Sigmund Freud (1856–1939). The Interpretation of Dreams. 1913.
VII. The Psychology of the Dream Activities
The essential facts of this illustrative dream are as follows: For days and nights a father had watched at the sick-bed of his child. After the child died, he retired to rest in an adjoining room, leaving the door ajar, however, so as to enable him to look from his room into the other, where the corpse lay surrounded by burning candles. An old man, who was left as a watch, sat near the corpse murmuring prayers. After sleeping a few hours the father dreamed that the child stood near his bed clasping his arms and calling out reproachfully, “Father, don’t you see that I am burning?” The father woke and noticed a bright light coming from the adjoining room. Rushing in, he found the old man asleep, and the covers and one arm of the beloved body burned by the fallen candle.
The meaning of this affecting dream is simple enough, and the explanation given by the lecturer, as my patient reported it, was correct. The bright light coming through the open door into the eyes of the sleeper produced the same impression on him as if he had been awake; namely, that a fire had been started near the corpse by a falling candle. It is quite possible that on going to sleep he feared that the aged guardian was not equal to his task.
We can find nothing to change in this interpretation. We can add only that the contents of the dream must be overdetermined, and that the talking of the child consisted of phrases that it had uttered while still living, which recalled to the father important events. Perhaps the complaint, “I am burning,” recalled the fever from which the child died, and the words quoted, “Father, don’t you see?” recalled an emotional occurrence unknown to us.
But after we have recognised the dream as a senseful occurrence which can be correlated with our psychic existence, it may be surprising that a dream should have taken place under circumstances which necessitated such immediate awakening. We also notice that the dream does not lack the wish-fulfilment. The child acts as if living; it warns the father itself; it comes to his bed and clasps his arms, as it probably did on the occasion which gave origin to the first part of the speech in the dream. It was for the sake of this wish-fulfilment that the father slept a moment longer. The dream triumphed over the conscious reflection because it could show the child once more alive. If the father had awakened first, and had then drawn the conclusion which led him into the adjoining room, he would have shortened the child’s life by this one moment.
The peculiar feature in this brief dream which engages our interest is quite plain. So far we have mainly endeavoured to ascertain wherein the secret meaning of the dream consists, in what way this is to be discovered, and what means the dream-work uses to conceal it. In other words, our greatest interest has hitherto centred on the problems of interpretation. We now encounter a dream, however, which can be easily explained, the sense of which is plainly presented; and we notice that in spite of this fact the dream still preserves the essential features which plainly differentiate our dreaming from our conscious thinking, and thus clearly demands an explanation. After clearing up all the problems of interpretation, we can still feel how imperfect our psychology of the dream is.
Before entering, however, into this new territory, let us stop and reflect whether we have not missed something important on our way hither. For it must be frankly admitted that we have been traversing the easy and comfortable part of our journey. Hitherto all the paths we have followed have led, if I mistake not, to light, to explication, and to full understanding, but from the moment that we wish to penetrate deeper into the psychic processes of the dream all paths lead into darkness. It is quite impossible to explain the dream as a psychic process, for to explain means to trace to the known, and as yet we do not possess any psychological knowledge under which we can range what may be inferred from our psychological investigation of dreams as their fundamental explanation. On the contrary, we shall be compelled to build a series of new assumptions concerning the structure of the psychic apparatus and its active forces; and this we shall have to be careful not to carry beyond the simplest logical concatenation, as its value may otherwise merge into uncertainty. And, even if we should make no mistake in our conclusions, and take cognisance of all the logical possibilities involved, we shall still be threatened with complete failure in our solution through the probable incompleteness of our elemental data. It will also be impossible to gain, or at least to establish, an explanation for the construction and workings of the psychic instrument even through a most careful investigation of the dream or any other single activity. On the contrary, it will be necessary for this end to bring together whatever appears decisively as constant after a comparative study of a whole series of psychic activities. Thus the psychological conceptions which we shall gain from an analysis of the dream process will have to wait, as it were, at the junction point until they can be connected with the results of other investigations which may have advanced to the nucleus of the same problem from another starting point.
I propose, then, first, to turn to a subject which has given rise to an objection hitherto unnoticed, threatening to undermine the foundation of our work in dream interpretation. It has been objected in more than one quarter that the dream which we wish to interpret is really unknown to us, or, to be more precise, that we have no assurance of knowing it as it has really occurred (see p. 37). What we recollect of the dream, and what we subject to our methods of interpretation, is in the first place disfigured through our treacherous memory, which seems particularly unfitted to retain the dream, and which may have omitted precisely the most important part of the dream content. For, when we pay attention to our dreams, we often find cause to complain that we have dreamed much more than we remember; that, unfortunately, we know nothing more than this one fragment, and that even this seems to us peculiarly uncertain. On the other hand, everything assures us that our memory reproduces the dream not only fragmentarily but also delusively and falsely. Just as on the one hand we may doubt whether the material dreamt was really as disconnected and confused as we remember it, so on the other hand may we doubt whether a dream was as connected as we relate it; whether in the attempt at reproduction we have not filled in the gaps existing or caused by forgetfulness with new material arbitrarily chosen; whether we have not embellished, rounded off, and prepared the dream so that all judgment as to its real content becomes impossible. Indeed, one author (Spitta 64) has expressed his belief that all that is orderly and connected is really first put into the dream during our attempt to recall it. Thus we are in danger of having wrested from our hands the very subject whose value we have undertaken to determine.
In our dream interpretations we have thus far ignored these warnings. Indeed, the demand for interpretation was. on the contrary, found to be no less perceptible in the smallest, most insignificant, and most uncertain ingredients of the dream content than in those containing the distinct and definite parts. In the dream of Irma’s injection we read, “I quickly called in Dr. M.,” and we assumed that even this small addendum would not have gotten into the dream if it had not had a special derivation. Thus we reached the history of that unfortunate patient to whose bed I “quickly” called in the older colleague. In the apparently absurd dream which treated the difference between 51 and 56 as quantité négligé, the number 51 was repeatedly mentioned. Instead of finding this self-evident or indifferent, we inferred from it a second train of thought in the latent content of the dream which led to the number 51. By following up this clue we came to the fears which placed 51 years as a limit of life, this being in most marked contrast to a dominant train of thought which boastfully knew no limit to life. In the dream “Non Vixit” I found, as an insignificant interposition that I at first overlooked, the sentence, “As P. does not understand him, Fl. asks me,” &c. The interpretation then coming to a standstill, I returned to these words, and found through them the way to the infantile phantasy, which appeared in the dream thoughts as an intermediary point of junction. This came about by means of the poet’s verses:
Every analysis will demonstrate by examples how the most insignificant features of the dream are indispensable to the analysis, and how the finishing of the task is delayed by the fact that attention is not at first directed to them. In the same way we have in the interpretation of dreams respected, every nuance of verbal expression found in the dream; indeed, if we were confronted by a senseless or insufficient wording betraying an unsuccessful effort to translate the dream in the proper style, we have even respected these defects of expression. In brief, what the authorities have considered arbitrary improvisation, concocted hastily to suit the occasion, we have treated like a sacred text. This contradiction requires an explanation.
It is in our favour, without disparagement to the authorities. From the viewpoint of our newly-acquired understanding concerning the origin of the dream, the contradictions fall into perfect agreement. It is true that we distort the dream in our attempt to reproduce it; and herein we find another instance of what we have designated as the often misunderstood secondary elaboration of the dream through the influence of normal thinking. But this distortion is itself only a part of the elaboration to which the dream thoughts are regularly subjected by virtue of the dream censor. The authorities have here divined or observed that part of the dream distortion most obviously at work; to us this is of little importance, for we know that a more prolific work of distortion, not so easily comprehensible, has already chosen the dream from among the concealed thoughts as its object. The authorities err only in considering the modifications of the dream while it is being recalled and put in words as arbitrary and insoluble; and hence, as likely to mislead us in the interpretation of the dream. We over-estimate the determination of the psychic. There is nothing arbitrary in this field. It can quite generally be shown that a second train of thought immediately undertakes the determination of the elements which have been left undetermined by the first. I wish, e.g., to think quite voluntarily of a number. This, however, is impossible. The number that occurs to me is definitely and necessarily determined by thoughts within me which may be far from my momentary intention. Just as far from arbitrary are the modifications which the dream experiences through the revision of the waking state. They remain in associative connection with the content, the place of which they take, and serve to show us the way to this content, which may itself be the substitute for another.
In the analysis of dreams with patients I am accustomed to institute the following proof of this assertion, which has never proved unsuccessful. If the report of a dream appears to me at first difficult to understand, I request the dreamer to repeat it. This he rarely does in the same words. The passages wherein the expression is changed have become known to me as the weak points of the dream’s disguise, which are of the same service to me as the embroidered mark on Siegfried’s raiment was to Hagen. The analysis may start from these points. The narrator has been admonished by my announcement that I mean to take special pains to solve the dream, and immediately, under the impulse of resistance, he protects the weak points of the dream’s disguise, replacing the treacherous expressions by remoter ones. He thus calls my attention to the expressions he has dropped. From the efforts made to guard against the solution of the dream, I can also draw conclusions as to the care with which the dream’s raiment was woven.
The authors are, however, less justified in giving so much importance to the doubt which our judgment encounters in relating the dream. It is true that this doubt betrays the lack of an intellectual assurance, but our memory really knows no guarantees, and yet, much more often than is objectively justified, we yield to the pressure of lending credence to its statements. The doubt concerning the correct representation of the dream, or of its individual data, is again only an offshoot of the dream censor—that is, of the resistance against penetration to consciousness of the dream thoughts. This resistance has not entirely exhausted itself in bringing about the displacements and substitutions, and it therefore adheres as doubt to what has been allowed to pass through. We can recognise this doubt all the easier through the fact that it takes care not to attack the intensive elements of the dream, but only the weak and indistinct ones. For we already know that a transvaluation of all the psychic values has taken place between the dream thoughts and the dream. The disfigurement has been made possible only by the alteration of values; it regularly manifests itself in this way and occasionally contents itself with this. If doubt attaches to an indistinct element of the dream content, we may, following the hint, recognise in this element a direct offshoot of one of the outlawed dream thoughts. It is here just as it was after a great revolution in one of the republics of antiquity or of the Renaissance. The former noble and powerful ruling families are now banished; all high positions are filled by upstarts; in the city itself only the very poor and powerless citizens or the distant followers of the vanquished party are tolerated. Even they do not enjoy the full rights of citizenship. They are suspiciously watched. Instead of the suspicion in the comparison, we have in our case the doubt. I therefore insist that in the analysis of dreams one should emancipate one’s self from the entire conception of estimating trustworthiness, and when there is the slightest possibility that this or that occurred in the dream, it should be treated as a full certainty. Until one has decided to reject these considerations in tracing the dream elements, the analysis will remain at a standstill. Antipathy toward the element concerned shows its psychic effect in the person analysed by the fact that the undesirable idea will evoke no thought in his mind. Such effect is really not self-evident. It would not be inconsistent if one would say: “Whether this or that was contained in the dream I do not know, but the following thoughts occur to me in this direction.” But he never expresses himself thus; and it is just this disturbing influence of doubt in the analysis that stamps it as an offshoot and instrument of the psychic resistance. Psychoanalysis is justly suspicious. One of its rules reads: Whatever disturbs the continuation of the work is a resistance.
The forgetting of dreams, too, remains unfathomable as long as we do not consider the force of the psychic censor in its explanation. The feeling, indeed, that one has dreamt a great deal during the night and has retained only a little of it may have another meaning in a number of cases. It may perhaps signify that the dream-work has continued perceptibly throughout the night, and has left behind only this short dream. There is, however, no doubt of the fact that the dream is progressively forgotten on awakening. One often forgets it in spite of painful effort to remember. I believe, however, that just as one generally over-estimates the extent of one’s forgetting, so also one over-estimates the deficiencies in one’s knowledge, judging them by the gaps occurring in the dream. All that has been lost through forgetting in a dream content can often be brought back through analysis. At least, in a whole series of cases, it is possible to discover from one single remaining fragment, not the dream, to be sure, which is of little importance, but all the thoughts of the dream. It requires a greater expenditure of attention and self-control in the analysis; that is all. But, at the same time, this suggests that the forgetting of the dream does not lack a hostile intention.
A convincing proof of the purposeful nature of dream-forgetting, in the service of resistance, is gamed in analysis through the investigation of a preliminary stage of forgetting. It often happens that in the midst of interpretation work an omitted fragment of the dream suddenly comes to the surface. This part of the dream snatched from forgetfulness is always the most important part. It lies on the shortest road toward the solution of the dream, and for that very reason it was most objectionable to the resistance. Among the examples of dreams that I have collected in connection with this treatise, it once happened that I had to interpose subsequently such a piece of dream content. It was a travelling dream, which took vengeance upon an unlovable female travelling companion; I have left it almost entirely uninterpreted on account of its being in part coarse and nasty. The part omitted read: “I said about a book by Schiller, ‘It is from ——’ but corrected myself, for I noticed the mistake myself, ‘It is by.’ Upon this the man remarked to his sister, ‘Indeed, he said it correctly.’”
The self-correction in dreams, which seems so wonderful to some authors, does not merit consideration by us. I shall rather show from my own memory the model for the grammatical error in the dream. I was nineteen years old when I visited England for the first time, and spent a day on the shore of the Irish Sea. I naturally amused myself by catching the sea animals left by the waves, and occupied myself in particular with a starfish (the dream begins with Hollthurn—Holothurian), when a pretty little girl came over to me and asked me, “Is it a starfish? Is it alive?” I answered, “Yes, he is alive,” but was then ashamed of my mistake and repeated the sentence correctly. For the grammatical mistake which I then made, the dream substitutes another which is quite common with Germans. “Das Buch ist von Schiller” should not be translated by the book is from, but the book is by. That the dream-work produces this substitution because the word from makes possible, through consonance, a remarkable condensation with the German adjective fromm (pious, devout), no longer surprises us after all that we have heard about the aims of the dream-work and about its reckless selection of means of procedure. But what is the meaning of the harmless recollection of the seashore in relation to the dream? It explains by means of a very innocent example that I have used the wrong gender—i.e. that I have put “he,” the word denoting the sex or the sexual, where it does not belong. This is surely one of the keys to the solution of dreams. Who ever has heard of the origin of the book-title Matter and Motion (Molière in Malade Imaginaire: La matière est-elle laudable?—A motion of the bowels) will readily be able to supply the missing parts.
Moreover, I can prove conclusively by a demonstratio ad oculos that the forgetting in dreams is in great part due to the activity of resistance. A patient tells me that he has dreamed, but that the dream has vanished without leaving a trace, as if nothing had happened. We continue to work, however; I strike a resistance which I make plain to the patient; by encouraging and urging I help him to become reconciled to some disagreeable thought; and as soon as I have succeeded he exclaims, “Now, I can recall what I have dreamed.” The same resistance which that day disturbed him in the work caused him also to forget the dream. By overcoming this resistance, I brought the dream to memory.
In the same way the patient may, on reaching a certain part of the work, recall a dream which took place three, four, or more days before, and which has rested in oblivion throughout all this time.
Psychoanalytic experience has furnished us with another proof of the fact that the forgetting of dreams depends more on the resistance than on the strangeness existing between the waking and sleeping states, as the authorities have believed. It often happens to me, as well as to the other analysts and to patients under treatment, that we are awakened from sleep by a dream, as we would say, and immediately thereafter, while in full possession of our mental activity, we begin to interpret the dream. In such cases I have often not rested until I gained a full understanding of the dream, and still it would happen that after the awakening I have just as completely forgotten the interpretation work as the dream content itself, though I was aware that I had dreamed and that I had interpreted the dream. The dream has more frequently taken along into forgetfulness the result of the interpretation work than it was possible for the mental activity to retain the dream in memory. But between this interpretation work and the waking thoughts there is not that psychic gap through which alone the authorities wish to explain the forgetting of dreams. Morton Prince objects to my explanation of the forgetting of dreams on the ground that it is only a particular example of amnesia for dissociated states, and that the impossibility of harmonising my theory with other types of amnesia makes it also valueless for other purposes. He thus makes the reader suspect that in all his description of such dissociated states he has never made the attempt to find the dynamic explanation for these phenomena. For, had he done so, he surely would have discovered that the repression and the resistance produced thereby “is quite as well the cause of this dissociation as of the amnesia for its psychic content.”
That the dream is as little forgotten as the other psychic acts, and that it clings to memory just as firmly as the other psychic activities was demonstrated to me by an experiment which I was able to make while compiling this manuscript. I have kept in my notes many dreams of my own which, for some reason at the time I could analyse only imperfectly or not at all. In order to get material to illustrate my assertions, I attempted to subject some of them to analysis from one to two years later. I succeeded in this attempt without any exception. Indeed, I may even state that the interpretation went more easily at this later time than at the time when the dreams were recent occurrences. As a possible explanation for this fact, I would say that I had gotten over some of the resistances which disturbed me at the time of dreaming. In such subsequent interpretations I have compared the past results in dream thoughts with the present, which have usually been more abundant, and have invariably found the past results falling under the present without change. I have, however, soon put an end to my surprise by recalling that I have long been accustomed to interpret dreams from former years which have occasionally been related to me by patients as if they were dreams of the night before, with the same method and the same success. I shall report two examples of such delayed dream interpretations in the discussion of anxiety dreams. When I instituted this experiment for the first time, I justly expected that the dream would behave in this respect like a neurotic symptom. For when I treat a neurotic, perhaps an hysteric, by psychoanalysis, I am compelled to find explanations for the first symptoms of the disease which have long been forgotten, just as for those still existing which have brought the patient to me; and I find the former problem easier to solve than the more exigent one of to-day. In the Studien über Hysterie, published as early as 1895, I was able to report the explanation of a first hysterical attack of anxiety which the patient, a woman over forty years of age, had experienced in her fifteenth year.
I may now proceed in an informal way to some further observations on the interpretation of dreams, which will perhaps be of service to the reader who wishes to test my assertion by the analysis of his own dreams.
