Sigmund Freud (1856–1939). The Interpretation of Dreams. 1913.
VI. The Dream-Work
We regard the dream thoughts and the dream content as two representations of the same meaning in two different languages; or to express it better, the dream content appears to us as a translation of the dream thoughts into another form of expression, whose signs and laws of composition we are to learn by comparing the original with the translation. The dream thoughts are at once intelligible to us as soon as we have ascertained them. The dream content is, as it were, presented in a picture-writing, whose signs are to be translated one by one into the language of the dream thoughts. It would of course be incorrect to try to read these signs according to their values as pictures instead of according to their significance as signs. For instance, I have before me a picture-puzzle (rebus): a house, upon whose roof there is a boat; then a running figure whose head has been apostrophised away, and the like. I might now be tempted as a critic to consider this composition and its elements nonsensical. A boat does not belong on the roof of a house and a person without a head cannot run; the person, too, is larger than the house, and if the whole thing is to represent a landscape, the single letters of the alphabet do not fit into it, for of course they do not occur in pure nature. A correct judgment of the picture-puzzle results only if I make no such objections to the whole and its parts, but if, on the contrary, I take pains to replace each picture by the syllable or word which it is capable of representing by means of any sort of reference, the words which are thus brought together are no longer meaningless, but may constitute a most beautiful and sensible expression. Now the dream is a picture-puzzle of this sort, and our predecessors in the field of dream interpretation have made the mistake of judging the rebus as an artistic composition. As such it appears nonsensical and worthless.
The first thing which becomes clear to the investigator in the comparison of the dream content with the dream thoughts is that a tremendous work of condensation has taken place. The dream is reserved, paltry, and laconic when compared with the range and copiousness of the dream thoughts. The dream when written down fills half a page; the analysis, in which the dream thoughts are contained, requires six, eight, twelve times as much space. The ratio varies with different dreams; it never changes its essential meaning, as far as I have been able to observe. As a rule the extent of the compression which has taken place is under-estimated, owing to the fact that the dream thoughts which are brought to light are considered the complete material, while continued work of interpretation may reveal new thoughts which are concealed behind the dream. We have already mentioned that one is really never sure of having interpreted a dream completely; even if the solution seems satisfying and flawless, it still always remains possible that there is a further meaning which is manifested by the same dream. Thus the amount of condensation is—strictly speaking—indeterminable. An objection, which at first sight seems very plausible, might be raised against the assertion that the disproportion between dream content and dream thought justifies the conclusion that an abundant condensation of psychic material has taken place in the formation of dreams. For we so often have the impression that we have dreamed a great deal throughout the night and then have forgotten the greater part. The dream which we recollect upon awakening would thus be only a remnant of the total dream-work, which would probably equal the dream thoughts in range if we were able to remember the former completely. In part this is certainly true; there can be no mistake about the observation that the dream is most accurately reproduced if one tries to remember it immediately after awakening, and that the recollection of it becomes more and more defective towards evening. On the other hand, it must be admitted that the impression that we have dreamed a good deal more than we are able to reproduce is often based upon an illusion, the cause of which will be explained later. Moreover, the assumption of condensation in the dream activity is not affected by the possibility of forgetting in dreams, for it is proved by groups of ideas belonging to those particular parts of the dream which have remained in the memory. If a large part of the dream has actually been lost to memory, we are probably deprived of access to a new series of dream thoughts. It is altogether unjustifiable to expect that those portions of the dream which have been lost also relate to the thoughts with which we are already acquainted from the analysis of the portions which have been preserved.
In view of the great number of ideas which analysis furnishes for each individual element of the dream content, the chief doubt with many readers will be whether it is permissible to count everything that subsequently comes to mind during analysis as a part of the dream thoughts—to assume, in other words, that all these thoughts have been active in the sleeping state and have taken part in the formation of the dream. Is it not more probable that thought connections are developed in the course of analysis which did not participate in the formation of the dream? I can meet this doubt only conditionally. It is true, of course, that particular thought connections first arise only during analysis; but one may always be sure that such new connections have been established only between thoughts which have already been connected in the dream thoughts by other means; the new connections are, so to speak, corollaries, short circuits, which are made possible by the existence of other more fundamental means of connection. It must be admitted that the huge number of trains of thought revealed by analysis have already been active in the formation of the dream, for if a chain of thoughts has been worked out, which seems to be without connection with the formation of the dream, a thought is suddenly encountered which, being represented in the dream, is indispensable to its interpretation—which nevertheless is inaccessible except through that chain of thoughts. The reader may here turn to the dream of the botanical monograph, which is obviously the result of an astonishing condensation activity, even though I have not given the analysis of it completely.
But how, then, is the psychic condition during sleep which precedes dreaming to be imagined? Do all the dream thoughts exist side by side, or do they occur one after another, or are many simultaneous trains of thought constructed from different centres, which meet later on? I am of the opinion that it is not yet necessary to form a plastic conception of the psychic condition of dream formation. Only let us not forget that we are concerned with unconscious thought, and that the process may easily be a different one from that which we perceive in ourselves in intentional contemplation accompanied by consciousness.
The fact, however, that dream formation is based on a process of condensation, stands indubitable. How, then, is this condensation brought about?
If it be considered that of those dream thoughts which are found only the smallest number are represented in the dream by means of one of its ideal elements, it might be concluded that condensation is accomplished by means of ellipsis, in that the dream is not an accurate translation or a projection point by point of the dream thoughts, but a very incomplete and defective reproduction of them. This view, as we shall soon find, is a very inadequate one. But let us take it as a starting point for the present, and ask ourselves: If only a few of the elements of the dream thoughts get into the dream content, what conditions determine their choice?
In order to gain enlightenment on this subject let us turn our attention to those elements of the dream content which must have fulfilled the conditions we are seeking. A dream to the formation of which an especially strong condensation has contributed will be the most suitable material for this investigation. I select the dream, cited on page 142, of the botanical monograph.
Dream content: I have written a monograph upon a (obscure) certain plant. The book lies before me, I am just turning over a folded coloured plate. A dried specimen of the plant is bound with every copy as though from a herbarium.
The most prominent element of this dream is the botanical monograph. This comes from the impressions received on the day of the dream; I had actually seen a monograph on the genus “cyclamen” in the show-window of a book-store. The mention of this genus is lacking in the dream content, in which only the monograph and its relation to botany have remained. The “botanical monograph” immediately shows its relation to the work on cocaine which I had once written; thought connections proceed from cocaine on the one hand to a “Festschrift,” and on the other to my friend, the eye specialist, Dr. Koenigstein, who has had a share in the utilisation of cocaine. Moreover, with the person of this Dr. Koenigstein is connected the recollection of the interrupted conversation which I had had with him on the previous evening and of the manifold thoughts about remuneration for medical services among colleagues. This conversation, then, is properly the actual stimulus of the dream; the monograph about cyclamen is likewise an actuality but of an indifferent nature; as I soon see, the “botanical monograph” of the dream turns out to be a common mean between the two experiences of the day, and to have been taken over unchanged from an indifferent impression and bound up with the psychologically significant experience by means of the most abundant associations.
Not only the combined idea, “botanical monograph,” however, but also each of the separate elements, “botanical” and “monograph,” penetrates deeper and deeper into the confused tangle of the dream thoughts. To “botanical” belong the recollections of the person of Professor Gartner (German: Gärtner=gardener), of his blooming wife, of my patient whose name is Flora, and of a lady about whom I told the story of the forgotten flowers. Gartner, again, is connected with the laboratory and the conversation with Koenigstein; the mention of the two female patients also belongs to the same conversation. A chain of thoughts, one end of which is formed by the title of the hastily seen monograph, leads off in the other direction from the lady with the flowers to the favourite flowers of my wife. Besides this, “botanical” recalls not only an episode at the Gymnasium, but an examination taken while I was at the university; and a new subject matter—my hobbies—which was broached in the conversation already mentioned, is connected by means of my humorously so-called favourite flower, the artichoke, with the chain of thoughts proceeding from the forgotten flowers; behind “artichoke” there is concealed on the one hand a recollection of Italy, and on the other a reminiscence of a childhood scene in which I first formed my connection with books which has since grown so intimate. “Botanical,” then, is a veritable nucleus, the centre for the dream of many trains of thought, which, I may assure the reader, were correctly and justly brought into relation to one another in the conversation referred to. Here we find ourselves in a thought factory, in which, as in the “Weaver’s Masterpiece”:
“Monograph” in the dream, again, has a bearing upon two subjects, the one-sidedness of my studies and the costliness of my hobbies.
The impression is gained from this first investigation that the elements “botanical” and “monograph” have been accepted in the dream content because they were able to show the most extensive connections with the dream thoughts, and thus represent nuclei in which a great number of dream thoughts come together, and because they have manifold significance for the dream interpretation. The fact upon which this explanation is based may be expressed in another form: Every element of the dream content turns out to be over-determined—that is, it enjoys a manifold representation in the dream thoughts.
We shall learn more by testing the remaining component parts of the dream as to their occurrence in the dream thoughts. The coloured plate refers (cf. the analysis on p. 145) to a new subject, the criticism passed upon my work by colleagues, and to a subject already represented in the dream—my hobbies—and also to a childish recollection in which I pull to pieces the book with the coloured plates; the dried specimen of the plant relates to an experience at the Gymnasium centering about and particularly emphasizing the herbarium. Thus I see what sort of relation exists between the dream content and dream thoughts: Not only do the elements of the dream have a manifold determination in the dream thoughts, but the individual dream thoughts are represented in the dream by many elements. Starting from an element of the dream the path of associations leads to a number of dream thoughts; and from a dream thought to several elements of the dream. The formation of the dream does not, therefore, take place in such fashion that a single one of the dream thoughts or a group of them furnishes the dream content with an abridgment as its representative therein, and that then another dream thought furnishes another abridgment as its representative—somewhat as popular representatives are elected from among the people—but the whole mass of the dream thoughts is subjected to a certain elaboration, in the course of which those elements that receive the greatest and completest support stand out in relief, analogous, perhaps, to election by scrutins des listes. Whatever dream I may subject to such dismemberment, I always find the same fundamental principle confirmed—that the dream elements are constructed from the entire mass of the dream thoughts and that every one of them appears in relation to the dream thoughts to have a multiple determination.
It is certainly not out of place to demonstrate this relation of the dream content to the dream thoughts by means of a fresh example, which is distinguished by a particularly artful intertwining of reciprocal relations. The dream is that of a patient whom I am treating for claustrophobia (fear in enclosed spaces). It will soon become evident why I feel myself called upon to entitle this exceptionally intellectual piece of dream activity in the following manner:
The dreamer is riding with much company to X-street, where there is a modest road-house (which is not the fact). A theatrical performance is being given in its rooms. He is first audience, then actor. Finally the company is told to change their clothes, in order to get back into the city. Some of the people are assigned to the rooms on the ground floor, others to the first floor. Then a dispute arises. Those above are angry because those below have not yet finished, so that they cannot come down. His brother is upstairs, he is below, and he is angry at his brother because there is such crowding. (This part obscure.) Besides it has already been decided upon their arrival who is to be upstairs and who down. Then he goes alone over the rising ground, across which X-street leads toward the city, and he has such difficulty and hardship in walking that he cannot move from the spot. An elderly gentleman joins him and scolds about the King of Italy. Finally, towards the end of the rising ground walking becomes much easier.
The difficulties experienced in walking were so distinct that for some time after waking he was in doubt whether they were dream or reality.
According to the manifest content, this dream can hardly be praised. Contrary to the rules, I shall begin with that portion which the dreamer referred to as the most distinct.
The difficulties which were dreamed of, and which were probably experienced during the dream—difficult climbing accompanied by dyspnœa—is one of the symptoms which the patient had actually shown years before, and which, in conjunction with other symptoms, was at that time attributed to tuberculosis (probably hysterically simulated). We are already from exhibition dreams acquainted with this sensation of being hindered, peculiar to the dream, and here again we find it used for the purpose of any kind of representation, as an ever-ready material. That part of the dream content which ascribes the climbing as difficult at first, and as becoming easier at the end of the hill, made me think while it was being told of the well-known masterful introduction to Sappho by A. Daudet. Here a young man carries the girl whom he loves upstairs—she is at first as light as a feather; but the higher he mounts the more heavily she weighs upon his arm, and this scene symbolises a course of events by recounting which Daudet tries to warn young men not to waste serious affection upon girls of humble origin or of questionable past. Although I knew that my patient had recently had a love affair with a lady of the theatre, and had broken it off, I did not expect to find that the interpretation which had occurred to me was correct. Moreover, the situation in Sappho was the reverse of that in the dream; in the latter the climbing was difficult at the beginning and easy later on; in the novel the symbolism serves only if what was at first regarded as easy finally turns out to be a heavy load. To my astonishment, the patient remarked that the interpretation corresponded closely to the plot of a play which he had seen on the evening before at the theatre. The play was called Round about Vienna, and treated of the career of a girl who is respectable at first but later goes over to the demi-monde, who has affairs with persons in high places, thus “climbing,” but finally “goes down” faster and faster. This play had reminded him of another entitled From Step to Step, in the advertisement of which had appeared a stairway consisting of several steps.
Now to continue the interpretation. The actress with whom he had had his most recent affair, a complicated one, had lived in X-street. There is no inn in this street. However, while he was spending a part of the summer in Vienna for the sake of the lady, he had lodged (German abgestiegen = stopped, literally stepped off) at a little hotel in the neighbourhood. As he was leaving the hotel he said to the cab-driver, “I am glad I didn’t get any vermin anyway” (which incidentally is one of his phobias). Whereupon the cab-driver answered: “How could anybody stop there! It isn’t a hotel at all, it’s really nothing but a road-house!”
The road-house immediately suggests to the dreamer’s recollection a quotation:
But the host in the poem by Uhland is an apple tree. Now a second quotation continues the train of thought:
According to the connections of the analysis we had every reason to assume that the dream went back to an impression from childhood. In this case it must have reference to the nurse of the patient, who is now a man of nearly fifty years of age. The bosom of the nurse is in reality a road-house for the child. The nurse as well as Daudet’s Sappho appears as an allusion to his abandoned sweetheart.
The (elder) brother of the patient also appears in the dream content; he is upstairs, the dreamer himself is below. This again is an inversion, for the brother, as I happen to know, has lost his social position, my patient has retained his. In reporting the dream content the dreamer avoided saying that his brother was upstairs and that he himself was down. It would have been too frank an expression, for a person is said to be “down and out” when he has lost his fortune and position. Now the fact that at this point in the dream something is represented as inverted must have a meaning. The inversion must apply rather to some other relation between the dream thoughts and dream content. There is an indication which suggests how this inversion is to be taken. It obviously applies to the end of the dream, where the circumstances of climbing are the reverse of those in Sappho. Now it may easily be seen what inversion is referred to; in Sappho the man carries the woman who stands in a sexual relation to him; in the dream thoughts, inversely, a woman carries a man, and as this state of affairs can only occur during childhood, the reference is again to the nurse who carries the heavy child. Thus the final portion of the dream succeeds in representing Sappho and the nurse in the same allusion.
Just as the name Sappho has not been selected by the poet without reference to a Lesbian custom, so the elements of the dream in which persons act above and below, point to fancies of a sexual nature with which the dreamer is occupied and which as suppressed cravings are not without connection with his neurosis. Dream interpretation itself does not show that these are fancies and not recollections of actual happenings; it only furnishes us with a set of thoughts and leaves us to determine their value as realities. Real and fantastic occurrences at first appear here as of equal value—and not only here but also in the creation of more important psychic structures than dreams. Much company, as we already know, signifies a secret. The brother is none other than a representative, drawn into the childhood scene by “fancying backwards,” of all of the later rivals for the woman. Through the agency of an experience which is indifferent in itself, the episode with the gentleman who scolds about the King of Italy again refers to the intrusion of people of low rank into aristocratic society. It is as though the warning which Daudet gives to youth is to be supplemented by a similar warning applicable to the suckling child.
In order that we may have at our disposal a third example for the study of condensation in dream formation, I shall cite the partial analysis of another dream for which I am indebted to an elderly lady who is being psychoanalytically treated. In harmony with the condition of severe anxiety from which the patient suffered, her dreams contained a great abundance of sexual thought material, the discovery of which astonished as well as frightened her. Since I cannot carry the interpretation of the dream to completion, the material seems to fall apart into several groups without apparent connection.
III. Content of the dream: She remembers that she has two June bugs in a box, which she must set at liberty, for otherwise they will suffocate. She opens the box, and the bugs are quite exhausted; one of them flies out of the window, but the other is crushed on the casement while she is shutting the window, as some one or other requests her to do (expressions of disgust).
Analysis: Her husband is away travelling, and her fourteen-year-old daughter is sleeping in the bed next to her. In the evening the little one calls her attention to the fact that a moth has fallen into her glass of water; but she neglects to take it out, and feels sorry for the poor little creature in the morning. A story which she had read in the evening told of boys throwing a cat into boiling water, and the twitchings of the animal were described. These are the occasions for the dream, both of which are indifferent in themselves. She is further occupied with the subject of cruelty to animals. Years before, while they were spending the summer at a certain place, her daughter was very cruel to animals. She started a butterfly collection, and asked her for arsenic with which to kill the butterflies. Once it happened that a moth flew about the room for a long time with a needle through its body; on another occasion she found that some moths which had been kept for metamorphosis had died of starvation. The same child while still at a tender age was in the habit of pulling out the wings of beetles and butterflies; now she would shrink in horror from these cruel actions, for she has grown very kind.
Her mind is occupied with this contrast. It recalls another contrast, the one between appearance and disposition, as it is described in Adam Bede by George Eliot. There a beautiful but vain and quite stupid girl is placed side by side with an ugly but high-minded one. The aristocrat who seduces the little goose, is opposed to the working man who feels aristocratic, and behaves accordingly. It is impossible to tell character from people’s looks. Who could tell from her looks that she is tormented by sensual desires?
In the same year in which the little girl started her butterfly collection, the region in which they were staying suffered much from a pest of June bugs. The children made havoc among the bugs, and crushed them cruelly. At that time she saw a person who tore the wings off the June bugs and ate them. She herself had been born in June and also married in June. Three days after the wedding she wrote a letter home, telling how happy she was. But she was by no means happy.
During the evening before the dream she had rummaged among her old letters and had read various ones, comical and serious, to her family—an extremely ridiculous letter from a piano-teacher who had paid her attention when she was a girl, as well as one from an aristocratic admirer.
She blames herself because a bad book by de Maupassant had fallen into the hands of one of her daughters. The arsenic which her little girl asks for recalls the arsenic pills which restored the power of youth to the Due de Mora in Nabab.
“Set at liberty” recalls to her a passage from the Magic Flute:
“June bugs “suggests the speech of Katie:
Meanwhile the speech from Tannhauser: “For you are wrought with evil passion.”
She is living in fear and anxiety about her absent husband. The dread that something may happen to him on the journey is expressed in numerous fancies of the day. A little while before, during the analysis, she had come upon a complaint about his “senility” in her unconscious thoughts. The wish thought which this dream conceals may perhaps best be conjectured if I say that several days before the dream she was suddenly astounded by a command which she directed to her husband in the midst of her work: “Go hang yourself.” It was found that a few hours before she had read somewhere that a vigorous erection is induced when a person is hanged. It was for the erection which freed itself from repression in this terror-inspiring veiled form. “Go hang yourself” is as much as to say: “Get up an erection, at any cost.” Dr. Jenkin’s arsenic pills in Nabab belong in this connection; for it was known to the patient that the strongest aphrodisiac, cantharides, is prepared by crushing bugs (so-called Spanish flies). The most important part of the dream content has a significance to this effect.
Opening and shutting the window is the subject of a standing quarrel with her husband. She herself likes to sleep with plenty of air, and her husband does not. Exhaustion is the chief ailment of which she complains these days.
In all three of the dreams just cited I have emphasized by italics those phrases where one of the elements of the dream recurs in the dream thoughts in order to make the manifold references of the former obvious. Since, however, the analysis of none of these dreams has been carried to completion, it will be well worth while to consider a dream with a fully detailed analysis, in order to demonstrate the manifold determination of its content. I select the dream of Irma’s injection for this purpose. We shall see without effort in this example that the condensation work has used more than one means for the formation of the dream.
The chief person in the content of the dream is my patient Irma, who is seen with the features which belong to her in waking life, and who therefore in the first instance represents herself. But her attitude as I examine her at the window is taken from the recollection of another person, of the lady for whom I should like to exchange my patient, as the dream thoughts show. In as far as Irma shows a diphtheritic membrane which recalls my anxiety about my eldest daughter, she comes to represent this child of mine, behind whom is concealed the person of the patient who died from intoxication and who is brought into connection by the identity of her name. In the further course of the dream the significance of Irma’s personality changes (without the alteration of her image as it is seen in the dream); she becomes one of the children whom we examine in the public dispensaries for children’s diseases, where my friends show the difference of their mental capabilities. The transference was obviously brought about through the idea of my infant daughter. By means of her unwillingness to open her mouth the same Irma is changed into an allusion to another lady who was once examined by me, and besides that to my wife, in the same connection. Furthermore, in the morbid transformations which I discover in her throat I have gathered allusions to a great number of other persons.
All these people whom I encounter as I follow the associations suggested by “Irma,” do not appear personally in the dream; they are concealed behind the dream person “Irma,” who is thus developed into a collective image, as might be expected, with contradictory features. Irma comes to represent these other persons, who are discarded in the work of condensation, in that I cause to happen to her all the things which recall these persons detail for detail.
I may also construct a collective person for the condensation of the dream in another manner, by uniting the actual features of two or more persons in one dream image. It is in this manner that Dr. M. in my dream was constructed, he bears the name of Dr. M., and speaks and acts as Dr. M. does, but his bodily characteristics and his suffering belong to another person, my eldest brother; a single feature, paleness, is doubly determined, owing to the fact that it is common to both persons. Dr. R. in my dream about my uncle is a similar composite person. But here the dream image is prepared in still another manner. I have not united features peculiar to the one with features of the other, and thereby abridged the remembered image of each by certain features, but I have adopted the method employed by Galton in producing family portraits, by which he projects both pictures upon one another, whereupon the common features stand out in stronger relief, while those which do not coincide neutralize one another and become obscure in the picture. In the dream of my uncle the blond beard stands out in relief, as an emphasized feature, from the physiognomy, which belongs to two persons, and which is therefore blurred; furthermore the beard contains an allusion to my father and to myself, which is made possible by its reference to the fact of growing grey.
The construction of collective and composite persons is one of the chief resources of the activity of dream condensation. There will soon be an occasion for treating of this in another connection.
The notion “dysentery” in the dream about the injection likewise has a manifold determination, on the one hand because of its paraphasic assonance with diphtheria, and on the other because of its reference to the patient, whom I have sent to the Orient, and whose hysteria has been wrongly recognised.
The mention of “propyls” in the dream also proves to be an interesting case of condensation. Not “propyls” but “amyls” were contained in the dream thoughts. One might think that here a simple displacement had occurred in the dream formation. And this is the case, but the displacement serves the purposes of condensation, as is shown by the following supplementary analysis. If I dwell for a moment upon the word “propyls,” its assonance to the word “propylaeum” suggests itself to me. But the propylaeum is to be found not only in Athens but also in Munich. In the latter city I visited a friend the year before who was seriously ill, and the reference to him becomes unmistakable on account of trimethylamin, which follows closely upon propyls.
I pass over the striking circumstance that here, as elsewhere in the analysis of dreams, associations of the most widely different values are employed for the establishment of thought connections as though they were equivalent, and I yield to the temptation to regard the process by which amyls in the dream thoughts are replaced by propyls, as though it were plastic in the dream content.
On the one hand is the chain of ideas about my friend Otto, who does not understand me, who thinks I am in the wrong, and who gives me the cordial that smells like amyls; on the other the chain of ideas—connected with the first by contrast—about my friend William, who understands me and who would always think I was in the right, and to whom I am indebted for so much valuable information about the chemistry of the sexual processes.
Those characteristics of the associations centering about Otto which ought particularly to attract my attention are determined by the recent occasions which are responsible for the dream; amyls belong to these elements so determined which are destined to get into the dream content. The group of associations “William” is distinctly vivified by the contrast to Otto, and the elements in it which correspond to those already excited in the “Otto” associations are thrown into relief. In this whole dream I am continually referring to a person who excites my displeasure and to another person whom I can oppose to him or her at will, and I conjure up the friend as against the enemy, feature for feature. Thus amyls in the Otto-group suggests recollections in the other group belonging to chemistry; trimethylamin, which receives support from several quarters, finds its way into the dream content. “Amyls,” too, might have got into the dream content without undergoing change, but it yields to the influence of the “William” group of associations, owing to the fact that an element which is capable of furnishing a double determination for amyls is sought out from the whole range of recollections which the name “William” covers. The association “propyls” lies in the neighbourhood of amyls; Munich with the propylæum comes to meet amyls from the series of associations belonging to “William.” Both groups are united in propyls—propylæum. As though by a compromise, this intermediary element gets into the dream content. Here a common mean which permits of a manifold determination has been created. It thus becomes perfectly obvious that manifold determination must facilitate penetration into the dream content. A displacement of attention from what is really intended to something lying near in the associations has thoughtlessly taken place, for the sake of this mean-formation.
The study of the injection dream has now enabled us to get some insight into the process of condensation which takes place in the formation of dreams. The selection of those elements which occur in the dream content more than once, the formation of new unities (collective persons, composite images), and the construction of the common mean, these we have been able to recognise as details of the condensing process. The purpose which is served by condensation and the means by which it is brought about will be investigated when we come to study the psychic processes in the formation of dreams as a whole. Let us be content for the present with establishing dream condensation as an important relation between the dream thoughts and the dream content.
The condensing activity of the dream becomes most tangible when it has selected words and names as its object. In general words are often treated as things by the dream, and thus undergo the same combinations, displacements, and substitutions, and therefore also condensations, as ideas of things. The results of such dreams are comical and bizarre word formations. Upon one occasion when a colleague had sent me one of his essays, in which he had, in my judgment, overestimated the value of a recent physiological discovery and had expressed himself in extravagant terms, I dreamed the following night a sentence which obviously referred to this treatise: “That is in true norekdal style.” The solution of this word formation at first gave me difficulties, although it was unquestionably formed as a parody after the pattern of the superlatives “colossal,” “pyramidal”; but to tell where it came from was not easy. At last the monster fell apart into the two names Nora and Ekdal from two well-known plays by Ibsen. I had previously read a newspaper essay on Ibsen by the same author, whose latest work I was thus criticising in the dream.
II. One of my female patients dreams that a man with a light beard and a peculiar glittering eye is pointing to a sign board attached to a tree which reads: uclamparia—wet.
