HAVING realized, as a result of analysing the dream of Irma's injection, that the dream was the fulfilment of a wish, we were immediately interested to ascertain whether we had thereby discovered a general characteristic of dreams, and for the time being we put aside every other scientific problem which may have suggested itself in the course of the interpretation. Now that we have reached the goal on this one path, we may turn back and select a new point of departure for exploring dream-problems, even though we may for a time lose sight of the theme of wish — fulfilment, which has still to be further considered.
Now that we are able, by applying our process of interpretation, to detect a latent dream-content whose significance far surpasses that of the manifest dream-content, we are naturally impelled to return to the individual dream-problems, in order to see whether the riddles and contradictions which seemed to elude us when we had only the manifest content to work upon may not now be satisfactorily solved.
The opinions of previous writers on the relation of dreams to waking life, and the origin of the material of dreams, have not been given here. We may recall however three peculiarities of the memory in dreams, which have been often noted, but never explained:
1. That the dream clearly prefers the impressions of the last few days (Robert, Strumpell, Hildebrandt; also Weed-Hallam);
2. That it makes a selection in accordance with principles other than those governing our waking memory, in that it recalls not essential and important, but subordinate and disregarded things;
3. That it has at its disposal the earliest impressions of our childhood, and brings to light details from this period of life, which, again, seem trivial to us, and which in waking life were believed to have been long since forgotten. 1
1 It is evident that Robert's idea — that the dream is intended to rid our memory of the useless impressions which it has received during the day — is no longer tenable if indifferent memories of our childhood appear in our dreams with some degree of frequency. We should be obliged to conclude that our dreams generally perform their prescribed task very inadequately.
These peculiarities in the dream's choice of material have, of course, been observed by previous writers in the manifest dream-content.
If I now consult my own experience with regard to the origin of the elements appearing in the dream-content, I must in the first place express the opinion that in every dream we may find some reference to the experiences of the preceding day. Whatever dream I turn to, whether my own or someone else's, this experience is always confirmed. Knowing this, I may perhaps begin the work of interpretation by looking for the experience of the preceding day which has stimulated the dream; in many cases this is indeed the quickest way. With the two dreams which I subjected to a close analysis in the last chapter (the dreams of Irma's injection, and of the uncle with the yellow beard) the reference to the preceding day is so evident that it needs no further elucidation. But in order to show how constantly this reference may be demonstrated, I shall examine a portion of my own dream-chronicle, I shall relate only so much of the dreams as is necessary for the detection of the dream-source in question.
1. I pay a call at a house to which I gain admittance only with difficulty, etc., and meanwhile I am keeping a woman waiting for me.
Source: A conversation during the evening with a female relative to the effect that she would have to wait for a remittance for which she had asked, until . . . etc.
2. I have written a monograph on a species (uncertain) of plant.
Source: In the morning I had seen in a bookseller's window a monograph on the genus Cyclamen.
3. I see two women in the street, mother and daughter, the latter being a patient.
Source: A female patient who is under treatment had told me in the evening what difficulties her mother puts in the way of her continuing the treatment.
4. At S and R's bookshop I subscribe to a periodical which costs 20 florins annually.
Source: During the day my wife has reminded me that I still owe her 20 florins of her weekly allowance.
5. I receive a communication from the Social Democratic Committee, in which I am addressed as a member.
Source: I have received simultaneous communications from the Liberal Committee on Elections and from the president of the Humanitarian Society, of which latter I am actually a member.
6. A man on a steep rock rising from the sea, in the manner of Bocklin.
Source: Dreyfus on Devil's Island; also news from my relatives in England, etc.
The question might be raised, whether a dream invariably refers to the events of the preceding day only, or whether the reference may be extended to include impressions from a longer period of time in the immediate past. This question is probably not of the first importance, but I am inclined to decide in favour of the exclusive priority of the day before the dream (the dream-day). Whenever I thought I had found a case where an impression two or three days old was the source of the dream, I was able to convince myself after careful investigation that this impression had been remembered the day before; that is, that a demonstrable reproduction on the day before had been interpolated between the day of the event and the time of the dream; and further, I was able to point to the recent occasion which might have given rise to the recollection of the older impression. On the other hand, I was unable to convince myself that a regular interval of biological significance (H. Swoboda gives the first interval of this kind as eighteen hours) elapses between the dream-exciting daytime impression and its recurrence in the dream.
I believe, therefore, that for every dream a dream-stimulus may be found among these experiences "on which one has not yet slept."
Havelock Ellis, who has likewise given attention to this problem, states that he has not been able to find any such periodicity of reproduction in his dreams, although he has looked for it. He relates a dream in which he found himself in Spain; he wanted to travel to a place called Daraus, Varaus, or Zaraus. On awaking he was unable to recall any such place-names, and thought no more of the matter. A few months later he actually found the name Zaraus; it was that of a railway-station between San Sebastian and Bilbao, through which he had passed in the train eight months (250 days) before the date of the dream.
Thus the impressions of the immediate past (with the exception of the day before the night of the dream) stand in the same relation to the dream-content as those of periods indefinitely remote. The dream may select its material from any period of life, provided only that a chain of thought leads back from the experiences of the day of the dream (the recent impressions) of that earlier period.