No one must expect that the interpretations of his dreams will come to him overnight without any exertion. Practice is required even for the perception of endoptic phenomena and other sensations usually withdrawn from attention, although this group of perceptions is not opposed by any psychic motive. It is considerably more difficult to become master of the “undesirable presentations.” He who wishes to do this will have to fulfil the requirements laid down in this treatise. Obeying the rules here given, he will strive during the work to curb in himself every critique, every prejudice, and every affective or intellectual one-sidedness. We will always be mindful of the precept of Claude Bernard for the experimenter in the physiological laboratory—“Travailler comme une bête”—meaning he should be just as persistent, but also just as unconcerned about the results. He who will follow these counsels will surely no longer find the task difficult. The interpretation of a dream cannot always be accomplished in one session; you often feel, after following up a concatenation of thoughts, that your working capacity is exhausted; the dream will not tell you anything more on that day; it is then best to break off, and return to the work the following day. Another portion of the dream content then solicits your attention, and you thus find an opening to a new stratum of the dream thoughts. We may call this the “fractionary” interpretation of dreams.
It is most difficult to induce the beginner in the interpretation of dreams to recognise the fact that his task is not finished though he is in possession of a complete interpretation of the dream which is ingenious and connected, and which explains all the elements of the dream. Besides this another superimposed interpretation of the same dream may be possible which has escaped him. It is really not simple to form an idea of the abundant unconscious streams of thought striving for expression in our minds, and to believe in the skilfulness displayed by the dream-work in hitting, so to speak, with its ambiguous manner of expression, seven flies with one stroke, like the journeyman tailor in the fairy tale. The reader will constantly be inclined to reproach the author for uselessly squandering his ingenuity, but anyone who has had experience of his own will learn to know better.
The question whether every dream can be interpreted may be answered in the negative. One must not forget that in the work of interpretation one must cope with the psychic forces which are responsible for the distortion of the dream. Whether one can become master of the inner resistances through his intellectual interest, his capacity for self-control, his psychological knowledge, and his practice in dream interpretation becomes a question of the preponderance of forces. It is always possible to make some progress. One can at least go far enough to become convinced that the dream is an ingenious construction, generally far enough to gain an idea of its meaning. It happens very often that a second dream confirms and continues the interpretation assumed for the first. A whole series of dreams running for weeks or months rests on a common basis, and is therefore to be interpreted in connection. In dreams following each other, it may be often observed how one takes as its central point what is indicated only as the periphery of the next, or it is just the other way, so that the two supplement each other in interpretation. That the different dreams of the same night are quite regularly in the interpretation to be treated as a whole I have already shown by examples.
In the best interpreted dreams we must often leave one portion in obscurity because we observe in the interpretation that it represents the beginning of a tangle of dream thoughts which cannot be unravelled but which has furnished no new contribution to the dream content. This, then, is the keystone of the dream, the place at which it mounts into the unknown. For the dream thoughts which we come upon in the interpretation must generally remain without a termination, and merge in all directions into the net-like entanglement of our world of thoughts. It is from some denser portion of this texture that the dream-wish then arises like the mushroom from its mycelium.
Let us now return to the facts of dream-forgetting, as we have really neglected to draw an important conclusion from them. If the waking life shows an unmistakable intention to forget the dream formed at night, either as a whole, immediately after awakening, or in fragments during the course of the day, and if we recognise as the chief participator in this forgetting the psychic resistance against the dream which has already performed its part in opposing the dream at night—then the question arises, What has the dream formation actually accomplished against this resistance? Let us consider the most striking case in which the waking life has done away with the dream as though it had never happened. If we take into consideration the play of the psychic forces, we are forced to assert that the dream would have never come into existence had the resistance held sway during the night as during the day. We conclude then, that the resistance loses a part of its force during the night; we know that it has not been extinguished, as we have demonstrated its interest in the dream formation in the production of the distortion. We have, then, forced upon us the possibility that it abates at night, that the dream formation has become possible with this diminution of the resistance, and we thus readily understand that, having regained its full power with the awakening, it immediately sets aside what it was forced to admit as long as it was in abeyance. Descriptive psychology teaches us that the chief determinant in dream formation is the dormant state of the mind. We may now add the following elucidation: The sleeping state makes dream formation possible by diminishing the endopsychic censor.
We are certainly tempted to look upon this conclusion as the only one possible from the facts of dream-forgetting, and to develop from it further deductions concerning the proportions of energy in the sleeping and waking states. But we shall stop here for the present. When we have penetrated somewhat deeper into the psychology of the dream we shall find that the origin of the dream formation may be differently conceived. The resistance operating to prevent the dream thoughts coming to consciousness may perhaps be eluded without suffering diminution per se. It is also plausible that both the factors favourable to dream formation, the diminution as well as the eluding of the resistance, may be made possible simultaneously through the sleeping state. But we shall pause here, and continue this line of thought later.
There is another series of objections against our procedure in the dream interpretation which we must now consider. In this interpretation we proceed by dropping all the end-presentations which otherwise control reflection, we direct our attention to an individual element of the dream, and then note the unwished-for thoughts that occur to us in this connection. We then take up the next component of the dream content, and repeat the operation with it; and, without caring in what direction the thoughts take us, we allow ourselves to be led on by them until we end by rambling from one subject to another. At the same time, we harbour the confident hope that we may in the end, without effort, come upon the dream thoughts from which our dream originated. Against this the critic brings the following objection: That one can arrive somewhere, starting from a single element in the dream is nothing wonderful. Something can be associatively connected with every idea. It is remarkable only that one should succeed in hitting the dream thoughts in this aimless and arbitrary excursion of thought. It is probably a self-deception; the investigator follows the chain of association from one element until for some reason it is seen to break, when a second element is taken up; it is thus but natural that the association, originally unbounded, should now experience a narrowing. He keeps in mind the former chain of associations, and he will therefore in analysis more easily hit upon certain thoughts which have something in common with the thoughts from the first chain. He then imagines that he has found a thought which represents a point of junction between two elements of the dream. As he, moreover, allows himself every freedom of thought connection, excepting only the transitions from one idea to another which are made in normal thinking, it is not finally difficult for him to concoct something which he calls the dream thought out of a series of “intermediary thoughts”; and without any guarantee, as they are otherwise unknown, he palms these off as the psychic equivalent of the dream. But all this is accompanied by arbitrary procedure and over-ingenious exploitation of coincidence. Anyone who will go to this useless trouble can in this way work out any desired interpretation for any dream whatever.
If such objections are really advanced against us, we may refer in our defence to the agreement of our dream interpretations, to the surprising connections with other dream elements which appear in following out the different particular presentations, and to the improbability that anything which so perfectly covers and explains the dream as our dream interpretations do could be gained otherwise than by following psychic connections previously established. We can also justify ourselves by the fact that the method of dream analysis is identical with the method used in the solution of hysterical symptoms, where the correctness of the method is attested through the emergence and fading away of the symptoms—that is, where the elucidation of the text by the interposed illustrations finds corroboration. But we have no object in avoiding this problem—how one can reach to a pre-established aim by following a chain of thoughts spun out thus arbitrarily and aimlessly—for, though we are unable to solve the problem, we can get rid of it entirely.
It is in fact demonstrably incorrect to state that we abandon ourselves to an aimless course of thought when, as in the interpretation of dreams, we relinquish our reflection and allow the unwished-for idea to come to the surface. It can be shown that we can reject only those end-presentations that are familiar to us, and that as soon as these stop the unknown, or, as we say more precisely, the unconscious end-presentations, immediately come into play, which now determined the course of the unwished-for presentations. A mode of thinking without end-idea can surely not be brought about through any influence we can exert on our own mental life; nor do I know either of any state of psychic derangement in which such mode of thought establishes itself. The psychiatrists have in this field much too early rejected the solidity of the psychic structure. I have ascertained that an unregulated stream of thoughts, devoid of the end-presentation, occurs as in the realm of hysteria and paranoia as in the formation or solution of dreams. Perhaps it does not appear at all in the endogenous psychic affections, but even the deliria of confused states are senseful according to the ingenious theory of Leuret and become incomprehensible to us only through omissions. I have come to the same conviction wherever I have found opportunity for observation. The deliria are the work of a censor which no longer makes any effort to conceal its sway, which, instead of lending its support to a revision no longer obnoxious to it, cancels regardlessly that which it raises objections against, thus causing the remnant to appear disconnected. This censor behaves analogously to the Russian newspaper censor on the frontier, who allows to fall into the hands of his protected readers only those foreign journals that have passed under the black pencil.
The free play of the presentations following any associative concatenation perhaps makes its appearance in destructive organic brain lesions. What, however, is taken as such in the psychoneuroses can always be explained as the influence of the censor on a series of thoughts which have been pushed into the foreground by the concealed end-presentation. It has been considered an unmistakable sign of association free from the end-presentations when the emerging presentations (or pictures) were connected with one another by means of the so-called superficial associations—that is, by assonance, word ambiguity, and causal connection without inner sense relationship; in other words, when they were connected through all those associations which we allow ourselves to make use of in wit and play upon words. This distinguishing mark proves true for the connections of thought which lead us from the elements of the dream content to the collaterals, and from these to the thoughts of the dream proper; of this we have in our dream analysis found many surprising examples. No connection was there too loose and no wit too objectionable to serve as a bridge from one thought to another. But the correct understanding of such tolerance is not remote. Whenever one psychic element is connected with another through an obnoxious or superficial association, there also exists a correct and more profound connection between the two which succumbs to the resistance of the censor.
The correct explanation for the predominance of the superficial associations is the pressure of the censor, and not the suppression of the end-presentations. The superficial associations supplant the deep ones in the presentation whenever the censor renders the normal connective paths impassable. It is as if in a mountainous region a general interruption of traffic, e.g., an inundation, should render impassable the long and broad thoroughfares; traffic would then have to be maintained through inconvenient and steep footpaths otherwise used only by the hunter.
We can here distinguish two cases which, however, are essentially one. In the first case the censor is directed only against the connection of the two thoughts, which, having been detached from each other, escape the opposition. The two thoughts then enter successively into consciousness; their connection remains concealed; but in its place there occurs to us a superficial connection between the two which we would not otherwise have thought of, and which as a rule connects with another angle of the presentation complex instead of with the one giving rise to the suppressed but essential connection. Or, in the second case, both thoughts on account of their content succumb to the censor; both then appear not in their correct but in a modified substituted form; and both substituted thoughts are so selected that they represent, through a superficial association, the essential relation which existed between those which have been replaced by them. Under the pressure of the censor the displacement of a normal and vital association by a superficial and apparently absurd one has thus occurred in both cases.
Because we know of this displacement we unhesitatingly place reliance even upon superficial associations in the dream analysis.
The psychoanalysis of neurotics makes prolific use of the two axioms, first that with the abandonment of the conscious end-presentation the domination of the train of presentation is transferred to the concealed end-presentations; and, secondly, that superficial associations are only a substitutive displacement for suppressed and more profound ones; indeed, psychoanalysis raises these two axioms to pillars of its technique. When I request a patient to dismiss all reflection, and to report to me whatever comes into his mind, I firmly cling to the presupposition that he will not be able to drop the end-idea of the treatment, and I feel justified in concluding that what he reports, even though seemingly most harmless and arbitrary, has connection with this morbid state. My own personality is another end-presentation concerning which the patient has no inkling. The full appreciation, as well as the detailed proof of both these explanations, belongs accordingly to the description of the psychoanalytic technique as a therapeutic method. We have here reached one of the allied subjects with which we propose to leave the subject of the interpretation of dreams.
Of all the objections only one is correct, and still remains, namely, that we ought not to ascribe all mental occurrences of the interpretation work to the nocturnal dream-work. In the interpretation in the waking state we are making a road running from the dream elements back to the dream thoughts. The dream-work has made its way in the opposite direction, and it is not at all probable that these roads are equally passable in the opposite directions. It has, on the contrary, been shown that during the day, by means of new thought connections we make paths which strike the intermediate thoughts and the dream thoughts in different places. We can see how the recent thought material of the day takes its place in the groups of the interpretation, and probably also forces the additional resistance appearing through the night to make new and further detours. But the number and form of the collaterals which we thus spin during the day is psychologically perfectly negligible if it only leads the way to the desired dream thoughts.
Now that we have guarded against objection, or at least indicated where our weapons for defence rest, we need no longer delay entering upon the psychological investigations for which we have so long prepared. Let us bring together the main results of our investigations up to this point. The dream is a momentous psychic act; its motive power is at all times to fulfil a wish; its indiscernibleness as a wish and its many peculiarities and absurdities are due to the influence of the psychic censor to which it has been subjected during its formation. Apart from the pressure to withdraw itself from this censor, the following have played a part in its formation: a strong tendency to the condensation of psychic material, a consideration for dramatisation into mental pictures, and (though not regularly) a consideration for a rational and intelligible exterior in the dream structure. From every one of these propositions the road leads further to psychological postulates and assumptions. Thus the reciprocal relation of the wish motives and the four conditions, as well as the relations of these conditions to one another will have to be investigated; and the dream will have to be brought into association with the psychic life.
At the beginning of this chapter we cited a dream in order to remind us of the riddles that are still unsolved. The interpretation of this dream of the burning child afforded us no difficulties, although it was not perfectly given in our present sense. We asked ourselves why it was necessary, after all, that the father should dream instead of awakening, and we recognised the wish to represent the child as living as the single motive of the dream. That there was still another wish playing a part in this connection, we shall be able to show after later discussions. For the present, therefore, we may say that for the sake of the wish-fulfilment the mental process of sleep was transformed into a dream.
If the wish realisation is made retrogressive, only one quality still remains which separates the two forms of psychic occurrences from each other. The dream thought might have read: “I see a glimmer coming from the room in which the corpse reposes. Perhaps a candle has been upset, and the child is burning!” The dream reports the result of this reflection unchanged, but represents it in a situation which takes place in the present, and which is conceivable by the senses like an experience in the waking state. This, however, is the most common and the most striking psychological character of the dream; a thought, usually the one wished for, is in the dream made objective and represented as a scene, or, according to our belief, as experienced.
But how are we now to explain this characteristic peculiarity of the dream-work, or, to speak more modestly, how are we to bring it into relation with the psychic processes?
On closer examination, it is plainly seen that there are two pronounced characters in the manifestations of the dream which are almost independent of each other. The one is the representation as a present situation with the omission of the “perhaps”; the other is the transformation of the thought into visual pictures and into speech.
The transformation in the dream thoughts, which shifts into the present the expectation expressed in them, is perhaps in this particular dream not so very striking. This is probably in consonance with the special or rather subsidiary rôle of the wish-fulfilment in this dream. Let us take another dream in which the dream-wish does not separate itself in sleep from a continuation of the waking thoughts, e.g., the dream of Irma’s injection. Here the dream thought reaching representation is in the optative, “If Otto could only be blamed for Irma’s sickness!” The dream suppresses the optative, and replaces it by a simple present, “Yes, Otto is to blame for Irma’s sickness.” This is therefore the first of the changes which even the undistorted dream undertakes with the dream thought. But we shall not stop long at this first peculiarity of the dream. We elucidate it by a reference to the conscious phantasy, the day dream, which behaves similarly with its presentation content. When Daudet’s Mr. Joyeuse wanders through the streets of Paris unemployed while his daughter is led to believe that he has a position and is in his office, he likewise dreams in the present of circumstances that might help him to obtain protection and a position. The dream therefore employs the present in the same manner and with the same right as the day dream. The present is the tense in which the wish is represented as fulfilled.
The second quality, however, is peculiar to the dream as distinguished from the day dream, namely, that the presentation content is not thought, but changed into perceptible images to which we give credence and which we believe we experience. Let us add, however, that not all dreams show this transformation of presentation into perceptible images. There are dreams which consist solely of thoughts to which we cannot, however, on that account deny the substantiality of dreams. My dream “Autodidasker—the waking phantasy with Professor N.”—is of that nature; it contains hardly more perceptible elements than if I had thought its content during the day. Moreover, every long dream contains elements which have not experienced the transformation into the perceptible, and which are simply thought or known as we are wont to think or know in our waking state. We may also recall here that such transformation of ideas into perceptible images does not occur in dreams only but also in hallucinations and visions which perhaps appear spontaneously in health or as symptoms in the psychoneuroses. In brief, the relation which we are investigating here is in no way an exclusive one; the fact remains, however, that where this character of the dream occurs, it appears to us as the most noteworthy, so that we cannot think of it apart from the dream life. Its explanation, however, requires a very detailed discussion.
Among all the observations on the theory of dreams to be found in authorities on the subject, I should like to lay stress upon one as being worth mentioning. The great G. T. Fechner 52 expresses his belief (Psychophysik, Part II., p. 520), in connection with some discussion devoted to the dream, that the seat of the dream is elsewhere than in the waking ideation. No other theory enables us to conceive the special qualities of the dream life.
The idea which is placed at our disposal is one of psychic locality. We shall entirely ignore the fact that the psychic apparatus with which we are here dealing is also familiar to us as an anatomical specimen, and we shall carefully avoid the temptation to determine the psychic locality in any way anatomically. We shall remain on psychological ground, and we shall think ourselves called upon only to conceive the instrument which serves the psychic activities somewhat after the manner of a compound microscope, a photographic or other similar apparatus. The psychic locality, then, corresponds to a place within such an apparatus in which one of the primary elements of the picture comes into existence. As is well known, there are in the microscope and telescope partly fanciful locations or regions in which no tangible portion of the apparatus is located. I think it superfluous to apologise for the imperfections of this and all similar figures. These comparisons are designed only to assist us in our attempt to make clear the complication of the psychic activity by breaking up this activity and referring the single activities to the single component parts of the apparatus. No one, so far as I know, has ever ventured to attempt to discover the composition of the psychic instrument through such analysis. I see no harm in such an attempt. I believe that we may give free rein to our assumptions provided we at the same time preserve our cool judgment and do not take the scaffolding for the building. As we need nothing except auxiliary ideas for the first approach to any unknown subject, we shall prefer the crudest and most tangible hypothesis to all others.
We therefore conceive the psychic apparatus as a compound instrument, the component parts of which let us call instances, or, for the sake of clearness, systems. We then entertain the expectation that these systems perhaps maintain a constant spatial relationship to each other like the different systems of lenses of the telescope, one behind another. Strictly speaking, there is no need of assuming a real spatial arrangement of the psychic system. It will serve our purpose if a firm sequence be established through the fact that in certain psychological occurrences the system will be traversed by the excitement in a definite chronological order. This sequence may experience an alteration in other processes; such possibility may be left open. For the sake of brevity, we shall henceforth speak of the component parts of the apparatus as “Psi-systems.”