Analysis. The man was rather authoritative looking, and his peculiar glittering eye at once recalled St. Paul’s Cathedral, near Rome, where she saw in mosaics the Popes that have so far ruled. One of the early Popes had a golden eye (this was really an optical illusion which the guides usually call attention to). Further associations showed that the general physiognomy corresponded to her own clergyman (Pope), and the shape of the light beard recalled her doctor (myself), while the stature of the man in the dream recalled her father. All these persons stand in the same relation to her; they are all guiding and directing her course of life. On further questioning, the golden eye recalled gold—money—the rather expensive psychoanalytic treatment which gives her a great deal of concern. Gold, moreover, recalls the gold cure for alcoholism—Mr. D., whom she would have married if it had not been for his clinging to the disgusting alcohol habit—she does not object to a person taking an occasional drink; she herself sometimes drinks beer and cordials—this again brings her back to her visit to St. Paul’s without the walls and its surroundings. She remembers that in the neighbouring monastery of the Three Fountains she drank a liquor made of eucalyptus by the Trappist monks who inhabit this monastery. She then relates how the monks transformed this malarial and swampy region into a dry and healthful neighbourhood by planting there many eucalyptus trees. The word “uclamparia” then resolves itself into eucalyptus and malaria, and the word “wet” refers to the former swampy nature of the place. Wet also suggests dry. Dry is actually the name of the man whom she would have married except for his over-indulgence in alcohol. The peculiar name of Dry is of Germanic origin (drei = three) and hence alludes to the Abbey of the Three (drei) Fountains above mentioned. In talking about Mr. Dry’s habit she used the strong words, “He could drink a fountain.” Mr. Dry jocosely refers to his habit by saying, “You know I must drink because I am always dry” (referring to his name). The eucalyptus also refers to her neurosis, which was at first diagnosed as malaria. She went to Italy because her attacks of anxiety, which were accompanied by marked trembling and shivering, were thought to be of malarial origin. She bought some eucalyptus oil from the monks, and she maintains that it has done her much good.
The condensation uclamparia—wet is therefore the point of junction for the dream as well as for the neurosis.
III. In a somewhat long and wild dream of my own, the chief point of which is apparently a sea voyage, it happens that the next landing is called Hearsing and the one farther on Fliess. The latter is the name of my friend living in B., who has often been the objective point of my travels. But Hearsing is put together from the names of places in the local environment of Vienna, which so often end in ing: Hietzing, Liesing, Moedling (Medelitz, “meæ deliciæ,” my own name, “my joy”) (joy = German Freude), and the English hearsay, which points to libel and establishes the relation to the indifferent dream excitement of the day—a poem in the Fliegende Blaetter about a slanderous dwarf, “Saidhe Hashesaid.” By connecting the final syllable “ing” with the name Fliess, “Vlissingen” is obtained, which is a real port on the sea-voyage which my brother passes when he comes to visit us from England. But the English for Vlissingen is Flushing, which signifies blushing and recalls erythrophobia (fear of blushing), which I treat, and also reminds me of a recent publication by Bechterew about this neurosis, which has given occasion for angry feelings in me.
IV. Upon another occasion I had a dream which consisted of two parts. The first was the vividly remembered word “Autodidasker,” the second was truthfully covered by a short and harmless fancy which had been developed a few days before, and which was to the effect that I must tell Professor N., when I saw him next: “The patient about whose condition I last consulted you is really suffering from a neurosis, just as you suspected.” The coinage “Autodidasker” must, then, not only satisfy the requirement that it should contain or represent a compressed meaning, but also that this meaning should have a valid connection with my purpose, which is repeated from waking life, of giving Professor N. his due credit.
Now Autodidasker is easily separated into author (German Autor), autodidact, and Lasker, with whom is associated the name Lasalle. The first of these words leads to the occasion of the dream—which this time is significant. I had brought home to my wife several volumes by a well-known author, who is a friend of my brother’s, and who, as I have learned, comes from the same town as I (J. J. David). One evening she spoke to me about the profound impression which the touching sadness of a story in one of David’s novels, about a talented but degenerate person, had made upon her, and our conversation turned upon the indications of talent which we perceive in our own children. Under the influence of what she had just read, my wife expressed a concern relative to our children, and I comforted her with the remark that it is just such dangers that can be averted by education. During the night my train of thoughts proceeded further, took up the concern of my wife, and connected with it all sorts of other things. An opinion which the poet had expressed to my brother upon the subject of marriage showed my thoughts a by-path which might lead to a representation in the dream. This path led to Breslau, into which city a lady who was a very good friend of ours had married. I found in Breslau Lasker and Lasalle as examples realising our concern about being ruined at the hands of a woman, examples which enabled me to represent both manifestations of this influence for the bad at once. The “Cherchez la femme,” in which these thoughts may be summed up, when taken in another sense, brings me to my brother, who is still unmarried and whose name is Alexander. Now I see that Alex, as we abbreviate the name, sounds almost like inversion of Lasker and that this factor must have taken part in giving my thoughts their detour by way of Breslau.
But this playing with names and syllables in which I am here engaged contains still another meaning. The wish that my brother may have a happy family life is represented by it in the following manner. In the artistic romance L’Œuvre, the writer, as is well known, has incidentally given an episodic account of himself and of his own family happiness, and he appears under the name of Sandoz. Probably he has taken the following course in the name transformation. Zola when inverted (as children like so much to do) gives Aloz. But that was still too undisguised for him; therefore he replaced the syllable Al, which stands at the beginning of the name Alexander, by the third syllable of the same name, sand, and thus Sandoz came about. In a similar manner my autodidasker originated.
My fancy, that I am telling Professor N. that the patient whom we had both seen is suffering from a neurosis, got into the dream in the following manner. Shortly before the close of my working year I received a patient in whose case my diagnosis failed me. A serious organic affliction—perhaps some changes in the spine—was to be assumed, but could not be proved. It would have been tempting to diagnose the trouble as a neurosis, and this would have put an end to all difficulties, had it not been for the fact that the sexual anamnesis, without which I am unwilling to admit a neurosis, was so energetically denied by the patient. In my embarrassment I called to my assistance the physician whom I respect most of all men (as others do also), and to whose authority I surrender most completely. He listened to my doubts, told me he thought them justified, and then said: “Keep on observing the man, it is probably a neurosis.” Since I know that he does not share my opinions about the etiology of neuroses, I suppressed my disagreement, but I did not conceal my scepticism. A few days after I informed the patient that I did not know what to do with him, and advised him to go to some one else. Thereupon, to my great astonishment, he began to beg my pardon for having lied to me, saying that he had felt very much ashamed; and now he revealed to me just that piece of sexual etiology which I had expected, and which I found necessary for assuming the existence of a neurosis. This was a relief to me, but at the same time a humiliation; for I had to admit that my consultant, who was not disconcerted by the absence of anamnesis, had made a correct observation. I made up my mind to tell him about it when I saw him again, and to say to him that he had been in the right and I in the wrong.
This is just what I do in the dream. But what sort of a wish is supposed to be fulfilled if I acknowledge that I am in the wrong? This is exactly my wish; I wish to be in the wrong with my apprehensions—that is to say, I wish that my wife whose fears I have appropriated in the dream thoughts may remain in the wrong. The subject to which the matter of being in the right or in the wrong is related in the dream is not far distant from what is really interesting to the dream thoughts. It is the same pair of alternatives of either organic or functional impairment through a woman, more properly through the sexual life—either tabetic paralysis or a neurosis—with which the manner of Lasalle’s ruin is more or less loosely connected.
In this well-joined dream (which, however, is quite transparent with the help of careful analysis) Professor N. plays a part not merely on account of this analogy and of my wish to remain in the wrong, or on account of the associated references to Breslau and to the family of our friend who is married there—but also on account of the following little occurrence which was connected with our consultation. After he had attended to our medical task by giving the above mentioned suggestion, his interest was directed to personal matters. “How many children have you now?”—“Six.”—A gesture of respect and reflection.—“Girls, boys?”—“Three of each. They are my pride and my treasure.”—“Well, there is no difficulty about the girls, but the boys give trouble later on in their education.” I replied that until now they had been very tractable; this second diagnosis concerning the future of my boys of course pleased me as little as the one he had made earlier, namely, that my patient had only a neurosis. These two impressions, then, are bound together by contiguity, by being successively received, and if I incorporate the story of the neurosis into the dream, I substitute it for the conversation upon education which shows itself to be even more closely connected with the dream thoughts owing to the fact that it has such an intimate bearing upon the subsequently expressed concerns of my wife. Thus even my fear that N. may turn out to be right in his remarks on the educational difficulties in the case of boys is admitted into the dream content, in that it is concealed behind the representation of my wish that I may be wrong in such apprehensions. The same fancy serves without change to represent both conflicting alternatives.
The verbal compositions of the dream are very similar to those which are known to occur in paranoia, but which are also found in hysteria and in compulsive ideas. The linguistic habits of children, who at certain periods actually treat words as objects and invent new languages and artificial syntaxes, are in this case the common source for the dream as well as for psychoneuroses.
When speeches occur in the dream, which are expressly distinguished from thoughts as such, it is an invariable rule that the dream speech has originated from a remembered speech in the dream material. Either the wording has been preserved in its integrity, or it has been slightly changed in the course of expression; frequently the dream speech is pieced together from various recollections of speeches, while the wording has remained the same and the meaning has possibly been changed so as to have two or more significations. Not infrequently the dream speech serves merely as an allusion to an incident, at which the recollected speech occurred.
Another sort of relation, which is no less significant, must have come to our notice while we were collecting examples of dream condensation. We have seen that those elements which obtrude themselves in the dream content as its essential components play a part in the dream thoughts which is by no means the same. As a correlative to this the converse of this thesis is also true. That which is clearly the essential thing in the dream thoughts need not be represented in the dream at all. The dream, as it were, is eccentric; its contents are grouped about other elements than the dream thoughts as a central point. Thus, for example, in the dream about the botanical monograph the central point of the dream content is apparently the element “botanical”; in the dream thoughts we are concerned with the complications and conflicts which result from services rendered among colleagues which put them under obligations to one another, subsequently with the reproach that I am in the habit of sacrificing too much to my hobbies, and the element “botanical” would in no case find a place in this nucleus of the dream thoughts if it were not loosely connected with it by an antithesis, for botany was never among my favourite studies. In the Sappho dream of my patient the ascending and descending, being upstairs and down, is made the central point; the dream, however, is concerned with the danger of sexual relations with persons of low degree, so that only one of the elements of the dream thoughts seems to have been taken over into the dream content, albeit with unseemly elaboration. Similarly in the dream about June bugs, whose subject is the relation of sexuality to cruelty, the factor of cruelty has indeed reappeared but in a different connection and without the mention of the sexual, that is to say, it has been torn from its context and transformed into something strange. Again, in the dream about my uncle, the blond beard, which seems to be its central point, appears to have no rational connection with the wishes for greatness which we have recognised as the nucleus of the dream thoughts. It is only to be expected if such dreams give a displaced impression. In complete contrast to these examples, the dream of Irma’s injection shows that individual elements can claim the same place in the formation of dreams which they occupy in the dream thoughts. The recognition of these new and entirely variable relations between the dream thoughts and the dream content is at first likely to excite our astonishment. If we find in a psychic process of normal life that an idea has been culled from among a number of others, and has acquired particular vividness in our consciousness, we are in the habit of regarding this result as a proof that the victorious idea is endowed with a peculiarly high degree of psychic value—a certain degree of interest. We now discover that this value of the individual elements in the dream thoughts is not preserved in the formation of the dream, or does not come into consideration. For there is no doubt as to the elements of the dream thoughts which are of the highest value; our judgment tells us immediately. In the formation of dreams those elements which are emphasized with intense interest may be treated as though they were inferior, and other elements are put in their place which certainly were inferior in the dream thoughts. We are at first given the impression that the psychic intensity of the individual ideas does not come into consideration at all for the selection made by the dream, but only their greater or smaller multiplicity of determination. Not what is important in the dream thoughts gets into the dream, but what is contained in them several times over, one might be inclined to think; but our understanding of the formation of dreams is not much furthered by this assumption, for at the outset it will be impossible to believe that the two factors of manifold determination and of integral value do not tend in the same direction in the influence they exert on the selection made by the dream. Those ideas in the dream thoughts which are most important are probably also those which recur most frequently, for the individual dream thoughts radiate from them as from central points. And still the dream may reject those elements which are especially emphasized and which receive manifold support, and may take up into its content elements which are endowed only with the latter property.
This difficulty may be solved by considering another impression received in the investigation of the manifold determination of the dream content. Perhaps many a reader has already passed his own judgment upon this investigation by saying that the manifold determination of the elements of the dream is not a significant discovery, because it is a self-evident one. In the analysis one starts from the dream elements, and registers all the notions which are connected with them; it is no wonder, then, that these elements should occur with particular frequency in the thought material which is obtained in this manner. I cannot acknowledge the validity of this objection, but shall say something myself which sounds like it. Among the thoughts which analysis brings to light, many can be found which are far removed from the central idea of the dream, and which appear distinguished from the rest as artificial interpolations for a definite purpose. Their purpose may easily be discovered; they are just the ones which establish a connection, often a forced and far-fetched one, between the dream content and the dream thoughts, and if these elements were to be weeded out, not only over-determination but also a sufficient determination by means of the dream thoughts would often be lacking for the dream content. We are thus led to the conclusion that manifold determination, which decides the selection made by the dream, is perhaps not always a primary factor in dream formation, but is often the secondary manifestation of a psychic power which is still unknown to us. But in spite of all this, manifold determination must nevertheless control the entrance of individual elements into the dream, for it is possible to observe that it is established with considerable effort in cases where it does not result from the dream material without assistance.
The assumption is not now far distant that a psychic force is expressed in dream activity which on the one hand strips elements of high psychic value of their intensity, and which on the other hand creates new values, by way of over-determination, from elements of small value, these new values subsequently getting into the dream content. If this is the method of procedure, there has taken place in the formation of the dream a transference and displacement of the psychic intensities of the individual elements, of which the textual difference between the dream and the thought content appears as a result. The process which we assume here is nothing less than the essential part of the dream activity; it merits the designation of dream displacement. Dream displacement and dream condensation are the two craftsmen to whom we may chiefly attribute the moulding of the dream.
I think we also have an easy task in recognising the psychic force which makes itself felt in the circumstances of dream displacement. The result of this displacement is that the dream content no longer resembles the core of the dream thoughts at all, and that the dream reproduces only a disfigured form of the dream-wish in the unconscious. But we are already acquainted with dream disfigurement; we have traced it back to the censorship which one psychic instance in the psychic life exercises upon the other. Dream displacement is one of the chief means for achieving this disfigurement. Is fecit, cui profuit. We may assume that dream displacement is brought about by the influence of this censor, of the endopsychic repulsion.
The manner in which the factors of displacement, condensation, and over-determination play into one another in the formation of the dream, which is the ruling factor and which the subordinate one, all this will be reserved as the subject of later investigations. For the present we may state, as a second condition which the elements must satisfy in order to get into the dream, that they must be withdrawn from the censor of resistance. From now on we shall take account of dream displacement as an unquestionable fact in the interpretation of dreams.
Besides the two factors of dream condensation and dream displacement which we have found to be active in the transformation of the latent dream material into the manifest content, we shall come in the course of this investigation upon two other conditions which exercise an unquestionable influence upon the selection of the material which gets into the dream. Even at the risk of seeming to stop our progress, I should like to glance at the processes by which the interpretation of dreams is accomplished. I do not deny that I should succeed best in making them clear, and in showing that they are sufficiently reliable to insure them against attack, by taking a single dream as a paradigm and developing its interpretation, as I have done in Chapter II. in the dream of “Irma’s Injection,” and then putting together the dream thoughts which I have discovered, and reconstructing the formation of the dream from them—that is to say, by supplementing the analysis of dreams by a synthesis of them. I have accomplished this with several specimens for my own instruction; but I cannot undertake to do it here because I am prevented by considerations, which every right-minded person must approve of, relative to the psychic material necessary for such a demonstration. In the analysis of dreams these considerations present less difficulty, for an analysis may be incomplete and still retain its value even if it leads only a short way into the thought labyrinth of the dream. I do not see how a synthesis could be anything short of complete in order to be convincing. I could give a complete synthesis only of the dreams of such persons as are unknown to the reading public. Since, however, only neurotic patients furnish me with the means for doing this, this part of the description of the dream must be postponed until I can carry the psychological explanation of neuroses far enough—elsewhere—to be able to show their connection with the subject matter under consideration.
From my attempts synthetically to construct dreams from the dream thoughts, I know that the material which is obtained from interpretation varies in value. For a part of it consists of the essential dream thoughts which would, therefore, completely replace the dream, and which would in themselves be sufficient for this replacement if there were no censor for the dream. The other part may be summed up under the term “collaterals”; taken as a whole they represent the means by which the real wish that arises from the dream thoughts is transformed into the dream-wish. A first part of these “collaterals” consists of allusions to the actual dream thoughts, which, considered schematically, correspond to displacements from the essential to the non-essential. A second part comprises the thoughts which connect these non-essential elements, that have become significant through displacement with one another, and which reach from them into the dream content. Finally a third part contains the ideas and thought connections which (in the work of interpretation) conduct us from the dream content to the intermediary collaterals, all of which need not necessarily have participated in the formation of the dream.
At this point we are interested exclusively in the essential dream thoughts. These are usually found to be a complex of thoughts and memories of the most intricate possible construction, and to possess all the properties of the thought processes which are known to us from waking life. Not infrequently they are trains of thought which proceed from more than one centre, but which do not lack points of connection; almost regularly a chain of thought stands next to its contradictory correlative, being connected with it by contrast associations.
The individual parts of this complicated structure naturally stand in the most manifold logical relations to one another. They constitute a foreground or background, digressions, illustrations, conditions, chains of argument, and objections. When the whole mass of these dream thoughts is subjected to the pressure of the dream activity, during which the parts are turned about, broken up, and pushed together, something like drifting ice, there arises the question, what becomes of the logical ties which until now had given form to the structure? What representation do “if,” “because,” “as though,” “although,” “either—or,” and all the other conjunctions, without which we cannot understand a phrase or a sentence, receive in the dream?
At first we must answer that the dream has at its disposal no means for representing these logical relations among the dream thoughts. In most cases it disregards all these conjunctions, and undertakes the elaboration only of the objective content of the dream thoughts. It is left to the interpretation of the dream to restore the coherence which the activity of the dream has destroyed.
If the dream lacks ability to express these relations, the psychic material of which the dream is wrought must be responsible. The descriptive arts are limited in the same manner—painting and the plastic arts in comparison with poetry, which can employ speech; and here too the reason for this impotence is to be found in the material in the treatment of which the two arts strive to give expression to something. Before the art of painting had arrived at an understanding of the laws of expression by which it is bound, it attempted to escape this disadvantage. In old paintings little tags were hung from the mouths of the persons represented giving the speech, the expression of which in the picture the artist despaired of.
Perhaps an objection will here be raised challenging the assertion that the dream dispenses with the representation of logical relations. There are dreams in which the most complicated intellectual operations take place, in which proof and refutation are offered, puns and comparisons made, just as in waking thoughts. But here, too, appearances are deceitful; if the interpretation of such dreams is pursued, it is found that all of this is dream material, not the representation of intellectual activity in the dream. The content of the dream thoughts is reproduced by the apparent thinking of the dream, not the relations of the dream thoughts to one another, in the determination of which relations thinking consists. I shall give examples of this. But the thesis which is most easily established is that all speeches which occur in the dream, and which are expressly designated as such, are unchanged or only slightly modified copies of speeches which are likewise to be found in the recollections of the dream material. Often the speech is only an allusion to an event contained in the dream thoughts; the meaning of the dream is a quite different one.
I shall not deny, indeed, that there is also critical thought activity which does not merely repeat material from the dream thoughts and which takes part in the formation of the dream. I shall have to explain the influence of this factor at the close of this discussion. It will then become clear that this thought activity is evoked not by the dream thoughts, but by the dream itself after it is already finished in a certain sense.
We shall, therefore, consider it settled for the present that the logical relations among the dream thoughts do not enjoy any particular representation in the dream. For instance, where there is a contradiction in the dream, this is either a contradiction directed against the dream itself or a contradiction derived from the content of one of the dream thoughts; a contradiction in the dream corresponds to a contradiction among the dream thoughts only in a highly indirect manner.
But just as the art of painting finally succeeded in depicting in the represented persons, at least their intention in speaking—their tenderness, threatening attitude, warning mien, and the like—by other means than the dangling tag, Bo also the dream has found it possible to render account of a few of the logical relations among its dream thoughts by means of an appropriate modification of the peculiar method of dream representation. It will be found by experience that different dreams go to different lengths in taking this into consideration; while one dream entirely disregards the logical coherence of its material, another attempts to indicate it as completely as possible. In so doing the dream departs more or less widely from the subject-matter which it is to elaborate. The dream also takes a similarly varying attitude towards the temporal coherence of the dream thoughts, if such coherence has been established in the unconscious (as for example in the dream of Irma’s injection).
But what are the means by which the dream activity is enabled to indicate these relations in the dream material which are so difficult to represent? I shall attempt to enumerate these separately.
In the first place, the dream renders account of the connection which is undeniably present between all the parts of the dream thoughts by uniting this material in a single composition as a situation or process. It reproduces logical connection in the form of simultaneousness; in this case it acts something like the painter who groups together all the philosophers or poets into a picture of the school of Athens or of Parnassus, although these were never at once present in any hall or on any mountain top—though they do, however, form a unity from the point of view of reflective contemplation.
The dream carries out this method of representation in detail. Whenever it shows two elements close together, it vouches for a particularly intimate connection between those elements which correspond to them in the dream thoughts. It is as in our method of writing: to signifies that the two letters are to be pronounced as one syllable, while t with o after a free space shows that t is the last letter of one word and o the first letter of another. According to this, dream combinations are not made of arbitrary, completely incongruent elements of the dream material, but of elements that also have a somewhat intimate relation to one another in the dream thoughts.
For representing causal relation the dream has two methods, which are essentially reducible to one. The more frequent method, in cases, for example, where the dream thoughts are to the effect: “Because this was so and so, this and that must happen,” consists in making the premise an introductory dream and joining the conclusion to it in the form of the main dream. If my interpretation is correct, the sequence may also be reversed. That part of the dream which is more completely worked out always corresponds to the conclusion.
A female patient, whose dream I shall later give in full, once furnished me with a neat example of such a representation of causal relationship. The dream consisted of a short prologue and of a very elaborate but well organised dream composition, which might be entitled: “A flower of speech.” The prologue of the dream is as follows: She goes to the two maids in the kitchen and scolds them for taking so long to prepare “a little bite of food.” She also sees a great many coarse dishes standing in the kitchen, inverted so that the water may drop off them, and heaped up in a pile. The two maids go to fetch water, and must, as it were, step into a river, which reaches up to the house or into the yard.
Then follows the main dream, which begins as follows: She is descending from a high place, over balustrades that are curiously fashioned, and she is glad that her dress doesn’t get caught anywhere, &c. Now the introductory dream refers to the house of the lady’s parents. Probably she has often heard from her mother the words which are spoken in the kitchen. The piles of unwashed dishes are taken from an unpretentious earthenware shop which was located in the same house. The second part of this dream contains an allusion to the dreamer’s father, who always had a great deal to do with servant girls, and who later contracted a fatal disease during a flood—the house stood near the bank of a river. The thought which is concealed behind the introductory dream, then, is to this effect: “Because I was born in this house, under such limited and unlovely circumstances.” The main dream takes up the same thought, and presents it in a form that has been altered by the tendency to wish-fulfilment: “I am of exalted origin.” Properly then: “Because I was born in such low circumstances, my career has been so and so.”
As far as I can see, the partition of a dream into two unequal portions does not always signify a causal relation between the thoughts of the two portions. It often appears as though the same material were being presented in the two dreams from different points of view; or as though the two dreams have proceeded from two separated centres in the dream material and their contents overlap, so that the object which is the centre of one dream has served in the other as an allusion, and vice versa. But in a certain number of cases a division into shorter fore-dreams and longer subsequent dreams actually signifies a causal relation between the two portions. The other method of representing causal relation is used with less abundant material and consists in the change of one image in the dream, whether a person or a thing, into another. It is only in cases where we witness this change taking place in the dream that any causal relation is asserted to exist, not where we merely notice that one thing has taken the place of another. I said that both methods of representing causal relation are reducible to the same thing; in both cases causation is represented by a succession, now by the sequence of the dreams, now by the immediate transformation of one image into another. In the great majority of cases, of course, causal relation is not expressed at all, but is obliterated by the sequence of elements which is unavoidable in the dream process.
The dream is altogether unable to express the alternative, “either—or”; it is in the habit of taking both members of this alternative into one context, as though they were equally privileged. A classic example of this is contained in the dream of Irma’s injection. Its latent thoughts obviously mean: I am innocent of the continued presence of Irma’s pains; the fault rests either with her resistance to accepting the solution, or with the fact that she is living under unfavourable sexual conditions, which I am unable to change, or her pains are not of a hysteric nature at all, but organic. The dream, however, fulfils all these possibilities, which are almost exclusive, and is quite ready to extract from the dream-wish an additional fourth solution of this kind. After interpreting the dream I have therefore inserted the either-or in the sequence of the dream thoughts.
In the case where the dreamer finds occasion in telling the dream to use either-or: “It was either a garden or a living-room,” &c., it is not really an alternative which occurs in the dream thoughts, but an “and,” a simple addition. When we use either-or we are usually describing a characteristic of indistinctness belonging to an element of the dream which is still capable of being cleared up. The rule of interpretation for this case is as follows: The separate members of the alternative are to be treated as equals and connected by “and.” For instance, after waiting for a long time in vain for the address of my friend who is living in Italy, I dream that I receive a telegram which tells me this address. Upon the strip of telegraph paper I see printed in blue the following; the first word is blurred:
The second word, which sounds like an Italian name and which reminds me of our etymological discussions, also expresses my displeasure on account of the fact that my friend has kept his place of residence secret from me for so long a time; every member of the triple suggestion for the first word may be recognised in the course of analysis as a self-sufficient and equally well-justified starting point in the concatenation of ideas.
During the night before the funeral of my father I dreamed of a printed placard, a card or poster—perhaps something like signs in railway waiting-rooms which announce the prohibition of smoking—which reads either:
Each of the two variations has its own particular meaning, and leads us along particular paths in the interpretation of the dream. I had made the simplest kind of funeral arrangements, for I knew how the deceased thought about such matters. Other members of the family, however, did not approve of such puritanic simplicity; they thought we would have to be ashamed before the mourners. Hence one of the wordings of the dream requests the “shutting of one eye,” that is to say, that people should show consideration. The significance of the blurring, which we describe with an either-or, may here be seen with particular ease. The dream activity has not succeeded in constructing a unified but at the same time ambiguous wording for the dream thoughts. Thus the two main trains of thought are already distinguished even in the dream content.
In a few cases the division of the dream into two equal parts expresses the alternative which the dream finds it so difficult to represent.
The attitude of the dream towards the category of antithesis and contradiction is most striking. This category is unceremoniously neglected; the word “No” does not seem to exist for the dream. Antitheses are with peculiar preference reduced to unity or represented as one. The dream also takes the liberty of representing any element whatever by its desired opposite, so that it is at first impossible to tell about any element capable of having an opposite, whether it is to be taken negatively or positively, in the dream thoughts. In one of the last-mentioned dreams, whose introductory portion we have already interpreted (“because my parentage is such”), the dreamer descends over a balustrade and holds a blossoming twig in her hands. Since this picture suggests to her the angel in paintings of the Annunciation (her own name is Mary) carrying a lily stem in his hand, and the white-robed girls marching in the procession on Corpus Christi Day when the streets are decorated with green bows, the blossoming twig in the dream is very certainly an allusion to sexual innocence. But the twig is thickly studded with red blossoms, each one of which resembles a camelia. At the end of her walk, so the dream continues, the blossoms have already fallen considerably apart; then unmistakable allusions to menstruation follow. But this very twig which is carried like a lily and as though by an innocent girl, is also an allusion to Camille, who, as is known, always wore a white camelia, but a red one at the time of her menstruation. The same blossoming twig (“the flower of maidenhood” in the songs about the miller’s daughter by Goethe) represents at once sexual innocence and its opposite. The same dream, also, which expresses the dreamer’s joy at having succeeded in passing through life unsullied, hints in several places (as at the falling-off of the blossom), at the opposite train of thought—namely, that she had been guilty of various sins against sexual purity (that is in her childhood). In the analysis of the dream we may clearly distinguish the two trains of thought, of which the comforting one seems to be superficial, the reproachful one more profound. The two are diametrically opposed to each other, and their like but contrasting elements have been represented by the identical dream elements.