But why this preference for recent impressions? We shall arrive at some conjectures on this point if we subject one of the dreams already mentioned to a more precise analysis. I select the
Dream of the Botanical Monograph
I have written a monograph on a certain plant. The book lies before me; I am just turning over a folded coloured plate. A dried specimen of the plant, as though from a herbarium, is bound up with every copy.
In the morning I saw in a bookseller's window a volume entitled The Genus Cyclamen, apparently a monograph on this plant.
The cyclamen is my wife's favorite flower. I reproach myself for remembering so seldom to bring her flowers, as she would like me to do. In connection with the theme of giving her flowers, I am reminded of a story which I recently told some friends of mine in proof of my assertion that we often forget in obedience to a purpose of the unconscious, and that forgetfulness always enables us to form a deduction about the secret disposition of the forgetful person. A young woman who has been accustomed to receive a bouquet of flowers from her husband on her birthday misses this token of affection on one of her birthdays, and bursts into tears. The husband comes in, and cannot understand why she is crying until she tells him: "Today is my birthday." He claps his hand to his forehead, and exclaims: "Oh, forgive me, I had completely forgotten it!" and proposes to go out immediately in order to get her flowers. But she refuses to be consoled, for she sees in her husband's forgetfulness a proof that she no longer plays the same part in his thoughts as she formerly did. This Frau L met my wife two days ago, told her that she was feeling well, and asked after me. Some years ago she was a patient of mine.
Supplementary facts: I did once actually write something like a monograph on a plant, namely, an essay on the coca plant, which attracted the attention of K. Koller to the anaesthetic properties of cocaine. I had hinted that the alkaloid might be employed as an anaesthetic, but I was not thorough enough to pursue the matter farther. It occurs to me, too, that on the morning of the day following the dream (for the interpretation of which I did not find time until the evening) I had thought of cocaine in a kind of day-dream. If I were ever afflicted with glaucoma, I would go to Berlin, and there undergo an operation, incognito, in the house of my Berlin friend, at the hands of a surgeon whom he would recommend. The surgeon, who would not know the name of his patient, would boast, as usual, how easy these operations had become since the introduction of cocaine; and I should not betray the fact that I myself had a share in this discovery. With this phantasy were connected thoughts of how awkward it really is for a physician to claim the professional services of a colleague. I should be able to pay the Berlin eye specialist, who did not know me, like anyone else. Only after recalling this day-dream do I realize that there is concealed behind it the memory of a definite event. Shortly after Koller's discovery, my father contracted glaucoma; he was operated on by my friend Dr. Koenigstein, the eye specialist. Dr. Koller was in charge of the cocaine anaesthetization, and he made the remark that on this occasion all the three persons who had been responsible for the introduction of cocaine had been brought together.
My thoughts now pass on to the time when I was last reminded of the history of cocaine. This was a few days earlier, when I received a Festschrift, a publication in which grateful pupils had commemorated the jubilee of their teacher and laboratory director. Among the titles to fame of persons connected with the laboratory I found a note to the effect that the discovery of the anaesthetic properties of cocaine had been due to K. Koller. Now I suddenly become aware that the dream is connected with an experience of the previous evening. I had just accompanied Dr. Koenigstein to his home, and had entered into a discussion of a subject which excites me greatly whenever it is mentioned. While I was talking with him in the entrance-hall Professor Gartner and his young wife came up. I could not refrain from congratulating them both upon their blooming appearance. Now Professor Gartner is one of the authors of the Festschrift of which I have just spoken, and he may well have reminded me of it. And Frau L, of whose birthday disappointment I spoke a little way back, had been mentioned, though of course in another connection, in my conversation with Dr. Koenigstein.
I shall now try to elucidate the other determinants of the dream-content. A dried specimen of the plant accompanies the monograph, as though it were a herbarium. And herbarium reminds me of the Gymnasium. The director of our Gymnasium once called the pupils of the upper classes together, in order that they might examine and clean the Gymnasium herbarium. Small insects had been found — book-worms. The director seemed to have little confidence in my ability to assist, for he entrusted me with only a few of the pages. I know to this day that there were crucifers on them. My interest in botany was never very great. At my preliminary examination in botany I was required to identify a crucifer, and failed to recognize it; had not my theoretical knowledge come to my aid, I should have fared badly indeed. Crucifers suggest composites. The artichoke is really a composite, and in actual fact one which I might call my favourite flower. My wife, more thoughtful than I, often brings this favourite flower of mine home from the market.
I see the monograph which I have written lying before me. Here again there is an association. My friend wrote to me yesterday from Berlin: "I am thinking a great deal about your dream-book. I see it lying before me, completed, and I turn the pages." How I envied him this power of vision! If only I could see it lying before me, already completed!