The first thing that strikes us is the fact that the apparatus composed of Psi-systems has a direction. All our psychic activities proceed from (inner or outer) stimuli and terminate in innervations. We thus ascribe to the apparatus a sensible and a motor end; at the sensible end we find a system which receives the perceptions, and at the motor end another which opens the locks of motility. The psychic process generally takes its course from the perception end to the motility end. The most common scheme of the psychic apparatus has therefore the following appearance: [Figure 1.] But this is only in compliance with the demand long familiar to us, that the psychic apparatus must be constructed like a reflex apparatus. The reflex act remains the model for every psychic activity.
We have now reason to admit a first differentiation at the sensible end. The perceptions that come to us leave a trace in our psychic apparatus which we may call a “Memory trace.” The function which relates to this memory trace we call the memory. If we hold seriously to our resolution to connect the psychic processes into systems, the memory trace can then consist only of lasting changes in the elements of the systems. But, as has already been shown in other places, obvious difficulties arise if one and the same system faithfully preserves changes in its elements and still remains fresh and capable of admitting new motives for change. Following the principle which directs our undertaking, we shall distribute these two activities among two different systems. We assume that a first system of the apparatus takes up the stimuli of perception, but retains nothing from them—that is, it has no memory; and that behind this there lies a second system which transforms the momentary excitement of the first into lasting traces. This would then be a diagram of our psychic apparatus: [Figure 2.]
It is known that from the perceptions that act on the P- system we retain something else as lasting as the content itself. Our perceptions prove to be connected with one another in memory, and this is especially the case when they have once fallen together in simultaneity. We call this the fact of association. It is now clear that if the P-system is entirely lacking in memory, it certainly cannot preserve traces for the associations; the individual P-elements would be intolerably hindered in their function if a remnant of former connection should make its influence felt against a new perception. Hence we must, on the contrary, assume that the memory system is the basis of the association. The fact of the association, then, consists in this—that, in consequence of the diminutions in resistance and a smoothing of the ways from one of the Mem-elements, the excitement transmits itself to a second rather than to a third Mem-system.
On further investigation we find it necessary to assume not one but many such Mem-systems, in which the same excitement propagated by the P-elements experiences a diversified fixation. The first of these Mem-systems will contain in any case the fixation of the association through simultaneity, while in those lying further away the same exciting material will be arranged according to other forms of concurrence; so that relationships of similarity, &c., might perhaps be represented through these later systems. It would naturally be idle to attempt to report in words the psychic significance of such a system. Its characteristic would lie in the intimacy of its relations to elements of raw memory material—that is, if we wish to point to a profounder theory in the gradations of the resistances to conduction toward these elements.
We may insert here an observation of a general nature which points perhaps to something of importance. The P- system, which possesses no capability of preserving changes and hence no memory, furnishes for our consciousness the entire manifoldness of the sensible qualities. Our memories, on the other hand, are unconscious in themselves; those that are most deeply impressed form no exception. They can be made conscious, but there can be no doubt that they develop all their influences in the unconscious state. What we term our character is based, to be sure, on the memory traces of our impressions, and indeed on these impressions that have affected us most strongly, those of our early youth—those that almost never become conscious. But when memories become conscious again they show no sensible quality or a very slight one in comparison to the perceptions. If, now, it can be confirmed that memory and quality exclude each other, as far as consciousness in the Psi-systems is concerned, a most promising insight reveals itself to us in the determinations of the neuron excitement.
What we have so far assumed concerning the composition of the psychic apparatus at the sensible end follows regardless of the dream and the psychological explanations derived from it. The dream, however, serves as a source of proof for the knowledge of another part of the apparatus. We have seen that it became impossible to explain the dream formation unless we ventured to assume two psychic instances, one of which subjected the activity of the other to a critique as a consequence of which the exclusion from consciousness resulted.
We have seen that the criticising instance entertains closer relations with consciousness than the criticised. The former stands between the latter and consciousness like a screen. We have, moreover, found essential reasons for identifying the criticising instance with that which directs our waking life and determines our voluntary conscious actions. If we now replace these instances in the development of our theory by systems, the criticising system is then to be ascribed to the motor end because of the fact just mentioned. We now enter both systems in our scheme, and express by the names given them their relation to consciousness. [Figure 3.]
The last of the systems at the motor end we call the fore-conscious in order to denote that exciting processes in this system can reach consciousness without any further detention provided certain other conditions be fulfilled, e.g., the attainment of a certain intensity, a certain distribution of that function which must be called attention, and the like. This is at the same time the system which possesses the keys to voluntary motility. The system behind it we call the unconscious because it has no access to consciousness except through the foreconscious, in the passage through which its excitement must submit to certain changes.
In which of these systems, now, do we localise the impulse to the dream formation? For the sake of simplicity, let us say in the system Unc. To be sure we shall find in later discussions that this is not quite correct, that the dream formation is forced to connect with dream thoughts which belong to the system of the foreconscious. But we shall learn later, when we come to deal with the dream-wish, that the motive power for the dream is furnished by the Unc., and, owing to this latter movement, we shall assume the unconscious system as the starting-point of the dream formation. This dream impulse, like all other thought structures, will now strive to continue itself in the foreconscious, and thence to gain admission to consciousness.
Experience teaches us that the road leading from the fore-conscious to consciousness is closed to the dream thoughts during the day by the resistance of the censor. At night the dream thoughts gain admission to consciousness, but the question arises, in what way and because of what change. If this admission was rendered possible to the dream thoughts through the fact that the resistance watching on the boundary between the unconscious and foreconscious sinks at night, we should then get dreams in the material of our presentations which did not show the hallucinatory character which just now interests us.
The sinking of the censor between the two systems, Unc. and Forec., can explain to us only such dreams as “Autodidasker,” but not dreams like the one of the burning child, which we have taken as a problem at the outset in these present investigations.
What takes place in the hallucinatory dream we can describe in no other way than by saying that the excitement takes a retrogressive course. It takes its station, not at the motor end of the apparatus, but at the sensible end, and finally reaches the system of the perceptions. If we call the direction towards which the psychic process continues from the unconscious into the waking state the progressive, we may then speak of the dream as having a regressive character.
This regression is surely one of the most important peculiarities of the dream process; but we must not forget that it does not belong to the dream alone. The intentional recollection and other processes of our normal thinking also require a retrogression in the psychic apparatus from any complex presentation act to the raw material of the memory traces lying at its basis. But during the waking state this turning backward does not reach beyond the memory pictures; it is unable to produce the hallucinatory vividness of the perception pictures. Why is this different in the dream? When we spoke of the condensation work of the dream we could not avoid the assumption that the intensities adhering to the presentations are fully transferred from one to another through the dream-work. It is probably this modification of the former psychic process which makes possible the occupation of the system of P to its full sensual vividness in the opposite direction from thought.
I hope that we are far from deluding ourselves about the importance of this present discussion. We have done nothing more than give a name to an inexplicable phenomenon. We call it regression if the presentation in the dream is changed back to the perceptible image from which it once originated. But even this step demands justification. Why this naming, if it does not teach us anything new? I believe, however, that the name “Regression” will serve us to the extent of connecting a fact familiar to us with a scheme of the psychic apparatus which is supplied with a direction. At this point, for the first time, it is worth the trouble to construct such a scheme. For, with the help of this scheme, any other peculiarity of the dream formation will become clear to us without further reflection. If we look upon the dream as a process of regression in the assumed psychic apparatus, we can readily understand the empirically proven fact that all mental relation of the dream thoughts either is lost in the dream-work or can come to expression only with difficulty. According to our scheme, these mental relations are contained not in the first Mem-systems, but in those lying further to the front, and in the regression they must forfeit their expression in favour of the perception pictures. The structure of the dream thoughts is in the regression broken up into its raw material.
But what change renders possible this regression which is impossible during the day? Let us here be content with assumption. There must evidently be some alterations in the charge of energy belonging to the single systems causing the latter to become accessible or inaccessible to the discharge of the excitement; but in any such apparatus the same effect upon the course of excitement might be brought about through more than one form of such changes. This naturally reminds us of the state of sleep and of the many changes of energy this state produces at the sensible end of the apparatus. During the day there is a continuous coursing stream from the Psi-system of the P toward the motility; this current ceases at night, and no longer hinders a streaming of the current of excitement in the opposite direction. This would appear to be that “seclusion from the outer world” which according to the theory of some authors is supposed to explain the psychological character of the dream (vide p. 30). In the explanation of the regression of the dream we shall, however, have to consider those other regressions which originate during morbid waking states. In these other forms the explanation just given plainly leaves us in the lurch. Regression takes place in spite of the uninterrupted sensible current in a progressive direction.
The hallucinations of hysteria and paranoia, as well as the visions of mentally normal persons, I can explain as actually corresponding to regressions, being in fact thoughts transformed into images; and only such thoughts are subjected to this transformation as are in intimate connection with suppressed or unconscious recollections. As an example I shall cite one of my youngest hysterical patients—a boy. twelve years old, who was prevented from falling asleep by “green faces with red eyes,” which terrified him. The source of this manifestation was the suppressed, but once conscious, memory of a boy whom he had often seen during four years, and who offered him a deterring example of many childish bad habits, including onanism, which now formed the subject of his own reproach. His mother had noticed at the time that the complexion of the ill-bred boy was greenish and that he had red (i.e. red bordered) eyes. Hence the terrible vision which constantly served to remind him of his mother’s warning that such boys become demented, that they are unable to make progress at school, and are doomed to an early death. A part of this prediction came true in the case of the little patient; he could not successfully pursue his high school studies, and. as appeared on examination of his involuntary fancies, he stood in great dread of the remainder of the prophecy. However. after a brief period of successful treatment, his sleep was restored, he lost his fears, and finished his scholastic year with an excellent record.
I may also add here the interpretation of a vision related to me by an hysteric forty years of age, as having occurred in her normal life. On opening her eyes one morning she beheld in the room her brother, whom she knew to be confined in an insane asylum. Her little son was asleep by her side. Lest the child should be frightened on seeing his uncle, and fall into convulsions, she pulled the sheet over the little one; this done, the phantom disappeared. This vision is the re-casting of one of her infantile reminiscences which, although conscious, is most intimately connected with all the unconscious material in her mind. Her nursemaid told her that her mother, who had died young (the patient was then only a year and a half old), had suffered from epileptic or hysterical convulsions, which dated back to a fright caused by her brother (the patient’s uncle), who appeared to her disguised as a spectre with a sheet over his head. The vision contains the same elements as the reminiscence, viz. the appearance of the brother, the sheet, the fright, and its effect. These elements, however, are ranged in different relations, and are transferred to other persons. The obvious motive of the vision, which replaces the idea, is her solicitude lest her little son, who bore a striking resemblance to his uncle, should share the latter’s fate. Both examples here cited are not entirely unrelated to sleep, and may therefore be unsuitable as proof for my assertion. I may therefore refer to my analysis of an hallucinatory paranoia, and to the results of my hitherto unpublished studies on the psychology of the psychoneuroses in order to emphasize the fact that in these cases of regressive thought transformation one must not overlook the influence of a suppressed or unconscious reminiscence, this being in most cases of an infantile character. This recollection, so to speak, draws into the regression the thought with which it is connected, which is prevented from expression by the censor—that is, into that form of representation in which the recollection itself exists psychically. I may here mention as a result of my studies in hysteria that if we succeed in restoring infantile scenes to consciousness (whether recollections or fancies) they are seen as hallucinations, and are divested of this character only after reproduction. It is also known that the earliest infantile memories retain the character of perceptible vividness until late in life, even in persons who are otherwise not visual in memory.
If, now, we keep in mind what part is played in the dream thoughts by the infantile reminiscences or the phantasies based upon them, how often fragments of these reminiscences emerge in the dream content, and how often they even give origin to dream wishes, we cannot deny the probability that in the dream, too, the transformation of thoughts into visual images may be the result of the attraction exerted by the visually represented reminiscences, striving for reanimation, upon the thoughts severed from consciousness and struggling for expression. Following this conception, we may further describe the dream as a modified substitute for the infantile scene produced by transference to recent material. The infantile cannot enforce its renewal, and must therefore be satisfied to return as a dream.
This reference to the significance of the infantile scenes (or of their phantastic repetitions), as in a manner furnishing the pattern for the dream content, renders superfluous the assumption made by Scherner and his pupils, of an inner source of excitement. Scherner assumes a state of “visual excitation” of internal excitement in the organ of sight when the dreams manifest a particular vividness or a special abundance of visual elements. We need not object to this assumption, but may be satisfied with establishing such state of excitation for the psychic perceptive system of the organs of vision only; we shall, however, assert that this state of excitation is formed through the memory, and is merely a refreshing of the former actual visual excitation. I cannot, from my own experience, give a good example showing such an influence of infantile reminiscence; my own dreams are surely less rich in perceptible elements than I must fancy those of others; but in my most beautiful and most vivid dream of late years I can easily trace the hallucinatory distinctness of the dream contents to the sensuous nature of recently received impressions. On page 368 I mentioned a dream in which the dark blue colour of the water, the brown colour of the smoke issuing from the ship’s funnels, and the sombre brown and red of the buildings which I had seen made a profound and lasting impression on my mind. This dream. if any, must be attributed to visual excitation. But what has brought my visual organ into this excitable state? It was a recent impression uniting itself with a series of former ones. The colours I beheld were those of the toy blocks with which my children erected a grand structure for my admiration on the day preceding the dream. The same sombre red colour covered the large blocks and the same blue and brown the small ones. Connected with these were the colour impression of my last journey in Italy, the charming blue of the Isonzo and the Lagoon, the brown hue of the Alpine region. The beautiful colours seen in the dream were but a repetition of those seen in the memory.
Let us review what we have learned about this peculiarity which the dream has of transforming its content of ideas into plastic images. We have neither explained this character of the dream-work nor traced it to known laws of psychology, but we have singled it out as pointing to unknown connections, and designated it by the name of the “regredient” character. Wherever this regression has occurred, we have regarded it as an effect of the resistance which opposes the progress of the thought on its normal way to consciousness, as well as a result of the simultaneous attraction exerted upon it by the vivid memories present. Regression is perhaps facilitated in the dream by the cessation of the progressive stream running from the sense organs during the day. For this auxiliary moment there must be compensation in the other forms of regression through a fortifying of the other motives of regression. We must also bear in mind that in pathological cases of regression, as in the dream, the process of transference of energy must be different from that of the regressions of normal psychic life, as it renders possible a full hallucinatory occupation of the perception systems. What we have described in the analysis of the dream-work as “Regard for Dramatic Fitness” may be referred to the selective attraction of visually recollected scenes, touched by the dream thoughts.
It is quite possible that this first part of our psychological utilisation of the dream does not entirely satisfy even us. We must, however, console ourselves with the fact that we are compelled to build in the dark. If we have not altogether strayed from the right path, we shall be sure to reach about the same ground from another starting-point and thereafter perhaps be better able to see our way.
The dream of the burning child cited above affords us a welcome opportunity for appreciating the difficulties confronting the theory of wish-fulfilment. That the dream should be nothing but a wish-fulfilment surely seemed strange to us all—and that not alone because of the contradictions offered by the anxiety dream.
After learning from the first analytical explanations that the dream conceals sense and psychic validity, we could hardly expect so simple a determination of this sense. According to the correct but concise definition of Aristotle, the dream is a continuation of thinking in sleep (in so far as one sleeps). Considering that during the day our thoughts produce such a diversity of psychic acts—judgments, conclusions, contradictions, expectations, intentions, &c.—why should our sleeping thoughts be forced to confine themselves to the production of wishes? Are there not, on the contrary, many dreams that present a different psychic act in dream form, e.g., a solicitude, and is not the very transparent father’s dream mentioned above of just such a nature? From the gleam of light falling into his eyes while asleep the father draws the solicitous conclusion that a candle has been upset and may have set fire to the corpse; he transforms this conclusion into a dream by investing it with a senseful situation enacted in the present tense. What part is played in this dream by the wish-fulfilment, and which are we to suspect—the predominance of the thought continued from the waking state or of the thought incited by the new sensory impression?
All these considerations are just, and force us to enter more deeply into the part played by the wish-fulfilment in the dream, and into the significance of the waking thoughts continued in sleep.
It is in fact the wish-fulfilment that has already induced us to separate dreams into two groups. We have found some dreams that were plainly wish-fulfilments; and others in which wish-fulfilment could not be recognised, and was frequently concealed by every available means. In this latter class of dreams we recognised the influence of the dream censor. The undisguised wish dreams were chiefly found in children, yet fleeting open-hearted wish dreams seemed (I purposely emphasize this word) to occur also in adults.
We may now ask whence the wish fulfilled in the dream originates. But to what opposition or to what diversity do we refer this “whence”? I think it is to the opposition between conscious daily life and a psychic activity remaining unconscious which can only make itself noticeable during the night. I thus find a threefold possibility for the origin of a wish. Firstly, it may have been incited during the day, and owing to external circumstances failed to find gratification, there is thus left for the night an acknowledged but unfulfilled wish. Secondly, it may come to the surface during the day but be rejected, leaving an unfulfilled but suppressed wish. Or, thirdly, it may have no relation to daily life, and belong to those wishes that originate during the night from the suppression. If we now follow our scheme of the psychic apparatus, we can localise a wish of the first order in the system Forec. We may assume that a wish of the second order has been forced back from the Forec. system into the Unc. system, where alone, if anywhere, it can maintain itself; while a wish-feeling of the third order we consider altogether incapable of leaving the Unc. system. This brings up the question whether wishes arising from these different sources possess the same value for the dream, and whether they have the same power to incite a dream.
On reviewing the dreams which we have at our disposal for answering this question, we are at once moved to add as a fourth source of the dream-wish the actual wish incitements arising during the night, such as thirst and sexual desire. It then becomes evident that the source of the dream-wish does not affect its capacity to incite a dream. This view is supported by the dream of the little girl who continued the sea trip interrupted during the day, and by the other children’s dreams referred to; they are explained by an unfulfilled but not suppressed wish from the day-time. That a wish suppressed during the day asserts itself in the dream can be shown by a great many examples. I shall mention a very simple example of this class. A somewhat sarcastic young lady, whose younger friend has become engaged to be married, is asked throughout the day by her acquaintances whether she knows and what she thinks of the fiance. She answers with unqualified praise, thereby silencing her own judgment, as she would prefer to tell the truth, namely, that he is an ordinary person (Dutzendmensch). The following night she dreams that the same question is put to her, and that she replies with the formula: “In case of subsequent orders it will suffice to mention the number.” Finally, we have learned from numerous analyses that the wish in all dreams that have been subject to distortion has been derived from the unconscious, and has been unable to come to perception in the waking state. Thus it would appear that all wishes are of the same value and force for the dream formation.
