Freud’s key dream in his book the interpretation of dreams is “The dream of Irma’s injection.”  Freud regarded this dream as his most significant and referred to it as his “specimen dream”.  In his book “dreaming reality” Grffin argues that Freud’s interpretation of the dream of Irma’s injection was “hopelessly wrong”. [pg 107]

Griffin’s theory is that dreams are “unexpressed emotionally arousing concerns” from the previous day. Griffin reinterprets Freud’s dream by using historical evidence about traumatic events in Freud’s life and the reactivation of these concerns the day before he had the dream. Griffin bases his reinterpretation on letters between Freud and Wilhelm Fliess.

Griffin concludes that Freud’s dream of ‘Irma’s injection’ is a metaphorical simulation of the traumatic events surrounding a former patient called Emma Eckstein. A patient who nearly lost her life due to a mistake by a surgeon Freud had recommended. According to Griffin, Freud’s dream is directly related to introspections about Emma the night before he had the dream of Irma’s injection


Griffin, J. & Tyrrell, I. (2004) “Dreaming Reality: How dreaming keeps us sane, or can drive us mad.” UK, HG Publishing. ISBN 1-899398-36-8