The folded coloured plate. When I was a medical student I suffered a sort of craze for studying monographs exclusively. In spite of my limited means, I subscribed to a number of the medical periodicals, whose coloured plates afforded me much delight. I was rather proud of this inclination to thoroughness. When I subsequently began to publish books myself, I had to draw the plates for my own treatises, and I remember one of them turned out so badly that a well-meaning colleague ridiculed me for it. With this is associated, I do not exactly know how, a very early memory of my childhood. My father, by the way of a jest, once gave my elder sister and myself a book containing coloured plates (the book was a narrative of a journey through Persia) in order that we might destroy it. From an educational point of view this was hardly to be commended. I was at the time five years old, and my sister less than three, and the picture of us two children blissfully tearing the book to pieces (I should add, like an artichoke, leaf by leaf), is almost the only one from this period of my life which has remained vivid in my memory. When I afterwards became a student, I developed a conspicuous fondness for collecting and possessing books (an analogy to the inclination for studying from monographs, a hobby alluded to in my dream-thoughts, in connection with cyclamen and artichoke). I became a book-worm (cf. herbarium). Ever since I have been engaged in introspection I have always traced this earliest passion of my life to this impression of my childhood: or rather, I have recognized in this childish scene a screen or concealing memory for my subsequent bibliophilia. 1 And of course I learned at an early age that our passions often become our misfortunes. When I was seventeen, I ran up a very considerable account at the bookseller's, with no means with which to settle it, and my father would hardly accept it as an excuse that my passion was at least a respectable one. But the mention of this experience of my youth brings me back to my conversation with my friend Dr. Koenigstein on the evening preceding the dream; for one of the themes of this conversation was the same old reproach — that I am much too absorbed in my hobbies.
1 Cf. The Psycho-pathology of Everyday Life.
For reasons which are not relevant here I shall not continue the interpretation of this dream, but will merely indicate the path which leads to it. In the course of the interpretation I was reminded of my conversation with Dr. Koenigstein, and, indeed, of more than one portion of it. When I consider the subjects touched upon in this conversation, the meaning of the dream immediately becomes clear to me. All the trains of thought which have been started — my own inclinations, and those of my wife, the cocaine, the awkwardness of securing medical treatment from one's own colleagues, my preference for monographical studies, and my neglect of certain subjects, such as botany — all these are continued in and lead up to one branch or another of this widely — ramified conversation. The dream once more assumes the character of a justification, of a plea for my rights (like the dream of Irma's injection, the first to be analysed); it even continues the theme which that dream introduced, and discusses it in association with the new subject-matter which has been added in the interval between the two dreams. Even the dream's apparently indifferent form of expression at once acquires a meaning. Now it means: "I am indeed the man who has written that valuable and successful treatise (on cocaine)," just as previously I declared in self-justification: "I am after all a thorough and industrious student"; and in both instances I find the meaning: "I can allow myself this." But I may dispense with the further interpretation of the dream, because my only purpose in recording it was to examine the relation of the dream-content to the experience of the previous day which arouses it. As long as I know only the manifest content of this dream, only one relation to any impression of the day is obvious; but after I have completed the interpretation, a second source of the dream becomes apparent in another experience of the same day. The first of these impressions to which the dream refers is an indifferent one, a subordinate circumstance. I see a book in a shop window whose title holds me for a moment, but whose contents would hardly interest me. The second experience was of great psychic value; I talked earnestly with my friend, the eye specialist, for about an hour; I made allusions in this conversation which must have ruffled the feelings of both of us, and which in me awakened memories in connection with which I was aware of a great variety of inner stimuli. Further, this conversation was broken off unfinished, because some acquaintances joined us. What, now, is the relation of these two impressions of the day to one another, and to the dream which followed during the night?
In the manifest dream-content I find merely an allusion to the indifferent impression, and I am thus able to reaffirm that the dream prefers to take up into its content experiences of a non — essential character. In the dream-interpretation, on the contrary, everything converges upon the important and justifiably disturbing event. If I judge the sense of the dream in the only correct way, according to the latent content which is brought to light in the analysis, I find that I have unwittingly lighted upon a new and important discovery. I see that the puzzling theory that the dream deals only with the worthless odds and ends of the day's experiences has no justification; I am also compelled to contradict the assertion that the psychic life of the waking state is not continued in the dream, and that hence, the dream wastes our psychic energy on trivial material. The very opposite is true; what has claimed our attention during the day dominates our dream-thoughts also, and we take pains to dream only in connection with such matters as have given us food for thought during the day.
Perhaps the most immediate explanation of the fact that I dream of the indifferent impression of the day, while the impression which has with good reason excited me causes me to dream, is that here again we are dealing with the phenomenon of dream-distortion, which we have referred to as a psychic force playing the part of a censorship. The recollection of the monograph on the genus cyclamen is utilized as though it were an allusion to the conversation with my friend, just as the mention of my patient's friend in the dream of the deferred supper is represented by the allusion smoked salmon. The only question is: by what intermediate links can the impression of the monograph come to assume the relation of allusion to the conversation with the eye specialist, since such a relation is not at first perceptible? In the example of the deferred supper, the relation is evident at the outset; smoked salmon, as the favourite dish of the patient's friend, belongs to the circle of ideas which the friend's personality would naturally evoke in the mind of the dreamer. In our new example we are dealing with two entirely separate impressions, which at first glance seem to have nothing in common, except indeed that they occur on the same day. The monograph attracts my attention in the morning: in the evening I take part in the conversation. The answer furnished by the analysis is as follows: Such relations between the two impressions as do not exist from the first are established subsequently between the idea-content of the one impression and the idea-content of the other. I have already picked out the intermediate links emphasized in the course of writing the analysis. Only under some outside influence, perhaps the recollection of the flowers missed by Frau L, would the idea of the monograph on the cyclamen have attached itself to the idea that the cyclamen is my wife's favourite flower. I do not believe that these inconspicuous thoughts would have sufficed to evoke a dream.