I am at present unable to prove that the state of affairs is really different, but I am strongly inclined to assume a more stringent determination of the dream-wish. Children’s dreams leave no doubt that an unfulfilled wish of the day may be the instigator of the dream. But we must not forget that it is, after all, the wish of a child, that it is a wish-feeling of infantile strength only. I have a strong doubt whether an unfulfilled wish from the day would suffice to create a dream in an adult. It would rather seem that as we learn to control our impulses by intellectual activity, we more and more reject as vain the formation or retention of such intense wishes as are natural to childhood. In this, indeed, there may be individual variations; some retain the infantile type of psychic processes longer than others. The differences are here the same as those found in the gradual decline of the originally distinct visual imagination.
In general, however, I am of the opinion that unfulfilled wishes of the day are insufficient to produce a dream in adults. I readily admit that the wish instigators originating in conscious life contribute towards the incitement of dreams, but that is probably all. The dream would not originate if the foreconscious wish were not reinforced from another source.
That source is the unconscious. I believe that the conscious wish is a dream inciter only if it succeeds in arousing a similar unconscious wish which reinforces it. Following the suggestions obtained through the psychoanalysis of the neuroses, I believe that these unconscious wishes are always active and ready for expression whenever they find an opportunity to unite themselves with an emotion from conscious life, and that they transfer their greater intensity to the lesser intensity of the latter. It may therefore seem that the conscious wish alone has been realised in a dream; but a slight peculiarity in the formation of this dream will put us on the track of the powerful helper from the unconscious. These ever active and, as it were, immortal wishes from the unconscious recall the legendary Titans who from tune immemorial have borne the ponderous mountains which were once rolled upon them by the victorious gods, and which even now quiver from time to time from the convulsions of their mighty limbs; I say that these wishes found in the repression are of themselves of an infantile origin, as we have learned from the psychological investigation of the neuroses. I should like, therefore, to withdraw the opinion previously expressed that it is unimportant whence the dream-wish originates, and replace it by another, as follows: The wish manifested in the dream must be an infantile one. In the adult it originates hi the Unc., while in the child, where no separation and censor as yet exist between Forec. and Unc., or where these are only in the process of formation, it is an unfulfilled and unrepressed wish from the waking state. I am aware that this conception cannot be generally demonstrated, but I maintain nevertheless that it can be frequently demonstrated, even where it was not suspected, and that it cannot be generally refuted.
The wish-feelings which remain from the conscious waking state are, therefore, relegated to the background in the dream formation. In the dream content I shall attribute to them only the part attributed to the material of actual sensations during sleep (see p. 185). If I now take into account those other psychic instigations remaining from the waking state which are not wishes, I shall only adhere to the line mapped out for me by this train of thought. We may succeed in provisionally terminating the sum of energy of our waking thoughts by deciding to go to sleep. He is a good sleeper who can do this; Napoleon I. is reputed to have been a model of this sort. But we do not always succeed in accomplishing it, or in accomplishing it perfectly. Unsolved problems, harassing cares, overwhelming impressions continue the thinking activity even during sleep, maintaining psychic processes in the system which we have termed the foreconscious. These mental processes continuing into sleep may be divided into the following groups: 1, That which has not been terminated during the day owing to casual prevention; 2, that which has been left unfinished by temporary paralysis of our mental power, i.e. the unsolved; 3, that which has been rejected and suppressed during the day. This unites with a powerful group (4) formed by that which has been excited in our Unc. during the day by the work of the foreconscious. Finally, we may add group (5) consisting of the indifferent and hence unsettled impressions of the day.
We should not underrate the psychic intensities introduced into sleep by these remnants of waking life, especially those emanating from the group of the unsolved. These excitations surely continue to strive for expression during the night, and we may assume with equal certainty that the sleeping state renders impossible the usual continuation of the excitement in the foreconscious and the termination of the excitement by its becoming conscious. As far as we can normally become conscious of our mental processes, even during the night, in so far we are not asleep. I shall not venture to state what change is produced in the Forec. system by the sleeping state, but there is no doubt that the psychological character of sleep is essentially due to the change of energy in this very system, which also dominates the approach to motility, which is paralysed during sleep. In contradistinction to this, there seems to be nothing in the psychology of the dream to warrant the assumption that sleep produces any but secondary changes in the conditions of the Unc. system. Hence, for the nocturnal excitation in the Forec. there remains no other path than that followed by the wish excitements from the Unc. This excitation must seek reinforcement from the Unc., and follow the detours of the unconscious excitations. But what is the relation of the foreconscious day remnants to the dream? There is no doubt that they penetrate abundantly into the dream, that they utilise the dream content to obtrude themselves upon consciousness even during the night; indeed, they occasionally even dominate the dream content, and impel it to continue the work of the day; it is also certain that the day remnants may just as well have any other character as that of wishes; but it is highly instructive and even decisive for the theory of wish-fulfilment to see what conditions they must comply with in order to be received into the dream.
Let us pick out one of the dreams cited above as examples, e.g., the dream in which my friend Otto seems to show the symptoms of Basedow’s disease (p. 228). My friend Otto’s appearance occasioned me some concern during the day, and this worry, like everything else referring to this person, affected me. I may also assume that these feelings followed me into sleep. I was probably bent on finding out what was the matter with him. In the night my worry found expression in the dream which I have reported, the content of which was not only senseless, but failed to show any wish-fulfilment. But I began to investigate for the source of this incongruous expression of the solicitude felt during the day, and analysis revealed the connection. I identified my friend Otto with a certain Baron L. and myself with a Professor R. There was only one explanation for my being impelled to select just this substitution for the day thought. I must have always been prepared in the Unc. to identify myself with Professor R., as it meant the realisation of one of the immortal infantile wishes, viz. that of becoming great. Repulsive ideas respecting my friend, that would certainly have been repudiated in a waking state, took advantage of the opportunity to creep into the dream, but the worry of the day likewise found some form of expression through a substitution in the dream content. The day thought, which was no wish in itself but rather a worry, had in some way to find a connection with the infantile now unconscious and suppressed wish, which then allowed it, though already properly prepared, to “originate” for consciousness. The more dominating this worry, the stronger must be the connection to be established; between the contents of the wish and that of the worry there need be no connection, nor was there one in any of our examples.
We can now sharply define the significance of the unconscious wish for the dream. It may be admitted that there is a whole class of dreams in which the incitement originates preponderatingly or even exclusively from the remnants of daily life; and I believe that even my cherished desire to become at some future time a “professor extraordinarius” would have allowed me to slumber undisturbed that night had not my worry about my friend’s health been still active. But this worry alone would not have produced a dream; the motive power needed by the dream had to be contributed by a wish, and it was the affair of the worriment to procure for itself such wish as a motive power of the dream. To speak figuratively, it is quite possible that a day thought plays the part of the contractor (entrepreneur) in the dream. But it is known that no matter what idea the contractor may have in mind, and how desirous he may be of putting it into operation, he can do nothing without capital; he must depend upon a capitalist to defray the necessary expenses, and this capitalist, who supplies the psychic expenditure for the dream is invariably and indisputably a wish from the unconscious, no matter what the nature of the waking thought may be.
In other cases the capitalist himself is the contractor for the dream; this, indeed, seems to be the more usual case. An unconscious wish is produced by the day’s work, which in turn creates the dream. The dream processes, moreover, run parallel with all the other possibilities of the economic relationship used here as an illustration. Thus, the entrepreneur may contribute some capital himself, or several entrepreneurs may seek the aid of the same capitalist, or several capitalists may jointly supply the capital required by the entrepreneur. Thus there are dreams produced by more than one dream-wish, and many similar variations which may readily be passed over and are of no further interest to us. What we have left unfinished in this discussion of the dream-wish we shall be able to develop later.
The “tertium comparationis” in the comparisons just employed—i.e. the sum placed at our free disposal in proper allotment—admits of still finer application for the illustration of the dream structure. As shown on p. 285 we can recognise in most dreams a centre especially supplied with perceptible intensity. This is regularly the direct representation of the wish-fulfilment; for, if we undo the displacements of the dream-work by a process of retrogression, we find that the psychic intensity of the elements in the dream thoughts is replaced by the perceptible intensity of the elements in the dream content. The elements adjoining the wish-fulfilment have frequently nothing to do with its sense, but prove to be descendants of painful thoughts which oppose the wish. But, owing to their frequently artificial connection with the central element, they have acquired sufficient intensity to enable them to come to expression. Thus, the force of expression of the wish-fulfilment is diffused over a certain sphere of association, within which it raises to expression all elements, including those that are in themselves impotent. In dreams having several strong wishes we can readily separate from one another the spheres of the individual wish-fulfilments; the gaps in the dream likewise can often be explained as boundary zones.
Although the foregoing remarks have considerably limited the significance of the day remnants for the dream, it will nevertheless be worth our while to give them some attention. For they must be a necessary ingredient in the formation of the dream, inasmuch as experience reveals the surprising fact that every dream shows in its content a connection with some impression of a recent day, often of the most indifferent kind. So far we have failed to see any necessity for this addition to the dream mixture (p. 153). This necessity appears only when we follow closely the part played by the unconscious wish, and then seek information in the psychology of the neuroses. We thus learn that the unconscious idea, as such, is altogether incapable of entering into the foreconscious, and that it can exert an influence there only by uniting with a harmless idea already belonging to the foreconscious, to which it transfers its intensity and under which it allows itself to be concealed. This is the fact of transference which furnishes an explanation for so many surprising occurrences in the psychic life of neurotics.
The idea from the foreconscious which thus obtains an unmerited abundance of intensity may be left unchanged by the transference, or it may have forced upon it a modification from the content of the transferring idea. I trust the reader will pardon my fondness for comparisons from daily life, but I feel tempted to say i/hat the relations existing for the repressed idea are similar to the situations existing in Austria for the American dentist, who is forbidden to practise unless he gets permission from a regular physician to use his name on the public signboard and thus cover the legal requirements. Moreover, just as it is naturally not the busiest physicians who form such alliances with dental practitioners, so in the psychic life only such foreconscious or conscious ideas are chosen to cover a repressed idea as have not themselves attracted much of the attention which is operative in the foreconscious. The unconscious entangles with its connections preferentially either those impressions and ideas of the fore-conscious which have been left unnoticed as indifferent, or those that have soon been deprived of this attention through rejection. It is a familiar fact from the association studies confirmed by every experience, that ideas which have formed Intimate connections in one direction assume an almost negative attitude to whole groups of new connections. I once tried from this principle to develop a theory for hysterical paralysis.
If we assume that the same need for the transference of the repressed ideas which we have learned to know from the analysis of the neuroses makes its influence felt in the dream as well, we can at once explain two riddles of the dream, viz. that every dream analysis shows an interweaving of a recent impression, and that this recent element is frequently of the most indifferent character. We may add what we have already learned elsewhere, that these recent and indifferent elements come so frequently into the dream content as a substitute for the most deep-lying of the dream thoughts, for the further reason that they have least to fear from the resisting censor. But while this freedom from censorship explains only the preference for trivial elements, the constant presence of recent elements points to the fact that there is a need for transference. Both groups of impressions satisfy the demand of the repression for material still free from associations, the indifferent ones because they have offered no inducement for extensive associations, and the recent ones because they have had insufficient time to form such associations.
We thus see that the day remnants, among which we may now include the indifferent impressions when they participate in the dream formation, not only borrow from the Unc. the motive power at the disposal of the repressed wish, but also offer to the unconscious something indispensable, namely, the attachment necessary to the transference. If we here attempted to penetrate more deeply into the psychic processes, we should first have to throw more light on the play of emotions between the foreconscious and the unconscious, to which, indeed, we are urged by the study of the psychoneuroses, whereas the dream itself offers no assistance in this respect.
Just one further remark about the day remnants. There is no doubt that they are the actual disturbers of sleep, and not the dream, which, on the contrary, strives to guard sleep. But we shall return to this point later.
We have so far discussed the dream-wish, we have traced it to the sphere of the Unc., and analysed its relations to the day remnants, which in turn may be either wishes, psychic emotions of any other kind, or simply recent impressions. We have thus made room for any claims that may be made for the importance of conscious thought activity in dream formations in all its variations. Relying upon our thought series, it would not be at all impossible for us to explain even those extreme cases in which the dream as a continuer of the day work brings to a happy conclusion an unsolved problem of the waking state. We do not, however, possess an example, the analysis of which might reveal the infantile or repressed wish source furnishing such alliance and successful strengthening of the efforts of the foreconscious activity. But we have not come one step nearer a solution of the riddle: Why can the unconscious furnish the motive power for the wish-fulfilment only during sleep? The answer to this question must throw light on the psychic nature of wishes; and it will be given with the aid of the diagram of the psychic apparatus.
We do not doubt that even this apparatus attained its present perfection through a long course of development. Let us attempt to restore it as it existed in an early phase of its activity. From assumptions, to be confirmed elsewhere, we know that at first the apparatus strove to keep as free from excitement as possible, and in its first formation, therefore, the scheme took the form of a reflex apparatus, which enabled it promptly to discharge through the motor tracts any sensible stimulus reaching it from without. But this simple function was disturbed by the wants of life, which likewise furnish the impulse for the further development of the apparatus. The wants of life first manifested themselves to it in the form of the great physical needs. The excitement aroused by the inner want seeks an outlet in motility, which may be designated as “inner changes” or as an “expression of the emotions.” The hungry child cries or fidgets helplessly, but its situation remains unchanged; for the excitation proceeding from an inner want requires, not a momentary outbreak, but a force working continuously. A change can occur only if in some way a feeling of gratification is experienced—which in the case of the child must be through outside help—in order to remove the inner excitement. An essential constituent of this experience is the appearance of a certain perception (of food in our example), the memory picture of which thereafter remains associated with the memory trace of the excitation of want.
Thanks to the established connection, there results at the next appearance of this want a psychic feeling which revives the memory picture of the former perception, and thus recalls the former perception itself, i.e. it actually re-establishes the situation of the first gratification. We call such a feeling a wish; the reappearance of the perception constitutes the wish-fulfilment, and the full revival of the perception by the want excitement constitutes the shortest road to the wish-fulfilment. We may assume a primitive condition of the psychic apparatus in which this road is really followed, i.e. where the wishing merges into an hallucination. This first psychic activity therefore aims at an identity of perception, i.e. it aims at a repetition of that perception which is connected with the fulfilment of the want.
This primitive mental activity must have been modified by bitter practical experience into a more expedient secondary activity. The establishment of the identity perception on the short regressive road within the apparatus does not in another respect carry with it the result which inevitably follows the revival of the same perception from without. The gratification does not take place, and the want continues. In order to equalise the internal with the external sum of energy, the former must be continually maintained, just as actually happens in the hallucinatory psychoses and in the deliriums of hunger which exhaust their psychic capacity in clinging to the object desired. In order to make more appropriate use of the psychic force, it becomes necessary to inhibit the full regression so as to prevent it from extending beyond the image of memory, whence it can select other paths leading ultimately to the establishment of the desired identity from the outer world. This inhibition and consequent deviation from the excitation becomes the task of a second system which dominates the voluntary motility, i.e. through whose activity the expenditure of motility is now devoted to previously recalled purposes. But this entire complicated mental activity which works its way from the memory picture to the establishment of the perception identity from the outer world merely represents a detour which has been forced upon the wish-fulfilment by experience. Thinking is indeed nothing but the equivalent of the hallucinatory wish; and if the dream be called a wish-fulfilment this becomes self-evident, as nothing but a wish can impel our psychic apparatus to activity. The dream, which in fulfilling its wishes follows the short regressive path, thereby preserves for us only an example of the primary form of the psychic apparatus which has been abandoned as inexpedient. What once ruled in the waking state when the psychic life was still young and unfit seems to have been banished into the sleeping state, just as we see again in the nursery the bow and arrow, the discarded primitive weapons of grown-up humanity. The dream is a fragment of the abandoned psychic life of the child. In the psychoses these modes of operation of the psychic apparatus, which are normally suppressed in the waking state, reassert themselves, and then betray their inability to satisfy our wants in the outer world.
The unconscious wish-feelings evidently strive to assert themselves during the day also, and the fact of transference and the psychoses teach us that they endeavour to penetrate to consciousness and dominate motility by the road leading through the system of the foreconscious. It is, therefore, the censor lying between the Unc. and the Forec., the assumption of which is forced upon us by the dream, that we have to recognise and honour as the guardian of our psychic health. But is it not carelessness on the part of this guardian to diminish its vigilance during the night and to allow the suppressed emotions of the Unc. to come to expression, thus again making possible the hallucinatory regression? I think not. for when the critical guardian goes to rest—and we have proof that his slumber is not profound—he takes care to close the gate to motility. No matter what feelings from the otherwise inhibited Unc. may roam about on the scene, they need not be interfered with; they remain harmless because they are unable to put in motion the motor apparatus which alone can exert a modifying influence upon the outer world. Sleep guarantees the security of the fortress which is under guard. Conditions are less harmless when a displacement of forces is produced, not through a nocturnal diminution in the operation of the critical censor, but through pathological enfeeblement of the latter or through pathological reinforcement of the unconscious excitations, and this while the foreconscious is charged with energy and the avenues to motility are open. The guardian is then overpowered, the unconscious excitations subdue the Forec.; through it they dominate our speech and actions, or they enforce the hallucinatory regression, thus governing an apparatus not designed for them by virtue of the attraction exerted by the perceptions on the distribution of our psychic energy. We call this condition a psychosis.