The mechanism of dream formation is favourable in the highest degree to only one of the logical relations. This relation is that of similarity, correspondence, contiguity, “as though,” which is capable of being represented in the dream as no other can be, by the most varied expedients. The correspondences occurring in the dream, or cases of “as though,” are the chief points of support for the formation of dreams, and no inconsiderable part of the dream activity consists in creating new correspondences of this sort in cases where those which are already at hand are prevented by the censor of resistance from getting into the dream. The effort towards condensation shown by the dream activity assists in the representation of the relation of similarity.
Similarity, agreement, community, are quite generally expressed in the dream by concentration into a unity, which is either already found in the dream material or is newly created. The first case may be referred to as identification, the second as composition. Identification is used where the dream is concerned with persons, composition where things are the objects of unification; but compositions are also made from persons. Localities are often treated as persons.
Identification consists in giving representation in the dream content to only one of a number of persons who are connected by some common feature, while the second or the other persons seem to be suppressed as far as the dream is concerned. This one representative person in the dream enters into all the relations and situations which belong to itself or to the persons who are covered by it. In cases of composition, however, when this has to do with persons, there are already present in the dream image features which are characteristic of, but not common to, the persons in question, so that a new unity, a composite person, appears as the result of the union of these features. The composition itself may be brought about in various ways. Either the dream person bears the name of one of the persons to whom it refers—and then we know, in a manner which is quite analogous to knowledge in waking life, that this or that person is the one who is meant—while the visual features belong to another person; or the dream image itself is composed of visual features which in reality are shared by both. Instead of visual features, also, the part played by the second person may be represented by the mannerisms which are usually ascribed to him, the words which he usually speaks, or the situations in which he is usually imagined. In the latter method of characterisation the sharp distinction between identification and composition of persons begins to disappear. But it may also happen that the formation of such a mixed personality is unsuccessful. The situation of the dream is then attributed to one person, and the other—as a rule the more important one—is introduced as an inactive and unconcerned spectator. The dreamer relates something like “My mother was also there” (Stekel).
The common feature which justifies the union of the two persons—that is to say, which is the occasion for it—may either be represented in the dream or be absent. As a rule, identification or composition of persons simply serves the purpose of dispensing with the representation of this common feature. Instead of repeating: “A is ill disposed towards me, and B is also,” I make a composite person of A and B in the dream, or I conceive A as doing an unaccustomed action which usually characterises B. The dream person obtained in this way appears in the dream in some new connection, and the fact that it signifies both A and B justifies me in inserting that which is common to both—their hostility towards me—at the proper place in the interpretation of the dream. In this manner I often achieve a very extraordinary degree of condensation of the dream content; I can save myself the direct representation of very complicated relations belonging to a person, if I can find a second person who has an equal claim to a part of these relations. It is also obvious to what extent this representation by means of identification can circumvent the resisting censor, which makes the dream activity conform to such harsh conditions. That which offends the censor may lie in those very ideas which are connected in the dream material with the one person; I now find a second person, who likewise has relation to the objectionable material, but only to a part of it. The contact in that one point which offends the censor now justified me in forming a composite person, which is characterised on either hand by indifferent features. This person resulting from composition or identification, who is unobjectionable to the censor, is now suited for incorporation in the dream content, and by the application of dream condensation I have satisfied the demands of the dream censor.
In dreams where a common feature of two persons is represented, this is usually a hint to look for another concealed common feature, the representation of which is made impossible by the censor. A displacement of the common feature has here taken place partly in order to facilitate representation. From the circumstance that the composite person appears to me with an indifferent common feature, I must infer that another common feature which is by no means indifferent exists in the dream thoughts.
According to what has been said, identification or composition of persons serves various purposes in the dream; in the first place, to represent a feature common to the two persons; secondly, to represent a displaced common feature; and thirdly, even to give expression to a community of features that is merely wished for. As the wish for a community between two persons frequently coincides with the exchanging of these persons, this relation in the dream is also expressed through identification. In the dream of Irma’s injection I wish to exchange this patient for another—that is to say, I wish the latter to be my patient as the former has been; the dream takes account of this wish by showing me a person who is called Irma, but who is examined in a position such as I have had the opportunity of seeing only when occupied with the other person in question. In the dream about my uncle this substitution is made the centre of the dream; I identify myself with the minister by judging and treating my colleague as shabbily as he does.
It has been my experience—and to this I have found no exception—that every dream treats of one’s own person. Dreams are absolutely egotistic. In cases where not my ego, but only a strange person occurs in the dream content, I may safely assume that my ego is concealed behind that person by means of identification. I am permitted to supplement my ego. On other occasions when my ego appears in the dream, I am given to understand by the situation in which it is placed that another person is concealing himself behind the ego. In this case the dream is intended to give me notice that in the interpretation I must transfer something which is connected with this person—the hidden common feature—to myself. There are also dreams in which my ego occurs along with other persons which the resolution of the identification again shows to be my ego. By means of this identification I am instructed to unite in my ego certain ideas to whose acceptance the censor has objected. I may also give my ego manifold representation in the dream, now directly, now by means of identification with strangers. An extraordinary amount of thought material may be condensed by means of a few such identifications.
The resolution of the identification of localities designated under their own names is even less difficult than that of persons, because here the disturbing influence of the ego, which is all-powerful in the dream, is lacking. In one of my dreams about Rome (p. 164) the name of the place in which I find myself is Rome; I am surprised, however, at the great number of German placards at a street corner. The latter is a wish-fulfilment, which immediately suggests Prague; the wish itself probably originated at a period in my youth when I was imbued with a German nationalistic spirit which is suppressed to-day. At the time of my dream I was looking forward to meeting a friend in Prague; the identification of Rome and Prague is thus to be explained by means of a desired common feature; I would rather meet my friend in Rome than in Prague, I should like to exchange Prague for Rome for the purpose of this meeting.
The possibility of creating compositions is one of the chief causes of the phantastic character so common in dreams, in that it introduces into the dream elements which could never have been the objects of perception. The psychic process which occurs in the formation of compositions is obviously the same which we employ in conceiving or fashioning a centaur or a dragon in waking life. The only difference is that in the phantastic creations occurring in waking life the intended impression to be made by the new creation is itself the deciding factor, while the composition of the dream is determined by an influence—the common feature in the dream thoughts—which is independent of the form of the image. The composition of the dream may be accomplished in a great many different ways. In the most artless method of execution the properties of the one thing are represented, and this representation is accompanied by the knowledge that they also belong to another object. A more careful technique unites the features of one object with those of the other in a new image, while it makes skilful use of resemblance between the two objects which exist in reality. The new creation may turn out altogether absurd or only phantastically ingenious, according to the subject-matter and the wit operative in the work of composition. If the objects to be condensed into a unity are too incongruous, the dream activity is content with creating a composition with a comparatively distinct nucleus, to which are attached less distinct modifications. The unification into one image has here been unsuccessful, as it were; the two representations overlap and give rise to something like a contest between visual images. If attempt were made to construct an idea out of individual images of perception, similar representations might be obtained in a drawing.
Dreams naturally abound in such compositions; several examples of these I have given in the dreams already analysed; I shall add more. In the dream on p. 296, which describes the career of my patient “in flowery language,” the dream ego carries a blossoming twig in her hand, which, as we have seen, signifies at once innocence and sexual transgression. Moreover, the twig recalls cherry-blossoms on account of the manner in which the blossoms are clustered; the blossoms themselves, separately considered, are camelias, and finally the whole thing also gives the impression of an exotic plant. The common feature in the elements of this composition is shown by the dream thoughts. The blossoming twig is made up of allusions to presents by which she was induced or should have been induced to show herself agreeable. So it was with the cherries in her childhood and with the stem of camelias in her later years; the exotic feature is an illusion to a much-travelled naturalist, who sought to win her favour by means of a drawing of a flower. Another female patient creates a middle element out of bath-houses at a bathing resort, rural outside water-closets, and the garrets of our city dwellings. The reference to human nakedness and exposure is common to the two first elements; and we may infer from their connection with the third element that (in her childhood) the garret was likewise the scene of exposure. A dreamer of the male sex makes a composite locality out of two places in which “treatment” is given—my office and the public hall in which he first became acquainted with his wife. Another female patient, after her elder brother has promised to regale her with caviare, dreams that his legs are covered thick with black caviare pearls. The two elements, “contagion” in a moral sense and the recollection of a cutaneous eruption in childhood which made her legs look as though studded over with red dots instead of black ones, have here been united with the caviare pearls to form a new idea—the idea of “what she has inherited from her brother.” In this dream parts of the human body are treated as objects, as is usually the case in dreams. In one of the dreams reported by Ferenczi 87 there occurred a composition made up of the person of a physician and a horse, over which was spread a nightshirt. The common feature in these three components was shown in the analysis after the nightshirt had been recognised as an allusion to the father of the dreamer in an infantile scene. In each of the three cases there was some object of her sexual inquisitiveness. As a child she had often been taken by her nurse to the military breeding station, where she had the amplest opportunity to satisfy her curiosity, which was at that time uninhibited.
I have already asserted that the dream has no means for expressing the relation of contradiction, of contrast, of negation. I am about to contradict this assertion for the first time. A part of the cases, which may be summed up under the word “contrast,” finds representation, as we have seen, simply by means of identification—that is, when an interchange or replacement can be connected with the contrast. We have given repeated examples of this. Another part of the contrasts in the dream thoughts, which perhaps falls into the category “turned into the opposite,” is represented in the dream in the following remarkable manner, which may almost be designated as witty. The “inversion” does not itself get into the dream content, but manifests its presence there by means of the fact that a part of the already formed dream content which lies at hand for other reasons, is—as it were subsequently—inverted. It is easier to illustrate this process than to describe it. In the beautiful “Up and Down” dream (p. 267) the representation of ascending is an inversion of a prototype in the dream thoughts, that is to say, of the introductory scene of Daudet’s Sappho; in the dream climbing is difficult at first, and easy later on, while in the actual scene it is easy at first, and later becomes more and more difficult. Likewise “above” and “below” in relation to the dreamer’s brother are inverted in the dream. This points to a relation of contraries or contrasts as obtaining between two parts of the subject-matter of the dream thoughts and the relation we have found in the fact that in the childish fancy of the dreamer he is carried by his nurse, while in the novel, on the contrary, the hero carries his beloved. My dream about Goethe’s attack upon Mr. M. (p. 345) also contains an “inversion” of this sort, which must first be set right before the interpretation of the dream can be accomplished. In the dream Goethe attacks a young man, Mr. M.; in reality, according to the dream thoughts, an eminent man, my friend, has been attacked by an unknown young author. In the dream I reckon time from the date of Goethe’s death; in reality the reckoning was made from the year in which the paralytic was born. The thought determining the dream material is shown to be an objection to the treatment of Goethe as a lunatic. “The other way around,” says the dream; “if you cannot understand the book, it is you who are dull-witted, not the author.” Furthermore, all these dreams of inversion seem to contain a reference to the contemptuous phrase, “to turn one’s back upon a person” (German: “einen die Kehrseite zeigen”; cf. the inversion in respect to the dreamer’s brother in the Sappho dream). It is also remarkable how frequently inversion becomes necessary in dreams which are inspired by repressed homosexual feelings.
Moreover, inversion or transformation into an opposite is one of the favourite methods of representation, and one of the methods most capable of varied application which the dream activity possesses. Its first function is to create the fulfilment of a wish with reference to a definite element of the dream-thoughts. “If it were only just the other way!” is often the best expression of the relation of the ego to a disagreeable recollection. But inversion becomes extraordinarily useful for the purposes of the censor, for it brings about in the material represented a degree of disfiguration which all but paralyses our understanding of the dream. For this reason it is always permissible, in cases where the dream stubbornly refuses to yield its meaning, to try the inversion of definite portions of its manifest content, whereupon not infrequently everything becomes clear.
Besides this inversion, the subject-matter inversion in temporal relation is not to be overlooked. A frequent device of dream disfigurement consists in presenting the final issue of an occurrence or the conclusion of an argument at the beginning of the dream, or in supplying the premises of a conclusion or the causes of an effect at the end of it. Anyone who has not considered this technical method of dream disfigurement stands helpless before the problem of dream interpretation.
Indeed in some cases we can obtain the sense of the dream only by subjecting the dream content to manifold inversion in different directions. For example, in the dream of a young patient suffering from a compulsion neurosis, the memory of an infantile death-wish against a dreaded father was hidden behind the following words: His father upbraids him because he arrives so late. But the context in the psychoanalytic treatment and the thoughts of the dreamer alike go to show that the sentence must read as follows: He is angry at his father, and, further, that his father is always coming home too early (i.e. too soon). He would have preferred that his father should not come home at all, which is identical with the wish (see page 219) that his father should die. As a little boy the dreamer was guilty of sexual aggression against another person while his father was away, and he was threatened with punishment in the words: “Just wait until father comes home.”
There are certain expectations which will inevitably arise at this point and which must be met. Owing to the fact that real sensations during sleep may form part of the material of the dream, it will probably be assumed that these sensations or the dream elements resulting from them are emphasized by peculiar intensity, or conversely, that what turns out to be particularly vivid in the dream is probably traceable to such real sensations during sleep. My experience has never confirmed this. It is incorrect to say that those elements of the dream which are the derivatives of impressions occurring in sleep (nervous excitements) are distinguished by their vividness from others which are based on recollections. The factor of reality is of no account in determining the intensity of dream images.
Furthermore, the expectation will be cherished that the sensory intensity (vividness) of individual dream images has a relation to the psychic intensity of the elements corresponding to them in the dream-thoughts. In the latter intensity is identical with psychic value; the most intense elements are in fact the most significant, and these are the central point of the dream. We know, however, that it is just these elements which are usually not accepted in the dream content owing to the censor. But still it might be possible that the elements immediately following these and representing them might show a higher degree of intensity, without, however, for that reason constituting the centre of the dream representation. This expectation is also destroyed by a comparison of the dream and the dream material. The intensity of the elements in the one has nothing to do with the intensity of the elements in the other; a complete “transvaluation of all psychic values” takes place between the dream-material and the dream. The very element which is transient and hazy and which is pushed into the background by more vigorous images is often the single and only element in which may be traced any direct derivative from the subject which entirely dominated the dream-thoughts.
The intensity of the elements of the dream shows itself to be determined in a different manner—that is, by two factors which are independent of each other. It is easy to see at the outset that those elements by means of which the wish-fulfilment is expressed are most distinctly represented. But then analysis also teaches us that from the most vivid elements of the dream, the greatest number of trains of thought start, and that the most vivid are at the same time those which are best determined. No change of sense is involved if we express the latter empirical thesis in the following form: the greatest intensity is shown by those elements of the dream for which the most abundant condensation activity was required. We may therefore expect that this condition and the others imposed by the wish-fulfilment can be expressed in a single formula.
The problem which I have just been considering—the causes of greater or less intensity or distinctness of individual elements of the dream—is one which I should like to guard against being confused with another problem, which has to do with the varying distinctness of whole dreams or sections of dreams. In the first case, the opposite of distinctness is blurredness; in the second, confusion. It is of course unmistakable that the intensities rise and fall in the two scales in unison. A portion of the dream which seems clear to us usually contains vivid elements; an obscure dream is composed of less intense elements. But the problem with which we are confronted by the scale, ranging from the apparently clear to the indistinct or confused, is far more complicated than that formed by variations in the vividness of the dream elements; indeed the former will be dropped from the discussion for reasons which will be given later. In isolated cases we are astonished to find that the impression of clearness or indistinctness produced by the dream is altogether without significance for its structure, and that it originates in the dream material as one of its constituents. Thus I remember a dream which seemed particularly well constructed, flawless, and clear, so that I made up my mind, while I was still in the somnolent state, to recognise a new class of dreams—those which had not been subject to the mechanism of condensation and displacement, and which might thus be designated “Fancies while asleep.” A closer examination proved that this rare dream had the same breaches and flaws in its construction as every other; for this reason I abandoned the category of dream fancies. The content of the dream, reduced to its lowest terms, was that I was reciting to a friend a difficult and long-sought theory of bisexuality, and the wish-fulfilling power of the dream was responsible for the fact that this theory (which, by the way, was not stated in the dream) appeared so clear and flawless. What I considered a judgment upon the finished dream was thus a part of the dream content, and the essential one at that. The dream activity had extended its operations, as it were, into waking thought, and had presented to me in the form of a judgment that part of the dream material which it had not succeeded in reproducing with exactness. The exact opposite of this once came to my attention in the case of a female patient who was at first altogether unwilling to tell a dream which was necessary for the analysis, “because it was so obscure and confused,” and who declared, after repeatedly denying the accuracy of her description, that several persons, herself, her husband, and her father, had occurred in the dream, and that it seemed as though she did not know whether her husband was her father, or who her father was anyway, or something of that sort. Upon considering this dream in connection with the ideas that occurred to the dreamer in the course of the sitting, it was found unquestionably to be concerned with the story of a servant girl who had to confess that she was expecting a child, and who was now confronted with doubts as to “who was really the father.” The obscurity manifested by the dream, therefore, is again in this case a portion of the material which excited it. A part of this material was represented in the form of the dream. The form of the dream or of dreaming is used with astonishing frequency to represent the concealed content.
Comments on the dream and seemingly harmless observations about it often serve in the most subtle manner to conceal—although they usually betray—a part of what is dreamed. Thus, for example, when the dreamer says: Here the dream is vague, and the analysis gives an infantile reminiscence of listening to a person cleaning himself after defecation. Another example deserves to be recorded in detail. A young man has a very distinct dream which recalls to him phantasies from his infancy which have remained conscious to him: he was in a summer hotel one evening, he mistook the number of his room, and entered a room in which an elderly lady and her two daughters were undressing to go to bed. He continues: “Then there are some gaps in the dream; then something is missing; and at the end there was a man in the room who wished to throw me out with whom I had to wrestle.” He endeavoured in vain to recall the content and purpose of the boyish fancy to which the dream apparently alludes. But we finally become aware that the required content had already been given in his utterances concerning the indistinct part of the dream. The “gaps” were the openings in the genitals of the women who were retiring: “Here something is missing” described the chief character of the female genitals. In those early years he burned with curiosity to see a female genital, and was still inclined to adhere to the infantile sexual theory which attributes a male genital to the woman.
All the dreams which have been dreamed in the same night belong to the same whole when considered with respect to their content; their separation into several portions, their grouping and number, all these details are full of meaning. and may be considered as information coming from the latent dream content. In the interpretation of dreams consisting of many principal sections, or of dreams belonging to the same night, one must not fail to think of the possibility that these different and succeeding dreams bring to expression the same feelings in different material. The one that comes first in time of these homologous dreams is usually the most disfigured and most bashful, while the succeeding is bolder and more distinct.
Even Pharaoh’s dream in the Bible of the ears and the kine, which Joseph interpreted, was of this kind. It is reported by Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, bk. ii. chap. iii.) in greater detail than in the Bible. After relating the first dream, the King said: “When I had seen this vision I awaked out of my sleep, and being in disorder, and considering with myself what this appearance should be, I fell asleep again, and saw another dream much more wonderful than the first, which did still more affright and disturb me.” After listening to the report of the dream, Joseph said, “This dream, O King, although seen under two forms, signifies one and the same issue of things.”
Jung, 99 who, in his Beitrag zur Psychologie des Gerüchtes relates how the veiled erotic dream of a school-girl was understood by her friends without interpretation and continued by them with variations, remarks in connection with reports of this dream, “that the last of a long series of dream pictures contained precisely the same thought whose representation had been attempted in the first picture of the series. The censor pushed the complex out of the way as long as possible, through constantly renewed symbolic concealments, displacements, deviations into the harmless, &c.” (l.c. p. 87). Scherner 58 was well acquainted with the peculiarities of dream disfigurement and describes them at the end of his theory of organic stimulation as a special law, p. 166: “But, finally, the phantasy observes the general law in all nerve stimuli emanating from symbolic dream formations, by representing at the beginning of the dream only the remotest and freest allusions to the stimulating object; but towards the end, when the power of representation becomes exhausted, it presents the stimulus or its concerned organ or its function in unconcealed form, and in the way this dream designates its organic motive and reaches its end.”
A new confirmation of Scherner’s law has been furnished by Otto Rank 106 in his work, A Self Interpretation Dream. This dream of a girl reported by him consisted of two dreams, separated in time of the same night, the second of which ended with pollution. This pollution dream could be interpreted in all its details by disregarding a great many of the ideas contributed by the dreamer, and the profuse relations between the two dream contents indicated that the first dream expressed in bashful language the same thing as the second, so that the latter—the pollution dream—helped to a full explanation of the former. From this example, Rank, with perfect justice, draws conclusions concerning the significance of pollution dreams in general.
But in my experience it is only in rare cases that one is in a position to interpret clearness or confusion in the dream as certainty or doubt in the dream material. Later I shall try to discover the factor in the formation of dreams upon whose influence this scale of qualities essentially depends.
In some dreams, which adhere for a time to a certain situation and scenery, there occur interruptions described in the following words: “But then it seemed as though it were at the same time another place, and there such and such a thing happened.” What thus interrupts the main trend of the dream, which after a while may be continued again, turns out to be a subordinate idea, an interpolated thought in the dream material. A conditional relation in the dream-thoughts is represented by simultaneousness in the dream (wenn—wann; if—when).
What is signified by the sensation of impeded movement, which so often occurs in the dream, and which is so closely allied to anxiety? One wants to move, and is unable to stir from the spot; or one wants to accomplish something, and meets one obstacle after another. The train is about to start, and one cannot reach it; one’s hand is raised to avenge an insult, and its strength fails, &c. We have already encountered this sensation in exhibition dreams, but have as yet made no serious attempt to interpret it. It is convenient, but inadequate, to answer that there is motor paralysis in sleep, which manifests itself by means of the sensation alluded to. We may ask: “Why is it, then, that we do not dream continually of these impeded motions?” And we are justified in supposing that this sensation, constantly appearing in sleep, serves some purpose or other in representation, and is brought about by a need occurring in the dream material for this sort of representation.
Failure to accomplish does not always appear in the dream as a sensation, but also simply as a part of the dream content. I believe that a case of this sort is particularly well suited to enlighten us about the significance of this characteristic of the dream. I shall give an abridged report of a dream in which I seem to be accused of dishonesty. The scene is a mixture, consisting of a private sanatorium and several other buildings. A lackey appears to call me to an examination. I know in the dream that something has been missed, and that the examination is taking place because I am suspected of having appropriated the lost article. Analysis shows that examination is to be taken in two senses, and also means medical examination. Being conscious of my innocence, and of the fact that I have been called in for consultation, I calmly follow the lackey. We are received at the door by another lackey, who says, pointing to me, “Is that the person whom you have brought? Why, he is a respectable man.” Thereupon, without any lackey, I enter a great hall in which machines are standing, and which reminds me of an Inferno with its hellish modes of punishment. I see a colleague strapped on to one apparatus who has every reason to be concerned about me; but he takes no notice of me. Then I am given to understand that I may now go. Then I cannot find my hat, and cannot go after all.
The wish which the dream fulfils is obviously that I may be acknowledged to be an honest man, and may go; all kinds of subject-matter containing a contradiction of this idea must therefore be present in the dream-thoughts. The fact that I may go is the sign of my absolution; if, then, the dream furnishes at its close an event which prevents me from going, we may readily conclude that the suppressed subject-matter of the contradiction asserts itself in this feature. The circumstance that I cannot find my hat therefore means: “You are not an honest man after all.” Failure to accomplish in the dream is the expression of a contradiction, a “No”; and therefore the earlier assertion, to the effect that the dream is not capable of expressing a negation, must be revised accordingly.
In other dreams which involve failure to accomplish a thing not only as a situation but also as a sensation, the same contradiction is more emphatically expressed in the form of a volition, to which a counter volition opposes itself. Thus the sensation of impeded motion represents a conflict of will. We shall hear later that this very motor paralysis belongs to the fundamental conditions of the psychic process in dreaming. Now the impulse which is transferred to motor channels is nothing else than the will, and the fact that we are sure to find this impulse impeded in the dream makes the whole process extraordinarily well suited to represent volition and the “No” which opposes itself thereto. From my explanation of anxiety, it is easy to understand why the sensation of thwarted will is so closely allied to anxiety, and why it is so often connected with it in the dream. Anxiety is a libidinous impulse which emanates from the unconscious, and is inhibited by the fore-conscious. Therefore, when a sensation of inhibition in the dream is accompanied by anxiety, there must also be present a volition which has at one tune been capable of arousing a libido; there must be a sexual impulse.
What significance and what psychic force is to be ascribed to such manifestations of judgment as “For that is only a dream,” which frequently comes to the surface in dreams, I shall discuss in another place (vide infra, p. 390). For the present I shall merely say that they serve to depreciate the value of the thing dreamed. An interesting problem allied to this, namely, the meaning of the fact that sometimes a certain content is designated in the dream itself as “dreamed”—the riddle of the “dream within the dream”—has been solved in a similar sense by W. Stekel 114 through the analysis of some convincing examples. The part of the dream “dreamed” is again to be depreciated in value and robbed of its reality; that which the dreamer continues to dream after awakening from the dream within the dream, is what the dream-wish desires to put in place of the extinguished reality. It may therefore be assumed that the part “dreamed” contains the representation of the reality and the real reminiscence, while, on the other hand, the continued dream contains the representation of what the dreamer wished. The inclusion of a certain content in a “dream within the dream” is therefore equivalent to the wish that what has just been designated as a dream should not have occurred. The dream-work utilises the dream itself as a form of deflection.
So far we have been attempting to ascertain how the dream represents the relations among the dream-thoughts, but we have several times extended our consideration to the further question of what alterations the dream material undergoes for the purposes of dream formation. We now know that the dream material, after being stripped of the greater parts of its relations, is subjected to compression, while at the same time displacements of intensity among its elements force a psychic revaluation of this material. The displacements which we have considered were shown to be substitutions of one idea for another, the substitute being in some way connected with the original by associations, and the displacements were put to the service of condensation by virtue of the fact that in this manner a common mean between two elements took the place of these two elements in the formation of the dream. We have not yet mentioned any other kind of displacement. But we learn from the analyses that another exists, and that it manifests itself in a change of the verbal expression employed for the thought in question. In both cases we have displacement following a chain of associations, but the same process takes place in different psychic spheres, and the result of this displacement in the one case is that one element is substituted for another, while in the other case an element exchanges its verbal expression for another.