There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave
To tell us this,
as we read in Hamlet. But behold! in the analysis I am reminded that the name of the man who interrupted our conversation was Gartner (gardener), and that I thought his wife looked blooming; indeed, now I even remember that one of my female patients, who bears the pretty name of Flora, was for a time the main subject of our conversation. It must have happened that by means of these intermediate links from the sphere of botanical ideas the association was effected between the two events of the day, the indifferent one and the stimulating one. Other relations were then established, that of cocaine for example, which can with perfect appropriateness form a link between the person of Dr. Koenigstein and the botanical monograph which I have written, and thus secure the fusion of the two circles of ideas, so that now a portion of the first experience may be used as an allusion to the second.
I am prepared to find this explanation attacked as either arbitrary or artificial. What would have happened if Professor Gartner and his blooming wife had not appeared, and if the patient who was under discussion had been called, not Flora, but Anna? And yet the answer is not hard to find. If these thought — relations had not been available, others would probably have been selected. It is easy to establish relations of this sort, as the jocular questions and conundrums with which we amuse ourselves suffice to show. The range of wit is unlimited. To go a step farther: if no sufficiently fertile associations between the two impressions of the day could have been established, the dream would simply have followed a different course; another of the indifferent impressions of the day, such as come to us in multitudes and are forgotten, would have taken the place of the monograph in the dream, would have formed an association with the content of the conversation, and would have represented this in the dream. Since it was the impression of the monograph and no other that was fated to perform this function, this impression was probably that most suitable for the purpose. One need not, like Lessing's Hanschen Schlau, be astonished that "only the rich people of the world possess the most money."
Still the psychological process by which, according to our exposition, the indifferent experience substitutes itself for the psychologically important one seems to us odd and open to question. In a later chapter we shall undertake the task of making the peculiarities of this seemingly incorrect operation more intelligible. Here we are concerned only with the result of this process, which we were compelled to accept by constantly recurring experiences in the analysis of dreams. In this process it is as though, in the course of the intermediate steps, a displacement occurs — let us say, of the psychic accent — until ideas of feeble potential, by taking over the charge from ideas which have a stronger initial potential, reach a degree of intensity which enables them to force their way into consciousness. Such displacements do not in the least surprise us when it is a question of the transference of affective magnitudes or of motor activities. That the lonely spinster transfers her affection to animals, that the bachelor becomes a passionate collector, that the soldier defends a scrap of coloured cloth — his flag — with his life-blood, that in a love-affair a clasp of the hands a moment longer than usual evokes a sensation of bliss, or that in Othello a lost handkerchief causes an outburst of rage — all these are examples of psychic displacements which to us seem incontestable. But if, by the same means, and in accordance with the same fundamental principles, a decision is made as to what is to reach our consciousness and what is to be withheld from it — that is to say, what we are to think — this gives us the impression of morbidity, and if it occurs in waking life we call it an error of thought. We may here anticipate the result of a discussion which will be undertaken later, namely, that the psychic process which we have recognized in dream-displacement proves to be not a morbidly deranged process, but one merely differing from the normal, one of a more primary nature.
Thus we interpret the fact that the dream-content takes up remnants of trivial experiences as a manifestation of dream-distortion (by displacement), and we thereupon remember that we have recognized this dream-distortion as the work of a censorship operating between the two psychic instances. We may therefore expect that dream-analysis will constantly show us the real and psychically significant source of the dream in the events of the day, the memory of which has transferred its accentuation to some indifferent memory. This conception is in complete opposition to Robert's theory, which consequently has no further value for us. The fact which Robert was trying to explain simply does not exist; its assumption is based on a misunderstanding, on a failure to substitute the real meaning of the dream for its apparent meaning. A further objection to Robert's doctrine is as follows: If the task of the dream were really to rid our memory, by means of a special psychic activity, of the slag of the day's recollections, our sleep would perforce be more troubled, engaged in more strenuous work, than we can suppose it to be, judging by our waking thoughts. For the number of the indifferent impressions of the day against which we should have to protect our memory is obviously immeasurably large; the whole night would not be long enough to dispose of them all. It is far more probable that the forgetting of the indifferent impressions takes place without any active interference on the part of our psychic powers.
Still, something cautions us against taking leave of Robert's theory without further consideration. We have left unexplained the fact that one of the indifferent impressions of the day — indeed, even of the previous day — constantly makes a contribution to the dream-content. The relations between this impression and the real source of the dream in the unconscious do not always exist from the outset; as we have seen, they are established subsequently, while the dream is actually at work, as though to serve the purpose of the intended displacement. Something, therefore, must necessitate the opening up of connections in the direction of the recent but indifferent impression; this impression must possess some quality that gives it a special fitness. Otherwise it would be just as easy for the dream-thoughts to shift their accentuation to some inessential component of their own sphere of ideas.