We are now in the best position to complete our psychological construction, which has been interrupted by the introduction of the two systems, Unc. and Forec. We have still, however, ample reason for giving further consideration to the wish as the sole psychic motive power in the dream. We have explained that the reason why the dream is in every case a wish realisation is because it is a product of the Unc., which knows no other aim in its activity but the fulfilment of wishes, and which has no other forces at its disposal but wish-feelings. If we avail ourselves for a moment longer of the right to elaborate from the dream interpretation such far-reaching psychological speculations, we are in duty bound to demonstrate that we are thereby bringing the dream into a relationship which may also comprise other psychic structures. If there exists a system of the Unc.—or something sufficiently analogous to it for the purpose of our discussion—the dream cannot be its sole manifestation; every dream may be a wish-fulfilment, but there must be other forms of abnormal wish-fulfilment besides this of dreams. Indeed, the theory of all psychoneurotic symptoms culminates in the proposition that they too must be taken as wish-fulfilments of the unconscious. Our explanation makes the dream only the first member of a group most important for the psychiatrist, an understanding of which means the solution of the purely psychological part of the psychiatric problem. But other members of this group of wish-fulfilments, e.g., the hysterical symptoms, evince one essential quality which I have so far failed to find in the dream. Thus, from the investigations frequently referred to in this treatise, I know that the formation of an hysterical symptom necessitates the combination of both streams of our psychic life. The symptom is not merely the expression of a realised unconscious wish, but it must be joined by another wish from the foreconscious which is fulfilled by the same symptom; Bo that the symptom is at least doubly determined, once by each one of the conflicting systems. Just as in the dream, there is no limit to further over-determination. The determination not derived from the Unc. is, as far as I can see, invariably a stream of thought in reaction against the unconscious wish, e.g., a self-punishment. Hence I may say, in general, that an hysterical symptom originates only where two contrasting wish-fulfilments, having their source in different psychic systems, are able to combine in one expression. (Compare my latest formulation of the origin of the hysterical symptoms in a treatise published by the Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft, by Hirschfeld and others, 1908). Examples on this point would prove of little value, as nothing but a complete unveiling of the complication in question would carry conviction. I therefore content myself with the mere assertion, and will cite an example, not for conviction but for explication. The hysterical vomiting of a female patient proved, on the one hand, to be the realisation of an unconscious fancy from the time of puberty, that she might be continuously pregnant and have a multitude of children, and this was subsequently united with the wish that she might have them from as many men as possible. Against this immoderate wish there arose a powerful defensive impulse. But as the vomiting might spoil the patient’s figure and beauty, so that she would not find favour in the eyes of mankind, the symptom was therefore in keeping with her punitive trend of thought, and, being thus admissible from both sides, it was allowed to become a reality. This is the same manner of consenting to a wish-fulfilment which the queen of the Parthians chose for the triumvir Crassus. Believing that he had undertaken the campaign out of greed for gold, she caused molten gold to be poured into the throat of the corpse. “Now hast thou what thou hast longed for.” As yet we know of the dream only that it expresses a wish-fulfilment of the unconscious; and apparently the dominating foreconscious permits this only after it has subjected the wish to some distortions. We are really in no position to demonstrate regularly a stream of thought antagonistic to the dream-wish which is realised in the dream as in its counterpart. Only now and then have we found in the dream traces of reaction formations, as, for instance, the tenderness toward friend R. in the “uncle dream” (p. 116). But the contribution from the foreconscious, which is missing here, may be found in another place. While the dominating system has withdrawn on the wish to sleep, the dream may bring to expression with manifold distortions a wish from the Unc., and realise this wish by producing the necessary changes of energy in the psychic apparatus, and may finally retain it through the entire duration of sleep.
This persistent wish to sleep on the part of the foreconscious in general facilitates the formation of the dream. Let us refer to the dream of the father who, by the gleam of light from the death chamber, was brought to the conclusion that the body has been set on fire. We have shown that one of the psychic forces decisive in causing the father to form this conclusion, instead of being awakened by the gleam of light, was the wish to prolong the life of the child seen in the dream by one moment. Other wishes proceeding from the repression probably escape us, because we are unable to analyse this dream. But as a second motive power of the dream we may mention the father’s desire to sleep, for, like the life of the child, the sleep of the father is prolonged for a moment by the dream. The underlying motive is: “Let the dream go on, otherwise I must wake up.” As in this dream so also in all other dreams, the wish to sleep lends its support to the unconscious wish. On page 104 we reported dreams which were apparently dreams of convenience. But, properly speaking, all dreams may claim this designation. The efficacy of the wish to continue to sleep is the most easily recognised in the waking dreams, which so transform the objective sensory stimulus as to render it compatible with the continuance of sleep; they interweave this stimulus with the dream in order to rob it of any claims it might make as a warning to the outer world. But this wish to continue to sleep must also participate in the formation of all other dreams which may disturb the sleeping state from within only. “Now, then, sleep on; why, it’s but a dream”; this is in many cases the suggestion of the Force, to consciousness when the dream goes too far; and this also describes in a general way the attitude of our dominating psychic activity toward dreaming, though the thought remains tacit. I must draw the conclusion that throughout our entire sleeping state we are just as certain that we are dreaming as we are certain that we are sleeping. We are compelled to disregard the objection urged against this conclusion that our consciousness is never directed to a knowledge of the former, and that it is directed to a knowledge of the latter only on special occasions when the censor is unexpectedly surprised. Against this objection we may say that there are persons who are entirely conscious of their sleeping and dreaming, and who are apparently endowed with the conscious faculty of guiding their dream life. Such a dreamer, when dissatisfied with the course taken by the dream, breaks it off without awakening, and begins it anew in order to continue it with a different turn, like the popular author who, on request, gives a happier ending to his play. Or, at another time, if placed by the dream in a sexually exciting situation, he thinks in his sleep: “I do not care to continue this dream and exhaust myself by a pollution; I prefer to defer it in favour of a real situation.”
Since we know that the foreconscious is suspended during the night by the wish to sleep, we can proceed to an intelligent investigation of the dream process. But let us first sum up the knowledge of this process already gained. We have shown that the waking activity leaves day remnants from which the sum of energy cannot be entirely removed; or the waking activity revives during the day one of the unconscious wishes; or both conditions occur simultaneously; we have already discovered the many variations that may take place. The unconscious wish has already made its way to the day remnants. either during the day or at any rate with the beginning of sleep, and has effected a transference to it. This produces a wish transferred to the recent material, or the suppressed recent wish comes to life again through a reinforcement from the unconscious. This wish now endeavours to make its way to consciousness on the normal path of the mental processes through the foreconscious, to which indeed it belongs through one of its constituent elements. It is confronted, however, by the censor, which is still active, and to the influence of which it now succumbs. It now takes on the distortion for which the way has already been paved by its transference to the recent material. Thus far it is in the way of becoming something resembling an obsession, delusion, or the like, i.e. a thought reinforced by a transference and distorted in expression by the censor. But its further progress is now checked through the dormant state of the foreconscious; this system has apparently protected itself against invasion by diminishing its excitements. The dream process, therefore, takes the regressive course, which has just been opened by the peculiarity of the sleeping state, and thereby follows the attraction exerted on it by the memory groups, which themselves exist in part only as visual energy not yet translated into terms of the later systems. On its way to regression the dream takes on the form of dramatisation. The subject of compression will be discussed later. The dream process has now terminated the second part of its repeatedly impeded course. The first part expended itself progressively from the unconscious scenes or phantasies to the foreconscious, while the second part gravitates from the advent of the censor back to the perceptions. But when the dream process becomes a content of perception it has, so to speak, eluded the obstacle set up in the Forec. by the censor and by the sleeping state. It succeeds in drawing attention to itself and in being noticed by consciousness. For consciousness, which means to us a sensory organ for the reception of psychic qualities, may receive stimuli from two sources—first, from the periphery of the entire apparatus, viz. from the perception system, and, secondly, from the pleasure and pain stimuli, which constitute the sole psychic quality produced in the transformation of energy within the apparatus. All other processes in the Psi-system, even those in the foreconscious, are devoid of any psychic quality, and are therefore not objects of consciousness inasmuch as they do not furnish pleasure or pain for perception. We shall have to assume that those liberations of pleasure and pain automatically regulate the outlet of the occupation processes. But in order to make possible more delicate functions, it was later found necessary to render the course of the presentations more independent of the manifestations of pain. To accomplish this the Forec. system needed some qualities of its own which could attract consciousness, and most probably received them through the connection of the foreconscious processes with the memory system of the signs of speech, which is not devoid of qualities. Through the qualities of this system, consciousness, which had hitherto been a sensory organ only for the perceptions, now becomes also a sensory organ for a part of our mental processes. Thus we have now, as it were, two sensory surfaces, one directed to perceptions and the other to the foreconscious mental processes.
I must assume that the sensory surface of consciousness devoted to the Forec. is rendered less excitable by sleep than that directed to the P-systems. The giving up of interest for the nocturnal mental processes is indeed purposeful. Nothing is to disturb the mind; the Forec. wants to sleep. But once the dream becomes a perception, it is then capable of exciting consciousness through the qualities thus gained. The sensory stimulus accomplishes what it was really destined for, namely, it directs a part of the energy at the disposal of the Forec. in the form of attention upon the stimulant. We must, therefore, admit that the dream invariably awakens us. that is, it puts into activity a part of the dormant force of the Forec. This force imparts to the dream that influence which we have designated as secondary elaboration for the sake of connection and comprehensibility. This means that the dream is treated by it like any other content of perception; it is subjected to the same ideas of expectation, as far at least as the material admits. As far as the direction is concerned in this third part of the dream, it may be said that here again the movement is progressive.
To avoid misunderstanding, it will not be amiss to say a few words about the temporal peculiarities of these dream processes. In a very interesting discussion, apparently suggested by Maury’s puzzling guillotine dream, Goblot 29 tries to demonstrate that the dream requires no other time than the transition period between sleeping and awakening. The awakening requires time, as the dream takes place during that period. One is inclined to believe that the final picture of the dream is so strong that it forces the dreamer to awaken; but, as a matter of fact, this picture is strong only because the dreamer is already very near awakening when it appears. “Un rêve c’est un réveil qui commence.”
It has already been emphasized by Dugas 18 that Goblot was forced to repudiate many facts in order to generalise his theory. There are, moreover, dreams from which we do not awaken, e.g., some dreams in which we dream that we dream. From our knowledge of the dream-work, we can by no means admit that it extends only over the period of awakening. On the contrary, we must consider it probable that the first part of the dream-work begins during the day when we are still under the domination of the foreconscious. The second phase of the dream-work, viz. the modification through the censor, the attraction by the unconscious scenes, and the penetration to perception must continue throughout the night. And we are probably always right when we assert that we feel as though we had been dreaming the whole night, although we cannot say what. I do not, however, think it necessary to assume that, up to the time of becoming conscious, the dream processes really follow the temporal sequence which we have described, viz. that there is first the transferred dream-wish, then the distortion of the censor, and consequently the change of direction to regression, and so on. We were forced to form such a succession for the sake of description; in reality, however, it is much rather a matter of simultaneously trying this path and that, and of emotions fluctuating to and fro, until finally, owing to the most expedient distribution, one particular grouping is secured which remains. From certain personal experiences, I am myself inclined to believe that the dream-work often requires more than one day and one night to produce its result; if this be true, the extraordinary art manifested in the construction of the dream loses all its marvels. In my opinion, even the regard for comprehensibility as an occurrence of perception may take effect before the dream attracts consciousness to itself. To be sure, from now on the process is accelerated, as the dream is henceforth subjected to the same treatment as any other perception. It is like fireworks, which require hours of preparation and only a moment for ignition.
Through the dream-work the dream process now gains either sufficient intensity to attract consciousness to itself and arouse the foreconscious, which is quite independent of the time or profundity of sleep, or, its intensity being insufficient it must wait until it meets the attention which is set in motion immediately before awakening. Most dreams seem to operate with relatively slight psychic intensities, for they wait for the awakening. This, however, explains the fact that we regularly perceive something dreamt on being suddenly aroused from a sound sleep. Here, as well as in spontaneous awakening, the first glance strikes the perception content created by the dream-work, while the next strikes the one produced from without.
But of greater theoretical interest are those dreams which are capable of waking us in the midst of sleep. We must bear in mind the expediency elsewhere universally demonstrated, and ask ourselves why the dream or the unconscious wish has the power to disturb sleep, i.e. the fulfilment of the foreconscious wish. This is probably due to certain relations of energy into which we have no insight. If we possessed such insight we should probably find that the freedom given to the dream and the expenditure of a certain amount of detached attention represent for the dream an economy in energy, keeping in view the fact that the unconscious must be held in check at night just as during the day. We know from experience that the dream, even if it interrupts sleep, repeatedly during the same night, still remains compatible with sleep. We wake up for an instant, and immediately resume our sleep. It is like driving off a fly during sleep, we awake ad hoc, and when we resume our sleep we have removed the disturbance. As demonstrated by familiar examples from the sleep of wet nurses, &c., the fulfilment of the wish to sleep is quite compatible with the retention of a certain amount of attention in a given direction.
But we must here take cognisance of an objection that is based on a better knowledge of the unconscious processes. Although we have ourselves described the unconscious wishes as always active, we have, nevertheless, asserted that they are not sufficiently strong during the day to make themselves perceptible. But when we sleep, and the unconscious wish has shown its power to form a dream, and with it to awaken the foreconscious, why, then, does this power become exhausted after the dream has been taken cognisance of? Would it not seem more probable that the dream should continually renew itself, like the troublesome fly which, when driven away, takes pleasure in returning again and again? What justifies our assertion that the dream removes the disturbance of sleep?
That the unconscious wishes always remain active is quite true. They represent paths which are passable whenever a sum of excitement makes use of them. Moreover, a remarkable peculiarity of the unconscious processes is the fact that they remain indestructible. Nothing can be brought to an end in the unconscious; nothing can cease or be forgotten. This impression is most strongly gamed in the study of the neuroses, especially of hysteria. The unconscious stream of thought which leads to the discharge through an attack becomes passable again as soon as there is an accumulation of a sufficient amount of excitement. The mortification brought on thirty years ago, after having gained access to the unconscious affective source, operates during all these thirty years like a recent one. Whenever its memory is touched, it is revived and shows itself to be supplied with the excitement which is discharged in a motor attack. It is just here that the office of psychotherapy begins, its task being to bring about adjustment and forgetfulness for the unconscious processes. Indeed, the fading of memories and the flagging of affects, which we are apt to take as self-evident and to explain as a primary influence of time on the psychic memories, are in reality secondary changes brought about by painstaking work. It is the foreconscious that accomplishes this work; and the only course to be pursued by psychotherapy is to subjugate the Unc. to the domination of the Forec.
There are, therefore, two exits for the individual unconscious emotional process. It is either left to itself, in which case it ultimately breaks through somewhere and secures for once a discharge for its excitation into motility; or it succumbs to the influence of the foreconscious, and its excitation becomes confined through this influence instead of being discharged. It is the latter process that occurs in the dream. Owing to the fact that it is directed by the conscious excitement, the energy from the Forec., which confronts the dream when grown to perception, restricts the unconscious excitement of the dream and renders it harmless as a disturbing factor. When the dreamer wakes up for a moment, he has actually chased away the fly that has threatened to disturb his sleep. We can now understand that it is really more expedient and economical to give full sway to the unconscious wish, and clear its way to regression so that it may form a dream, and then restrict and adjust this dream by means of a small expenditure of fore-conscious labour, than to curb the unconscious throughout the entire period of sleep. We should, indeed, expect that the dream, even if it was not originally an expedient process, would have acquired some function in the play of forces of the psychic life. We now see what this function is. The dream has taken it upon itself to bring the liberated excitement of the Unc. back under the domination of the foreconscious; it thus affords relief for the excitement of the Unc. and acts as a safety-valve for the latter, and at the same time it insures the sleep of the foreconscious at a slight expenditure of the waking state. Like the other psychic formations of its group, the dream offers itself as a compromise serving simultaneously both systems by fulfilling both wishes in so far as they are compatible with each other. A glance at Robert’s “elimination theory.” referred to on page 66, will show that we must agree with this author in his main point, viz. in the determination of the function of the dream, though we differ from him in our hypotheses and in our treatment of the dream process.
The above qualification—in so far as the two wishes are compatible with each other—contains a suggestion that there may be cases in which the function of the dream suffers shipwreck. The dream process is in the first instance admitted as a wish-fulfilment of the unconscious, but if this tentative wish-fulfilment disturbs the foreconscious to such an extent that the latter can no longer maintain its rest, the dream then breaks the compromise and fails to perform the second part of its task. It is then at once broken off, and replaced by complete wakefulness. Here, too, it is not really the fault of the dream, if, while ordinarily the guardian of sleep, it is here compelled to appear as the disturber of sleep, nor should this cause us to entertain any doubts as to its efficacy. This is not the only case in the organism in which an otherwise efficacious arrangement became inefficacious and disturbing as soon as some element is changed in the conditions of its origin; the disturbance then serves at least the new purpose of announcing the change, and calling into play against it the means of adjustment of the organism. In this connection. I naturally bear in mind the case of the anxiety dream, and in order not to have the appearance of trying to exclude this testimony against the theory of wish-fulfilment wherever I encounter it, I will attempt an explanation of the anxiety dream, at least offering some suggestions.
That a psychic process developing anxiety may still be a wish-fulfilment has long ceased to impress us as a contradiction. We may explain this occurrence by the fact that the wish belongs to one system (the Unc.), while by the other system (the Forec.), this wish has been rejected and suppressed. The subjection of the Unc. by the Forec. is not complete even in perfect psychic health; the amount of this suppression shows the degree of our psychic normality. Neurotic symptoms show that there is a conflict between the two systems; the symptoms are the results of a compromise of this conflict, and they temporarily put an end to it. On the one hand, they afford the Unc. an outlet for the discharge of its excitement, and serve it as a sally port, while, on the other hand, they give the Forec. the capability of dominating the Unc. to some extent. It is highly instructive to consider, e.g., the significance of any hysterical phobia or of an agoraphobia. Suppose a neurotic incapable of crossing the street alone, which we would justly call a “symptom.” We attempt to remove this symptom by urging him to the action which he deems himself incapable of. The result will be an attack of anxiety, just as an attack of anxiety in the street has often been the cause of establishing an agoraphobia. We thus learn that the symptom has been constituted in order to guard against the outbreak of the anxiety. The phobia is thrown before the anxiety like a fortress on the frontier.
