Today I teach “Irma.” What are the main points?
•“There is no spoon.” The dream has no physical existence in any way that we can prove or use, and it must be approached primarily with interpretive skills, skills more humanistic and literary than scientific and neuro-biological
•At the semantic level, the “Irma” dream is about the tensions between personal and professional life.
•Considered cinematically, the images draw the viewer from a large social scene (the formal birthday party) to a series of tête-à–tête conversations – interrupted by images of the body: mouth, nose, chest.
•Two verbal images ("If you've got pains ...," "It's no matter, dysentery ...") intrude on the visual flow of the dream, and both are revealing, having to do respectively with reproach and malpractice.
•Freud’s associations and cogitations about the dream form a running commentary on it, and the summary of this commentary –cast in academic language – is the dream’s interpretation.
•A convincing portrayal of both the dream and its commentary, leaving the interpretation implicit, would read more like Nabokov’s Ada than James’s Psychology, to say nothing of The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
•Your main job in Psychology is to master the straight-forward, flat-footed JPSP syle, even as you learn to read James and to delight in Nabokov.
See my extended notes on Freud's Interpretation of Dreams.