NEW RESEARCH: Persisting myths surrounding Sigmund Freud’s dream theory: a reply to Hobson’s critique of the scientific status of psychoanalysis.

Claudio Colace and I have published two new papers discussing the theoretical and evidential status of Freudian dream theory:

  • Colace, C. & Boag, S. (2015). Persisting myths surrounding Sigmund Freud’s dream theory: a reply to Hobson’s critique of the scientific status of psychoanalysis. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 51, 107-125.
  • Colace, C. & Boag, S. (2015). The empirical study of infantile wish-fulfillment dreams: a reply to response of Allan J. Hobson. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 51, 132-134.

Find copies of the papers here:

Colace & Boag 2015a and Colace & Boag 2015b


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 From an empirical viewpoint, these studies show that Freudian dream theory is not even remotely scientifically outdated and obsolete.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.

These two papers involve a dialogue with J. Allan Hobson’s critique of Freudian dream theory. Our first paper is a response to J. Allan Hobson’s paper:

  • Hobson, J. A. (2013). Ego Ergo Sum: Toward a Psychodynamic Neurology. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 49(2), 142-164.

He then replied to our response:

  • Hobson, J. A.  (2015). Dreams and consciousness: response to Colace and Boag. Contemporary Psychoanalysis.

What is interesting about the discussion is that in many respects Hobson agrees with much of Freudian dream theory. The sticking point, however, appears to be the contribution of repression to dreaming.

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