Unless we enter into the part played by the affects in these processes, which can be done here only imperfectly, we cannot continue our discussion. Let us therefore advance the proposition that the reason why the suppression of the unconscious becomes absolutely necessary is because, if the discharge of presentation should be left to itself, it would develop an affect in the Unc. which originally bore the character of pleasure, but which, since the appearance of the repression, bears the character of pain. The aim, as well as the result, of the suppression is to stop the development of this pain. The suppression extends over the unconscious ideation, because the liberation of pain might emanate from the ideation. The foundation is here laid for a very definite assumption concerning the nature of the affective development. It is regarded as a motor or secondary activity, the key to the innervation of which is located in the presentations of the Unc. Through the domination of the Forec. these presentations become, as it were, throttled and inhibited at the exit of the emotion-developing impulses. The danger, which is due to the fact that the Forec. ceases to occupy the energy, therefore consists in the fact that the unconscious excitations liberate such an affect as—in consequence of the repression that has previously taken place—can only be perceived as pain or anxiety.
This danger is released through the full sway of the dream process. The determinations for its realisation consist in the fact that repressions have taken place, and that the suppressed emotional wishes shall become sufficiently strong. They thus stand entirely without the psychological realm of the dream structure. Were it not for the fact that our subject is connected through just one factor, namely, the freeing of the Unc. during sleep, with the subject of the development of anxiety, I could dispense with discussion of the anxiety dream, and thus avoid all obscurities connected with it.
As I have often repeated, the theory of the anxiety belongs to the psychology of the neuroses. I would say that the anxiety in the dream is an anxiety problem and not a dream problem. We have nothing further to do with it after having once demonstrated its point of contact with the subject of the dream process. There is only one thing left for me to do. As I have asserted that the neurotic anxiety originates from sexual sources, I can subject anxiety dreams to analysis in order to demonstrate the sexual material in their dream thoughts.
For good reasons I refrain from citing here any of the numerous examples placed at my disposal by neurotic patients, but prefer to give anxiety dreams from young persons.
Personally, I have had no real anxiety dream for decades, but I recall one from my seventh or eighth year which I subjected to interpretation about thirty years later. The dream was very vivid, and showed me my beloved mother, with peculiarly calm sleeping countenance, carried into the room and laid on the bed by two (or three) persons with bird’s beaks. I awoke crying and screaming, and disturbed my parents. The very tall figures—draped in a peculiar manner—with beaks, I had taken from the illustrations of Philippson’s bible; I believe they represented deities with heads of sparrowhawks from an Egyptian tomb relief. The analysis also introduced the reminiscence of a naughty janitor’s boy, who used to play with us children on the meadow in front of the house; I would add that his name was Philip. I feel that I first heard from this boy the vulgar word signifying sexual intercourse, which is replaced among the educated by the Latin “coitus,” but to which the dream distinctly alludes by the selection of the bird’s heads. I must have suspected the sexual significance of the word from the facial expression of my worldly-wise teacher. My mother’s features in the dream were copied from the countenance of my grandfather, whom I had seen a few days before his death snoring in the state of coma. The interpretation of the secondary elaboration in the dream must therefore have been that my mother was dying; the tomb relief, too, agrees with this. In this anxiety I awoke, and could not calm myself until I had awakened my parents. I remember that I suddenly became calm on coming face to face with my mother, as if I needed the assurance that my mother was not dead. But this secondary interpretation of the dream had been effected only under the influence of the developed anxiety. I was not frightened because I dreamed that my mother was dying, but I interpreted the dream in this manner in the fore-conscious elaboration because I was already under the domination of the anxiety. The latter, however, could be traced by means of the repression to an obscure obviously sexual desire, which had found its satisfying expression in the visual content of the dream.
A man twenty-seven years old who had been severely ill for a year had had many terrifying dreams between the ages of eleven and thirteen. He thought that a man with an axe was running after him; he wished to run, but felt paralysed and could not move from the spot. This may be taken as a good example of a very common, and apparently sexually indifferent, anxiety dream. In the analysis the dreamer first thought of a story told him by his uncle, which chronologically was later than the dream, viz. that he was attacked at night by a suspicious-looking individual. This occurrence led him to believe that he himself might have already heard of a similar episode at the time of the dream. In connection with the axe he recalled that during that period of his life he once hurt his hand with an axe while chopping wood. This immediately led to his relations with his younger brother, whom he used to maltreat and knock down. In particular, he recalled an occasion when he struck his brother on the head with his boot until he bled, whereupon his mother remarked: “I fear he will kill him some day.” While he was seemingly thinking of the subject of violence, a reminiscence from his ninth year suddenly occurred to him. His parents came home late and went to bed while he was feigning sleep. He soon heard panting and other noises that appeared strange to him, and he could also make out the position of his parents in bed. His further associations showed that he had established an analogy between this relation between his parents and his own relation toward his younger brother. He subsumed what occurred between his parents under the conception “violence and wrestling,” and thus reached a sadistic conception of the coitus act, as often happens among children. The fact that he often noticed blood on his mother’s bed corroborated his conception.
That the sexual intercourse of adults appears strange to children who observe it, and arouses fear in them, I dare say is a fact of daily experience. I have explained this fear by the fact that sexual excitement is not mastered by their understanding, and is probably also inacceptable to them because their parents are involved in it. For the same reason this excitement is converted into fear. At a still earlier period of life sexual emotion directed toward the parent of opposite sex does not meet with repression but finds free expression, as we have seen above (pp. 209–215).
For the night terrors with hallucinations (pavor nocturnus) frequently found in children, I would unhesitatingly give the same explanation. Here, too, we are certainly dealing with the incomprehensible and rejected sexual feelings, which, if noted, would probably show a temporal periodicity, for an enhancement of the sexual libido may just as well be produced accidentally through emotional impressions as through the spontaneous and gradual processes of development.
I lack the necessary material to sustain these explanations from observation. On the other hand, the podiatrists seem to lack the point of view which alone makes comprehensible the whole series of phenomena, on the somatic as well as on the psychic side. To illustrate by a comical example how one wearing the blinders of medical mythology may miss the understanding of such cases I will relate a case which I found in a thesis on pavor nocturnus by Debacker, 17 1881 (p. 66). A thirteen-year-old boy of delicate health began to become anxious and dreamy; his sleep became restless, and about once a week it was interrupted by an acute attack of anxiety with hallucinations. The memory of these dreams was invariably very distinct. Thus, he related that the devil shouted at him: “Now we have you, now we have you,” and this was followed by an odour of sulphur; the fire burned his skin. This dream aroused him, terror-stricken. He was unable to scream at first; then his voice returned, and he was heard to say distinctly: “No, no, not me; why, I have done nothing,” or, “Please don’t, I shall never do it again.” Occasionally, also, he said: “Albert has not done that.” Later he avoided undressing, because, as he said, the fire attacked him only when he was undressed. From amid these evil dreams, which menaced his health, he was sent into the country, where he recovered within a year and a half, but at the age of fifteen he once confessed: “Je n’osais pas l’avouer, mais j’éprouvais continuellement des picotements et des surexcitations aux parties; à la fin, cela m’énervait tant que plusieurs fois, j’ai pensé me jeter par la fenêtre au dortoir.”
It is certainly not difficult to suspect: 1, that the boy had practised masturbation in former years, that he probably denied it, and was threatened with severe punishment for his wrongdoing (his confession: Je ne le ferai plus; his denial: Albert n’a jamais fait ça). 2, That under the pressure of puberty the temptation to self-abuse through the tickling of the genitals was reawakened. 3, That now, however, a struggle of repression arose in him, suppressing the libido and changing it into fear, which subsequently took the form of the punishments with which he was then threatened.
Let us, however, quote the conclusions drawn by our author (p. 69). This observation shows: 1, That the influence of puberty may produce in a boy of delicate health a condition of extreme weakness, and that it may lead to a very marked cerebral anæmia.
2. This cerebral anæmia produces a transformation of character, demonomaniacal hallucinations, and very violent nocturnal, perhaps also diurnal, states of anxiety.
3. Demonomania and the self-reproaches of the day can be traced to the influences of religious education which the subject underwent as a child.
4. All manifestations disappeared as a result of a lengthy sojourn in the country, bodily exercise, and the return of physical strength after the termination of the period of puberty.
5. A predisposing influence for the origin of the cerebral condition of the boy may be attributed to heredity and to the father’s chronic syphilitic state.
The concluding remarks of the author read: “Nous avons fait entrer cette observation dans le cadre des délires apyrétiques d’inanition, car c’est à l’ischémie cérébrale que nous rattachons cet état particulier.”
In venturing to attempt to penetrate more deeply into the psychology of the dream processes, I have undertaken a difficult task, to which, indeed, my power of description is hardly equal. To reproduce in description by a succession of words the simultaneousness of so complex a chain of events, and in doing so to appear unbiassed throughout the exposition, goes fairly beyond my powers. I have now to atone for the fact that I have been unable in my description of the dream psychology to follow the historic development of my views. The view-points for my conception of the dream were reached through earlier investigations in the psychology of the neuroses, to which I am not supposed to refer here, but to which I am repeatedly forced to refer, whereas I should prefer to proceed in the opposite direction, and, starting from the dream, to establish a connection with the psychology of the neuroses. I am well aware of all the inconveniences arising for the reader from this difficulty, but I know of no way to avoid them.
As I am dissatisfied with this state of affairs, I am glad to dwell upon another view-point which seems to raise the value of my efforts. As has been shown in the introduction to the first chapter, I found myself confronted with a theme which had been marked by the sharpest contradictions on the part of the authorities. After our elaboration of the dream problems we found room for most of these contradictions. We have been forced, however, to take decided exception to two of the views pronounced, viz. that the dream is a senseless and that it is a somatic process; apart from these cases we have had to accept all the contradictory views in one place or another of the complicated argument, and we have been able to demonstrate that they had discovered something that was correct. That the dream continues the impulses and interests of the waking state has been quite generally confirmed through the discovery of the latent thoughts of the dream. These thoughts concern themselves only with things that seem important and of momentous interest to us. The dream never occupies itself with trifles. But we have also concurred with the contrary view, viz. that the dream gathers up the indifferent remnants from the day, and that not until it has in some measure withdrawn itself from the waking activity can an important event of the day be taken up by the dream. We found this holding true for the dream content, which gives the dream thought its changed expression by means of disfigurement. We have said that from the nature of the association mechanism the dream process more easily takes possession of recent or indifferent material which has not yet been seized by the waking mental activity; and by reason of the censor it transfers the psychic intensity from the important but also disagreeable to the indifferent material. The hypermnesia of the dream and the resort to infantile material have become main supports in our theory. In our theory of the dream we have attributed to the wish originating from the infantile the part of an indispensable motor for the formation of the dream. We naturally could not think of doubting the experimentally demonstrated significance of the objective sensory stimuli during sleep; but we have brought this material into the same relation to the dream-wish as the thought remnants from the waking activity. There was no need of disputing the fact that the dream interprets the objective sensory stimuli after the manner of an illusion; but we have supplied the motive for this interpretation which has been left undecided by the authorities. The interpretation follows in such a manner that the perceived object is rendered harmless as a sleep disturber and becomes available for the wish-fulfilment. Though we do not admit as special sources of the dream the subjective state of excitement of the sensory organs during sleep, which seems to have been demonstrated by Trumbull Ladd, 40 we are nevertheless able to explain this excitement through the regressive revival of active memories behind the dream. A modest part in our conception has also been assigned to the inner organic sensations which are wont to be taken as the cardinal point in the explanation of the dream. These—the sensation of falling, flying, or inhibition—stand as an ever ready material to be used by the dream-work to express the dream thought as often as need arises.
That the dream process is a rapid and momentary one seems to be true for the perception through consciousness of the already prepared dream content; the preceding parts of the dream process probably take a slow, fluctuating course. We have solved the riddle of the superabundant dream content compressed within the briefest moment by explaining that this is due to the appropriation of almost fully formed structures from the psychic life. That the dream is disfigured and distorted by memory we found to be correct, but not troublesome, as this is only the last manifest operation in the work of disfigurement which has been active from the beginning of the dream-work. In the bitter and seemingly irreconcilable controversy as to whether the psychic life sleeps at night or can make the same use of all its capabilities as during the day, we have been able to agree with both sides, though not fully with either. We have found proof that the dream thoughts represent a most complicated intellectual activity, employing almost every means furnished by the psychic apparatus; still it cannot be denied that these dream thoughts have originated during the day, and it is indispensable to assume that there is a sleeping state of the psychic life. Thus, even the theory of partial sleep has come into play; but the characteristics of the sleeping state have been found not in the dilapidation of the psychic connections but in the cessation of the psychic system dominating the day, arising from its desire to sleep. The withdrawal from the outer world retains its significance also for our conception; though not the only factor, it nevertheless helps the regression to make possible the representation of the dream. That we should reject the voluntary guidance of the presentation course is uncontestable; but the psychic life does not thereby become aimless, for we have seen that after the abandonment of the desired end-presentation undesired ones gain the mastery. The loose associative connection in the dream we have not only recognised, but we have placed under its control a far greater territory than could have been supposed; we have, however, found it merely the feigned substitute for another correct and senseful one. To be sure we, too, have called the dream absurd; but we have been able to learn from examples how wise the dream really is when it simulates absurdity. We do not deny any of the functions that have been attributed to the dream. That the dream relieves the mind like a valve, and that, according to Robert’s assertion, all kinds of harmful material are rendered harmless through representation in the dream, not only exactly coincides with our theory of the twofold wish-fulfilment in the dream, but, in his own wording, becomes even more comprehensible for us than for Robert himself. The free indulgence of the psychic in the play of its faculties finds expression with us in the non-interference with the dream on the part of the foreconscious activity. The “return to the embryonal state of psychic life in the dream” and the observation of Havelock Ellis, 23 “an archaic world of vast emotions and imperfect thoughts,” appear to us as happy anticipations of our deductions to the effect that primitive modes of work suppressed during the day participate in the formation of the dream; and with us, as with Delage, 15 the suppressed material becomes the mainspring of the dreaming.
We have fully recognised the rôle which Scherner ascribes to the dream phantasy, and even his interpretation; but we have been obliged, so to speak, to conduct them to another department in the problem. It is not the dream that produces the phantasy but the unconscious phantasy that takes the greatest part in the formation of the dream thoughts. We are indebted to Scherner for his clue to the source of the dream thoughts, but almost everything that he ascribes to the dream-work is attributable to the activity of the unconscious, which is at work during the day, and which supplies incitements not only for dreams but for neurotic symptoms as well. We have had to separate the dream-work from this activity as being something entirely different and far more restricted. Finally, we have by no means abandoned the relation of the dream to mental disturbances, but, on the contrary, we have given it a more solid foundation on new ground.
Thus held together by the new material of our theory as by a superior unity, we find the most varied and most contradictory conclusions of the authorities fitting into our structure; some of them are differently disposed, only a few of them are entirely rejected. But our own structure is still unfinished. For, disregarding the many obscurities which we have necessarily encountered in our advance into the darkness of psychology, we are now apparently embarrassed by a new contradiction. On the one hand, we have allowed the dream thoughts to proceed from perfectly normal mental operations, while, on the other hand, we have found among the dream thoughts a number of entirely abnormal mental processes which extend likewise to the dream contents. These, consequently, we have repeated in the interpretation of the dream. All that we have termed the “dream-work” seems so remote from the psychic processes recognised by us as correct, that the severest judgments of the authors as to the low psychic activity of dreaming seem to us well founded.
Perhaps only through still further advance can enlightenment and improvement be brought about. I shall pick out one of the constellations leading to the formation of dreams.
We have learned that the dream replaces a number of thoughts derived from daily life which are perfectly formed logically. We cannot therefore doubt that these thoughts originate from our normal mental life. All the qualities which we esteem in our mental operations, and which distinguish these as complicated activities of a high order, we find repeated in the dream thoughts. There is, however, no need of assuming that this mental work is performed during sleep, as this would materially impair the conception of the psychic state of sleep we have hitherto adhered to. These thoughts may just as well have originated from the day, and, unnoticed by our consciousness from their inception, they may have continued to develop until they stood complete at the onset of sleep. If we are to conclude anything from this state of affairs, it will at most prove that the most complex mental operations are possible without the co-operation of consciousness, which we have already learned independently from every psychoanalysis of persons suffering from hysteria or obsessions. These dream thoughts are in themselves surely not incapable of consciousness; if they have not become conscious to us during the day, this may have various reasons. The state of becoming conscious depends on the exercise of a certain psychic function, viz. attention, which seems to be extended only in a definite quantity, and which may have been withdrawn from the stream of thought in question by other aims. Another way in which such mental streams are kept from consciousness is the following:—Our conscious reflection teaches us that when exercising attention we pursue a definite course. But if that course leads us to an idea which does not hold its own with the critic, we discontinue and cease to apply our attention. Now, apparently, the stream of thought thus started and abandoned may spin on without regaining attention unless it reaches a spot of especially marked intensity which forces the return of attention. An initial rejection, perhaps consciously brought about by the judgment on the ground of incorrectness or unfitness for the actual purpose of the mental act, may therefore account for the fact that a mental process continues until the onset of sleep unnoticed by consciousness.
Let us recapitulate by saying that we call such a stream of thought a foreconscious one, that we believe it to be perfectly correct, and that it may just as well be a more neglected one or an interrupted and suppressed one. Let us also state frankly in what manner we conceive this presentation course. We believe that a certain sum of excitement, which we call occupation energy, is displaced from an end-presentation along the association paths selected by that end-presentation. A “neglected” stream of thought has received no such occupation, and from a “suppressed” or “rejected” one this occupation has been withdrawn; both have thus been left to their own emotions. The end-stream of thought stocked with energy is under certain conditions able to draw to itself the attention of consciousness, through which means it then receives a “surplus of energy.” We shall be obliged somewhat later to elucidate our assumption concerning the nature and activity of consciousness.
A train of thought thus incited in the Forec. may either disappear spontaneously or continue. The former issue we conceive as follows: It diffuses its energy through all the association paths emanating from it, and throws the entire chain of ideas into a state of excitement which, after lasting for a while, subsides through the transformation of the excitement requiring an outlet into dormant energy. If this first issue is brought about the process has no further significance for the dream formation. But other end-presentations are lurking in our foreconscious that originate from the sources of our unconscious and from the ever active wishes. These may take possession of the excitations in the circle of thought thus left to itself, establish a connection between it and the unconscious wish, and transfer to it the energy inherent in the unconscious wish. Henceforth the neglected or suppressed train of thought is in a position to maintain itself, although this reinforcement does not help it to gain access to consciousness. We may say that the hitherto foreconscious train of thought has been drawn into the unconscious.