Experiences such as the following show us the way to an explanation: If the day has brought us two or more experiences which are worthy to evoke a dream, the dream will blend the allusion of both into a single whole: it obeys a compulsion to make them into a single whole. For example: One summer afternoon I entered a railway carriage in which I found two acquaintances of mine who were unknown to one another. One of them was an influential colleague, the other a member of a distinguished family which I had been attending in my professional capacity. I introduced the two gentlemen to each other; but during the long journey they conversed with each other through me, so that I had to discuss this or that topic now with one, now with the other. I asked my colleague to recommend a mutual acquaintance who had just begun to practise as a physician. He replied that he was convinced of the young man's ability, but that his undistinguished appearance would make it difficult for him to obtain patients in the upper ranks of society. To this I rejoined: "That is precisely why he needs recommendation." A little later, turning to my other fellow-traveller, I inquired after the health of his aunt — the mother of one of my patients — who was at this time prostrated by a serious illness. On the night following this journey I dreamt that the young friend whom I had asked one of my companions to recommend was in a fashionable drawing-room, and with all the bearing of a man of the world was making — before a distinguished company, in which I recognized all the rich and aristocratic persons of my acquaintance — a funeral oration over the old lady (who in my dream had already died) who was the aunt of my second fellow — traveller. (I confess frankly that I had not been on good terms with this lady.) Thus my dream had once more found the connection between the two impressions of the day, and by means of the two had constructed a unified situation.
In view of many similar experiences, I am persuaded to advance the proposition that a dream works under a kind of compulsion which forces it to combine into a unified whole all the sources of dream-stimulation which are offered to it. 1 In a subsequent chapter (on the function of dreams) we shall consider this impulse of combination as part of the process of condensation, another primary psychic process.
1 The tendency of the dream at work to blend everything present of interest into a single transaction has already been noticed by several authors, for instance, by Delage and Delboeuf.
I shall now consider the question whether the dream-exciting source to which our analysis leads us must always be a recent (and significant) event, or whether a subjective experience — that is to say, the recollection of a psychologically significant event, a train of thought — may assume the role of a dream-stimulus. The very definite answer, derived from numerous analyses, is as follows: The stimulus of the dream may be a subjective transaction, which has been made recent, as it were, by the mental activity of the day.
And this is perhaps the best time to summarize in schematic form the different conditions under which the dream-sources are operative.
The source of a dream may be:
(a) A recent and psychologically significant event which is directly represented in the dream. 1
(b) Several recent and significant events, which are combined by the dream in a single whole. 2
(c) One or more recent and significant events, which are represented in the dream-content by allusion to a contemporary but indifferent event. 3
(d) A subjectively significant experience (recollection, train of thought), which is constantly represented in the dream by allusion to a recent but indifferent impression. 4
1 The dream of Irma's injection; the dream of the friend who is my uncle.
2 The dream of the funeral oration delivered by the young physician.
3 The dream of the botanical monograph.
4 The dreams of my patients during analysis are mostly of this kind.
As may be seen, in dream-interpretation the condition is always fulfilled that one component of the dream-content repeats a recent impression of the day of the dream. The component which is destined to be represented in the dream may either belong to the same circle of ideas as the dream-stimulus itself (as an essential or even an inessential element of the same); or it may originate in the neighbourhood of an indifferent impression, which has been brought by more or less abundant associations into relation with the sphere of the dream-stimulus. The apparent multiplicity of these conditions results merely from the alternative, that a displacement has or has not occurred, and it may here be noted that this alternative enables us to explain the contrasts of the dream quite as readily as the medical theory of the dream explains the series of states from the partial to the complete waking of the brain cells.
In considering this series of sources we note further that the psychologically significant but not recent element (a train of thought, a recollection) may be replaced for the purposes of dream-formation by a recent but psychologically indifferent element, provided the two following conditions are fulfilled: (1) the dream-content preserves a connection with things recently experienced; (2) the dream-stimulus is still a psychologically significant event. In one single case (a) both these conditions are fulfilled by the same impression. If we now consider that these same indifferent impressions, which are utilized for the dream as long as they are recent, lose this qualification as soon as they are a day (or at most several days) older, we are obliged to assume that the very freshness of an impression gives it a certain psychological value for dream-formation, somewhat equivalent to the value of emotionally accentuated memories or trains of thought. Later on, in the light of certain Psychological considerations, we shall be able to divine the explanation of this importance of recent impressions in dream formation. 1
1 Cf. Chap. VII on "transference."
Incidentally our attention is here called to the fact that at night, and unnoticed by our consciousness, important changes may occur in the material comprised by our ideas and memories. The injunction that before making a final decision in any matter one should sleep on it for a night is obviously fully justified. But at this point we find that we have passed from the psychology of dreaming to the psychology of sleep, a step which there will often be occasion to take.
