obsolescence or replaceability in the scientific arena. After an outline of Freudian dream theory, empirical data coming from two research paradigms ("children's dreams" and "drug dreams") are reported. From a theoretical-epistemological point of view, the studies show that Freud's dream theory includes clear "potential falsifiers," that is, in Popper's terms, certain events, which if found to be true, would unequivocally show Freud to be wrong. This challenges Hobson's accusation concerning the empirical untestability of Freud dream theory. From an empirical viewpoint, these studies show that Freudian dream theory is not even remotely scientifically outdated and obsolete. The results of these studies are consistent with the cornerstones of Freudian dream theory (e.g., the hypothesis of dreams as wish-fulfillment, the disguise-censorship model) and suggest the viability and worth of further investigation in this arena. Indeed, Freud's dream theory is alive and useful in explaining the phenomenon of dreams in various fields of application. These authors believe that J. A. Hobson's dismissal of Freudian dream theory is thus misguided and premature because, to date, the findings indicate that Freud was essentially correct.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)107-125
    Number of pages19
    JournalContemporary Psychoanalysis
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


    • dream
    • psychoanalysis
    • dream research
    • children's dreams
    • disguise-censorship model


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