Other constellations for the dream formation would result if the foreconscious train of thought had from the beginning been connected with the unconscious wish, and for that reason met with rejection by the dominating end-occupation; or if an unconscious wish were made active for other—possibly somatic—reasons and of its own accord sought a transference to the psychic remnants not occupied by the Forec. All three cases finally combine in one issue, so that there is established in the foreconscious a stream of thought which, having been abandoned by the foreconscious occupation, receives occupation from the unconscious wish.
The stream of thought is henceforth subjected to a series of transformations which we no longer recognise as normal psychic processes and which give us a surprising result, viz. a psychopathological formation. Let us emphasize and group the same.
1. The intensities of the individual ideas become capable of discharge in their entirety, and, proceeding from one conception to the other, they thus form single presentations endowed with marked intensity. Through the repeated recurrence of this process the intensity of an entire train of ideas may ultimately be gathered in a single presentation element. This is the principle of compression or condensation with which we became acquainted in the chapter on “The Dream-Work.” It is condensation that is mainly responsible for the strange impression of the dream, for we know of nothing analogous to it in the normal psychic life accessible to consciousness. We find here, also, presentations which possess great psychic significance as junctions or as end-results of whole chains of thought; but this validity does not manifest itself in any character conspicuous enough for internal perception; hence, what has been presented in it does not become in any way more intensive. In the process of condensation the entire psychic connection becomes transformed into the intensity of the presentation content. It is the same as in a book where we space or print in heavy type any word upon which particular stress is laid for the understanding of the text. In speech the same word would be pronounced loudly and deliberately and with emphasis. The first comparison leads us at once to an example taken from the chapter on “The Dream-Work” (trimethylamine in the dream of Irma’s injection). Historians of art call our attention to the fact that the most ancient historical sculptures follow a similar principle in expressing the rank of the persons represented by the size of the statue. The king is made two or three times as large as his retinue or the vanquished enemy. A piece of art, however, from the Roman period makes use of more subtle means to accomplish the same purpose. The figure of the emperor is placed in the centre in a firmly erect posture; special care is bestowed on the proper modelling of his figure; his enemies are seen cowering at his feet; but he is no longer represented a giant among dwarfs. However, the bowing of the subordinate to his superior in our own days is only an echo of that ancient principle of representation.
The direction taken by the condensations of the dream is prescribed on the one hand by the true foreconscious relations of the dream thoughts, on the other hand by the attraction of the visual reminiscences in the unconscious. The success of the condensation work produces those intensities which are required for penetration into the perception systems.
2. Through this free transferability of the intensities, moreover, and in the service of condensation, intermediary presentations—compromises, as it were—are formed (cf. the numerous examples). This, likewise, is something unheard of in the normal presentation course, where it is above all a question of selection and retention of the “proper” presentation element. On the other hand, composite and compromise formations occur with extraordinary frequency when we are trying to find the linguistic expression for foreconscious thoughts; these are considered “slips of the tongue.”
3. The presentations which transfer their intensities to one another are very loosely connected, and are joined together by such forms of association as are spurned in our serious thought and are utilised in the production of the effect of wit only. Among these we particularly find associations of the sound and consonance types.
4. Contradictory thoughts do not strive to eliminate one another, but remain side by side. They often unite to produce condensation as if no contradiction existed, or they form compromises for which we should never forgive our thoughts, but which we frequently approve of in our actions.
These are some of the most conspicuous abnormal processes to which the thoughts which have previously been rationally formed are subjected in the course of the dream-work. As the main feature of these processes we recognise the high importance attached to the fact of rendering the occupation energy mobile and capable of discharge; the content and the actual significance of the psychic elements, to which these energies adhere, become a matter of secondary importance. One might possibly think that the condensation and compromise formation is effected only in the service of regression, when occasion arises for changing thoughts into pictures. But the analysis and—still more distinctly—the synthesis of dreams which lack regression toward pictures, e.g. the dream “Autodidasker—Conversation with Court-Councillor N.,” present the same processes of displacement and condensation as the others.
Hence we cannot refuse to acknowledge that the two kinds of essentially different psychic processes participate in the formation of the dream; one forms perfectly correct dream thoughts which are equivalent to normal thoughts, while the other treats these ideas in a highly surprising and incorrect manner. The latter process we have already set apart in Chapter VI as the dream-work proper. What have we now to advance concerning this latter psychic process?
We should be unable to answer this question here if we had not penetrated considerably into the psychology of the neuroses and especially of hysteria. From this we learn that the same incorrect psychic processes—as well as others that have not been enumerated—control the formation of hysterical symptoms. In hysteria, too, we at once find a series of perfectly correct thoughts equivalent to our conscious thoughts, of whose existence, however, in this form we can learn nothing and which we can only subsequently reconstruct. If they have forced their way anywhere to our perception, we discover from the analysis of the symptom formed that these normal thoughts have been subjected to abnormal treatment and have been transformed into the symptom by means of condensation and compromise formation, through superficial associations, under cover of contradictions, and eventually over the road of regression. In view of the complete identity found between the peculiarities of the dream-work and of the psychic activity forming the psychoneurotic symptoms, we shall feel justified in transferring to the dream the conclusions urged upon us by hysteria.
From the theory of hysteria we borrow the proposition that such an abnormal psychic elaboration of a normal train of thought takes place only when the latter has been used for the transference of an unconscious wish which dates from the infantile life and is in a state of repression. In accordance with this proposition we have construed the theory of the dream on the assumption that the actuating dream-wish invariably originates in the unconscious, which, as we ourselves have admitted, cannot be universally demonstrated though it cannot be refuted. But in order to explain the real meaning of the term repression, which we have employed so freely, we shall be obliged to make some further addition to our psychological construction.
We have above elaborated the fiction of a primitive psychic apparatus, whose work is regulated by the efforts to avoid accumulation of excitement and as far as possible to^maintain itself free from excitement. For this reason it was constructed after the plan of a reflex apparatus; the motility, originally the path for the inner bodily change, formed a discharging path standing at its disposal. We subsequently discussed the psychic results of a feeling of gratification, and we might at the same time have introduced the second assumption, viz. that accumulation of excitement—following certain modalities that do not concern us—is perceived as pain and sets the apparatus in motion in order to reproduce a feeling of gratification in which the diminution of the excitement is perceived as pleasure. Such a current in the apparatus which emanates from pain and strives for pleasure we call a wish. We have said that nothing but a wish is capable of setting the apparatus in motion, and that the discharge of excitement in the apparatus is regulated automatically by the perception of pleasure and pain. The first wish must have been an hallucinatory occupation of the memory for gratification. But this hallucination, unless it were maintained to the point of exhaustion, proved incapable of bringing about a cessation of the desire and consequently of securing the pleasure connected with gratification.
Thus there was required a second activity—in our terminology the activity of a second system—which should not permit the memory occupation to advance to perception and therefrom to restrict the psychic forces, but should lead the excitement emanating from the craving stimulus by a devious path over the spontaneous motility which ultimately should so change the outer world as to allow the real perception of the object of gratification to take place. Thus far we have elaborated the plan of the psychic apparatus; these two systems are the germ of the Unc. and Forec. which we include in the fully developed apparatus.
In order to be in a position successfully to change the outer world through the motility, there is required the accumulation of a large sum of experiences in the memory systems as well as a manifold fixation of the relations which are evoked in this memory material by different end-presentations. We now proceed further with our assumption. The manifold activity of the second system, tentatively sending forth and retracting energy, must on the one hand have full command over all memory material, but on the other hand it would be a superfluous expenditure for it to send to the individual mental paths large quantities of energy which would thus flow off to no purpose, diminishing the quantity available for the transformation of the outer world. In the interests of expediency I therefore postulate that the second system succeeds in maintaining the greater part of the occupation energy in a dormant state and in using but a small portion for the purposes of displacement. The mechanism of these processes is entirely unknown to me; anyone who wishes to follow up these ideas must try to find the physical analogies and prepare the way for a demonstration of the process of motion in the stimulation of the neuron. I merely hold to the idea that the activity of the first Psi-system is directed to the free outflow of the quantities of excitement, and that the second system brings about an inhibition of this outflow through the energies emanating from it, i.e. it produces a transformation into dormant energy, probably by raising the level. I therefore assume that under the control of the second system as compared with the first, the course of the excitement is bound to entirely different mechanical conditions. After the second system has finished its tentative mental work, it removes the inhibition and congestion of the excitements and allows these excitements to flow off to the motility.
An interesting train of thought now presents itself if we consider the relations of this inhibition of discharge by the second system to the regulation through the principle of pain. Let us now seek the counterpart of the primary feeling of gratification, namely, the objective feeling of fear. A perceptive stimulus acts on the primitive apparatus, becoming the source of a painful emotion. This will then be followed by irregular motor manifestations until one of these withdraws the apparatus from perception and at the same time from pain, but on the reappearance of the perception this manifestation will immediately repeat itself (perhaps as a movement of flight) until the perception has again disappeared. But there will here remain no tendency again to occupy the perception of the source of pain in the form of an hallucination or in any other form. On the contrary, there will be a tendency in the primary apparatus to abandon the painful memory picture as soon as it is in any way awakened, as the overflow of its excitement would surely produce (more precisely, begin to produce) pain. The deviation from memory, which is but a repetition of the former flight from perception, is facilitated also by the fact that, unlike perception, memory does not possess sufficient quality to excite consciousness and thereby to attract to itself new energy. This easy and regularly occurring deviation of the psychic process from the former painful memory presents to us the model and the first example of psychic repression. As is generally known, much of this deviation from the painful, much of the behaviour of the ostrich, can be readily demonstrated even in the normal psychic life of adults.
By virtue of the principle of pain the first system is therefore altogether incapable of introducing anything unpleasant into the mental associations. The system cannot do anything but wish. If this remained so the mental activity of the second system, which should have at its disposal all the memories stored up by experiences, would be hindered. But two ways are now opened: the work of the second system either frees itself completely from the principle of pain and continues its course, paying no heed to the painful reminiscence, or it contrives to occupy the painful memory in such a manner as to preclude the liberation of pain. We may reject the first possibility, as the principle of pain also manifests itself as a regulator for the emotional discharge of the second system; we are, therefore, directed to the second possibility, namely, that this system occupies a reminiscence in such a manner as to inhibit its discharge and hence, also, to inhibit the discharge comparable to a motor innervation for the development of pain. Thus from two starting points we are led to the hypothesis that occupation through the second system is at the same time an inhibition for the emotional discharge, viz. from a consideration of the principle of pain and from the principle of the smallest expenditure of innervation. Let us, however, keep to the fact—this is the key to the theory of repression—that the second system is capable of occupying an idea only when it is in position to check the development of pain emanating from it. Whatever withdraws itself from this inhibition also remains inaccessible for the second system and would soon be abandoned by virtue of the principle of pain. The inhibition of pain, however, need not be complete; it must be permitted to begin, as it indicates to the second system the nature of the memory and possibly its defective adaptation for the purpose sought by the mind.
The psychic process which is admitted by the first system only I shall now call the primary process; and the one resulting from the inhibition of the second system I shall call the secondary process. I show by another point for what purpose the second system is obliged to correct the primary process. The primary process strives for a discharge of the excitement in order to establish a perception identity with the sum of excitement thus gathered; the secondary process has abandoned this intention and undertaken instead the task of bringing about a thought identity. All thinking is only a circuitous path from the memory of gratification taken as an end-presentation to the identical occupation of the same memory, which is again to be attained on the track of the motor experiences. The state of thinking must take an interest in the connecting paths between the presentations without allowing itself to be misled by their intensities. But it is obvious that condensations and intermediate or compromise formations occurring in the presentations impede the attainment of this end-identity; by substituting one idea for the other they deviate from the path which otherwise would have been continued from the original idea. Such processes are therefore carefully avoided in the secondary thinking. Nor is it difficult to understand that the principle of pain also impedes the progress of the mental stream in its pursuit of the thought identity, though, indeed, it offers to the mental stream the most important points of departure. Hence the tendency of the thinking process must be to free itself more and more from exclusive adjustment by the principle of pain, and through the working of the mind to restrict the affective development to that minimum which is necessary as a signal. This refinement of the activity must have been attained through a recent over-occupation of energy brought about by consciousness. But we are aware that this refinement is seldom completely successful even in the most normal psychic life and that our thoughts ever remain accessible to falsification through the interference of the principle of pain.
This, however, is not the breach in the functional efficiency of our psychic apparatus through which the thoughts forming the material of the secondary mental work are enabled to make their way into the primary psychic process—with which formula we may now describe the work leading to the dream and to the hysterical symptoms. This case of insufficiency results from the union of the two factors from the history of our evolution; one of which belongs solely to the psychic apparatus and has exerted a determining influence on the relation of the two systems, while the other operates fluctuatingly and introduces motive forces of organic origin into the psychic life. Both originate in the infantile life and result from the transformation which our psychic and somatic organism has undergone since the infantile period.
When I termed one of the psychic processes in the psychic apparatus the primary process, I did so not only in consideration of the order of precedence and capability, but also as admitting the temporal relations to a share in the nomenclature. As far as our knowledge goes there is no psychic apparatus possessing only the primary process, and in so far it is a theoretic fiction; but so much is based on fact that the primary processes are present in the apparatus from the beginning, while the secondary processes develop gradually in the course of life, inhibiting and covering the primary ones, and gaining complete mastery over them perhaps only at the height of life. Owing to this retarded appearance of the secondary processes, the essence of our being, consisting in unconscious wish feelings, can neither be seized nor inhibited by the foreconscious, whose part is once for all restricted to the indication of the most suitable paths for the wish feelings originating in the unconscious. These unconscious wishes establish for all subsequent psychic efforts a compulsion to which they have to submit and which they must strive if possible to divert from its course and direct to higher aims. In consequence of this retardation of the foreconscious occupation a large sphere of the memory material remains inaccessible.
Among these indestructible and unincumbered wish feelings originating from the infantile life, there are also some, the fulfilments of which have entered into a relation of contradiction to the end-presentation of the secondary thinking. The fulfilment of these wishes would no longer produce an affect of pleasure but one of pain; and it is just this transformation of affect that constitutes the nature of what we designate as “repression,” in which we recognise the infantile first step of passing adverse sentence or of rejecting through reason. To investigate in what way and through what motive forces such a transformation can be produced constitutes the problem of repression, which we need here only skim over. It will suffice to remark that such a transformation of affect occurs in the course of development (one may think of the appearance in infantile life of disgust which was originally absent), and that it is connected with the activity of the secondary system. The memories from which the unconscious wish brings about the emotional discharge have never been accessible to the Force., and for that reason their emotional discharge cannot be inhibited. It is just on account of this affective development that these ideas are not even now accessible to the foreconscious thoughts to which they have transferred their wishing power. On the contrary, the principle of pain comes into play, and causes the Forec. to deviate from these thoughts of transference. The latter, left to themselves, are “repressed,” and thus the existence of a store of infantile memories, from the very beginning withdrawn from the Force., becomes the preliminary condition of repression.
In the most favourable case the development of pain terminates as soon as the energy has been withdrawn from the thoughts of transference in the Forec., and this effect characterises the intervention of the principle of pain as expedient. It is different, however, if the repressed unconscious wish receives an organic enforcement which it can lend to its thoughts of transference and through which it can enable them to make an effort towards penetration with their excitement, even after they have been abandoned by the occupation of the Forec. A defensive struggle then ensues, inasmuch as the Forec. reinforces the antagonism against the repressed ideas, and subsequently this leads to a penetration by the thoughts of transference (the carriers of the unconscious wish) in some form of compromise through symptom formation. But from the moment that the suppressed thoughts are powerfully occupied by the unconscious wish-feeling and abandoned by the fore-conscious occupation, they succumb to the primary psychic process and strive only for motor discharge; or, if the path be free, for hallucinatory revival of the desired perception identity. We have previously found, empirically, that the incorrect processes described are enacted only with thoughts that exist in the repression. We now grasp another part of the connection. These incorrect processes are those that are primary in the psychic apparatus; they appear wherever thoughts abandoned by the foreconscious occupation are left to themselves, and can fill themselves with the uninhibited energy, striving for discharge from the unconscious. We may add a few further observations to support the view that these processes designated “incorrect” are really not falsifications of the normal defective thinking, but the modes of activity of the psychic apparatus when freed from inhibition. Thus we see that the transference of the foreconscious excitement to the motility takes place according to the same processes, and that the connection of the foreconscious presentations with words readily manifest the same displacements and mixtures which are described to inattention. Finally, I should like to adduce proof that an increase of work necessarily results from the inhibition of these primary courses from the fact that we gain a comical effect, a surplus to be discharged through laughter, if we allow these streams of thought to come to consciousness.
The theory of the psychoneuroses asserts with complete certainty that only sexual wish-feelings from the infantile life experience repression (emotional transformation) during the developmental period of childhood. These are capable of returning to activity at a later period of development, and then have the faculty of being revived, either as a consequence of the sexual constitution, which is really formed from the original bisexuality, or in consequence of unfavourable influences of the sexual life; and they thus supply the motive power for all psychoneurotic symptom formations. It is only by the introduction of these sexual forces that the gaps still demonstrable in the theory of repression can be filled. I will leave it undecided whether the postulate of the sexual and infantile may also be asserted for the theory of the dream; I leave this here unfinished because I have already passed a step beyond the demonstrable in assuming that the dream-wish invariably originates from the unconscious. Nor will I further investigate the difference in the play of the psychic forces in the dream formation and in the formation of the hysterical symptoms, for to do this we ought to possess a more explicit knowledge of one of the members to be compared. But I regard another point as important, and will here confess that it was on account of this very point that I have just undertaken this entire discussion concerning the two psychic systems, their modes of operation, and the repression. For it is now immaterial whether I have conceived the psychological relations in question with approximate correctness, or, as is easily possible in such a difficult matter, in an erroneous and fragmentary manner. Whatever changes may be made in the interpretation of the psychic censor and of the correct and of the abnormal elaboration of the dream content, the fact nevertheless remains that such processes are active in dream formation, and that essentially they show the closest analogy to the processes observed in the formation of the hysterical symptoms. The dream is not a pathological phenomenon, and it does not leave behind an enfeeblement of the mental faculties. The objection that no deduction can be drawn regarding the dreams of healthy persons from my own dreams and from those of neurotic patients may be rejected without comment. Hence, when we draw conclusions from the phenomena as to their motive forces, we recognise that the psychic mechanism made use of by the neuroses is not created by a morbid disturbance of the psychic life, but is found ready in the normal structure of the psychic apparatus. The two psychic systems, the censor crossing between them, the inhibition and the covering of the one activity by the other, the relations of both to consciousness—or whatever may offer a more correct interpretation of the actual conditions in their stead—all these belong to the normal structure of our psychic instrument, and the dream points out for us one of the roads leading to a knowledge of this structure. If, in addition to our knowledge, we wish to be contented with a minimum perfectly established. we shall say that the dream gives us proof that the suppressed material continues to exist even in the normal person and remains capable of psychic activity. The dream itself is one of the manifestations of this suppressed material; theoretically, this is true in all cases; according to substantial experience it is true in at least a great number of such as most conspicuously display the prominent characteristics of dream life. The suppressed psychic material, which in the waking state has been prevented from expression and cut off from internal perception by the antagonistic adjustment of the contradictions, finds ways and means of obtruding itself on consciousness during the night under the domination of the compromise formations.