At this point there arises an objection which threatens to invalidate the conclusions at which we have just arrived. If indifferent impressions can find their way into the dream only so long as they are of recent origin, how does it happen that in the dream-content we find elements also from earlier periods of our lives, which, at the time when they were still recent, possessed, as Strumpell puts it, no psychic value, and which, therefore, ought to have been forgotten long ago; elements, that is, which are neither fresh nor psychologically significant?
This objection can be disposed of completely if we have recourse to the results of the psychoanalysis of neurotics. The solution is as follows: The process of shifting and rearrangement which replaces material of psychic significance by material which is indifferent (whether one is dreaming or thinking) has already taken place in these earlier periods of life, and has since become fixed in the memory. Those elements which were originally indifferent are in fact no longer so, since they have acquired the value of psychologically significant material. That which has actually remained indifferent can never be reproduced in the dream.
From the foregoing exposition the reader may rightly conclude that I assert that there are no indifferent dream-stimuli, and therefore no guileless dreams. This I absolutely and unconditionally believe to be the case, apart from the dreams of children, and perhaps the brief dream-reactions to nocturnal sensations. Apart from these exceptions, whatever one dreams is either plainly recognizable as being psychically significant, or it is distorted and can be judged correctly only after complete interpretation, when it proves, after all, to be of psychic significance. The dream never concerns itself with trifles; we do not allow sleep to be disturbed by trivialities. 1 Dreams which are apparently guileless turn out to be the reverse of innocent, if one takes the trouble to interpret them; if I may be permitted the expression, they ail show "the mark of the beast." Since this is another point on which I may expect contradiction, and since I am glad of an opportunity to show dream-distortion at work, I shall here subject to analysis a number of guileless dreams from my collection.
1 Havelock Ellis, a kindly critic of The Interpretation of Dreams, writes in The World of Dreams (p. 169): "From this point on, not many of us will be able to follow F." But Mr. Ellis has not undertaken any analyses of dreams, and will not believe how unjustifiable it is to judge them by the manifest dream-content.
An intelligent and refined young woman, who in real life is distinctly reserved, one of those people of whom one says that "still waters run deep," relates the following dream: "I dreamt that I arrived at the market too late, and could get nothing from either the butcher or the greengrocer woman." Surely a guileless dream, but as it has not the appearance of a real dream I induce her to relate it in detail. Her report then runs as follows: She goes to the market with her cook, who carries the basket. The butcher tells her, after she has asked him for something: "That is no longer to be obtained," and waits to give her something else, with the remark: "That is good, too." She refuses, and goes to the greengrocer woman. The latter tries to sell her a peculiar vegetable, which is bound up in bundles, and is black in colour. She says: "I don't know that, I won't take it."
The connection of the dream with the preceding day is simple enough. She had really gone to the market too late, and had been unable to buy anything. The meatshop was already closed, comes into one's mind as a description of the experience. But wait, is not that a very vulgar phrase which — or rather, the opposite of which — denotes a certain neglect with regard to man's clothing? The dreamer has not used these words; she has perhaps avoided them: but let us look for the interpretation of the details contained in the dream.
When in a dream something has the character of a spoken utterance — that is, when it is said or heard, not merely thought, and the distinction can usually be made with certainty — then it originates in the utterances of waking life, which have, of course, been treated as raw material, dismembered, and slightly altered, and above all removed from their context. 1 In the work of interpretation we may take such utterances as our starting — point. Where, then, does the butcher's statement, That is no longer to be obtained, come from? From myself; I had explained to her some days previously "that the oldest experiences of childhood are no longer to be obtained as such, but will be replaced in the analysis by transferences and dreams." Thus, I am the butcher, and she refuses to accept these transferences to the present of old ways of thinking and feeling. Where does her dream utterance, I don't know that, I won't take it, come from? For the purposes of the analysis this has to be dissected. I don't know that she herself had said to her cook, with whom she had a dispute on the previous day, but she had then added: Behave yourself decently. Here a displacement is palpable; of the two sentences which she spoke to her cook, she included the insignificant one in her dream; but the suppressed sentence, Behave yourself decently! alone fits in with the rest of the dream-content. One might use the words to a man who was making indecent overtures, and had neglected "to close his meat-shop." That we have really hit upon the trail of the interpretation is proved by its agreement with the allusions made by the incident with the greengrocer woman. A vegetable which is sold tied up in bundles (a longish vegetable, as she subsequently adds), and is also black: what can this be but a dream-combination of asparagus and black radish? I need not interpret asparagus to the initiated; and the other vegetable, too (think of the exclamation: "Blacky, save yourself!"), seems to me to point to the sexual theme at which we guessed in the beginning, when we wanted to replace the story of the dream by "the meat-shop is closed." We are not here concerned with the full meaning of the dream; so much is certain, that it is full of meaning and by no means guileless. 2
1 Cf. what is said of speech in dreams in the chapter on "The Dream-Work." Only one of the writers on the subject- Delboeuf — seems to have recognized the origin of the speeches heard in dreams; he compares them with cliches.