This second kind of displacement occurring in dream formation not only possesses great theoretical interest, but is also peculiarly well fitted to explain the semblance of phantastic absurdity in which the dream disguises itself. Displacement usually occurs in such a way that a colourless and abstract expression in the dream-thought is exchanged for one that is visual and concrete. The advantage, and consequently the purpose, of this substitution is obvious. Whatever is visual is capable of representation in the dream, and can be wrought into situations where the abstract expression would confront dream representation with difficulties similar to those which would arise if a political editorial were to be represented in an illustrated journal. But not only the possibility of representation, but also the interests of condensation and of the censor, can be furthered by this change. If the abstractly expressed and unwieldy dream-thought is recast into figurative language, this new expression and the rest of the dream material are more easily furnished with those identities and cross references, which are essential to the dream activity and which it creates whenever they are not at hand, for the reason that in every language concrete terms, owing to their evolution, are more abundant in associations than conceptual ones. It may be imagined that in dream formation a good part of the intermediary activity, which tries to reduce the separate dream-thoughts to the tersest and simplest possible expression in the dream, takes place in the manner above described—that is to say, in providing suitable paraphrase for the individual thoughts. One thought whose expression has already been determined on other grounds will thus exert a separating and selective influence upon the means available for expressing the other, and perhaps it will do this constantly throughout, somewhat after the manner of the poet. If a poem in rhyme is to be composed, the second rhyming line is bound by two conditions; it must express the proper meaning, and it must express it in such a way as to secure the rhyme. The best poems are probably those in which the poet’s effort to find a rhyme is unconscious, and in which both thoughts have from the beginning exercised a mutual influence in the selection of their verbal expressions, which can then be made to rhyme by a means of slight remodification.
In some cases change of expression serves the purposes of dream condensation more directly, in making possible the invention of a verbal construction which is ambiguous and therefore suited to the expression of more than one dream-thought. The whole range of word-play is thus put at the service of the dream activity. The part played by words y in the formation of dreams ought not to surprise us. A word being a point of junction for a number of conceptions,.^/ it possesses, so to speak, a predestined ambiguity, and neuroses (obsessions, phobias) take advantage of the conveniences which words offer for the purposes of condensation and disguise quite as readily as the dream. That dream conception also profits by this displacement of expression is easily demonstrated. It is naturally confusing if an ambiguous word is put in the place of two ambiguous ones; and the employment of a figurative expression instead of the sober everyday one thwarts our understanding, especially since the dream never tells us whether the elements which it shows are to be interpreted literally or figuratively, or whether they refer to the dream material directly or only through the agency of interpolated forms of speech. Several examples of representations in the dream which are held together only by ambiguity have already been cited (“her mouth opens without difficulty,” in the dream of Irma’s injection; “I cannot go yet,” in the last dream reported, p. 312), &c. I shall now cite a dream in the analysis of which the figurative expression of abstract thought plays a greater part. The difference between such dream interpretation and interpretation by symbolism may again be sharply distinguished; in the symbolic interpretation of dreams the key to the symbolism is arbitrarily chosen by the interpreter, while in our own cases of verbal disguise all these keys are universally known and are taken from established customs of speech. If the correct notion occurs at the right opportunity, it is possible to solve dreams of this sort completely or in part, independently of any statements made by the dreamer.
A lady, a friend of mine, dreams: She is in the opera-house. It is a Wagnerian performance which has lasted till 7.45 in the morning. In the parquette and parterre there are tables, around which people dine and drink. Her cousin and his young wife, who have just returned from their honeymoon, sit next to her at one of these tables, and next to them sits one of the aristocracy. Concerning the latter the idea is that the young wife has brought him back with her from the wedding journey. It is quite above board, just as if she were bringing back a hat from her trip. In the midst of the parquette there is a high tower, on the top of which is a platform surrounded by an iron grating. There, high up, stands the conductor with the features of Hans Richter; he is continually running around behind the grating, perspiring awfully, and from this position conducting the orchestra, which is arranged around the base of the tower. She herself sits in a box with a lady friend (known to me). Her youngest sister tries to hand her from the parquette a big piece of coal with the idea that she did not know that it would last so long and that she must by this time be terribly cold. (It was a little as if the boxes had to be heated during the long performance.)
The dream is senseless enough, though the situation is well developed too—the tower in the midst of the parquette from which the conductor leads the orchestra; but, above all, the coal which her sister hands her! I purposely asked for no analysis of this dream. With the knowledge I have of the personal relations of the dreamer, I was able to interpret parts of it independently. I knew that she had entertained warm feelings for a musician whose career had been prematurely blasted by insanity. I therefore decided to take the tower in the parquette verbally. It was apparent, then, that the man whom she wished to see in the place of Hans Richter towered above all the other members of the orchestra. This tower must, therefore, be designated as a composite picture formed by an apposition; with its pedestal it represents the greatness of the man, but with its gratings on top, behind which he runs around like a prisoner or an animal in a cage (an allusion to the name of the unfortunate man), it represents his later fate. “Lunatic-tower” is perhaps the word in which both thoughts might have met.
Now that we have discovered the dream’s method of representation, we may try with the same key to open the second apparent absurdity,—that of the coal which her sister hands her. “Coal” must mean “secret love.”
She and her friend remain seated while her younger sister, who still has opportunities to marry, hands her up the coal “because she did not know it would last so long.” What would last so long is not told in the dream. In relating it we would supply “the performance”; but in the dream we must take the sentence as it is, declare it ambiguous, and add “until she marries.” The interpretation “secret love” is then confirmed by the mention of the cousin who sits with his wife in the parquette, and by the open love-affair attributed to the latter. The contrasts between secret and open love, between her fire and the coldness of the young wife, dominate the dream. Moreover, here again there is a person “in high position” as a middle term between the aristocrat and the musician entitled to high hopes.
By means of the above discussion we have at last brought to light a third factor, whose part in the transformation of the dream thoughts into the dream content is not to be considered trivial; it is the regard for presentability (German: Darstellbarkeit) in the peculiar psychic material which the dream makes use of,—that is fitness for representation, for the most part by means of visual images. Among the various subordinate ideas associated with the essential dream thoughts, that one will be preferred which permits of a visual representation, and the dream-activity does not hesitate promptly to recast the inflexible thought into another verbal form, even if it is the more unusual one, as long as this form makes dramatisation possible, and thus puts an end to the psychological distress caused by cramped thinking. This pouring of the thought content into another mould may at the same time be put at the service of the condensation work, and may establish relations with another thought which would otherwise not be present. This other thought itself may perhaps have previously changed its original expression for the purpose of meeting these relations half-way.
In view of the part played by puns, quotations, songs, and proverbs in the intellectual life of educated persons, it would be entirely in accordance with our expectation to find disguises of this sort used with extraordinary frequency. For a few kinds of material a universally applicable dream symbolism has been established on a basis of generally known allusions and equivalents. A good part of this symbolism, moreover, is possessed by the dream in common with the psychoneuroses, and with legends and popular customs.
Indeed, if we look more closely, we must recognise that in employing this method of substitution the dream is generally doing nothing original. For the attainment of its purpose, which in this case is the possibility of dramatisation without interference from the censor, it simply follows the paths which it finds already marked out in unconscious thought, and gives preference to those transformations of the suppressed material which may become conscious also in the form of wit and allusion, and with which all the fancies of neurotics are filled. Here all at once we come to understand Scherner’s method of dream interpretation, the essential truth of which I have defended elsewhere. The occupation of one’s fancy with one’s own body is by no means peculiar to, or characteristic of the dream alone. My analyses have shown me that this is a regular occurrence in the unconscious thought of neurotics, and goes back to sexual curiosity, the object of which for the adolescent youth or maiden is found in the genitals of the opposite sex, or even of the same sex. But, as Scherner and Volkelt very appropriately declare, the house is not the only group of ideas which is used for the symbolisation of the body—either in the dream or in the unconscious fancies of the neurosis. I know some patients, to be sure, who have steadily adhered to an architectural symbolism for the body and the genitals (sexual interest certainly extends far beyond the region of the external genital organs), to whom posts and pillars signify legs (as in the “Song of Songs”), to whom every gate suggests a bodily opening (“hole”), and every water-main a urinary apparatus, and the like. But the group of associations belonging to plant life and to the kitchen is just as eagerly chosen to conceal sexual images; in the first case the usage of speech, the result of phantastic comparisons dating from the most ancient times, has made abundant preparation (the “vineyard” of the Lord, the “seeds,” the “garden” of the girl in the “Song of Songs”). The ugliest as well as the most intimate details of sexual life may be dreamed about in apparently harmless allusions to culinary operations, and the symptoms of hysteria become practically unintelligible if we forget that sexual symbolism can conceal itself behind the most commonplace and most inconspicuous matters, as its best hiding-place. The fact that some neurotic children cannot look at blood and raw meat, that they vomit at the sight of eggs and noodles, and that the dread of snakes, which is natural to mankind, is monstrously exaggerated in neurotics, all of this has a definite sexual meaning. Wherever the neurosis employs a disguise of this sort, it treads the paths once trodden by the whole of humanity in the early ages of civilisation—paths of whose existence customs of speech, superstitions, and morals still give testimony to this day.
I here insert the promised flower dream of a lady patient, in which I have italicised everything which is to be sexually interpreted. This beautiful dream seemed to lose its entire charm for the dreamer after it had been interpreted.
(a) Preliminary dream: She goes to the two maids in the kitchen and scolds them for taking so long to prepare “a little bite of food.” She also sees a great many coarse dishes standing in the kitchen inverted so that the water may drip off them, and heaped up in a pile. Later addition: The two maids go to fetch water, and must, as it were, step into a river which reaches up into the house or into the yard.
(b) Main dream: She is descending from a high place over balustrades that are curiously fashioned or fences which are united into big squares and consist of a conglomeration of little squares. It is really not intended for climbing upon; she is worried about finding a place for her foot, and she is glad her dress doesn’t get caught anywhere, and that she remains so respectable while she is going. She is also carrying a large bough in her hand, really a bough of a tree, which is thickly studded with red blossoms; it has many branches, and spreads out. With this is connected the idea of cherry blossoms, but they look like full-bloom camelias, which of course do not grow on trees. While she is descending, she first has one, then suddenly two, and later again only one. When she arrives at the bottom of the lower blossoms they have already fallen off to a considerable extent. Now that she is at the bottom, she sees a porter who is combing—as she would like to express it—just such a tree—that is, who is plucking thick bunches of hair from it, which hang from it like moss. Other workmen have chopped off such boughs in a garden, and have thrown them upon the street, where they lie about, so that many people take some of them. But she asks whether that is right, whether anybody may take one. In the garden there stands a young man (having a personality with which she is acquainted, not a member of her family) up to whom she goes in order to ask him how it is possible to transplant such boughs into her own garden. He embraces her, whereat she resists and asks him what he means, whether it is permissible to embrace her in such a manner. He says that there is no wrong in it, that it is permitted. He then declares himself willing to go with her into the other garden, in order to show her the transplanting, and he says something to her which she does not correctly understand: “Besides this three metres—(later on she says: square metres) or three fathoms of ground are lacking.” It seems as though the man were trying to ask her something in return for his affability, as though he had the intention of indemnifying himself in her garden, as though he wanted to evade some law or other, to derive some advantage from it without causing her an injury. She does not know whether or not he really shows her anything.
I must mention still another series of associations which often serves the purpose of concealing sexual meaning both in dreams and in the neurosis,—I refer to the change of residence series. To change one’s residence is readily replaced by “to remove,” an ambiguous expression which may have reference to clothing. If the dream also contains a “lift” (elevator), one may think of the verb “to lift,” hence of lifting up the clothing.
I have naturally an abundance of such material, but a report of it would carry us too far into the discussion of neurotic conditions. Everything leads to the same conclusion, that no special symbolising activity of the mind in the formation of dreams need be assumed; that, on the contrary, the dream makes use of such symbolisations as are to be found ready-made in unconscious thought, because these better satisfy the requirements of dream formation, on account of their dramatic fitness, and particularly on account of their exemption from the censor.
Before I proceed to assign to its proper place the fourth of the factors which control the formation of the dream, I shall cite several examples from my collection of dreams for the purpose partly of illustrating the co-operation of the three factors with which we are acquainted, and partly of supplying proof for assertions which have been made without demonstration or of drawing irrefutable inferences from them. For it has been very difficult for me in the foregoing account of the dream activity to demonstrate my conclusions by means of examples. Examples for the individual thesis are convincing only when considered in connection with a dream interpretation; when they are torn from their context they lose their significance, and, furthermore, a dream interpretation, though not at all profound, soon becomes so extensive that it obscures the thread of the discussion which it is intended to illustrate. This technical motive may excuse me for now mixing together all sorts of things which have nothing in common but their relation to the text of the foregoing chapter.
We shall first consider a few examples of very peculiar or unusual methods of representation in the dream. The dream of a lady is as follows: A servant girl is standing on a ladder as though to clean the unndows, and has with her a chimpanzee and a gorilla cat (later corrected—angora cat). She throws the animals at the dreamer; the chimpanzee cuddles up to her, and this is disgusting to her. This dream has accomplished its purpose by the simplest possible means, namely by taking a mere mode of speech literally and representing it according to the meaning of its words. “Ape,” like the names of animals in general, is an epithet of opprobrium, and the situation of the dream means nothing but “to hurl invectives.” This same collection will soon furnish us with further examples of the use of this simple artifice.
Another dream proceeds in a very similar manner: A woman with a child that has a conspicuously deformed cranium; the dreamer has heard that the child got into this condition owing to its position in its mother’s womb. The doctor says that the cranium might be given a better shape by means of compression, but that would harm the brain. She thinks that because it is a boy it won’t suffer so much from deformity. This dream contains a plastic-representation of the concept: “Childish impressions,” which the dreamer has heard of in the course of explanations concerning the treatment.
In the following example, the dream activity enters upon a different path. The dream contains a recollection of an excursion to the Hilmteich, near Graz: There is a terrible storm outside; a miserable hotel—the water is dripping from the walls, and the beds are damp. (The latter part of the content is less directly expressed than I give it.) The dream signifies “superfluous.” The abstract idea occurring in the dream thoughts is first made equivocal by a certain straining of language; it has, perhaps, been replaced by “overflowing” or by “fluid” and “super-fluid (-fluous)” and has then been given representation by an accumulation of like impressions. Water within, water without, water in the beds in the form of dampness—everything fluid and “super” fluid. That, for the purposes of the dream representation, the spelling is much less regarded than the sound of words ought not surprise us when we remember that rhyme exercises similar privileges.
The fact that language has at its disposal a great number of words which were originally intended in a picturesque and concrete sense but are at present used in a faded abstract sense has in other cases made it very easy for the dream to represent its thoughts. The dream need only restore to these words their full significance, or follow the evolution of their meaning a little way back. For example, a man dreams that his friend, who is struggling to get out of a very tight place, calls upon him to help him. The analysis shows that the tight place is a hole, and that the dream uses symbolically his very words to his friend, “Be careful, or you’ll get yourself into a hole.” Another dreamer climbs upon a mountain from which he sees a very extraordinary broad view. He identifies himself with his brother who is editing a “review” which deals with relations to the Farthest East.
It would be a separate undertaking to collect such methods of representation and to arrange them according to the principles upon which they are based. Some of the representations are quite witty. They give the impression that they would have never been divined if the dreamer himself had not reported them.
1. A man dreams that he is asked for a name, which, however, he cannot recall. He himself explains that this means: It does not occur to me in the dream.
2. A female patient relates a dream in which all the persons concerned were especially big. “That means,” she adds, “that it must deal with an episode of my early childhood, for at that time all grown up people naturally seemed to me immensely big.”
The transference into childhood is also expressed differently in other dreams by translating time into space. One sees the persons and scenes in question as if at a great distance, at the end of a long road, or as if looked at through the wrong end of the opera-glass.
3. A man, who in waking life shows an inclination to abstract and indefinite expressions, but who is otherwise endowed with wit enough, dreams in a certain connection that he is at a railroad station while a train is coming in. But then the station platform approaches the train, which stands still; hence an absurd inversion of the real state of affairs. This detail is again nothing but an index to remind one that something else in the dream should be turned about. The analysis of the same dream brings back the recollection of a picture-book in which men are represented standing on their heads and walking on their hands.
4. The same dreamer on another occasion relates a short dream which almost recalls the technique of a rebus. His uncle gives him a kiss in an automobile. He immediately adds the interpretation, which I should never have found: it means Autoerotism. This might have been made as a joke in the waking state.
The dream work often succeeds in representing very awkward material, such as proper names, by means of the forced utilisation of very far-fetched references. In one of my dreams the elder Bruecke has given me a task. I compound a preparation, and skim something from it which looks like crumpled tinfoil. (More of this later on.) The notion corresponding to this, which was not easy to find, is “stanniol,” and now I know that I have in mind the name of the author Stannius, which was borne by a treatise on the nervous system of fishes, which I regarded with awe in my youthful years. The first scientific task which my teacher gave me was actually concerned with the nervous system of a fish—the Ammocœtes. Obviously the latter name could never have been used in a picture puzzle.
I shall not omit here to insert a dream having a curious content, which is also remarkable as a child’s dream, and which is very easily explained by the analysis. A lady relates: “I can remember that when I was a child I repeatedly dreamed, that the dear Lord had a pointed paper hat on his head. They used to make me wear such a hat at table very often, so that I might not be able to look at the plates of the other children and see how much they had received of a particular dish. Since I have learned that God is omniscient, the dream signifies that I know everything in spite of the hat which I am made to wear.”
Wherein the dream work consists, and how it manages its material, the dream thoughts, can be shown in a very instructive manner from the numbers and calculations which occur in dreams. Moreover, numbers in dreams are regarded as of especial significance by superstition. I shall therefore give a few more examples of this kind from my own collection.
1. The following is taken from the dream of a lady shortly before the close of her treatment:
She wants to pay for something or other; her daughter takes 3 florins and 65 kreuzer from her pocket-book; but the mother says: “What are you doing? It only costs 21 kreuzer.” This bit of dream was immediately intelligible to me without further explanation from my knowledge of the dreamer’s circumstances. The lady was a foreigner who had provided for her daughter in an educational institution in Vienna, and who could continue my treatment as long as her daughter stayed in the city. In three weeks the daughter’s school year was to end, and with that the treatment also stopped. On the day before the dream the principal of the institute had urged her to make up her mind to allow her child to remain with her for another year. She had then obviously worked out this suggestion to the conclusion that in this case she would be able to continue the treatment for one year more. Now, this is what the dream refers to, for a year is equal to 365 days; the three weeks that remain before the close of the school year and of the treatment are equivalent to 21 days (though the hours of treatment are not as many as that). The numerals, which in the dream thoughts referred to time, are given money values in the dream, not without also giving expression to a deeper meaning for “time is money.” 365 kreuzer, to be sure, are 3 florins and 65 kreuzer. The smallness of the sums which appear in the dream is a self-evident wish-fulfilment; the wish has reduced the cost of both the treatment and the year’s instruction at the institution.
II. The numerals in another dream involve more complicated relations. A young lady, who, however, has already been married a number of years, learns that an acquaintance of hers of about her own age, Elsie L., has just become engaged. Thereupon she dreams: She is sitting in the theatre with her husband, and one side of the orchestra is quite unoccupied. Her husband tells her that Elsie L. and her husband had also wanted to go, but that they had been able to get nothing but poor seats, three for 1 florin and 50 kreuzer, and of course they could not take those. She thinks that they didn’t lose much either.
Where do the 1 florin and 50 kreuzer come from? From an occurrence of the previous day which is really indifferent. The dreamer’s sister-in-law had received 150 florins as a present from her husband, and had quickly got rid of them by buying some jewelry. Let us note that 150 florins is 100 times more than 1 florin and 50 kreuzer. Whence the 3 which stands before the theatre seats? There is only one association for this, namely, that the bride is that many months—three—younger than herself. Information concerning the significance of the feature that one side of the orchestra remains empty leads to the solution of the dream. This feature is an undisguised allusion to a little occurrence which has given her husband good cause for teasing her. She had decided to go to the theatre during the week, and had been careful to get tickets a few days before, for which she had to pay the pre-emption charge. When they got to the theatre they found that one side of the house was almost empty; she certainly did not need to be in such a hurry.
I shall now substitute the dream thoughts for the dream: “It surely was nonsense to marry so early; there was no need for my being in such a hurry. From the case of Elsie L., I see that I should have got a husband just the same—and one who is a hundred times better (husband, sweetheart, treasure)—if I had only waited (antithesis to the haste of her sister-in-law). I could have bought three such men for the money (the dowry!). Our attention is drawn to the fact that the numerals in this dream have changed their meanings and relations to a much greater extent than in the one previously considered. The transforming and disfiguring activity of the dream has in this case been greater, a fact which we interpret as meaning that these dream thoughts had to overcome a particularly great amount of inner psychic resistance up to the point of their representation. We must also not overlook the circumstance that the dream contains an absurd element, namely, that two persons take three seats. We digress to the interpretation of the absurdity of dreams when we remark that this absurd detail of the dream content is intended to represent the most strongly emphasized detail of the dream thoughts: “It was nonsense to marry so early.” The figure 3 belonging to a quite subordinate relation of the two compared persons (three months’ difference in age) has thus been skilfully used to produce the nonsense demanded by the dream. The reduction of the actual 150 florins to 1 florin and 50 kreuzer corresponds to her disdain of her husband in the suppressed thoughts of the dreamer.
III. Another example displays the arithmetical powers of the dream, which have brought it into such disrepute. A man dreams: He is sitting at B——’s (a family of his earlier acquaintance) and says, “It was nonsense for you not to give me Amy in marriage.” Thereupon he asks the girl, “How old are you?” Answer: “I was born in 1882.” “Ah, then you are 28 years old.”
Since the dream occurs in the year 1898, this is obviously poor arithmetic, and the inability of the dreamer to calculate may be compared to that of the paralytic, if there is no other way of explaining it. My patient was one of those persons who are always thinking about every woman they see. The person who followed him in my office, regularly for several months, was a young lady, whom he used to meet, about whom he used to ask frequently, and to whom he was very anxious to be polite. This was the lady whose age he estimated at 28 years. So much for explaining the result of the apparent calculation. But 1882 was the year in which he had married. He had been unable to refrain from engaging in conversation with the two females whom he met at my house—two girls, by no means youthful, who alternately opened the door for him, and as he did not find them very responsive, he had given himself the explanation that they probably considered him an elderly “settled” gentleman.
IV. For another number dream with its interpretation,—a dream distinguished by its obvious determination, or rather over-determination, I am indebted to B. Dattner:
My host, a policeman in the municipal service, dreamed that he was standing at his post in the street, which was a wish-realisation. The inspector then came over to him, having on his gorget the numbers 22 and 62 or 26—at all events there were many two’s on it. Division of the number 2262 in the reproduction of the dream at once points to the fact that the components have separate meanings. It occurs to him that the day before, while on duty, they were discussing the duration of their time of service. The occasion for this was furnished by an inspector who had been pensioned at 62 years. The dreamer had only completed 22 years of service, and still needed 2 years and 2 months to make him eligible for a 90 per cent. pension. The dream first shows him the fulfilment of a long wished for wish, the rank of inspector. The superior with 2262 on his collar is himself; he takes care to do his duty on the street, which is another preferred wish; he has served his 2 years and 2 months, and can now be retired from the service with full pension, like the 62-year-old inspector.
If we keep in mind these examples and similar ones (to follow), we may say: Dream activity does not calculate at all, whether correctly or incorrectly; it joins together in the form of a calculation numerals which occur in the dream thoughts, and which may serve as allusions to material which is incapable of being represented. It thus utilises numerals as material for the expression of its purposes in the same manner as it does names and speeches known as word presentations.
For the dream activity cannot compose a new speech. No matter how many speeches and answers may occur in dreams, which may be sensible or absurd in themselves, analysis always shows in such cases that the dream has only taken from the dream thoughts fragments of speeches which have been delivered or heard, and dealt with them in a most arbitrary manner. It has not only torn them from their context and mutilated them, taken up one piece and rejected another, but it has also joined them together in a new way, so that the speech which seems coherent in the dream falls into three or four sections in the course of analysis. In this new utilisation of the words, the dream has often put aside the meaning which they had in the dream thoughts, and has derived an entirely new meaning from them. Upon closer inspection the more distinct and compact constituents of the dream speech may be distinguished from others which serve as connectives and have probably been supplied, just as we supply omitted letters and syllables in reading. The dream speech thus has the structure of breccia stones, in which larger pieces of different material are held together by a solidified cohesive mass.
In a very strict sense this description is correct, to be sure, only for those speeches in the dream which have something of the sensational character of a speech, and which are described as “speeches.” The others which have not, as it were, been felt as though heard or spoken (which have no accompanying acoustic or motor emphasis in the dream) are simply thoughts such as occur in our waking thought activity, and are transferred without change into many dreams. Our reading, also, seems to furnish an abundant and not easily traceable source of material for speeches, this material being of an indifferent nature. Everything, however, which appears conspicuously in the dream as a speech can be referred to real speeches which have been made or heard by the dreamer himself.
We have already found examples for the explanation of such dream speeches in the analysis of dreams cited for other purposes. Here is one example in place of many, all of which lead to the same conclusion.
A large courtyard in which corpses are cremated. The dreamer says: “I’m going away from here, I can’t look at this.” (Not a distinct speech.) Then he meets two butcher boys and asks: “Well, did it taste good?” One of them answers: “No, it wasn’t good.” As though it had been human flesh.
The harmless occasion for this dream is as follows: After taking supper with his wife, the dreamer pays a visit to his worthy but by no means appetising neighbour. The hospitable old lady is just at her evening meal, and urges him (instead of this word a composite sexually-significant word is jocosely used among men) to taste of it. He declines, saying that he has no appetite. “Go on, you can stand some more,” or something of the kind. The dreamer is thus forced to taste and praise what is offered. “But that’s good!” After he is alone again with his wife, he scolds about the neighbour’s importunity and about the quality of the food he has tasted. “I can’t stand the sight of it,” a phrase not appearing even in the dream as an actual speech, is a thought which has reference to the physical charms of the lady who invites him, and which would be translated as meaning that he does not want to look at her.
The analysis of another dream which I cite at this point for the sake of the very distinct speech that forms its nucleus, but which I shall explain only when we come to consider emotions in the dream—will be more instructive. I dream very distinctly: I have gone to Bruecke’s laboratory at night, and upon hearing a soft knocking at the door, I open it to (the deceased) Professor Fleischl, who enters in the company of several strangers, and after saying a jew words sits down at his table. Then follows a second dream: My friend Fl. has come to Vienna in July without attracting much attention; I meet him on the street while he is in conversation with my (deceased) friend P., and I go somewhere or other with these two, and they sit down opposite each other as though at a little table, while I sit at the narrow end of the table facing them. Fl. tells about his sister and says: “In three-quarters of an hour she was dead,” and then something like: “That is the threshold.” As P. does not understand him, Fl. turns to me, and asks me how much I have told of his affairs. Whereupon, seized by strange emotions, I want to tell Fl. that P. (can’t possibly know anything because he) is not alive. But, noticing the mistake myself, I say: “Non vixit.” Then I look at P. searchingly, and under my gaze he becomes pale and blurred, his eyes a morbid blue—and at last he dissolves. I rejoice greatly at this; I now understand that Ernest Fleischel, too, was only an apparition, a revenant, and I find that it is quite possible for such a person to exist only as long as one wants him to, and that he can be made to disappear by the wish of another person.
This beautiful dream unites so many of the characteristics of the dream content which are problematic—the criticism made in the dream itself in that I myself notice my mistake in having said “Non vixit” instead of “Non vivit”; the unconstrained intercourse with dead persons, whom the dream itself declares to be dead; the absurdity of the inference and the intense satisfaction which the inference gives me—that “by my life” I should like to give a complete solution of these problems. But in reality I am incapable of doing this—namely, the thing I do in the dream—of sacrificing such dear persons to my ambition. With every revelation of the true meaning of the dream, with which I am well acquainted, I should have been put to shame. Hence I am content with selecting a few of the elements of the dream, for interpretation, some here, and others later on another page.
