Daniel Wilson: Freud, the Dream, and the Free Drive

Talk occurred: December 14th, 2020


In his neurobiological Project for a Scientific Psychology Freud describes human desire as mobilized by an energy that is not determined by anything in the environment.  This energy pushes us to act beyond what we are conscious of or can perceive, and beyond any limit in the organism, in the law, or in unwritten social norms or ideals.  In The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud turns to the dream to ask how the drive acts, in each of our lives, in conflict with what the ego wants in the social world.  While Freud’s own clinical work often aims to help his patients improve repression so that they suffer less within the limits of their social lives, Freud’s own research follows the excess of the drive wherever it leads, beyond familial or social obligations.

In his presentation Daniel Wilson outlined the logic of Freud’s pre-psychoanalytic Project, then turned to Freud’s interpretation of one of his own dreams, in The Interpretation of Dreams, to look at how a dream responds to, and thus gives access to, an unconscious act. 

Daniel Wilson (PhD English Literature) is interested in the contemporary psychoanalytic clinic and the relationship of Freud’s and Lacan’s metapsychology to the history and philosophy of science.  He has published articles on psychoanalysis and energetics, sexuality and the drive, and Freud’s relationship to Lamarck, in journals such as  (a): the journal of culture and the unconscious, differences, Konturen and Penumbr(a) (forthcoming).