2 For the curious, I may remark that behind the dream there is hidden a phantasy of indecent, sexually provoking conduct on my part, and of repulsion on the part of the lady. If this interpretation should seem preposterous, I would remind the reader of the numerous cases in which physicians have been made the object of such charges by hysterical women, with whom the same phantasy has not appeared in a distorted form as a dream, but has become undisguisedly conscious and delusional. With this dream the patient began her psycho-analytical treatment. It was only later that I learned that with this dream she repeated the initial trauma in which her neurosis originated, and since then I have noticed the same behaviour in other persons who in their childhood were victims of sexual attacks, and now, as it were, wish in their dreams for them to be repeated.
Another guileless dream of the same patient, which in some respects is a pendant to the above. Her husband asks her: "Oughtn't we to have the piano tuned?" She replies: "It's not worth while, the hammers would have to be rebuffed as well." Again we have the reproduction of an actual event of the preceding day. Her husband had asked her such a question, and she had answered it in such words. But what is the meaning of her dreaming it? She says of the piano that it is a disgusting old box which has a bad tone; it belonged to her husband before they were married, 1 etc., but the key to the true solution lies in the phrase: It isn't worth while. This has its origin in a call paid yesterday to a woman friend. She was asked to take off her coat, but declined, saying: "Thanks, it isn't worth while, I must go in a moment." At this point I recall that yesterday, during the analysis, she suddenly took hold of her coat, of which a button had come undone. It was as though she meant to say: "Please don't look in, it isn't worth while." Thus box becomes chest, and the interpretation of the dream leads to the years when she was growing out of her childhood, when she began to be dissatisfied with her figure. It leads us back, indeed, to earlier periods, if we take into consideration the disgusting and the bad tone, and remember how often in allusions and in dreams the two small hemispheres of the female body take the place — as a substitute and an antithesis — of the large ones.
1 A substitution by the opposite, as will be clear after analysis.
I will interrupt the analysis of this dreamer in order to insert a short, innocent dream which was dreamed by a young man. He dreamt that he was putting on his winter overcoat again; this was terrible. The occasion for this dream is apparently the sudden advent of cold weather. On more careful examination we note that the two brief fragments of the dream do not fit together very well, for what could be terrible about wearing a thick or heavy coat in cold weather? Unfortunately for the innocency of this dream, the first association, under analysis, yields the recollection that yesterday a lady had confidentially confessed to him that her last child owed its existence to the splitting of a condom. He now reconstructs his thoughts in accordance with this suggestion: A thin condom is dangerous, a thick one is bad. The condom is a "pullover" (Ueberzieher = literally pullover), for it is pulled over something: and Uebersieher is the German term for a light overcoat. An experience like that related by the lady would indeed be terrible for an unmarried man.
We will now return to our other innocent dreamer.
She puts a candle into a candlestick; but the candle is broken, so that it does not stand up. The girls at school say she is clumsy; but she replies that it is not her fault.
Here, too, there is an actual occasion for the dream; the day before she had actually put a candle into a candlestick; but this one was not broken. An obvious symbolism has here been employed. The candle is an object which excites the female genitals; its being broken, so that it does not stand upright, signifies impotence on the man's part (it is not her fault). But does this young woman, carefully brought up, and a stranger to all obscenity, know of such an application of the candle? By chance she is able to tell how she came by this information. While paddling a canoe on the Rhine, a boat passed her which contained some students, who were singing rapturously, or rather yelling: "When the Queen of Sweden, behind closed shutters, with the candles of Apollo . . . "
She does not hear or else understand the last word. Her husband was asked to give her the required explanation. These verses are then replaced in the dream-content by the innocent recollection of a task which she once performed clumsily at her boarding — school, because of the closed shutters. The connection between the theme of masturbation and that of impotence is clear enough. Apollo in the latent dream-content connects this dream with an earlier one in which the virgin Pallas figured. All this is obviously not innocent.
Lest it may seem too easy a matter to draw conclusions from dreams concerning the dreamer's real circumstances, I add another dream originating with the same person, which once more appears innocent. "I dreamt of doing something," she relates, "which I actually did during the day, that is to say, I filled a little trunk so full of books that I had difficulty in closing it. My dream was just like the actual occurrence." Here the dreamer herself emphasizes the correspondence between the dream and the reality. All such criticisms of the dream, and comments on the dream, although they have found a place in the waking thoughts, properly belong to the latent dream-content, as further examples will confirm. We are told, then, that what the dream relates has actually occurred during the day. It would take us too far afield to show how we arrive at the idea of making use of the English language to help us in the interpretation of this dream. Suffice it to say that it is again a question of a little box (cf. chap. IV, the dream of the dead child in the box) which has been filled so full that nothing can go into it.
In all these "innocent" dreams the sexual factor as the motive of the censorship is very prominent. But this is a subject of primary significance, which we must consider later.