The scene in which I annihilate P. by a glance forms the centre of the dream. His eyes become strange and weirdly blue, and then he dissolves. This scene is an unmistakable copy of one really experienced. I was a demonstrator at the physiological institute, and began my service in the early hours, and Bruecke learned that I had been late several times in getting to the school laboratory. So one morning he came promptly for the opening of the class and waited for me. What he said to me was brief and to the point; but the words did not matter at all. What overwhelmed me was the terrible blue eyes through which he looked at me and before which I melted away—as P. does in the dream, for P. has changed rôles with him much to my relief. Anyone who remembers the eyes of the great master, which were wonderfully beautiful until old age, and who has ever seen him in anger, can easily imagine the emotions of the young transgressor on that occasion.
But for a long time I was unable to account for the “Non Vixit,” with which I execute sentence in the dream, until I remembered that these two words possessed such great distinctness in the dream, not because they were heard or spoken, but because they were seen. Then I knew at once where they came from. On the pedestal of the statue of Emperor Joseph in the Hofburg at Vienna, may be read the following beautiful words:
According to the rules of dream interpretation, I should still not be justified in replacing non vivit, which I need, by non vixit, which is placed at my disposal by the recollection of the Joseph monument. Something now calls my attention to the fact that in the dream scene, two trains of thought concerning my friend P. meet, one hostile, the other friendly—of which the former is superficial, the latter veiled, and both are given representation in the same words: non vixit. Because my friend P. has deserved well of science, I erect a statue to him; but because he has been guilty of an evil wish (which is expressed at the end of the dream) I destroy him. I have here constructed a sentence of peculiar resonance, and I must have been influenced by some model. But where can I find similar antithesis, such a parallel between two opposite attitudes towards the same person, both claiming to be entirely valid, and yet both trying not to encroach upon each other? Such a parallel is to be found in a single place, where, however, a deep impression is made upon the reader—in Brutus’ speech of justification in Shakespeare’s Julius Cæsar: “As Cæsar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him; but, as he was ambitious I slew him.” Is not this which I have discovered, the same sentence structure and thought contrast as in the dream thought? I thus play Brutus in the dream. If I could only find in the dream thoughts, one further trace of confirmation for this astonishing collateral connection! I think the following might be such: My friend comes to Vienna in July. This detail finds no support whatever in reality. To my knowledge my friend has never been in Vienna during the month of July. But the month of July is named after Julius Cæsar, and might therefore very well furnish the required allusion to the intermediary thought that I am playing the part of Brutus.
Strangely enough I once actually played the part of Brutus. I presented the scene between Brutus and Cæsar from Schiller’s poems to an audience of children when I was a boy of fourteen years. I did this with my nephew, who was a year older than I, and who had come to us from England—also a revenant—for in him I recognised the playmate of my first childish years. Until the end of my third year we had been inseparable, had loved each other and scuffled with each other, and, as I have already intimated, this childish relation has constantly determined my later feelings in my intercourse with person? of my own age. My nephew John has since found many incarnations, which have revivified first one aspect, then another, of this character which is so ineradicably fixed in my unconscious memory. Occasionally he must have treated me very badly, and I must have shown courage before my tyrant, for in later years I have often been told of the short speech with which I vindicated myself when my father—his grandfather—called me to account: “I hit him because he hit me.” This childish scene must be the one which causes non vivit to branch off into non vixit, for in the language of later childhood striking is called wichsen (German, wichsen—to smear with shoe-polish, to tan, i.e., to flog); the dream activity does not hesitate to take advantage of such connections. My hostility towards my friend P., which has so little foundation in reality—he was far superior to me, and might therefore have been a new edition of the playmate of my childhood—can certainly be traced to my complicated relations with John during our infancy. I shall, however, return to this dream later.
In our interpretation of dreams thus far we have come upon the element of absurdity in the dream-content so often that we must no longer postpone an investigation of its cause and significance. We remember, of course, that the absurdity of dreams has furnished the opponents of dream investigation with their chief argument for considering the dream nothing but the meaningless product of a reduced and fragmentary activity of the mind.
I begin with specimens in which the absurdity of the dream-content is only apparent and immediately disappears when the dream is more thoroughly examined. There are a few dreams which—accidentally one is at first inclined to think—are concerned with the dead father of the dreamer.
I. Here is the dream of a patient who had lost his father six years before:
A terrible accident has occurred to his father. He was riding in the night train when a derailment took place, the seats came together, and his head was crushed from side to side. The dreamer sees him lying on the bed with a wound over his left eyebrow, which runs off vertically. The dreamer is surprised that his father has had a misfortune (since he is dead already, as the dreamer adds in telling his dream). His father’s eyes are so clear.
According to the standards prevailing in dream criticism, this dream-content would have to be explained in the following manner: At first, when the dreamer is picturing his father’s misfortune, he has forgotten that his father has already been in his grave for years; in the further course of the dream this memory comes to life, and causes him to be surprised at his own dream even while he is still dreaming. Analysis, however, teaches us that it is entirely useless to attempt such explanations. The dreamer had given an artist an order for a bust of his father, which he had inspected two days before the dream. This is the thing which seems to him to have met with an accident. The sculptor has never seen the father, and is working from photographs which have been given him. On the very day before the dream the pious son had sent an old servant of the family to the studio in order to see whether he would pass the same judgment upon the marble head, namely, that it had turned out too narrow from side to side, from temple to temple. Now follows the mass of recollections which has contributed to the formation of this dream. The dreamer’s father had a habit, whenever he was harassed by business cares or family difficulties, of pressing his temples with both hands, as though he were trying to compress his head, which seemed to grow too large for him. When our dreamer was four years old he was present when the accidental discharge of a pistol blackened his father’s eyes (his eyes are so clear). While alive his father had had a deep wrinkle at the place where the dream shows the injury, whenever he was thoughtful or sad. The fact that in the dream this wrinkle is replaced by a wound points to the second occasion of the dream. The dreamer had taken a photograph of his little daughter; the plate had fallen from his hand, and when picked up showed a crack that ran like a vertical furrow across the forehead and reached as far as the orbital curve. He could not then get the better of his superstitious forebodings, for, on the day before his mother’s death, a photographic plate with her likeness had cracked as he was handling it.
Thus the absurdity of the dream is only the result of an inaccuracy of verbal expression, which does not take the trouble to distinguish the bust and the photograph from the original. We are all accustomed to say of a picture, “Don’t you think father is good?” Of course the appearance of absurdity in this dream might easily have been avoided. If it were permissible to pass judgment after a single experience, one might be tempted to say that this semblance of absurdity is admitted or desired.
II. Here is another very similar example from my own dreams (I lost my father in the year 1896):
After his death my father has been politically active among the Magyars, and has united them into a political body; to accompany which I see a little indistinct picture: a crowd of people as in the Reichstag; a person who is standing on one or two benches, others round about him. I remember that he looked very like Garibaldi on his death-bed, and I am glad that this promise has really come true.
This is certainly absurd enough. It was dreamed at the time that the Hungarians got into a lawless condition, through Parliamentary obstruction, and passed through the crisis from which Koloman Szell delivered them. The trivial circumstance that the scene beheld in the dream consists of such little pictures is not without significance for the explanation of this element. The usual visual representation of our thoughts results in pictures which impress us as being life-size; my dream picture, however, is the reproduction of a wood-cut inserted in the text of an illustrated history of Austria, representing Maria Theresa in the Reichstag of Pressburg—the famous scene of “Moriamur pro rege nostro.” Like Maria Theresa, my father, in the dream, stands surrounded by the multitude; but he is standing on one or two benches, and thus like a judge on the bench. (He has united them—here the intermediary is the phrase, “We shall need no judge.”) Those of us who stood around the death-bed of my father actually noticed that he looked much like Garibaldi. He had a post-mortem rise of temperature, his cheeks shone redder and redder … involuntarily we continue: “And behind him lay in phantom radiance that which subdues us all—the common thing.”
This elevation of our thoughts prepares us for having to deal with this very “common thing.” The post-mortem feature of the rise in temperature corresponds to the words, “after his death” in the dream content. The most agonising of his sufferings had been a complete paralysis of the intestines (obstruction), which set in during the last weeks. All sorts of disrespectful thoughts are connected with this. A man of my own age who had lost his father while he was still at the Gymnasium, upon which occasion I was profoundly moved and tendered him my friendship, once told me, with derision, about the distress of a lady relative whose father had died on the street and had been brought home, where it turned out upon undressing the corpse, that at the moment of death, or post-mortem, an evacuation of the bowels had taken place. The daughter of the dead man was profoundly unhappy at having this ugly detail stain her memory of her father. We have now penetrated to the wish that is embodied in this dream. To stand before one’s children pure and great after one’s death, who would not wish that? What has become of the absurdity of the dream? The appearance of it has been caused only by the fact that a perfectly permissible mode of speech—in the case of which we are accustomed to ignore the absurdity that happens to exist between its parts—has been faithfully represented in the dream. Here, too, we are unable to deny that the semblance of absurdity is one which is desired and has been purposely brought about.
III. In the example which I now cite I can detect the dream activity in the act of purposely manufacturing an absurdity for which there is no occasion at all in the subject-matter. It is taken from the dream that I had as a result of meeting Count Thun before my vacation trip. “I am riding in a one-horse carriage, and give orders to drive to a railway station. ‘Of course I cannot ride with you on the railway line itself,’ I say, after the driver made an objection as though I had tired him out; at the same time it seems as though I had already driven with him for a distance which one usually rides on the train.” For this confused and senseless story the analysis gives the following explanation: During the day I had hired a one-horse carriage which was to take me to a remote street in Durnbach. The driver, however, did not know the way, and kept on driving in the manner of those good people until I noticed the fact and showed him the way, not sparing him a few mocking remarks withal. From this driver a train of thought led to the aristocratic personage whom I was destined to meet later. For the present I shall only remark that what strikes us middle-class plebeians about the aristocracy is that they like to put themselves in the driver’s seat. Does not Count Thun guide the Austrian car of state? The next sentence in the dream, however, refers to my brother, whom I identify with the driver of the one-horse carriage. I had this year refused to take the trip through Italy with him (“of course I cannot ride with you on the railway line itself”), and this refusal was a sort of punishment for his wonted complaint that I usually tired him out on this trip (which gets into the dream unchanged) by making him take hurried trips and see too many nice things in one day. That evening my brother had accompanied me to the railroad station, but shortly before getting there had jumped out, at the state railway division of the Western Station, in order to take a train to Purkersdorf. I remarked to him that he could stay with me a little longer, inasmuch as he did not go to Purkersdorf by the state railway but by the Western Railway. This is how it happens that in the dream I rode in the wagon a distance which one usually rides on the train. In reality, however, it was just the opposite; I told my brother: The distance which you ride on the state railway you could ride in my company on the Western Railway. The whole confusion of the dream is therefore produced by my inserting in the dream the word “wagon” instead of “state railway,” which, to be sure, does good service in bringing together the driver and my brother. I then find in the dream some nonsense which seems hardly straightened out by my explanation, and which almost forms a contradiction to my earlier speech (“Of course I cannot ride with you on the railway line itself”). But as I have no occasion whatever for confounding the state railway with the one-horse carriage, I must have intentionally formed the whole puzzling story in the dream in this way.
But with what intention? We shall now learn what the absurdity in the dream signifies, and the motives which admitted it or created it. The solution of the mystery in the case in question is as follows: In the dream I needed something absurd and incomprehensible in connection with “riding” (Fahren) because in the dream thoughts I had a certain judgment which required representation. On an evening at the house of the hospitable and clever lady who appears in another scene of the same dream as the “hostess,” I heard two riddles which I could not solve. As they were known to the other members of the party, I presented a somewhat ludicrous figure in my unsuccessful attempts to find a solution. They were two equivoques turning on the words “Nachkommen” (to come after—offspring) and “vorfahren” (to ride in advance—forefathers, ancestry). They read as follows:
It was confusing to find half of the second riddle identical with the first.
As I had seen Count Thun ride in advance (vorfahren), so high and mighty, and had merged into the Figaro-mood which finds the merit of aristocratic gentlemen in the fact that they have taken the trouble to be born (Nachkommen—to become offspring), the two riddles became intermediary thoughts for the dream-work. As aristocrats can be readily confounded with coachmen, and as coachmen were in our country formerly called brothers-in-law, the work of condensation could employ my brother in the same representation. But the dream thought at work in the background was as follows: It is nonsense to be proud of one’s ancestry. (Vorfahren.) I would rather be myself an ancestor. (Vorfahr.) For the sake of this judgment, “it is nonsense,” we have the nonsense in the dream. We can now also solve the last riddle in this obscure passage of the dream, namely, that I have already driven before (vorher gefahren, vorgefahren) with the coachman.
Thus the dream is made absurd if there occurs as one of the elements in the dream thoughts the judgment “That is nonsense,” and in general if disdain and criticism are the motives for one of the trains of unconscious thought. Hence absurdity becomes one of the means by which the dream activity expresses contradiction, as it does by reversing a relation in the material between the dream thoughts and dream content, and by utilising sensations of motor impediment. But absurdity in the dream is not simply to be translated by “no”; it is rather intended to reproduce the disposition of the dream thoughts, this being to show mockery and ridicule along with the contradiction. It is only for this purpose that the dream activity produces anything ridiculous. Here again it transforms a part of the latent content into a manifest form.
As a matter of fact we have already met with a convincing example of the significance of an absurd dream. The dream-interpreted without analysis, of the Wagnerian performance lasting until 7.45 in the morning, in which the orchestra is conducted from a tower, &c. (see p. 316) is apparently trying to say: It is a crazy world and an insane society. He who deserves a thing doesn’t get it, and he who doesn’t care for anything has it—and in this she means to compare her fate with that of her cousin. The fact that dreams concerning a dead father were the first to furnish us with examples of absurdity in dreams is by no means an accident. The conditions necessary for the creations of absurd dreams are here grouped together in a typical manner. The authority belonging to the father has at an early age aroused the criticism of the child, and the strict demands he has made have caused the child to pay particularly close attention to every weakness of the father for its own extenuation; but the piety with which the father’s personality is surrounded in our thoughts, especially after his death, increases the censorship which prevents the expressions of this criticism from becoming conscious.
IV. The following is another absurd dream about a dead father:
I receive a notice from the common council of my native city concerning the costs of a confinement in the hospital in the year 1851, which was necessitated by an attack from which I suffered. I make sport of the matter, for, in the first place, I was not yet alive in the year 1851, and, in the second place, my father, to whom the notice might refer, is already dead. I go to him in the adjoining room, where he is lying on a bed, and tell him about it. To my astonishment he recalls that in that year—1851—he was once drunk and had to be locked up or confined. It was when he was working for the house of T——. “Then you drank, too?” I ask. “You married soon after?” I figure that I was born in 1856, which appears to me as though immediately following.
In view of the preceding discussion, we shall translate the insistence with which this dream exhibits its absurdities as the sure sign of a particularly embittered and passionate controversy in the dream thoughts. With all the more astonishment, however, we note that in this dream the controversy is waged openly, and the father designated as the person against whom the satire is directed. This openness seems to contradict our assumption of a censor as operative in the dream activity. We may say in explanation, however, that here the father is only an interposed person, while the conflict is carried on with another one, who makes his appearance in the dream by means of a single allusion. While the dream usually treats of revolt against other persons, behind which the father is concealed, the reverse is true here; the father serves as the man of straw to represent others, and hence the dream dares thus openly to concern itself with a person who is usually hallowed, because there is present the certain knowledge that he is not in reality intended. We learn of this condition of affairs by considering the occasion of the dream. Now, it occurred after I had heard that an older colleague, whose judgment is considered infallible, had expressed disapproval and astonishment at the fact that one of my patients was then continuing psychoanalytical work with me for the fifth year. The introductory sentences of the dream point with transparent disguise to the fact that this colleague had for a time taken over the duties which my father could no longer perform (expenses, fees at the hospital); and when our friendly relations came to be broken I was thrown into the same conflict of feelings which arises in the case of misunderstanding between father and son in view of the part played by the father and his earlier functions. The dream thoughts now bitterly resent the reproach that I am not making better progress, which extends itself from the treatment of this patient to other things. Does this colleague know anyone who can get on faster? Does he not know that conditions of this sort are usually incurable and last for life? What are four or five years in comparison to a whole life, especially when life has been made so much easier for the patient during the treatment?
The impression of absurdity in this dream is brought about largely by the fact that sentences from different divisions of the dream thoughts are strung together without any reconciling transition. Thus the sentence, I go to him in the adjoining room, &c., leaves the subject dealt with in the preceding sentences, and faithfully reproduces the circumstances under which I told my father about my marriage engagement. Thus the dream is trying to remind me of the noble disinterestedness which the old man showed at that time, and to put it in contrast with the conduct of another, a new person. I now perceive that the dream is allowed to make sport of my father for the reason that in the dream thought he is held up as an example to another man, in full recognition of his merit. It is in the nature of every censorship that it permits the telling of untruth about forbidden things rather than truth. The next sentence, in which my father remembers having once been drunk, and having been locked up for it, also contains nothing which is actually true of my father. The person whom he covers is here a no less important one than the great Meynert, in whose footsteps I followed with such great veneration, and whose attitude towards me was changed into undisguised hostility after a short period of indulgence. The dream recalls to me his own statement that in his youth he was addicted to the chloroform habit, and that for this he had to enter a sanatorium. It recalls also a second experience with him shortly before his death. I carried on an embittered literary controversy with him concerning hysteria in the male, the existence of which he denied, and when I visited him in his last illness and asked him how he felt, he dwelt upon the details of his condition and concluded with the words: “You know, I have always been one of the prettiest cases of masculine hysteria.” Thus, to my satisfaction, and to my astonishment, he admitted what he had so long and so stubbornly opposed. But the fact that in this scene I can use my father to cover Meynert is based not upon the analogy which has been found to exist between the two persons, but upon the slight, but quite adequate, representation of a conditional sentence occurring in the dream thoughts, which in full would read as follows: “Of course if I were of the second generation, the son of a professor or of a court-councillor, I should have progressed more rapidly.” In the dream I now make a court-councillor and a professor of my father. The most obvious and most annoying absurdity of the dream lies in the treatment of the date 1851, which seems to me to be hardly distinguishable from 1856, as though a difference of five years would signify nothing whatever. But it is just this idea of the dream thoughts which requires expression. Four or five years—that is the length of time which I enjoyed the support of the colleague mentioned at the outset; but it is also the time during which I kept my bride waiting before I married her; and, through a coincidence that is eagerly taken advantage of by the dream thoughts, it is also the time during which I am now keeping one of my best patients waiting for the completion of his cure. “What are five years?” ask the dream thoughts. “That is no time at all for me—that doesn’t come into consideration. I have time enough ahead of me, and just as what you didn’t want to believe came true at last, so I shall accomplish this also.” Besides the number 51, when separated from the number of the century, is determined in still another manner and in an opposite sense; for which reason it occurs in the dream again. Fifty-one is an age at which a man seems particularly exposed to danger, at which I have seen many of my colleagues suddenly die, and among them one who had been appointed to a professorship a few days before, after he had been waiting a long time.
V. Another absurd dream which plays with figures, runs as follows:
One of my acquaintances, Mr. M., has been attacked in an essay by no less a person than Goethe, with justifiable vehemence, we all think. Mr. M. has, of course, been crushed by this attack. He complains of it bitterly at a dinner party; but he says that his veneration for Goethe has not suffered from this personal experience. I try to find some explanation of the chronological relations, which seem improbable to me. Goethe died in 1832; since his attack upon M. must of course have taken place earlier, Mr. M. was at the time a very young man. It seems plausible to me that he was 18 years old. But I do not know exactly what year it is at present, and so the whole calculation lapses into obscurity. The attack, moreover, is contained in Goethe’s well-known essay entitled “Nature.”
We shall soon find means to justify the nonsense of this dream. Mr. M., with whom I became acquainted at a dinner-party, had recently requested me to examine his brother, who showed signs of paralytic insanity. The conjecture was right; the painful thing about this visit was that the patient exposed Ms brother by alluding to his youthful pranks when there was no occasion in the conversation for his doing so. I had asked the patient to tell me the year of his birth, and had got him to make several small calculations in order to bring out the weakness of his memory—all of which tests he passed fairly well. I see now that I am acting like a paralytic in the dream (I do not know exactly what year it is at present). Other subject-matter in the dream is drawn from another recent source. The editor of a medical journal, a friend of mine, had accepted for his paper a very unfavourable, a “crushing,” criticism of the last book of my friend Fl. of Berlin, the author of which was a very youthful reviewer, who was not very competent to pass judgment. I thought I had a right to interfere, and called the editor to account; he keenly regretted the acceptance of the criticism, but would not promise redress. Thereupon I broke off relations with the journal, and in my letter of resignation expressed the hope that our personal relations would not suffer from the incident. The third source of this dream is an account given by a female patient—it was fresh in my memory at the time—of the mental disease of her brother who had fallen into a frenzy, crying “Nature, Nature.” The physicians in attendance thought that the cry was derived from a reading of Goethe’s beautiful essay, and that it pointed to overwork in the patient in the study of natural philosophy. I thought rather of the sexual sense in which even less cultured people with us use the word “Nature,” and the fact that the unfortunate man later mutilated his genitals seemed to show that I was not far wrong. Eighteen years was the age of this patient at the time when the attack of frenzy occurred.
If I add further that the book of my friend so severely criticised (“It is a question whether the author is crazy or we are” had been the opinion of another critic) treats of the temporal relations of life and refers the duration of Goethe’s life to the multiple of a number significant from the point of view of biology, it will readily be admitted that I am putting myself in the place of my friend in the dream. (I try to find some explanation of the chronological relations.) But I behave like a paralytic, and the dream revels in absurdity. This means, then, as the dream thoughts say ironically. “Of course he is the fool, the lunatic, and you are the man of genius who knows better. Perhaps, however, it is the other way around?” Now, this other way around is explicitly represented in the dream, in that Goethe has attacked the young man, which is absurd, while it is perfectly possible even to-day for a young fellow to attack the immortal Goethe. and in that I figure from the year of Goethe’s death, while I caused the paralytic to calculate from the year of his birth.
But I have already promised to show that every dream is the result of egotistical motives. Accordingly, I must account for the fact that in this dream I make my friend’s cause my own and put myself in his place. My rational conviction in waking thought is not adequate to do this. Now, the story of the eighteen-year-old patient and of the various interpretations of his cry, “Nature,” alludes to my having brought myself into opposition to most physicians by claiming sexual etiology for the psychoneuroses. I may say to myself: “The same kind of criticism your friend met with you will meet with too, and have already met with to some extent,” and now I may replace the “he” in the dream thoughts by “we.” “Yes, you are right; we two are the fools.” That mea res agitur, is clearly shown by the mention of the short, incomparably beautiful essay of Goethe, for it was a public reading of this essay which induced me to study the natural science while I was still undecided in the graduating class of the Gymnasium.
VI. I am also bound to show of another dream in which my ego does not occur that it is egotistic. On page 228 I mentioned a short dream in which Professor M. says: “My son, the myopic…”; and I stated that this was only a preliminary dream to another one, in which I play a part. Here is the main dream, omitted above, which challenges us to explain its absurd and unintelligible word-formation.
On account of some happenings or other in the city of Rome it is necessary for the children to flee, and this they do. The scene is then laid before a gate, a two-winged gate in antique style (the Porta Romana in Siena, as I know while I am still dreaming). I am sitting on the edge of a well, and am very sad; I almost weep. A feminine person—nurse, nun—brings out the two boys and hands them over to their father, who is not myself. The elder of the two is distinctly my eldest son, and I do not see the face of the other; the woman who brings the boy asks him for a parting kiss. She is distinguished by a red nose. The boy denies her the kiss, but says to her, extending his hand to her in parting, “Auf Geseres,” and to both of us (or to one of us) “Auf Ungeseres.” I have the idea that the latter indicates an advantage.
This dream is built upon a tangle of thoughts induced by a play I saw at the theatre, called Das neue Ghetto (“The New Ghetto.”) The Jewish question, anxiety about the future of my children who cannot be given a native country of their own, anxiety about bringing them up so that they may have the right of native citizens—all these features may easily be recognised in the accompanying dream thoughts.
“We sat by the waters of Babylon and wept.” Siena, like Rome, is famous for its beautiful fountains. In the dream I must find a substitute of some kind for Rome (cf. p. 163) in localities which are known to me. Near the Porta Romana of Siena we saw a large, brightly illuminated building, which we found to be the Manicomio, the insane asylum. Shortly before the dream I had heard that a co-religionist had been forced to resign a position at a state asylum which he had secured with great effort.
Our interest is aroused by the speech: “Auf Geseres”—where we might expect, from the situation maintained throughout the dream, “Auf Wiedersehen” (Au revoir)—and by its quite meaningless opposite, “Auf Ungeseres.”
According to information I have received from Hebrew scholars, Geseres is a genuine Hebrew word derived from the verb goiser, and may best be rendered by “ordained sufferings, fated disaster.” From its use in the Jewish jargon one might think it signified “wailing and lamentation.” Ungeseres is a coinage of my own and first attracts my attention; but for the present it baffles me. The little observation at the end of the dream, that Ungeseres indicates an advantage over Geseres opens the way to the associations and to an explanation. The same relation holds good with caviare; the unsalted kind is more highly prized than the salted. Caviare to the general, “noble passions”; herein lies concealed a joking allusion to a member of my household, of whom I hope—for she is younger than I—that she will watch over the future of my children; this, too, agrees with the fact that another member of my household, our worthy nurse, is clearly indicated in the nurse (or nun) of the dream. But a connecting link is wanting between the pair, salted and unsalted, and Geseres—ungeseres. This is to be found in soured and unsoured. In their flight or exodus out of Egypt, the children of Israel did not have time to allow their bread to be leavened, and in memory of the event to this day they eat unsoured bread at Easter time. Here I can also find room for the sudden notion which came to me in this part of the analysis. I remembered how we promenaded about the city of Breslau, which was strange to us, at the end of the Easter holidays, my friend from Berlin and I. A little girl asked me to tell her the way to a certain street; I had to tell her I did not know it, whereupon I remarked to my friend, “I hope that later on in life the little one will show more perspicacity in selecting the persons by whom she allows herself to be guided.” Shortly afterwards a sign caught my eye: “Dr, Herod, office hours….” I said to myself: “I hope this colleague does not happen to be a children’s specialist.” Meanwhile my friend had been developing his views on the biological significance of bilateral symmetry, and had begun a sentence as follows: “If we had but one eye in the middle of our foreheads like Cyclops….” This leads us to the speech of the professor in the preliminary dream: “My son, the myopic.” And now I have been led to the chief source for Geseres. Many years ago, when this son of Professor M., who is to-day an independent thinker, was still sitting on his school-bench, he contracted a disease of the eye, which the doctor declared gave cause for anxiety. He was of the opinion that as long as it remained in one eye it would not matter; if, however, it should extend to the other eye, it would be serious. The disease healed in the one eye without leaving any bad effects; shortly afterwards, however, its symptoms actually appeared in the other eye. The terrified mother of the boy immediately summoned the physician to the seclusion of her country resort. But he took another view of the matter. “What sort of ‘Geseres’ is this you are making?” he said to his mother with impatience. “If one side got well, the other side will get well too.” And so it turned out.