In following the analysis of the dream we have made some progress toward an understanding of the composition of this most marvellous and most mysterious of instruments; to be sure, we have not gone very far, but enough of a beginning has been made to allow us to advance from other so-called pathological formations further into the analysis of the unconscious. Disease—at least that which is justly termed functional—is not due to the destruction of this apparatus, and the establishment of new splittings in its interior; it is rather to be explained dynamically through the strengthening and weakening of the components in the play of forces by which so many activities are concealed during the normal function. We have been able to show in another place how the composition of the apparatus from the two systems permits a subtilisation even of the normal activity which would be impossible for a single system.
On closer inspection we find that it is not the existence of two systems near the motor end of the apparatus but of two kinds of processes or modes of emotional discharge, the assumption of which was explained in the psychological discussions of the previous chapter. This can make no difference for us, for we must always be ready to drop our auxiliary ideas whenever we deem ourselves in position to replace them by something else approaching more closely to the unknown reality. Let us now try to correct some views which might be erroneously formed as long as we regarded the two systems in the crudest and most obvious sense as two localities within the psychic apparatus, views which have left their traces in the terms “repression” and “penetration.” Thus, when we say that an unconscious idea strives for transference into the foreconscious in order later to penetrate consciousness, we do not mean that a second idea is to be formed situated in a new locality like an interlineation near which the original continues to remain; also, when we speak of penetration into consciousness, we wish carefully to avoid any idea of change of locality. When we say that a foreconscious idea is repressed and subsequently taken up by the unconscious, we might be tempted by these figures, borrowed from the idea of a struggle over a territory, to assume that an arrangement is really broken up in one psychic locality and replaced by a new one in the other locality. For these comparisons we substitute what would seem to correspond better with the real state of affairs by saying that an energy occupation is displaced to or withdrawn from a certain arrangement so that the psychic formation falls under the domination of a system or is withdrawn from the same. Here again we replace a topical mode of presentation by a dynamic; it is not the psychic formation that appears to us as the moving factor but the innervation of the same.
I deem it appropriate and justifiable, however, to apply ourselves still further to the illustrative conception of the two systems. We shall avoid any misapplication of this manner of representation if we remember that presentations, thoughts, and psychic formations should generally not be localised in the organic elements of the nervous system, but, so to speak, between them, where resistances and paths form the correlate corresponding to them. Everything that can become an object of our internal perception is virtual, like the image in the telescope produced by the passage of the rays of light. But we are justified in assuming the existence of the systems, which have nothing psychic in themselves and which never become accessible to our psychic perception, corresponding to the lenses of the telescope which design the image. If we continue this comparison, we may say that the censor between two systems corresponds to the refraction of rays during their passage into a new medium.
Thus far we have made psychology on our own responsibility; it is now time to examine the theoretical opinions governing present-day psychology and to test their relation to our theories. The question of the unconscious in psychology is, according to the authoritative words of Lipps, less a psychological question than the question of psychology. As long as psychology settled this question with the verbal explanation that the “psychic” is the “conscious” and that “unconscious psychic occurrences” are an obvious contradiction, a psychological estimate of the observations gained by the physician from abnormal mental states was precluded. The physician and the philosopher agree only when both acknowledge that unconscious psychic processes are “the appropriate and well-justified expression for an established fact.” The physician cannot but reject with a shrug of his shoulders the assertion that “consciousness is the indispensable quality of the psychic”; he may assume, if his respect for the utterings of the philosophers still be strong enough, that he and they do not treat the same subject and do not pursue the same science. For a single intelligent observation of the. psychic life of a neurotic, a single analysis of a dream must force upon him the unalterable conviction that the most complicated and correct mental operations, to which no one will refuse the name of psychic occurrences, may take place without exciting the consciousness of the person. It is true that the physician does not learn of these unconscious processes until they have exerted such an effect on consciousness as to admit communication or observation. But this effect of consciousness may show a psychic character widely differing from the unconscious process, so that the internal perception cannot possibly recognise the one as a substitute for the other. The physician must reserve for himself the right to penetrate, by a process of deduction, from the effect on consciousness to the unconscious psychic process; he learns in this way that the effect on consciousness is only a remote psychic product of the unconscious process and that the latter has not become conscious as such; that it has been in existence and operative without betraying itself in any way to consciousness.
A reaction from the over-estimation of the quality of consciousness becomes the indispensable preliminary condition for any correct insight into the behaviour of the psychic. In the words of Lipps, the unconscious must be accepted as the general basis of the psychic life. The unconscious is the larger circle which includes within itself the smaller circle of the conscious; everything conscious has its preliminary step in the unconscious, whereas the unconscious may stop with this step and still claim full value as a psychic activity. Properly speaking, the unconscious is the real psychic; its inner nature is just as unknown to us as the reality of the external world, and it is just as imperfectly reported to us through the data of consciousness as is the external world through the indications of our sensory organs.
A series of dream problems which have intensely occupied older authors will be laid aside when the old opposition between conscious life and dream life is abandoned and the unconscious psychic assigned to its proper place. Thus many of the activities whose performances in the dream have excited our admiration are now no longer to be attributed to the dream but to unconscious thinking, which is also active during the day. If, according to Scherner, the dream seems to play with a symbolising representation of the body, we know that this is the work of certain unconscious phantasies which have probably given in to sexual emotions, and that these phantasies come to expression not only in dreams but also in hysterical phobias and in other symptoms. If the dream continues and settles activities of the day and even brings to light valuable inspirations, we have only to subtract from it the dream disguise as a feat of dream-work and a mark of assistance from obscure forces in the depth of the mind (cf. the devil in Tartini’s sonata dream). The intellectual task as such must be attributed to the same psychic forces which perform all such tasks during the day. We are probably far too much inclined to over-estimate the conscious character even of intellectual and artistic productions. From the communications of some of the most highly productive persona, such as Goethe and Helmholtz, we learn, indeed, that the most essential and original parts in their creations came to them in the form of inspirations and reached their perceptions almost finished. There is nothing strange about the assistance of the conscious activity in other cases where there was a concerted effort of all the psychic forces. But it is a much abused privilege of the conscious activity that it is allowed to hide from us all other activities wherever it participates.
It will hardly be worth while to take up the historical significance of dreams as a special subject. Where, for instance, a chieftain has been urged through a dream to engage in a bold undertaking the success of which has had the effect of changing history, a new problem results only so long as the dream, regarded as a strange power, is contrasted with other more familiar psychic forces; the problem, however, disappears when we regard the dream as a form of expression for feelings which are burdened with resistance during the day and which can receive reinforcements at night from deep emotional sources. But the great respect shown by the ancients for the dream is based on a correct psychological surmise. It is a homage paid to the unsubdued and indestructible in the human mind, and to the demoniacal which furnishes the dream-wish and which we find again in our unconscious.
Not inadvisedly do I use the expression “in our unconscious,” for what we so designate does not coincide with the unconscious of the philosophers, nor with the unconscious of Lipps. In the latter uses it is intended to designate only the opposite of conscious. That there are also unconscious psychic processes beside the conscious ones is the hotly contested and energetically defended issue. Lipps gives us the more far-reaching theory that everything psychic exists as unconscious, but that some of it may exist also as conscious. But it was not to prove this theory that we have adduced the phenomena of the dream and of the hysterical symptom formation; the observation of normal life alone suffices to establish its correctness beyond any doubt. The new fact that we have learned from the analysis of the psychopathological formations, and indeed from their first member, viz. dreams, is that the unconscious—hence the psychic—occurs as a function of two separate systems and that it occurs as such even in normal psychic life. Consequently there are two kinds of unconscious, which we do not as yet find distinguished by the psychologists. Both are unconscious in the psychological sense; but in our sense the first, which we call Unc., is likewise incapable of consciousness, whereas the second we term “Forec.” because its emotions, after the observance of certain rules, can reach consciousness, perhaps not before they have again undergone censorship, but still regardless of the Unc. system. The fact that in order to attain consciousness the emotions must traverse an unalterable series of events or succession of instances, as is betrayed through their alteration by the censor, has helped us to draw a comparison from spatiality. We described the relations of the two systems to each other and to consciousness by saying that the system Forec. is like a screen between the system Unc. and consciousness. The system Forec. not only bars access to consciousness, but also controls the entrance to voluntary motility and is capable of sending out a sum of mobile energy, a portion of which is familiar to us as attention.
We must also steer clear of the distinctions superconscious and subconscious which have found so much favour in the more recent literature on the psychoneuroses, for just such a distinction seems to emphasize the equivalence of the psychic and the conscious.
What part now remains in our description of the once all-powerful and all-overshadowing consciousness? None other than that of a sensory organ for the perception of psychic qualities. According to the fundamental idea of schematic undertaking we can conceive the conscious perception only as the particular activity of an independent system for which the abbreviated designation “Cons.” commends itself. This system we conceive to be similar in its mechanical characteristics to the perception system P, hence excitable by qualities and incapable of retaining the trace of changes, i.e. it is devoid of memory. The psychic apparatus which, with the sensory organs of the P-systems, is turned to the outer world, is itself the outer world for the sensory organ of Cons.; the teleological justification of which rests on this relationship. We are here once more confronted with the principle of the succession of instances which seems to dominate the structure of the apparatus. The material under excitement flows to the Cons. sensory organ from two sides, firstly from the P-system whose excitement, qualitatively determined, probably experiences a new elaboration until it comes to conscious perception; and, secondly, from the interior of the apparatus itself, the quantitative processes of which are perceived as a qualitative series of pleasure and pain as soon as they have undergone certain changes.
The philosophers, who have learned that correct and highly complicated thought structures are possible even without the co-operation of consciousness, have found it difficult to attribute any function to consciousness; it has appeared to them a superfluous mirroring of the perfected psychic process. The analogy of our Cons. system with the systems of perception relieves us of this embarrassment. We see that perception through our sensory organs results in directing the occupation of attention to those paths on which the incoming sensory excitement is diffused; the qualitative excitement of the P-system serves the mobile quantity of the psychic apparatus as a regulator for its discharge. We may claim the same function for the overlying sensory organ of the Cons. system. By assuming new qualities, it furnishes a new contribution toward the guidance and suitable distribution of the mobile occupation quantities. By means of the perceptions of pleasure and pain, it influences the course of the occupations within the psychic apparatus, which normally operates unconsciously and through the displacement of quantities. It is probable that the principle of pain first regulates the displacements of occupation automatically, but it is quite possible that the consciousness of these qualities adds a second and more subtle regulation which may even oppose the first and perfect the working capacity of the apparatus by placing it in a position contrary to its original design for occupying and developing even that which is connected with the liberation of pain. We learn from neuropsychology that an important part in the functional activity of the apparatus is attributed to such regulations through the qualitative excitation of the sensory organs. The automatic control of the primary principle of pain and the restriction of mental capacity connected with it are broken by the sensible regulations, which in their turn are again automatisms. We learn that the repression which, though originally expedient, terminates nevertheless in a harmful rejection of inhibition and of psychic domination, is so much more easily accomplished with reminiscences than with perceptions, because in the former there is no increase in occupation through the excitement of the psychic sensory organs. When an idea to be rejected has once failed to become conscious because it has succumbed to repression, it can be repressed on other occasions only because it has been withdrawn from conscious perception on other grounds. These are hints employed by therapy in order to bring about a retrogression of accomplished repressions.
The value of the over-occupation which is produced by the regulating influence of the Cons. sensory organ on the mobile quantity, is demonstrated in the teleological connection by nothing more clearly than by the creation of a new series of qualities and consequently a new regulation which constitutes the precedence of man over the animals. For the mental processes are in themselves devoid of quality except for the excitements of pleasure and pain accompanying them, which, as we know, are to be held in check as possible disturbances of thought. In order to endow them with a quality, they are associated in man with verbal memories, the qualitative remnants of which suffice to draw upon them the attention of consciousness which in turn endows thought with a new mobile energy.
The manifold problems of consciousness in their entirety can be examined only through an analysis of the hysterical mental process. From this analysis we receive the impression that the transition from the foreconscious to the occupation of consciousness is also connected with a censorship similar to the one between the Unc. and the Forec. This censorship, too, begins to act only with the reaching of a certain quantitative degree, so that few intense thought formations escape it. Every possible case of detention from consciousness, as well as of penetration to consciousness, under restriction is found included within the picture of the psychoneurotic phenomena; every case points to the intimate and twofold connection between the censor and consciousness. I shall conclude these psychological discussions with the report of two such occurrences.
On the occasion of a consultation a few years ago the subject was an intelligent and innocent-looking girl. Her attire was strange; whereas a woman’s garb is usually groomed to the last fold, she had one of her stockings hanging down and two of her waist buttons opened. She complained of pains in one of her legs, and exposed her leg unrequested. Her chief complaint, however, was in her own words as follows: She had a feeling in her body as if something was stuck into it which moved to and fro and made her tremble through and through. This sometimes made her whole body stiff. On hearing this, my colleague in consultation looked at me; the complaint was quite plain to him. To both of us it seemed peculiar that the patient’s mother thought nothing of the matter; of course she herself must have been repeatedly in the situation described by her child. As for the girl, she had no idea of the import of her words or she would never have allowed them to pass her lips. Here the censor had been deceived so successfully that under the mask of an innocent complaint a phantasy was admitted to consciousness which otherwise would have remained in the foreconscious.
Another example: I began the psychoanalytic treatment of a boy of fourteen years who was suffering from tic convulsif, hysterical vomiting, headache, &c., by assuring him that, after closing his eyes, he would see pictures or have ideas, which I requested him to communicate to me. He answered by describing pictures. The last impression he had received before coming to me was visually revived in his memory. He had played a game of checkers with his uncle, and now saw the checker-board before him. He commented on various positions that were favourable or unfavourable, on moves that were not safe to make. He then saw a dagger lying on the checkerboard, an object belonging to his father, but transferred to the checker-board by his phantasy. Then a sickle was lying on the board; next a scythe was added; and, finally, he beheld the likeness of an old peasant mowing the grass in front of the boy’s distant parental home. A few days later I discovered the meaning of this series of pictures. Disagreeable family relations had made the boy nervous. It was the case of a strict and crabbed father who lived unhappily with his mother, and whose educational methods consisted in threats; of the separation of his father from his tender and delicate mother, and the remarrying of his father, who one day brought home a young woman as his new mamma. The illness of the fourteen-year-old boy broke out a few days later. It was the suppressed anger against his father that had composed these pictures into intelligible allusions. The material was furnished by a reminiscence from mythology. The sickle was the one with which Zeus castrated his father; the scythe and the likeness of the peasant represented Kronos, the violent old man who eats his children and upon whom Zeus wreaks vengeance in so unfilial a manner. The marriage of the father gave the boy an opportunity to return the reproaches and threats of his father—which had previously been made because the child played with his genitals (the checker-board; the prohibitive moves; the dagger with which a person may be killed). We have here long repressed memories and their unconscious remnants which, under the guise of senseless pictures have slipped into consciousness by devious paths left open to them.
I should then expect to find the theoretical value of the study of dreams in its contribution to psychological knowledge and in its preparation for an understanding of neuroses. Who can foresee the importance of a thorough knowledge of the structure and activities of the psychic apparatus when even our present state of knowledge produces a happy therapeutic influence in the curable forms of the psychoneuroses? What about the practical value of such study someone may ask, for psychic knowledge and for the discovering of the secret peculiarities of individual character? Have not the unconscious feelings revealed by the dream the value of real forces in the psychic life? Should we take lightly the ethical significance of the suppressed wishes which, as they now create dreams, may some day create other things?
I do not feel justified in answering these questions. I have not thought further upon this side of the dream problem. I believe, however, that at all events the Roman Emperor was in the wrong who ordered one of his subjects executed because the latter dreamt that he had killed the Emperor. He should first have endeavoured to discover the significance of the dream; most probably it was not what it seemed to be. And even if a dream of different content had the significance of this offence against majesty, it would still have been in place to remember the words of Plato, that the virtuous man contents himself with dreaming that which the wicked man does in actual life. I am therefore of the opinion that it is best to accord freedom to dreams. Whether any reality is to be attributed to the unconscious wishes, and in what sense, I am not prepared to say offhand. Reality must naturally be denied to all transition—and intermediate thoughts. If we had before us the unconscious wishes, brought to their last and truest expression, we should still do well to remember that more than one single form of existence must be ascribed to the psychic reality. Action and the conscious expression of thought mostly suffice for the practical need of judging a man’s character. Action, above all, merits to be placed in the first rank; for many of the impulses penetrating consciousness are neutralised by real forces of the psychic life before they are converted into action; indeed, the reason why they frequently do not encounter any psychic obstacle on their way is because the unconscious is certain of their meeting with resistances later. In any case it is instructive to become familiar with the much raked-up soil from which our virtues proudly arise. For the complication of human character moving dynamically in all directions very rarely accommodates itself to adjustment through a simple alternative, as our antiquated moral philosophy would have it.
And how about the value of the dream for a knowledge of the future? That, of course, we cannot consider. One feels inclined to substitute: “for a knowledge of the past.” For the dream originates from the past in every sense. To be sure the ancient belief that the dream reveals the future is not entirely devoid of truth. By representing to us a wish as fulfilled the dream certainly leads us into the future; but this future, taken by the dreamer as present, has been formed into the likeness of that past by the indestructible wish.