31 The Interpretations of Dreams 1900 FIVE YEARS AFTER the discovery of X rays let us see inside our bodies, Viennese neurologist Sigmund Freud opened up our minds. The Interpretation of Dreams, published in 1900, changed the psychological and cultural landscape of the modern world.
In it and later works, Freud claimed that dreams were ordered clues to our unconscious self--the part of our mind containing repressed wishes, traumas and desires too frightening to acknowledge. Though Nietzsche and others had hypothesized about the unconscious, Freud pioneered a systematic way to access it. He saw the human psyche as a battleground for the primitive, aggressive, sexually driven beast and the socialized adult self within us. (Children were complicated beings with urges--including sexual ones--at predictable stages.) Through a "talking cure," a patient could gain insight into and control over his unconscious drives.