The Viennese Alienist
Just possibly my favorite thing in TAB:
MP John asks Sherlock (“man to man”) about his sexual experiences and desires and his need to be alone; and MP Sherlock answers that these questions are better suited to a Viennese alienist, i.e., Freud.
In a (very simplified) nutshell, Freudian analysis involves the attempt to cure psychological problems rooted in the unconscious by bringing unconscious thoughts into the conscious mind. Analysis seeks to break through defense mechanisms that allow the individual to repress conflict, particularly conflict with respect to sexual desire. Freud viewed dreams as the best road to the unconscious, in that they reveal the truth about sexual desire, but in a manner requiring interpretation of the symbolism inherent in dreams.
In Sherlock’s case, the “cure” will be achieved by unearthing and accepting his repressed desire for John. He needs to overcome the defense mechanisms that force him to be alone. But he’s unable to do this — to answer John’s questions about his sexual history and sexual desire — directly. Rather, those questions have to be answered through an analysis of his drug-induced dream.
And I don’t think the writers could have found a more overt way to tell us: nope, we’re not going to say it explicitly, at least not yet. Look beneath the surface. Examine the subtext. Interpret the dream.