And now as to the connection between this and myself and those dear to me. The school-bench upon which the son of Professor M. learned his first lessons has become the property of my eldest son—it was given to his mother—into whose lips I put the words of parting in the dream. One of the wishes that can be attached to this transference may now easily be guessed. This school-bench is intended by its construction to guard the child from becoming shortsighted and one-sided. Hence, myopia (and behind the Cyclops) and the discussion about bilateralism. The concern about one-sidedness is of two-fold signification; along with the bodily one-sidedness, that of intellectual development may be referred to. Does it not seem as though the scene in the dream, with all its madness, were putting its negative on just this anxiety? After the child has said his word of parting on the one side, he calls out its opposite on the other side, as though in order to establish an equilibrium. He is acting, as it were, in obedience to bilateral symmetry!
Thus the dream frequently has the profoundest meaning in places where it seems most absurd. In all ages those who had something to say and were unable to say it without danger to themselves gladly put on the cap and bells. The listener for whom the forbidden saying was intended was more likely to tolerate it if he was able to laugh at it, and to flatter himself with the comment that what he disliked was obviously something absurd. The dream proceeds in reality just as the prince does in the play who must counterfeit the fool, and hence the same thing may be said of the dream which Hamlet says of himself, substituting an unintelligible witticism for the real conditions: “I am but mad north-north-west; when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.”
Thus my solution of the problem of the absurdity of dreams is that the dream thoughts are never absurd—at least not those belonging to the dreams of sane persons—and that the dream activity produces absurd dreams and dreams with individual absurd elements if criticism, ridicule, and derision in the dream thoughts are to be represented by it in its manner of expression. My next concern is to show that the dream activity is primarily brought about by the co-operation of the three factors which have been mentioned—and of a fourth one which remains to be cited—that it accomplishes nothing short of a transposition of the dream thoughts, observing the three conditions which are prescribed for it, and that the question whether the mind operates in the dream with all its faculties, or only with a portion of them, is deprived of its cogency and is inapplicable to the actual circumstances. But since there are plenty of dreams in which judgments are passed, criticisms made, and facts recognised, in which astonishment at some single element of the dream appears, and arguments and explanations are attempted, I must meet the objections which may be inferred from these occurrences by the citation of selected examples.
My answer is as follows: Everything in the dream which occurs as an apparent exercise of the critical faculty is to be regarded, not as an intellectual accomplishment of the dream activity, but as belonging to the material of the dream thoughts, and it has found its way from them as a finished structure to the manifest dream content. I may go even further than this. Even the judgments which are passed upon the dream as it is remembered after awakening and the feelings which are aroused by the reproduction of the dream, belong in good part to the latent dream content, and must be fitted into their place in the interpretation of the dream.
I. A striking example of this I have already given. A female patient does not wish to relate her dream because it is too vague. She has seen a person in the dream, and does not know whether it is her husband or her father. Then follows a second dream fragment in which there occurs a “manure-can,” which gives rise to the following reminiscence. As a young housewife, she once jokingly declared in the presence of a young relative who frequented the house that her next care would be to procure a new manure-can. The next morning one was sent to her, but it was filled with lilies of the valley. This part of the dream served to represent the saying, “Not grown on your own manure.” When we complete the analysis we find that in the dream thoughts it is a matter of the after-effects of a story heard in youth, to the effect that a girl had given birth to a child concerning whom it was not clear who was the real father. The dream representation here goes over into the waking thought, and allows one element of the dream thoughts to be represented by a judgment expressed in the waking state upon the whole dream.
II. A similar case: One of my patients has a dream which seems interesting to him, for he says to himself immediately after awakening: “I must tell that to the doctor.” The dream is analysed, and shows the most distinct allusion to an affair in which he had become involved during the treatment, and of which he had decided to tell me nothing.”
III. Here is a third example from my own experience:
I go to the hospital with P. through a region in which houses and gardens occur. With this comes the idea that I have already seen this region in dreams several times. I do not know my way very well; P. shows me a way which leads through a corner to a restaurant (a room, not a garden); here I ask far Mrs. Doni, and I hear that she is living in the background in a little room with three children. I go there, and while on the way I meet an indistinct person with my two little girls, whom I take with me after I have stood with them for a while. A kind of reproach against my wife for having left them there.
Upon awakening I feel great satisfaction, the cause for this being the fact that I am now going to learn from the analysis what is meant by the idea “I have already dreamed of that.” But the analysis of the dream teaches me nothing on the subject; it only shows me that the satisfaction belongs to the latent dream content, and not to my judgment upon the dream. It is satisfaction over the fact that I have had children by my marriage. P. is a person in whose company I walked the path of life for a certain space, but who has since far outdistanced me socially and materially—whose marriage, however, has remained childless. The two occasions for the dream furnishing the proof of this may be found by means of complete analysis. On the previous day I had read in the paper the obituary notice of a certain Mrs. Dona A——y (out of which I make Doni), who had died in childbirth; I was told by my wife that the dead woman had been nursed by the same midwife she herself had had at the birth of our two youngest boys. The name Dona had caught my attention, for I had recently found it for the first time in an English novel. The other occasion for the dream may be found in the date on which it was dreamed; it was on the night before the birthday of my eldest boy, who, it seems, is poetically gifted.
IV. The same satisfaction remained with me after awakening from the absurd dream that my father, after his death, had played a political part among the Magyars, and it is motivated by a continuance of the feeling which accompanied the last sentence of the dream: “I remember that on his deathbed he looked so much like Garibaldi, and I am glad that it has really come true. (Here belongs a forgotten continuation.) I can now supply from the analysis what belongs in this gap of the dream. It is the mention of my second boy, to whom I have given the first name of a great historical personage, who attracted me powerfully during my boyhood, especially during my stay in England. I had to wait for a year after making up my mind to use this name in case the expected child should be a son, and I greeted him with it in high satisfaction as soon as he was born. It is easy to see how the father’s lust for greatness is transferred in his thoughts to his children; it will readily be believed that this is one of the ways in which the suppression of this lust which becomes necessary in life is brought about. The little fellow won a place in the text of this dream by virtue of the fact that the same accident—quite pardonable in a child or a dying person—of soiling his clothes had happened to him. With this may be compared the allusion “Stuhlrichter” (judge on the stool-bench, i.e. presiding judge) and the wish of the dream: To stand before one’s children great and pure.
V. I am now called upon to find expressions of judgment which remain in the dream itself, and are not retained in or transferred to our waking thoughts, and I shall consider it a great relief if I may find examples in dreams, which have already been cited for other purposes. The dream about Goethe’s attacking Mr. M. seems to contain a considerable number of acts of judgment. I try to find some explanation of the chronological relations, which seem improbable to me. Does not this look like a critical impulse directed against the nonsensical idea that Goethe should have made a literary attack upon a young man of my acquaintance? “It seems plausible to me that he was 18 years old.” That sounds quite like the result of a dull-witted calculation; and “I do not know exactly what year it is” would be an example of uncertainty or doubt in the dream.
But I know from analysis that these acts of judgment, which seem to have been performed in the dream for the first time, admit of a different construction in the light of which they become indispensable for interpreting the dream, and at the same time every absurdity is avoided. With the sentence, “I try to find some explanation of the chronological relations,” I put myself in the place of my friend who is actually trying to explain the chronological relations of life. The sentence then loses its significance as a judgment that objects to the nonsense of the previous sentences. The interposition, “which seems improbable to me,” belongs to the subsequent “it seems plausible to me.” In about the same words I had answered the lady who told me the story of her brother’s illness: “It seems improbable to me that the cry of ‘Nature, Nature,’ had anything to do with Goethe; it appears much more plausible that it had the sexual significance which is known to you.” To be sure, a judgment has been passed here, not, however, in the dream but in reality, on an occasion which is remembered and utilised by the dream thoughts. The dream content appropriates this judgment like any other fragment of the dream thoughts.
The numeral 18, with which the judgment in the dream is meaninglessly connected, still preserves a trace of the context from which the real judgment was torn. Finally, “I am not certain what year it is” is intended for nothing else than to carry out my identification with the paralytic, in the examination of whom this point of confirmation had actually been established.
In the solution of these apparent acts of judgment, in the dream, it may be well to call attention to the rule of interpretation which says that the coherence which is fabricated hi the dream between its constituent parts is to be disregarded as specious and unessential, and that every dream element must be taken by itself and traced to its source. The dream is a conglomeration, which is to be broken up into its elements for the purposes of investigation. But other circumstances call our attention to the fact that a psychic force is expressed in dreams which establishes this apparent coherence—that is to say, which subjects the material that is obtained by the dream activity to a secondary elaboration. We are here confronted with manifestations of this force, upon which we shall later fix our attention as being the fourth of the factors which take part in the formation of the dream.
VI. I select other examples of critical activity in the dreams which have already been cited. In the absurd dream about the communication from the common council I ask the question: “You married shortly after? I figure that I was born in 1856, which appears to me as though following immediately. This quite takes the form of an inference. My father married shortly after his attack in the year 1851; I am the oldest son, born in 1856; this agrees perfectly. We know that this inference has been interpolated by the wish-fulfilment, and that the sentence which dominates the dream thoughts is to the following effect: 4 or 5 years, that is no time at all, that need not enter the calculation. But every part of this chain of inferences is to be determined from the dream thoughts in a different manner, both as to its content and as to its form. It is the patient—about whose endurance my colleague complains—who intends to marry immediately after the close of the treatment. The manner in which I deal with my father in the dream recalls an inquest or examination, and with that the person of a university instructor who was in the habit of taking a complete list of credentials at the enrolment of his class: “You were born when?” In 1856. “Patre?” Then the applicant gave the first name of his father with a Latin ending, and we students assumed that the Aulic Councillor drew inferences from the first name of the father which the name of the enrolled student would not always have supplied. According to this, the drawing of inferences in the dream would be merely a repetition of the drawing of inferences which appears as part of the subject-matter in the dream thoughts. From this we learn something new. If an inference occurs in the dream content, it invariably comes from the dream thoughts; it may be contained in these as a bit of remembered material, or it may serve as a logical connective in a series of dream thoughts. In any case an inference in the dream represents an inference in the dream thoughts.
The analysis of this dream should be continued here. With the inquest of the Professor there is connected the recollection of an index (published in Latin during my time) of the university students; also of my course of studies. The five years provided for the study of medicine were as usual not enough for me. I worked along unconcernedly in the succeeding years; in the circle of my acquaintances I was considered a loafer, and there was doubt as to whether I would “get through.” Then all at once I decided to take my examinations; and I got “through,” in spite of the postponement. This is a new confirmation of the dream thoughts, which I defiantly hold up to my critics: “Even though you are unwilling to believe it, because I take my time, I shall reach a conclusion (German Schluss, meaning either end or conclusion, inference). It has often happened that way.”
In its introductory portion this dream contains several sentences which cannot well be denied the character of an argumentation. And this argumentation is not at all absurd; it might just as well belong to waking thought. In the dream I make sport of the communication of the Common Council, for in the first place I was not yet in the world in 1851, and in the second place, my father, to whom it might refer, is already dead. Both are not only correct in themselves, but coincide completely with the arguments that I should use in case I should receive a communication of the sort mentioned. We know from our previous analysis that this dream has sprung from deeply embittered and scornful dream thoughts; if we may assume further that the motive for censorship is a very strong one, we shall understand that the dream activity has every reason to create a flawless refutation of a baseless insinuation according to the model contained in the dream thoughts. But analysis shows that in this case the dream activity has not had the task of making a free copy, but it has been required to use subject-matter from the dream thoughts for its purpose. It is as if in an algebraic equation there occurred plus and minus signs, signs of powers and of roots, besides the figures, and as if someone, in copying this equation without understanding it, should take over into his copy the signs of operation as well as the figures, and fail to distinguish between the two kinds. The two arguments may be traced to the following material. It is painful for me to think that many of the assumptions upon which I base my solution of psychoneuroses, as soon as they have become known, will arouse scepticism and ridicule. Thus I must maintain that impressions from the second year of life, or even from the first, leave a lasting trace upon the temperament of persons who later become diseased, and that these impressions—greatly distorted it is true, and exaggerated by memory—are capable of furnishing the original and fundamental basis of hysterical symptoms. Patients to whom I explain this in its proper place are in the habit of making a parody upon the explanation by declaring themselves willing to look for reminiscences of the period when they were not yet alive. It would quite accord with my expectation, if enlightenment on the subject of the unsuspected part played by the father in the earliest sexual impulses of feminine patients should get a similar reception. (Cf. the discussion on p. 218.) And, nevertheless, both positions are correct according to my well-founded conviction. In confirmation I recall certain examples in which the death of the father happened when the child was very young, and later events, otherwise inexplicable, proved that the child had unconsciously preserved recollections of the persons who had so early gone out of its life. I know that both of my assertions are based upon inferences the validity of which will be attacked. If the subject-matter of these very inferences which I fear will be contested is used by the dream activity for setting up incontestable inferences, this is a performance of the wish-fulfilment.
VII. In a dream which I have hitherto only touched upon, astonishment at the subject to be broached is distinctly expressed at the outset.
“The elder Bruecke must have given me some task or other; strangely enough it relates to the preparation of my own lower body, pelvis and legs, which I see before me as though in the dissecting room, but without feeling my lack of body and without a trace of horror. Louise N. is standing near, and doing her work next to me. The pelvis is eviscerated; now the upper, now the lower view of the same is seen, and the two views mingle. Thick fleshy red lumps (which even in the dream make me think of hæmorrhoids) are to be seen. Also something had to be carefully picked out, which lay over these and which looked like crumpled tin-foil. Then I was again in possession of my legs and made a journey through the city, but took a wagon (owing to my fatigue). To my astonishment the wagon drove into a house door, which opened and allowed it to pass into a passage that was snapped off at the end, and finally led further on into the open. At last I wandered through changing landscapes with an Alpine guide, who carried my things. He carried me for some way, out of consideration for my tired legs. The ground was muddy, and we went along the edge; people sat on the ground, a girl among them. like Indians or Gypsies. Previously I had moved myself along on the slippery ground, with constant astonishment that I was so well able to do it after the preparation. At last we came to a small wooden house which ended in an open window. Here the guide set me down, and laid two wooden boards which stood in readiness on the window sill, in order that in this way the chasm might be bridged which had to be crossed in order to get to the window. Now, I grew really frightened about my legs. Instead of the expected crossing, I saw two grown-up men lying upon wooden benches which were on the walls of the hut, and something like two sleeping children next to them. It seems as though not the boards but the children were intended to make possible the crossing. I awakened with frightened thoughts.
Anyone who has formed a proper idea of the abundance of dream condensation will easily be able to imagine how great a number of pages the detailed analysis of this dream must fill. Luckily for the context, I shall take from it merely the one example of astonishment, in the dream, which makes its appearance in the parenthetical remark, “strangely enough.” Let us take up the occasion of the dream. It is a visit of this lady, Louise N., who assists at the work in the dream. She says: “Lend me something to read.” I offer her She, by Rider Haggard. “A strange book, but full of hidden sense,” I try to explain to her; “the eternal feminine, the immortality of our emotions——” Here she interrupts me: “I know that book already. Haven’t you something of your own?” “No, my own immortal works are still unwritten.” “Well, when are you going to publish your so-called latest revelations which you promised us would be good reading?” she asks somewhat sarcastically. I now perceive that she is a mouthpiece for someone else, and I become silent. I think of the effort it costs me to publish even my work on the Dream, in which I have to surrender so much of my own intimate character. “The best that you know you can’t tell to the children.” The preparation of my own body, which I am ordered to make in the dream, is thus the self-analysis necessitated in the communication of my dreams. The elder Bruecke very properly finds a place here; in these first years of my scientific work it happened that I neglected a discovery, until his energetic commands forced me to publish it. But the other trains of thought which start from my conversation with Louise N. go too deep to become conscious; they are side-tracked by way of the related material which has been awakened in me by the mention of Rider Haggard’s She. The comment “strangely enough” goes with this book, and with another by the same author, The Heart of the World, and numerous elements of the dream are taken from these two fantastic novels. The muddy ground over which the dreamer is carried, the chasm which must be crossed by means of the boards that have been brought along, come from She; the Indians, the girl, and the wooden house, from the Heart of the World. In both novels a woman is the leader, both treat of dangerous wanderings; She has to do with an adventurous journey to the undiscovered country, a place almost untrodden by foot of man. According to a note which I find in my record of the dream, the fatigue in my legs was a real sensation of those days. Doubtless in correspondence with this came a tired frame of mind and the doubting question: “How much further will my legs carry me?” The adventure in She ends with the woman leader’s meeting her death in the mysterious fire at the centre of the earth, instead of attaining immortality for herself and others. A fear of this sort has unmistakably arisen in the dream thoughts. The “wooden house,” also, is surely the coffin—that is, the grave. But the dream activity has performed its masterpiece in representing this most unwished-for of all thoughts by means of a wish-fulfilment. I have already once been in a grave, but it was an empty Etruscan grave near Orvieto—a narrow chamber with two stone benches on the walls, upon which the skeletons of two grown-up persons had been laid. The ulterior of the wooden house in the dream looks exactly like this, except that wood has been substituted for stone. The dream seems to say: “If you must Bo soon lie in your grave, let it be this Etruscan grave,” and by means of this interpolation it transforms the saddest expectation into one that is really to be desired. As we shall learn, it is, unfortunately, only the idea accompanying an emotion which the dream can change into its opposite, not usually the emotion itself. Thus I awake with “frightened thoughts,” even after the dream has been forced to represent my idea—that perhaps the children will attain what has been denied to the father—a fresh allusion to the strange novel in which the identity of a person is preserved through a series of generations covering two thousand years.
VIII. In the context of another dream there is a similar expression of astonishment at what is experienced in the dream. This, however, is connected with a striking and skilfully contrived attempt at explanation which might well be called a stroke of genius—so that I should have to analyse the whole dream merely for the sake of it, even if the dream did not possess two other features of interest. I am travelling during the night between the eighteenth and the nineteenth of July on the Southern Railway, and in my sleep I hear someone call out: “Hollthurn, 10 minutes.” I immediately think of Holothurian—of a museum of natural history—that here is a place where brave men have vainly resisted the domination of their overlord. Yes, the counter reformation in Austria! As though it were a place in Styria or the Tyrol. Now I distinctly see a little museum in which the remains or the possessions of these men are preserved. I wish to get off, but I hesitate to do so. Women with fruit are standing on the platform; they crouch on the floor, and in that position hold out their baskets in an inviting manner. I hesitate, in doubt whether we still have time, but we are still standing. I am suddenly in another compartment in which the leather and the seats are so narrow that one’s back directly touches the back rest. I am surprised at this, but I may have changed cars while asleep. Several people, among them an English brother and sister; a row of books distinctly on a shelf on the wall. I see The Wealth of Nations, then Matter and Motion (by Maxwell)—the books are thick and bound in brown linen. The man asks his sister for a book by Schiller, and whether she has forgotten it. These are books which first seem mine, then seem to belong to the brother and sister. At this point I wish to join in the conversation in order to confirm and support what is being said——. I awaken sweating all over my body, because all the windows are shut. The train stops at Marburg.
While writing down the dream, a part of it occurs to me which my memory wished to omit. I say to the brother and sister about a certain work: “It is from…” but I correct myself: “It is by…” The man remarks to his sister: “He said it correctly.”
The dream begins with the name of a station, which probably must have partially awakened me. For this name, which was Marburg, I substituted Hollthurn. The fact that I heard Marburg when it was first called, or perhaps when it was called a second time, is proved by the mention in the dream of Schiller, who was born in Marburg, though not in the one in Styria. Now this time, although I was travelling first-class, it was under very disagreeable circumstances. The train was overcrowded; I had met a gentleman and lady in my compartment who seemed persons of quality, but who did not have the good breeding or who did not think it worth while to conceal their displeasure at my intrusion. My polite salutation was not answered, and although the man and the woman sat next each other (with their backs in the direction in which we were riding), the woman made haste to pre-empt the place opposite her and next the window with her umbrella; the door was immediately closed and demonstrative remarks about the opening of windows were exchanged. Probably I was quickly recognised as a person hungry for fresh air. It was a hot night, and the air in the compartment, thus shut on all sides, was almost suffocating. My experience as a traveller leads me to believe that such inconsiderate, obtrusive conduct marks people who have only partly paid for their tickets, or not at all. When the conductor came, and I presented my dearly bought ticket, the lady called out ungraciously, and as though threateningly: “My husband has a pass.” She was a stately figure with sour features, in age not far from the time set for the decay of feminine beauty; the man did not get a chance to say anything at all, and sat there motionless. I tried to sleep. In the dream I take terrible revenge on my disagreeable travelling companions; no one would suspect what insults and humiliations are concealed behind the disjointed fragments of the first half of the dream. After this desire has been satisfied, the second wish, to exchange my compartment for another, makes itself evident. The dream makes changes of scene so often, and without raising the least objection to such changes, that it would not have been in the least remarkable if I had immediately replaced my travelling companions by more pleasant ones for my recollection. But this was one of the cases where something or other objected to the change of scene and considered explanation of the change necessary. How did I suddenly get into another compartment? I surely could not remember having changed cars. So there was only one explanation: I must have left the carriage while asleep, a rare occurrence, examples for which, however, are furnished by the experience of the neuropathologist. We know of persons who undertake railroad journeys in a crepuscular state without betraying their abnormal condition by any sign, until some station on the journey they completely recover consciousness, and are then surprised at the gap in their memory. Thus, while I am still dreaming, I declare my own case to be such a one of “Automatisme ambulatoire.”
Analysis permits another solution. The attempt at explanation, which so astounds me if I am to attribute it to the dream activity, is not original, but is copied from the neurosis of one of my patients. I have already spoken on another page of a highly cultured and, in conduct, kind-hearted man, who began, shortly after the death of his parents, to accuse himself of murderous inclinations, and who suffered because of the precautionary measures he had to take to insure himself against these inclinations. At first walking along the street was made painful for him by the compulsion impelling him to demand an accounting of all the persons he met as to whither they had vanished; if one of them suddenly withdrew from his pursuing glance, there remained a painful feeling and a thought of the possibility that he might have put the man out of the way. This compulsive idea concealed, among other things, a Cain-fancy, for “all men are brothers.” Owing to the impossibility of accomplishing his task, he gave up taking walks and spent his life imprisoned within his four walls. But news of murderous acts which have been committed outside constantly reached his room through the papers, and his conscience in the form of a doubt kept accusing him of being the murderer. The certainty of not having left his dwelling for weeks protected him against these accusations for a time, until one day there dawned upon him the possibility that he might have left his house while in an unconscious condition, and might thus have committed the murder without knowing anything about it. From that time on he locked his house door, and handed the key over to his old housekeeper, and strictly forbade her to give it into his hands even if he demanded it.
This, then, is the origin of the attempted explanation, that I may have changed carriages while in an unconscious condition—it has been transferred from the material of the dream thoughts to the dream in a finished state, and is obviously intended to identify me with the person of that patient. My memory of him was awakened by an easy association. I had made my last night journey with this man a few weeks before. He was cured, and was escorting me into the country, to his relatives who were summoning me; as we had a compartment to ourselves, we left all the windows open through the night, and, as long as I had remained awake, we had a delightful conversation. I knew that hostile impulses towards his father from the time of his childhood, in connection with sexual material, had been at the root of his illness. By identifying myself with him, I wanted to make an analogous confession to myself. The second scene of the dream really resolves itself into a wanton fancy to the effect that my two elderly travelling companions had acted so uncivilly towards me for the reason that my arrival prevented them from exchanging love-tokens during the night as they had intended. This fancy, however, goes back to an early childhood scene in which, probably impelled by sexual inquisitiveness, I intruded upon the bedroom of my parents, and was driven from it by my father’s emphatic command.
I consider it superfluous to multiply further examples. All of them would confirm what we have learned from those which have been already cited, namely, that an act of judgment in the dream is nothing but the repetition of a prototype which it has in the dream thoughts. In most cases it is an inappropriate repetition introduced in an unfitting connection; occasionally, however, as in our last example, it is so artfully disposed that it may give the impression of being an independent thought activity in the dream. At this point we might turn our attention to that psychic activity which indeed does not seem to co-operate regularly in the formation of dreams, but whose effort it is, wherever it does co-operate, to fuse together those dream elements that are incongruent on account of their origins in an uncontradictory and intelligible manner. We consider it best, however, first to take up the expressions of emotion which appear in the dream, and to compare them with the emotions which analysis reveals to us in the dream thoughts.
A profound remark of Stricker’s 77 has called our attention to the fact that the expressions of emotion in the dream do not permit of being disposed of in the slighting manner in which we are accustomed to shake off the dream itself, after we have awakened. “If I am afraid of robbers in the dream, the robbers, to be sure, are imaginary, but the fear of them is real,” and the same is true if I am glad in the dream. According to the testimony of our feelings, the emotion experienced in the dream is in no way less valid than one of like intensity experienced in waking life, and the dream makes its claim to be taken up as a part of our real mental experiences, more energetically on account of its emotional content than on account of its ideal content. We do not succeed in accomplishing this separation in waking life, because we do not know how to estimate an emotion psychically except in connection with a presentation content. If in kind or in intensity an affect and an idea are incongruous, our waking judgment becomes confused.
The fact that in dreams the presentation content does not entail the affective influence which we should expect as necessary in waking thought has always caused astonishment. Strümpell was of the opinion that ideas in the dream are stripped of their psychic values. But neither does the dream lack opposite instances, where the expression of intense affect appears in a content, which seems to offer no occasion for its development. I am in a horrible, dangerous, or disgusting situation in the dream, but I feel nothing of fear or aversion; on the other hand, I am sometimes terrified at harmless things and glad at childish ones.
This enigma of the dream disappears more suddenly and more completely than perhaps any other of the dream problems, if we pass from the manifest to the latent content. We shall then no longer be concerned to explain it, for it will no longer exist. Analysis teaches us that presentation contents have undergone displacements and substitutions, while affects have remained unchanged. No wonder, then, that the presentation content which has been altered by dream disfigurement no longer fits the affect that has remained intact; but there is no cause for wonder either after analysis has put the correct content in its former place.
In a psychic complex which has been subjected to the influence of the resisting censor the affects are the unyielding constituent, which alone is capable of guiding us to a correct supplementation. This state of affairs is revealed in psychoneuroses even more distinctly than in the dream. Here the affect is always in the right, at least as far as its quality goes; its intensity may even be increased by means of a displacement of neurotic attention. If a hysteric is surprised that he is so very afraid of a trifle, or if the patient with compulsive ideas is astonished that he develops such painful self-reproach out of a nonentity, both of them err in that they regard the presentation content—the trifle or the nonentity—as the essential thing, and they defend themselves in vain because they make this presentation content the starting point in their thought. Psychoanalysis, however, shows them the right way by recognising that, on the contrary, the affect is justified, and by searching for the presentation which belongs to it and which has been suppressed by means of replacement. The assumption is here made that the development of affect and the presentation content do not constitute such an indissoluble organic union as we are accustomed to think, but that the two parts may be, so to speak, soldered together in such a way that they may be detached from one another by means of analysis. Dream interpretation shows that this is actually the case.
I give first an example in which analysis explains the apparent absence of affect in a presentation content which ought to force a development of emotion.
I. The dreamer sees three lions in a desert, one of which is laughing, but she is not afraid of them. Then, however, she must have fled from them, for she is trying to climb a tree, but she finds that her cousin, who is a teacher of French, is already up in the tree, &c.
