After a detailed discussion of the significance of translation as a critical concept in psychoanalysis, Patrick Mahony proceeds to a comprehensive examination of 'free association', the cornerstone of psychoanalytic method.
Next follows the consideration of free association in its relation to scientific rhetorical, expressive and literary discourse. Mahony then begins a detailed study of certain aspects of the text of Freud's Interpretation of Dreams and of issues involved in the oral reporting of dreams. Attention is subsequently turned to the analysis of Freud's own writing in general, and specifically to Totem and Taboo.
Finally, the author shows how his ideas can illuminate literary classics (by Villon, Shakespeare, Kafka, and Jonson) and the debate about whether there is anything specific to women's discourse.