The analysis gives us the following material for this dream: A sentence in the dreamer’s English lesson had become the indifferent occasion for it: “The lion’s greatest beauty is his mane.” Her father wore a beard which surrounded his face like a mane. The name of her English teacher was Miss Lyons. An acquaintance of hers had sent her the ballads of Loewe (German, Loewe—lion). These, then, are the three lions; why should she have been afraid of them? She has read a story in which a negro who has incited his fellows to revolt is hunted with bloodhounds and climbs a tree to save himself. Then follow fragments in wanton mood, like the following. Directions for catching lions from Die Fliegende Blaetter: “Take a desert and strain it; the lions will remain.” Also a very amusing, but not very proper anecdote about an official who is asked why he does not take greater pains to win the favour of his superior officer, and who answers that he has been trying to insinuate himself, but that the man ahead of him is already up. The whole matter becomes intelligible as soon as one learns that on the day of the dream the lady had received a visit from her husband’s superior. He was very polite to her, kissed her hand, and she was not afraid of him at all, although he is a “big bug” (German—Grosses Tier = “big animal”) and plays the part of a “social lion” in the capital of her country. This lion is, therefore, like the lion in the Midsummer Night’s Dream, who unmasks as Snug, the joiner, and of such stuff are all dream lions made when one is not afraid.
II. As my second example, I cite the dream of the girl who saw her sister’s little son lying dead in a coffin, but who, I may now add, felt no pain or sorrow thereat. We know from analysis why not. The dream only concealed her wish to see the man she loved again; the affect must be attuned to the wish, and not to its concealment. There was no occasion for sorrow at all.
In a number of dreams the emotion at least remains connected with that presentation content which has replaced the one really belonging to it. In others the breaking up of the complex is carried further. The affect seems to be entirely separated from the idea belonging to it, and finds a place somewhere else in the dream where it fits into the new arrangement of the dream elements. This is similar to what we have learned of acts of judgment of the dream. If there is a significant inference in the dream thoughts, the dream also contains one; but in the dream the inference may be shifted to entirely different material. Not infrequently this shifting takes place according to the principle of antithesis.
I illustrate the latter possibility by the following dream, which I have subjected to the most exhaustive analysis.
III. A castle by the sea; afterwards it lies not directly on the sea, but on a narrow canal that leads to the sea. A certain Mr. P. is the governor of it. I stand with him in a large salon with three windows, in front of which rise the projections of a wall, like battlements of a fort. I belong to the garrison, perhaps as a volunteer marine officer. We fear the arrival of hostile warships, for we are in a state of war. Mr. P. has the intention of leaving; he gives me instructions as to what must be done in case the dreaded event happens. His sick wife is in the threatened castle with her children. As soon as the bombardment begins the large hall should be cleared. He breathes heavily, and tries to get away; I hold him back, and ask him in what way I should send him news in case of need. He says something else, and then all at once falls over dead. I have probably taxed him unnecessarily with my questions. After his death, which makes no further impression upon me, I think whether the widow is to remain in the castle, whether I should give notice of the death to the commander-in-chief, and whether I should take over the direction of the castle as the next in command. I now stand at the window, and muster the ships as they pass by; they are merchantmen that dart past upon the dark water, several of them with more than one smokestack, others with bulging decks (that are quite similar to the railway stations in the preliminary dream which has not been told). Then my brother stands next to me, and both of us look out of the window on to the canal. At the sight of a ship we are frightened, and call out: “Here comes the warship.’” It turns out, however, that it is only the same ships which I have already known that are returning. Now comes a little ship, strangely cut off, so that it ends in the middle of its breadth; curious things like cups or salt-cellars are seen on the deck. We call as though with one voice: “That is the breakfast-ship.”
The rapid motion of the ships, the deep blue of the water, the brown smoke of the funnels, all this together makes a highly tense, sombre impression.
The localities in this dream are put together from several journeys to the Adriatic Sea (Miramare, Duino, Venice. Aquileja). A short but enjoyable Easter trip to Aquileja with my brother, a few weeks before the dream, was still fresh in my memory. Besides, the naval war between America and Spain, and the worry connected with it about my relatives living in America, play a part. Manifestations of emotion appear at two places in this dream. In one place an emotion that would be expected is lacking—it is expressly emphasized that the death of the governor makes no impression upon me; at another point, where I see the warships I am frightened, and experience all the sensations of fright while I sleep. The distribution of affects in this well-constructed dream has been made in such a way that every obvious contradiction is avoided. For there is no reason why I should be frightened at the governor’s death, and it is fitting that as the commander of the castle I should be alarmed by the sight of the warship. Now analysis shows that Mr. P. is nothing but a substitute for my own Ego (in the dream I am his substitute). I am the governor who suddenly dies. The dream thoughts deal with the future of those dear to me after my premature death. No other disagreeable thought is to be found among the dream thoughts. The fright which is attached to the sight of the warship must be transferred from it to this disagreeable thought. Inversely, the analysis shows that the region of the dream thoughts from which the warship comes is filled with most joyous reminiscences. It was at Venice a year before, one charmingly beautiful day, that we stood at the windows of our room on the Riva Schiavoni and looked upon the blue lagoon, in which more activity could be seen that day than usually. English ships were being expected, they were to be festively received; and suddenly my wife called out, happy as a child: “There come the English warships!” In the dream I am frightened at the very same words; we see again that speeches in the dream originate from speeches in life. I shall soon show that even the element “English” in this speech has not been lost for the dream activity. I thus convert joy into fright on the way from the dream thoughts to the dream content, and I need only intimate that by means of this very transformation I give expression to a part of the latent dream content. The example shows, however, that the dream activity is at liberty to detach the occasion for an affect from its context in the dream thoughts, and to insert it at any other place it chooses in the dream content.
I seize the opportunity which is incidentally offered, of subjecting to closer analysis the “breakfast ship,” whose appearance in the dream so nonsensically concludes a situation that has been rationally adhered to. If I take a closer view of this object in the dream, I am now struck by the fact that it was black, and that on account of its being cut off at its greatest breadth it closely resembled, at the end where it was cut off, an object which had aroused our interest in the museums of the Etruscan cities. This object was a rectangular cup of black clay with two handles, upon which stood things like coffee cups, or tea cups, very similar to our modern breakfast table service. Upon inquiring, we learned that this was the toilet set of an Etruscan lady, with little boxes for rouge and powder; and we said jokingly to each other that it would not be a bad idea to take a thing like that home to the lady of the house. The dream object, therefore, signifies “black toilet” (German, toilette—dress)—mourning—and has direct reference to a death. The other end of the dream object reminds us of the “boat” (German, Nachen), from the root [Greek], as a philological friend has told me, upon which corpses were laid in prehistoric times and were left to be buried by the sea. With this circumstance is connected the reason for the return of the ships in the dream.
“Quietly the old man on his rescued boat drifts into the harbour.”
It is the return voyage after the shipwreck (German, schiffbruch; ship-breaking, i.e. shipwreck), the breakfast-ship looks as though it were broken off in the middle. But whence comes the name “breakfast”-ship? Here is where the “English” comes in, which we have left over from the warships. Breakfast—a breaking of the fast. Breaking again belongs to ship-wreck (Schiffbruch), and fasting is connected with the mourning dress.
The only thing about this breakfast-ship, which has been newly created by the dream, is its name. The thing has existed in reality, and recalls to me the merriest hours of my last journey. As we distrusted the fare in Aquileja, we took some food with us from Goerz, and bought a bottle of excellent Istrian wine in Aquileja, and while the little mail-steamer slowly travelled through the Canal delle Mee and into the lonely stretch of lagoon towards Grado, we took our breakfast on deck—we were the only passengers—and it tasted to us as few breakfasts have ever tasted. This, then, was the “breakfast-ship,” and it is behind this very recollection of great enjoyment that the dream hides the saddest thoughts about an unknown and ominous future.
The detachment of emotions from the groups of ideas which have been responsible for their development is the most striking thing that happens to them in the course of dream formation, but it is neither the only nor even the most essential change which they undergo on the way from the dream thoughts to the manifest dream. If the affects in the dream thoughts are compared with those in the dream, it at once becomes clear that wherever there is an emotion in the dream, this is also to be found in the dream thoughts; the converse, however, is not true. In general, the dream is less rich in affects than the psychic material from which it is elaborated. As soon as I have reconstructed the dream thoughts I see that the most intense psychic impulses are regularly striving in them for self-assertion, usually in conflict with others that are sharply opposed to them. If I turn back to the dream, I often find it colourless and without any of the more intense strains of feeling. Not only the content, but also the affective tone of my thoughts has been brought by the dream activity to the level of the indifferent. I might say that a suppression of the affects has taken place. Take, for example, the dream of the botanical monograph. It answers to a passionate plea for my freedom to act as I am acting and to arrange my life as seems right to me and to me alone. The dream which results from it sounds indifferent; I have written a monograph; it is lying before me; it is fitted with coloured plates, and dried plants are to be found with each copy. It is like the peacefulness of a battlefield; there is no trace left of the tumult of battle.
It may also turn out differently—vivid affective expressions may make their appearance in the dream; but we shall first dwell upon the unquestionable fact that many dreams appear indifferent, while it is never possible to go deeply into the dream thoughts without deep emotion.
A complete theoretical explanation of this suppression of emotions in the course of the dream activity cannot be given here; it would require a most careful investigation of the theory of the emotions and of the mechanism of suppression. I shall find a place here for two thoughts only. I am forced—on other grounds—to conceive the development of affects as a centrifugal process directed towards the interior of the body, analogous to the processes of motor and secretory innervation. Just as in the sleeping condition the omission of motor impulses towards the outside world seems to be suspended, so a centrifugal excitement of emotions through unconscious thought may be made more difficult during sleep. Thus the affective impulses aroused during the discharge of the dream thoughts would themselves be weak excitements, and therefore those getting into the dream would not be stronger. According to this line of argument the “suppression of the affects” would not be a result of the dream activity at all, but a result of the sleeping condition. This may be so. but this cannot possibly be all. We must also remember that all the more complex dreams have shown themselves to be a compromised result from the conflict of psychic forces. On the one hand, the thoughts that constitute the wish must fight the opposition of a censorship; on the other hand, we have often seen how, even in unconscious thinking, each train of thought is harnessed to its contradictory opposite. Since all of these trams of thought are capable of emotion, we shall hardly make a mistake, broadly speaking. if we regard the suppression of emotion as the result of the restraint which the contrasts impose upon one another and which the censor imposes upon the tendencies which it has suppressed. The restraint of affects would accordingly be the second result of the dream censor as the disfigurement of the dream was the first.
I shall insert an example of a dream in which the indifferent affective tone of the dream content may be explained by a contrast in the dream thoughts. I have the following short dream to relate, which every reader will read with disgust:
IV. A bit of rising ground, and on it something like a toilet in the open; a very long bench, at the end of which is a large toilet aperture. All of the back edge is thickly covered with little heaps of excrement of all sizes and degrees of freshness. A shrub behind the bench. I urinate upon the bench; a long stream of urine rinses everything clean, the patches of excrement easily come off and fall into the opening. It seems as though something remained at the end nevertheless.
Why did I experience no disgust in this dream?
Because, as the analysis shows, the most pleasant and satisfying thoughts have co-operated in the formation of this dream. Upon analysing it I immediately think of the Augean stables cleansed by Hercules. I am this Hercules. The rising ground and the shrub belong to Aussee, where my children are now staying. I have discovered the infantile etiology of the neuroses and have thus guarded my own children from becoming ill. The bench (omitting the aperture, of course) is the faithful copy of a piece of furniture which an affectionate female patient has made me a present of. This recalls how my patients honour me. Even the museum of human excrement is susceptible of less disagreeable interpretation. However much I am disgusted with it, it is a souvenir of the beautiful land of Italy, where in little cities, as everyone knows, water-closets are not equipped in any other way. The stream of urine that washes everything clean is an unmistakable allusion to greatness. It is in this manner that Gulliver extinguishes the great fire in Lilliput; to be sure, he thereby incurs the displeasure of the tiniest of queens. In this way, too, Gargantua, the superman in Master Rabelais, takes vengeance upon the Parisians, straddling Notre Dame and training his stream of urine upon the city. Only yesterday I was turning over the leaves of Garnier’s illustrations of Rabelais before I went to bed. And, strangely enough, this is another proof that I am the superman! The platform of Notre Dame was my favourite nook in Paris; every free afternoon I was accustomed to go up into the towers of the church and climb about among the monsters and devil-masks there. The circumstances that all the excrement vanishes so rapidly before the stream correspond to the motto: Afflavit et dissipati sunt, which I shall some day make the title of a chapter on the therapeutics of hysteria.
And now as to the occasion giving rise to the dream. It had been a hot afternoon in summer; in the evening I had given a lecture on the relation between hysteria and the perversions, and everything which I had to say displeased me thoroughly, appeared to me stripped of all value. I was tired, found no trace of pleasure in my difficult task, and longed to get away from this rummaging in human filth, to see my children and then the beauties of Italy. In this mood I went from the auditorium to a café to find some modest refreshment in the open air, for my appetite had left me. But one of my audience went with me; he begged for permission to sit with me while I drank my coffee and gulped down my roll, and began to say flattering things to me. He told me how much he had learned from me, and that he now looked at everything through different eyes, that I had cleansed the Augean stables, i.e. the theory of the neuroses, of its errors and prejudices—in short, that I was a very great man. My mood was ill-suited to his song of praise; I struggled with disgust, and went home earlier in order to extricate myself. Before I went to sleep I turned over the leaves of Rabelais, and read a short story by C. F. Meyer entitled Die Leiden eines Knaben (The Hardships of a Boy).
The dream had been drawn from these materials, and the novel by Meyer added the recollection of childish scenes (cf. the dream about Count Thun, last scene). The mood of the day, characterised by disgust and annoyance, is continued in the dream in the sense that it is permitted to furnish nearly the entire material for the dream content. But during the night the opposite mood of vigorous and even exaggerated self-assertion was awakened, and dissipated the earlier mood. The dream had to take such a form as to accommodate the expression of self-depreciation and exaggerated self-assertion in the same material. This compromise formation resulted in an ambiguous dream content, but likewise in an indifferent strain of feeling owing to the restraint of the contrasts upon each other.
According to the theory of wish-fulfilment this dream could not have happened had not the suppressed, but at the same time pleasurable, train of thought concerning personal aggrandisement been coupled with the opposing thoughts of disgust. For disagreeable things are not intended to be represented by the dream; painful thoughts that have occurred during the day can force their way into the dream only if they lend a cloak to the wish-fulfilment. The dream activity can dispose of the affects in the dream thoughts in still another way, besides admitting them or reducing them to zero. It can change them into their opposite. We have already become acquainted with the rule of interpretation that every element of the dream may be interpreted by its opposite, as well as by itself. One can never tell at the outset whether to set down the one or the other; only the connection can decide this point. A suspicion of this state of affairs has evidently got into popular consciousness; dream books very often proceed according to the principle of contraries in their interpretation. Such transformation into opposites is made possible by the intimate concatenation of associations, which in our thoughts finds the idea of a thing in that of its opposite. Like every other displacement this serves the purposes of the censor, but it is also often the work of the wish-fulfilment, for wish-fulfilment consists precisely in this substitution of an unwelcome thing by its opposite. The emotions of the dream thoughts may appear in the dream transformed into their opposites just as well as the ideas, and it is probable that this inversion of emotions is usually brought about by the dream censor. The suppression and inversion of affects are useful in social life, as the current analogy for the dream censor has shown us—above all, for purposes of dissimulation. If I converse with a person to whom I must show consideration while I am saying unpleasant things to him, it is almost more important that I should conceal the expression of my emotion from him, than that I modify the wording of my thoughts. If I speak to him in polite words, but accompany them by looks or gestures of hatred and disdain, the effect which I produce upon this person is not very different from what it would have been if I had recklessly thrown my contempt into his face. Above all, then, the censor bids me suppress my emotions, and if I am master of the art of dissimulation, I can hypocritically show the opposite emotion—smiling where I should like to be angry, and pretending affection where I should like to destroy.
We already know of an excellent example of such an inversion of emotion for the purposes of the dream censor. In the dream about my uncle’s beard I feel great affection for my friend R., at the same time that, and because, the dream thoughts berate him as a simpleton. We have drawn our first proof for the existence of the censor from this example of the inversion of emotions. Nor is it necessary here to assume that the dream activity creates a counter emotion of this kind out of nothing; it usually finds it lying ready in the material of the dream thoughts, and intensifies it solely with the psychic force of the resisting impulse until a point is reached where the emotion can be won over for the formation of the dream. In the dream of my uncle, just mentioned, the affectionate counter emotion has probably originated from an infantile source (as the continuation of the dream would suggest), for the relation between uncle and nephew has become the source of all my friendships and hatreds, owing to the peculiar nature of my childish experiences (cf. analysis on p. 334).
There is a class of dreams deserving the designation “hypocritical,” which puts the theory of wish-fulfilment to a severe test. My attention was called to them when Mrs. Dr. M. Hilferding brought up for discussion in the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society the dream reported by Rosegger, which is reprinted below.
In Waldheimat, vol. xi., Rosegger writes as follows in his story, Fremd gemacht, p. 303:
In considering dreams reported by a poet one may often assume that he has excluded from the report those details which he perceived as disturbing and which he considered unessential. His dreams, then, give us a riddle which could be readily solved if we had an exact reproduction of the dream content.
O. Rank has called my attention to the fact that in Grimm’s fairy tale of the valiant little tailor, or “Seven at one Stroke,” a very similar dream of an upstart is related. The tailor, who became the hero and married the king’s daughter, dreamed one night while with the princess, his wife, about his trade; the latter, becoming suspicious, ordered armed guards for the following night, who should listen to what was spoken in the dream, and who should do away with the dreamer. But the little tailor was warned, and knew enough to correct his dream.
The complex of processes—of suspension, subtraction, and inversion—through which the affects of the dream thoughts finally become those of the dream, may well be observed in the suitable synthesis of completely analysed dreams. I shall here treat a few cases of emotional excitement in the dream which furnish examples of some of the cases discussed.
In the dream about the odd task which the elder Bruecke gives me to perform—of preparing my own pelvis—the appropriate horror is absent in the dream itself. Now this is a wish-fulfilment in various senses. Preparation signifies self-analysis, which I accomplish, as it were, by publishing my book on dreams, and which has been so disagreeable to me that I have already postponed printing the finished manuscript for more than a year. The wish is now actuated that I may disregard this feeling of opposition. and for that reason I feel no horror (Grauen, which also means to grow grey) in the dream. I should also like to escape the horror—in the other (German) sense—of growing grey; for I am already growing grey fast. and the grey in my hair warns me withal to hold back no longer. For we know that at the end of the dream the thought secures expression in that I should have to leave my children to get to the goal of their difficult journey.
In the two dreams that shift the expression of satisfaction to the moments immediately after awakening, this satisfaction is in the one case motivated by the expectation that I am now going to learn what is meant by “I have already dreamed of it,” and refers in reality to the birth of my first child, and in the other case it is motivated by the conviction that “that which has been announced by a sign” is now going to happen, and the latter satisfaction is the same which I felt at the arrival of my second son. Here the same emotions that dominated in the dream thoughts have remained in the dream, but the process is probably not so simple as this in every dream. If the two analyses are examined a little, it will be seen that this satisfaction which does not succumb to the censor receives an addition from a source which must fear the censor; and the emotion drawn from this source would certainly arouse opposition if it did not cloak itself in a similar emotion of satisfaction that is willingly admitted, if it did not, as it were, sneak in behind the other. Unfortunately, I am unable to show this in the case of the actual dream specimen, but an example from another province will make my meaning intelligible. I construct the following case: Let there be a person near me whom I hate so that a strong feeling arises in me that I should be glad if something were to happen to him. But the moral part of my nature does not yield to this sentiment; I do not dare to express this ill-wish, and when something happens to him which he does not deserve, I suppress my satisfaction at it, and force myself to expressions and thoughts of regret. Everyone will have found himself in such a position. But now let it happen that the hated person draws upon himself a well-deserved misfortune by some fault; now I may give free rein to my satisfaction that he has been visited by a just punishment, and I express opinion in the matter which coincides with that of many other people who are impartial. But I can see that my satisfaction turns out to be more intense than that of the others, for it has received an addition from another source—from my hatred, which has hitherto been prevented by the inner censor from releasing an emotion, but which is no longer prevented from doing so under the altered circumstances. This case is generally typical of society, where persons who have aroused antipathy or are adherents of an unpopular minority incur guilt. Their punishment does not correspond to their transgression but to their transgression plus the ill-will directed against them that has hitherto been ineffective. Those who execute the punishment doubtless commit an injustice, but they are prevented from becoming aware of it by the satisfaction arising from the release within themselves of a suppression of long standing. In such cases the emotion is justified according to its quality, but not according to its quantity; and the self-criticism that has been appeased as to the one point is only too ready to neglect examination of the second point. Once you have opened the doors, more people get through than you originally intended to admit.
The striking feature of the neurotic character, that incitements capable of producing emotion bring about a result that is qualitatively justified but is quantitatively excessive, is to be explained in this manner, in so far as it admits of a psychological explanation at all. The excess is due to sources of emotion which have remained unconscious and have hitherto been suppressed, which can establish in the associations a connection with the actual incitement, and which can thus find release for its emotions through the vent which the unobjectionable and admitted source of emotion opens. Our attention is thus called to the fact that we may not consider the relation of mutual restraint as obtaining exclusively between the suppressed and the suppressing psychic judgment. The cases in which the two judgments bring about a pathological emotion by co-operation and mutual strengthening deserve just as much attention. The reader is requested to apply these hints regarding the psychic mechanism for the purpose of understanding the expressions of emotion in the dream. A satisfaction which makes its appearance in the dream, and which may readily be found at its proper place in the dream thoughts, may not always be fully explained by means of this reference. As a rule it will be necessary to search for a second source in the dream thoughts, upon which the pressure of the censor is exerted, and which under the pressure would have resulted not in satisfaction, but in the opposite emotion—which, however, is enabled by the presence of the first source to free its satisfaction affect from suppression and to reinforce the satisfaction springing from the other source. Hence emotions in the dream appear as though formed by the confluence of several tributaries, and as though over-determined in reference to the material of the dream thoughts; sources of affect which can furnish the same affect join each other in the dream activity in order to produce it.
Some insight into these tangled relations is gained from analysis of the admirable dream in which “Non vixit” constitutes the central point (cf. p. 333). The expressions of emotion in this dream, which are of different qualities, are forced together at two points in the manifest content. Hostile and painful feelings (in the dream itself we have the phrase, “seized by strange emotions”) overlap at the point where I destroy my antagonistic friend with the two words. At the end of the dream I am greatly pleased, and am quite ready to believe in a possibility which I recognise as absurd when I am awake, namely, that there are revenants who can be put out of the way by a mere wish.
I have not yet mentioned the occasion for this dream. It is an essential one, and goes a long way towards explaining it. I had received the news from my friend in Berlin (whom I have designated as F.) that he is about to undergo an operation and that relatives of his living in Vienna would give me information about his condition. The first few messages after the operation were not reassuring, and caused me anxiety. I should have liked best to go to him myself, but at that time I was affected with a painful disease which made every movement a torture for me. I learn from the dream thoughts that I feared for the life of my dear friend. I knew that his only sister, with whom I had not been acquainted, had died early after the shortest possible illness. (In the dream F. tells about his sister, and says: “In three-quarters of an hour she was dead.”) I must have imagined that his own constitution was not much stronger, and that I should soon be travelling, in spite of my health, in answer to far worse news—and that I should arrive too late, for which I should reproach myself for ever. This reproach about arriving too late has become the central point of the dream, but has been represented in a scene in which the honoured teacher of my student years—Bruecke—reproaches me for the same thing with a terrible look from his blue eyes. The cause of this deviation from the scene will soon be clear; the dream cannot reproduce the scene itself in the manner in which it occurred to me. To be sure, it leaves the blue eyes to the other man, but it gives me the part of the annihilator, an inversion which is obviously the result of the wish-fulfilment. My concern for the life of my friend, my self-reproach for not having gone to him, my shame (he had repeatedly come to me in Vienna), my desire to consider myself excused on account of my illness—all of this makes up a tempest of feeling which is distinctly felt in sleep, and which raged in every part of the dream thoughts.
But there was another thing about the occasion for the dream which had quite the opposite effect. With the unfavourable news during the first days of the operation, I also received the injunction to speak to no one about the whole affair, which hurt my feelings, for it betrayed an unnecessary distrust of my discretion. I knew, of course, that this request did not proceed from my friend, but that it was due to clumsiness or excessive timidity on the part of the messenger. but the concealed reproach made me feel very badly because it was not altogether unjustified. Only reproaches which “have something in them” have power to irritate, as everyone knows. For long before, in the case of two persons who were friendly to each other and who were willing to honour me with their friendship, I had quite needlessly tattled what the one had said about the other; to be sure this incident had nothing to do with the affairs of my friend F. Nor have I forgotten the reproaches which I had to listen to at that time. One of the two friends between whom I was the trouble-maker was Professor Fleischl; the other one I may name Joseph, a name which was also borne by my friend and antagonist P., who appears in the dream.
Two dream elements, first inconspicuously, and secondly the question of Fl. as to how much of his affairs I have mentioned to P., give evidence of the reproach that I am incapable of keeping anything to myself. But it is the admixture of these recollections which transposes the reproach for arriving too late from the present to the time when I was living in Bruecke’s laboratory; and by replacing the second person in the annihilation scene of the dream by a Joseph I succeed in representing not only the first reproach that I arrive too late, but also a second reproach, which is more rigorously suppressed, that I keep no secrets. The condensing and replacing activity of this dream, as well as the motives for it, are now obvious.
My anger at the injunction not to give anything away, originally quite insignificant, receives confirmation from sources that flow far below the surface, and so become a swollen stream of hostile feelings towards persons who are in reality dear to me. The source which furnishes the confirmation is to be found in childhood. I have already said that my friendships as well as my enmities with persons of my own age go back to my childish relations with my nephew, who was a year older than I. In these he had the upper hand, and I early learned how to defend myself; we lived together inseparably, loved each other, and at the same time, as statements of older persons testify, scuffled with and accused each other. In a certain sense all my friends are incarnations of this first figure, “which early appeared to my blurred sight”; they are all revenants. My nephew himself returned in the years of adolescence, and then we acted Cæsar and Brutus. An intimate friend and a hated enemy have always been indispensable requirements for my emotional life; I have always been able to create them anew, and not infrequently my childish ideal has been so closely approached that friend and enemy coincided in the same person, not simultaneously, of course, nor in repeated alterations, as had been the case in my first childhood years.
I do not here wish to trace the manner in which a recent occasion for emotion may reach back to one in childhood—through connections like these I have just described—in order to find a substitute for itself, in this earlier occasion for the sake of increased emotional effect. Such an investigation would belong to the psychology of the unconscious, and would find its place in a psychological explanation of neuroses. Let us assume for the purposes of dream interpretation that a childhood recollection makes its appearance or is formed by the fancy, say to the following effect: Two children get into a fight on account of some object—just what we shall leave undecided, although memory or an allusion of memory has a very definite one in mind—and each one claims that he got to it first, and that he, therefore, has first right to it. They come to blows, for might makes right; and, according to the intimation of the dream, I must have known that I was in the wrong (noticing the error myself), but this time I remain the stronger and take possession of the battlefield; the defeated combatant hurries to my father, his grandfather, and accuses me, and I defend myself with the words which I know from my father: “I hit him because he hit me.” Thus this recollection, or more probably fancy, which forces itself upon my attention in the course of the analysis—from my present knowledge I myself do not know how—becomes an intermediary of the dream thoughts that collects the emotional excitements obtaining in the dream thoughts, as the bowl of a fountain collects the streams of water flowing into it. From this point the dream thoughts flow along the following paths: “It serves you quite right if you had to vacate your place for me; why did you try to force me out of my place? I don’t need you; I’ll soon find someone else to play with,” &c. Then the ways are opened through which these thoughts again follow into the representation of the dream. For such an “ôte-toi que je m’y mette” I once had to reproach my deceased friend Joseph. He had been next to me in the line of promotion in Bruecke’s laboratory, but advancement there was very slow. Neither of the two assistants budged from bis place, and youth became impatient. My friend, who knew that his time of life was limited, and who was bound by no tie to his superior, was a man seriously ill; the wish for his removal permitted an objectionable interpretation—he might be moved by something besides promotion. Several years before, the same wish for freedom had naturally been more intense in my own case; wherever in the world there are gradations of rank and advancement, the doors are opened for wishes needing suppression. Shakespeare’s Prince Hal cannot get rid of the temptation to see how the crown fits even at the bed of his sick father. But, as may easily be understood, the dream punishes this ruthless wish not upon me but upon him.
“As he was ambitious, I slew him.” As he could not wait for the other man to make way for him, he himself has been put out of the way. I harbour these thoughts immediately after attending the unveiling of the statue to the other man at the university. A part of the satisfaction which I feel in the dream may therefore be interpreted: Just punishment; it served you right.
At the funeral of this friend a young man made the following remark, which seemed out of place: “The preacher talked as though the world couldn’t exist without this one human being.” The displeasure of the sincere man, whose sorrow has been marred by the exaggeration, begins to arise in him. But with this speech are connected the dream thoughts: “No one is really irreplaceable; how many men have I already escorted to the grave, but I am still living, I have survived them all, I claim the field.” Such a thought at the moment when I fear that when I travel to see him I shall find my friend no longer among the living, permits only of the further development that I am glad I am surviving someone, that it is not I who have died, but he—that I occupy the field as I once did in the fancied scene in childhood. This satisfaction, coming from sources in childhood, at the fact that I claim the field, covers the larger part of the emotion which appears in the dream. I am glad that I am the survivor—I express this sentiment with the naïve egotism of the husband who says to his wife: “If one of us dies, I shall move to Paris.” It is such a matter of course for my expectation that I am not to be the one.
It cannot be denied that great self-control is necessary to interpret one’s dreams and to report them. It is necessary for you to reveal yourself as the one scoundrel among all the noble souls with whom you share the breath of life. Thus, I consider it quite natural that revenants exist only as long as they are wanted, and that they can be obviated by a wish. This is the thing for which my friend Joseph has been punished. But the revenants are the successive incarnations of the friend of my childhood; I am also satisfied at the fact that I have replaced this person for myself again and again, and a substitute will doubtless soon be found even for the friend whom I am about to lose. No one is irreplaceable.
But what has the dream censor been doing meanwhile? Why does it not raise the most emphatic objection to a train of thought characterised by such brutal selfishness, and change the satisfaction that adheres to it into profound repugnance? I think it is because other unobjectionable trains of thought likewise result in satisfaction and cover the emotion coming from forbidden infantile sources with their own. In another stratum of thought I said to myself at that festive unveiling: “I have lost so many dear friends, some through death, some through the dissolution of friendship—is it not beautiful that I have found substitutes for them, that I have gained one who means more to me than the others could, whom I shall from now on always retain, at the age when it is not easy to form new friendships?” The satisfaction that I have found this substitute for lost friends can be taken over into the dream without interference, but behind it there sneaks in the inimical satisfaction from the infantile source. Childish affection undoubtedly assists in strengthening the justifiable affection of to-day; but childish hatred has also found its way into the representation.
But besides this there is distinct reference in the dream to another chain of thoughts, which may manifest itself in the form of satisfaction. My friend had shortly before had a little daughter born, after long waiting. I knew how much he had grieved for the sister whom he lost at an early age, and I wrote to him that he would transfer to this child the love he had felt for her. This little girl would at last make him forget his irreparable loss.
Thus this chain also connects with the intermediary thoughts of the latent dream content, from which the ways spread out in opposite directions: No one is irreplaceable. You see, nothing but revenants; all that one has lost comes back. And now the bonds of association between the contradictory elements of the dream thoughts are more tightly drawn by the accidental circumstance that the little daughter of my friend bears the same name as the girl playmate of my own youth, who was just my own age and the sister of my oldest friend and antagonist. I have heard the name “Pauline” with satisfaction, and in order to allude to this coincidence I have replaced one Joseph in the dream by another Joseph, and have not overlooked the similarity in sound between the names Fleischl and F. From this point a train of thought runs to the naming of my own children. I insisted that the names should not be chosen according to the fashion of the day but should be determined by regard for the memory of beloved persons. The children’s names make them “revenants.” And, finally, is not the having of children the only access to immortality for us all?
I shall add only a few remarks about the emotions of the dream from another point of view. An emotional inclination—what we call a mood—may occur in the mind of a sleeping person as its dominating element, and may induce a corresponding mood in the dream. This mood may be the result of the experiences and thoughts of the day, or it may be of somatic origin; in either case it will be accompanied by the chains of thought that correspond to it. The fact that in the one case this presentation content conditions the emotional inclination primarily, and that in the other case it is brought about secondarily by a disposition of feeling of somatic origin remains without influence upon the formation of the dream. This formation is always subject to the restriction that it can represent only a wish-fulfilment, and that it may put its psychic motive force at the service only of the wish. The mood that is actually present will receive the same treatment as the sensation which actually comes to the surface during sleep (cf. p. 198), which is either neglected or reinterpreted so as to signify a wish-fulfilment. Disagreeable moods during sleep become a motive force of the dream by actuating energetic wishes, which the dream must fulfil. The material to which they are attached is worked over until it finally becomes suitable for the expression of the fulfilled wish. The more intense and the more dominating the element of the disagreeable mood in the dream thought, the more surely will the wish-impulses that have been most rigorously suppressed take advantage of the opportunity to secure representation, for they find that the difficult part of the work necessary in securing representation has already been accomplished in that the repugnance is already actually in existence, which they would otherwise have had to produce by their own effort. With this discussion we again touch upon the problem of anxiety dreams, which we may regard as bounding the province of the dream activity.
We may at last proceed to an exposition of the fourth of the factors which take part in the formation of the dream.
If we continue the examination of the dream content, in the manner already outlined—that is, by testing striking occurrences as to their origin in the dream thoughts—we encounter elements which can be explained only by making an entirely new assumption. I have in mind cases where one shows astonishment, anger, or resistance in a dream, and that, too, against a party of the dream content itself. Most of these exercises of the critical faculty in dreams are not directed against the dream content, but prove to be portions of dream material which have been taken over and suitably made use of, as I have shown by fitting examples. Some things of this sort, however, cannot be disposed of in such a way; their correlative cannot be found in the dream material. What, for instance, is meant by the criticism not infrequent in dreams: “Well, it’s only a dream”? This is a genuine criticism of the dream such as I might make if I were awake. Not at all infrequently it is the forerunner to waking; still oftener it is preceded by a painful feeling, which subsides when the certainty of the dream state has been established. The thought: “But it’s only a dream,” occurring during the dream, has the same object which is meant to be conveyed on the stage through the mouth of the beautiful Helen von Offenbach; it wants to minimise what has just occurred and secure indulgence for what is to follow. Its purpose is to reassure and, so to speak, put to sleep a certain instance which at the given moment has every reason to be active and to forbid the continuation of the dream—or the scene. It is pleasanter to go on sleeping and to tolerate the dream, “because it’s only a dream anyway.” I imagine that the disparaging criticism. “But it’s only a dream,” enters into the dream at the moment when the censor, which has never been quite asleep, feels that it has been surprised by the already admitted dream. It is too late to suppress the dream, and the instance therefore carries with it that note of fear or of painful feeling which presents itself in the dream. It is an expression of the esprit d’escalier on the part of the psychic censor.
In this example we have faultless proof that not everything which the dream contains comes from the dream thoughts, but that a psychic function which cannot be differentiated from our waking thoughts may make contributions to the dream content. The question now is, does this occur only in altogether exceptional cases, or does the psychic instance which is usually active only as censor take a regular part in the formation of dreams?
One must decide unhesitatingly for the latter view. It is indisputable that the censoring instance, whose influence we have so far recognised only in limitations and omissions in the dream content, is also responsible for interpolations and amplifications in this content. Often these interpolations are easily recognised; they are reported irresolutely, prefaced by an “as if,” they are not in themselves particularly vivid, and are regularly inserted at points where they may serve to connect two portions of the dream content or improve the sequence between two sections of the dream. They manifest less ability to stick in the memory than genuine products of the dream material; if the dream is subject to forgetting, they are the first to fall away, and I am strongly inclined to believe that our frequent complaint that we have dreamed so much, that we have forgotten most of this and have remembered only fragments of it, rests on the immediate falling away of just these cementing thoughts. In a complete analysis these interpolations are often betrayed by the fact that no material is to be found for them in the dream thoughts. But after careful examination I must designate this case as a rare one; usually interpolated thoughts can be traced to an element in the dream thoughts, which, however, can claim a place in the dream neither on account of its own merit nor on account of over-determination. The psychic function in dream formation, which we are now considering, aspires to the original creations only in the most extreme cases; whenever possible, it makes use of anything available it can find in the dream material.
The thing which distinguishes and reveals this part of the dream activity is its tendency. This function proceeds in a manner similar to that which the poet spitefully attributes to the philosopher; with its scraps and rags, it stops up the breaches in the structure of the dream. The result of its effort is that the dream loses the appearance of absurdity and incoherence, and approaches the pattern of an intelligible experience. But the effort is not always crowned with complete success. Thus dreams occur which may seem faultlessly logical and correct upon superficial examination; they start from a possible situation, continue it by means of consistent changes, and end up—although this is very rare—with a not unnatural conclusion. These dreams have been subjected to the most thorough elaboration at the hands of a psychic function similar to our waking thought; they seem to have a meaning, but this meaning is very far removed from the real signification of the dream. If they are analysed, one is convinced that the secondary elaboration has distorted the material very freely, and has preserved its proper relations as little as possible. These are the dreams which have, so to speak, already been interpreted before we subject them to waking interpretation. In other dreams this purposeful elaboration has been successful only to a certain point; up to this point consistency seems to be dominant, then the dream becomes nonsensical or confused, and perhaps finally it lifts itself for a second time in its course to an appearance of rationality. In still other dreams the elaboration has failed completely; we find ourselves helpless in the presence of a senseless mass of fragmentary contents.
I do not wish to deny to this fourth dream-moulding power, which will soon seem to us a familiar one—it is in reality the only one among the four dream-moulders with which we are familiar,—I do not wish to deny this fourth factor the capability of creatively furnishing the dream with new contributions. But surely its influence, like that of the others, manifests itself preponderatingly in the preferring and choosing of already created psychic material in the dream thoughts. Now there is a case where it is spared the work, for the most part, of building, as it were, a façade to the dream, by the fact that such a structure, waiting to be used, is already to be found complete in the material of the dream thoughts. The element of the dream thoughts which I have in mind, I am in the habit of designating as a “phantasy”; perhaps I shall avoid misunderstanding if I immediately adduce the day dream of waking life as an analogy. The part played by this element in our psychic life has not yet been fully recognised and investigated by the psychiatrists; in this study M. Benedikt has, it seems to me, made a highly promising beginning. The significance of the day dream has not yet escaped the unerring insight of poets; the description of the day dreams of one of his subordinate characters which A. Daudet gives us in Nabab is universally known. A study of the psychoneuroses discloses the astonishing fact that these phantasies or day dreams are the immediate predecessors of hysterical symptoms—at least of a great many of them; hysterical symptoms directly depend not upon the memories themselves, but upon phantasies built on the basis of memories. The frequent occurrence of conscious day phantasies brings these formations within the scope of our knowledge; but just as there are such conscious phantasies, so there are a great many unconscious ones, which must remain unconscious on account of their content and on account of their origin from repressed material. A more thorough examination into the character of these day phantasies shows with what good reason the same name has been given to these formations as to the products of our nocturnal thought,—dreams. They possess an essential part of their properties in common with nocturnal dreams; an examination of them would really have afforded the shortest and best approach to an understanding of night dreams.
Like dreams, they are fulfilments of wishes; like dreams a good part of them are based upon the impressions of childish experiences; like dreams their creations enjoy a certain amount of indulgence from the censor. If we trace their formation, we see how the wish motive, which is active in their production, has taken the material of which they are built, mixed it together, rearranged it, and composed it into a new unit. They bear the same relation to the childish memories, to which they go back, as some of the quaint palaces of Rome bear to the ancient ruins, whose freestones and pillars have furnished the material for the structure built in modern form.
In the “secondary elaboration” of the dream content which we have ascribed to our fourth dream-making factor, we again find the same activity which in the creation of day dreams is allowed to manifest itself unhampered by other influences. We may say without further preliminary that this fourth factor of ours seeks to form something like a day dream from the material at hand. Where, however, such a day dream has already been formed in connection with the dream thought, this factor of the dream-work will preferably get control of it, and strive to introduce it into the dream content. There are dreams which consist merely of the repetition of such a day fancy, a fancy which has perhaps remained unconscious—as, for instance, the dream of the boy that he is riding with the heroes of the Trojan war in a war chariot. In my dream “Autodidasker,” at least the second part of the dream is the faithful repetition of a day phantasy—harmless in itself—about my dealings with Professor N. The fact that the phantasy thus provided more often forms only one part of the dream, or that only one part of the phantasy that makes its way to the dream content, has its origin in the complexity of the conditions which the dream must satisfy at its genesis. On the whole, the phantasy is treated like any other component of the latent material; still it is often recognisable in the dream as a whole. In my dreams parts often occur which are emphasized by an impression different from that of the rest. They seem to me to be in a state of flux, to be more coherent and at the same time more transient than other pieces of the same dream. I know that these are unconscious phantasies which get into the dream by virtue of their association, but I have never succeeded in registering such a phantasy. For the rest these phantasies, like all other component parts of the dream thoughts, are jumbled together and condensed, one covered up by another, and the like; but there are all degrees, from the case where they may constitute the dream content or at least the dream façade unchanged to the opposite case, where they are represented in the dream content by only one of their elements or by a remote allusion to such an element. The extent to which the phantasies are able to withstand the demands of the censor and the tendency to condensation are, of course, also decisive of their fate among the dream thoughts.
In my choice of examples for dream analysis I have, wherever possible, avoided those dreams in which unconscious fancies play a somewhat important part, because the introduction of this psychic element would have necessitated extensive discussion of the psychology of unconscious thought. But I cannot entirely omit the “phantasy” even in this matter of examples, because it often gets fully into the dream and still more often distinctly pervades it. I may mention one more dream, which seems to be composed of two distinct and opposed phantasies, overlapping each other at certain places, of which the first is superficial, while the second becomes, as it were, the interpreter of the first.
The dream—it is the only one for which I have no careful notes—is about to this effect: The dreamer—an unmarried young man—is sitting in an inn, which is seen correctly; several persons come to get him, among them someone who wants to arrest him. He says to his “table companions, “I will pay later, I am coming back.” But they call to him, laughing scornfully: “We know all about that; that’s what everybody says.” One guest calls after him: “There goes another one.” He is then led to a narrow hall, where he finds a woman with a child in her arms. One of his escorts says: “That is Mr. Müller.” A commissioner or some other official is running through a bundle of tickets or papers repeating Müller, Müller, Müller. At last the commissioner asks him a question, which he answers with “Yes.” He then takes a look at the woman, and notices that she has grown a large beard.
The two component parts are here easily separated. What is superficial is the phantasy of being arrested; it seems to be newly created by the dream-work. But behind it appears the phantasy of marriage, and this material, on the contrary, has undergone but slight change at the hands of the dream activity. The features which are common to both phantasies come into distinct prominence as in a Galton’s composite photograph. The promise of the bachelor to come back to his place at the club table, the scepticism of the drinking companions, sophisticated in their many experiences, the calling after: “There goes (marries) another one,”—all these features can easily be capable of the other interpretation. Likewise the affirmative answer given to the official. Running through the bundle of papers with the repetition of the name, corresponds to a subordinate but well-recognised feature of the marriage ceremonies—the reading aloud of the congratulatory telegrams which have arrived irregularly, and which, of course, are all addressed to the same name. In the matter of the bride’s personal appearance in this dream, the marriage phantasy has even got the better of the arrest phantasy which conceals it. The fact that this bride finally displays a beard, I can explain from an inquiry—I had no chance to make an analysis. The dreamer had on the previous day crossed the street with a friend who was just as hostile to marriage as himself, and had called his friend’s attention to a beautiful brunette who was coming towards them. The friend had remarked: “Yes, if only these women wouldn’t get beards, as they grow older, like their fathers.”
Of course there is no lack of elements in this dream, on which the dream disfigurement has done more thorough work. Thus the speech: “I will pay later,” may have reference to the conduct of the father-in-law in the matter of dowry—which is uncertain. Obviously all kinds of scruples are preventing the dreamer from surrendering himself with pleasure to the phantasy of marrying. One of these apprehensions—lest one’s freedom be lost when one marries—has embodied itself in the transformation to a scene of arrest.
Let us return to the thesis that the dream activity likes to make use of a phantasy which is finished and at hand, instead of creating one afresh from the material of the dream thoughts; we shall perhaps solve one of the most interesting riddles of the dream if we keep this fact in mind. I have on page 21 related the dream of Maury, 48 who is struck on the back of the neck with a stick, and who awakes in the possession of a long dream—a complete romance from the time of the French Revolution. Since the dream is represented as coherent and as explicable by reference to the disturbing stimulus alone, about the occurrence of which stimulus the sleeper could suspect nothing, only one assumption seems to be left, namely, that the whole richly elaborated dream must have been composed and must have taken place in the short space of time between the falling of the stick on Maury’s cervical vertebra and the awakening induced by the blow. We should not feel justified in ascribing such rapidity to the waking mental activity, and so are inclined to credit the dream activity with a remarkable acceleration of thought as one of its characteristics.
Against this inference, which rapidly becomes popular, more recent authors (Le Lorrain, 45 Egger, 20 and others) have made emphatic objection. They partly doubt the correctness with which the dream was reported by Maury, and partly try to show that the rapidity of our waking mental capacity is quite as great as that which we may concede without reservation to the dream activity. The discussion raises fundamental questions, the settlement of which I do not think concerns me closely. But I must admit that the argument, for instance, of Egger has not impressed me as convincing against the guillotine dream of Maury. I would suggest the following explanation of this dream: Would it be very improbable that the dream of Maury exhibits a phantasy which had been preserved in his memory in a finished state for years, and which was awakened—I should rather say alluded to—at the moment when he became aware of the disturbing stimulus? The difficulty of composing such a long story with all its details in the exceedingly short space of time which is here at the disposal of the dreamer then disappears; the story is already composed. If the stick had struck Maury’s neck when he was awake there would perhaps have been time for the thought: “Why, that’s like being guillotined.” But as he is struck by the stick while asleep, the dream activity quickly finds occasion in the incoming stimulus to construct a wish-fulfilment, as though it thought (this is to be taken entirely figuratively): “Here is a good opportunity to realise the wish phantasy which I formed at such and such a time while I was reading.” That this dream romance is just such a one as a youth would be likely to fashion under the influence of powerful impressions does not seem questionable to me. Who would not have been carried away—especially a Frenchman and a student of the history of civilisation—by descriptions of the Reign of Terror, in which the aristocracy, men and women, the flower of the nation, showed that it was possible to die with a light heart, and preserved their quick wit and refinement of life until the fatal summons? How tempting to fancy one’s self in the midst of all this as one of the young men who parts from his lady with a kiss of the hand to climb fearlessly upon the scaffold! Or perhaps ambition is the ruling motive of the phantasy—the ambition to put one’s self in the place of one of those powerful individuals who merely, by the force of their thinking and their fiery eloquence, rule the city in which the heart of mankind is beating so convulsively, who are impelled by conviction to send thousands of human beings to their death, and who pave the way for the transformation of Europe; who, meanwhile, are not sure of their own heads, and may one day lay them under the knife of the guillotine, perhaps in the rôle of one of the Girondists or of the hero Danton? The feature, “accompanied by an innumerable multitude,” which is preserved in the memory, seems to show that Maury’s phantasy is an ambitious one of this sort.
But this phantasy, which has for a long time been ready, need not be experienced again in sleep; it suffices if it is, so to speak, “touched off.” What I mean is this: If a few notes are struck and someone says, as in Don Juan: “That is from Figaro’s Wedding by Mozart,” memories suddenly surge up within me, none of which I can in the next moment recall to consciousness. The characteristic phrase serves as an entrance station from which a complete whole is simultaneously put in motion. It need not be different in the case of unconscious thought. The psychic station which opens the way to the whole guillotine phantasy is set in motion by the waking stimulus. This phantasy, however, is not passed in review during sleep, but only afterwards in waking memory. Upon awakening one remembers the details of the phantasy, which in the dream was regarded as a whole. There is, withal, no means of making sure that one really has remembered anything which has been dreamed. The same explanation, namely, that one is dealing with finished phantasies which have been set in motion as wholes by the waking stimulus, may be applied to still other dreams which proceed from a waking stimulus—for instance to the battle dream of Napoleon at the explosion of the bomb. I do not mean to assert that all waking dreams admit of this explanation, or that the problem of the accelerated discharge of ideas in dreams is to be altogether solved in this manner.
We must not neglect the relation of this secondary elaboration of the dream content to the other factors in the dream activity. Might the procedure be as follows: the dream-creating factors, the impulse to condense, the necessity of evading the censor, and the regard for dramatic fitness in the psychic resources of the dream—these first of all create a provisional dream content, and this is then subsequently modified until it satisfies the exactions of a second instance? This is hardly probable. It is necessary rather to assume that the demands of this instance are from the very beginning lodged in one of the conditions which the dream must satisfy, and that this condition, just like those of condensation, of censorship, and of dramatic fitness, simultaneously affect the whole mass of material in the dream thoughts in an inductive and selective manner. But of the four conditions necessary for the dream formation, the one last recognised is the one whose exactions appear to be least binding upon the dream. That this psychic function, which undertakes the so-called secondary elaboration of the dream content is identical with the work of our waking thought may be inferred with great probability from the following consideration:—Our waking (foreconscious) thought behaves towards a given object of perception just exactly as the function in question behaves towards the dream content. It is natural for our waking thought to bring about order in the material of perception, to construct relationships, and to make it subject to the requirements of an intelligible coherence. Indeed, we go too far in doing this; the tricks of prestidigitators deceive us by taking advantage of this intellectual habit. In our effort to put together the sensory impressions which are offered to us in a comprehensible manner, we often commit the most bizarre errors and even distort the truth of the material we have before us. Proofs for this are too generally familiar to need more extended consideration here. We fail to see errors in a printed page because our imagination pictures the proper words. The editor of a widely-read French paper is said to have risked the wager that he could print the words “from in front” or “from behind” in every sentence of a long article without any of his readers noticing it. He won the wager. A curious example of incorrect associations years ago caught my attention in a newspaper. After the session of the French chamber, at which Dupuy quelled a panic caused by the explosion of a bomb thrown into the hall by an anarchist by saying calmly, “La séance continue,” the visitors in the gallery were asked to testify as to their impression of the attempted assassination. Among them were two provincials. One of these told that immediately after the conclusion of a speech he had heard a detonation, but had thought that it was the custom in parliament to fire a shot whenever a speaker had finished. The other, who had apparently already heard several speakers, had got the same idea, with the variation, however, that he supposed this shooting to be a sign of appreciation following an especially successful speech.
Thus the psychic instance which approaches the dream content with the demand that it must be intelligible, which subjects it to preliminary interpretation, and in doing so brings about a complete misunderstanding of it, is no other than our normal thought. In our interpretation the rule will be in every case to disregard the apparent coherence of the dream as being of suspicious origin, and, whether the elements are clear or confused, to follow the same regressive path to the dream material.
We now learn upon what the scale of quality in dreams from confusion to clearness—mentioned above, page 305—essentially depends. Those parts of the dream with which the secondary elaboration has been able to accomplish something seem to us clear; those where the power of this activity has failed seem confused. Since the confused parts of the dream are often also those which are less vividly imprinted, we may conclude that the secondary dream-work is also responsible for a contribution to the plastic intensity of the individual dream structures.
If I were to seek an object of comparison for the definitive formation of the dream as it manifests itself under the influence of normal thinking, none better offers itself than those mysterious inscriptions with which Die Fliegende Blaetter has so long amused its readers. The reader is supposed to find a Latin inscription concealed in a given sentence which, for the sake of contrast, is in dialect and as scurrilous as possible in significance. For this purpose the letters are taken from their groupings in syllables and are newly arranged. Now and then a genuine Latin word results, at other places we think that we have abbreviations of such words before us, and at still other places in the inscription we allow ourselves to be carried along over the senselessness of the disjointed letters by the semblance of disintegrated portions or by breaks in the inscription. If we do not wish to respond to the jest we must give up looking for an inscription, must take the letters as we see them, and must compose them into words of our mother tongue, unmindful of the arrangement which is offered.
I shall now undertake a résumé of this extended discussion of the dream activity. We were confronted by the question whether the mind exerts all its capabilities to the fullest development in dream formation, or only a fragment of its capabilities, and these restricted in their activity. Our investigation leads us to reject such a formulation of the question entirely as inadequate to our circumstances. But if we are to remain on the same ground when we answer as that on which the question is urged upon us, we must acquiesce in two conceptions which are apparently opposed and mutually exclusive. The psychic activity in dream formation resolves itself into two functions—the provision of the dream thoughts and the transformation of these into the dream content. The dream thoughts are entirely correct, and are formed with all the psychic expenditure of which we are capable; they belong to our thoughts which have not become conscious, from which our thoughts which have become conscious also result by means of a certain transposition. Much as there may be about them which is worth knowing and mysterious, these problems have no particular relation to the dream, and have no claim to be treated in connection with dream problems. On the other hand, there is that second portion of the activity which changes the unconscious thoughts into the dream content, an activity peculiar to dream life and characteristic of it. Now, this peculiar dream-work is much further removed from the model of waking thought than even the most decided depredators of psychic activity in dream formation have thought. It is not, one might say, more negligent, more incorrect, more easily forgotten, more incomplete than waking thought; it is something qualitatively altogether different from waking thought, and therefore not in any way comparable to it. It does not in general think, calculate, or judge at all, but limits itself to transforming. It can be exhaustively described if the conditions which must be satisfied at its creation are kept in mind. This product, the dream, must at any cost be withdrawn from the censor, and for this purpose the dream activity makes use of the displacement of psychic intensities up to the transvaluation of all psychic values; thoughts must exclusively or predominatingly be reproduced in the material of visual and acoustic traces of memory, and this requirement secures for the dream-work the regard for presentability, which meets the requirement by furnishing new displacements. Greater intensities are (probably) to be provided than are each night at the disposal of the dream thoughts, and this purpose is served by the prolific condensation which is undertaken with the component parts of the dream thoughts. Little attention is paid to the logical relations of the thought material; they ultimately find a veiled representation in the formal peculiarities of the dream. The affects of the dream thoughts undergo lesser changes than their presentation content. As a rule they are suppressed; where they are preserved they are freed from the presentations and put together according to their similarity. Only one part of the dream-work—the revision varying in amount, made by the partially roused conscious thought—at all agrees with the conception which the authors have tried to extend to the entire activity of dream formation.