As the third of the peculiarities of the dream-content, we have adduced the fact, in agreement with all other writers on the subject (excepting Robert), that impressions from our childhood may appear in dreams, which do not seem to be at the disposal of the waking memory. It is, of course, difficult to decide how seldom or how frequently this occurs, because after waking the origin of the respective elements of the dream is not recognized. The proof that we are dealing with impressions of our childhood must thus be adduced objectively, and only in rare instances do the conditions favour such proof. The story is told by A. Maury, as being particularly conclusive, of a man who decides to visit his birthplace after an absence of twenty years. On the night before his departure he dreams that he is in a totally unfamiliar locality, and that he there meets a strange man with whom he holds a conversation. Subsequently, upon his return home, he is able to convince himself that this strange locality really exists in the vicinity of his home, and the strange man in the dream turns out to be a friend of his dead father's, who is living in the town. This is, of course, a conclusive proof that in his childhood he had seen both the man and the locality. The dream, moreover, is to be interpreted as a dream of impatience, like the dream of the girl who carries in her pocket the ticket for a concert, the dream of the child whose father had promised him an excursion to the Hameau (ch. III), and so forth. The motives which reproduce just these impressions of childhood for the dreamer cannot, of course, be discovered without analysis.
One of my colleagues, who attended my lectures, and who boasted that his dreams were very rarely subject to distortion, told me that he had sometime previously seen, in a dream, his former tutor in bed with his nurse, who had remained in the household until his eleventh year. The actual location of this scene was realized even in the dream. As he was greatly interested, he related the dream to his elder brother, who laughingly confirmed its reality. The brother said that he remembered the affair very distinctly, for he was six years old at the time. The lovers were in the habit of making him, the elder boy, drunk with beer whenever circumstances were favourable to their nocturnal intercourse. The younger child, our dreamer, at that time three years of age, slept in the same room as the nurse, but was not regarded as an obstacle.
In yet another case it may be definitely established, without the aid of dream-interpretation, that the dream contains elements from childhood — namely, if the dream is a so-called perennial dream, one which, being first dreamt in childhood, recurs again and again in adult years. I may add a few examples of this sort to those already known, although I have no personal knowledge of perennial dreams. A physician, in his thirties, tells me that a yellow lion, concerning which he is able to give the precisest information, has often appeared in his dream-life, from his earliest childhood up to the present day. This lion, known to him from his dreams, was one day discovered in natura, as a longforgotten china animal. The young man then learned from his mother that the lion had been his favourite toy in early childhood, a fact which he himself could no longer remember.
If we now turn from the manifest dream-content to the dreamthoughts which are revealed only on analysis, the experiences of childhood may be found to recur even in dreams whose content would not have led us to suspect anything of the sort. I owe a particularly delightful and instructive example of such a dream
to my esteemed colleague of the "yellow lion." After reading Nansen's account of his polar expedition, he dreamt that he was giving the intrepid explorer electrical treatment on an ice-floe for the sciatica of which the latter complained! During the analysis of this dream he remembered an incident of his childhood, without which the dream would be wholly unintelligible. When he was three or four years of age he was one day listening attentively to the conversation of his elders; they were talking of exploration, and he presently asked his father whether exploration was a bad illness. He had apparently confounded Reisen (journey, trips) with Reissen (gripes, tearing pains), and the derision of his brothers and sisters prevented his ever forgetting the humiliating experience.
We have a precisely similar case when, in the analysis of the dream of the monograph on the genus cyclamen, I stumble upon a memory, retained from childhood, to the effect that when I was five years old my father allowed me to destroy a book embellished with coloured plates. It will perhaps be doubted whether this recollection really entered into the composition of the dream content, and it may be suggested that the connection was established subsequently by the analysis. But the abundance and intricacy of the associative connections vouch for the truth of my explanation: cyclamen — favourite flower — favourite dish — artichoke; to pick to pieces like an artichoke, leaf by leaf (a phrase which at that time one heard daily, a propos of the dividing up of the Chinese empire); herbarium — bookworm, whose favourite food is books. I can further assure the reader that the ultimate meaning of the dream, which I have not given here, is most intimately connected with the content of the scene of childish destruction.
In another series of dreams we learn from analysis that the very wish which has given rise to the dream, and whose fulfilment the dream proves to be, has itself originated in childhood, so that one is astonished to find that the child with all his impulses survives in the dream.
I shall now continue the interpretation of a dream which has already proved instructive: I refer to the dream in which my friend R is my uncle. We have carried its interpretation far enough for the wish-motive — the wish to be appointed professor — to assert itself palpably; and we have explained the affection felt for my friend R in the dream as the outcome of opposition to, and defiance of, the two colleagues who appear in the dreamthoughts. Thee dream was my own; I may, therefore, continue the analysis by stating that I did not feel quite satisfied with the solution arrived at. I knew that my opinion of these colleagues. who were so badly treated in my dream-thoughts, would have been expressed in very different language in my waking life; the intensity of the wish that I might not share their fate as regards the appointment seemed to me too slight fully to account for the discrepancy between my dream-opinion and my waking opinion. If the desire to be addressed by another title were really so intense, it would be proof of a morbid ambition, which I do not think I cherish, and which I believe I was far from entertaining. I do not know how others who think they know me would judge me; perhaps I really was ambitious; but if I was, my ambition has long since been transferred to objects other than the rank and title of Professor extraordinarius.
Whence, then, the ambition which the dream has ascribed to me? Here I am reminded of a story which I heard often in my childhood, that at my birth an old peasant woman had prophesied to my happy mother (whose first-born I was) that she had brought a great man into the world. Such prophecies must be made very
frequently; there are so many happy and expectant mothers, and so many old peasant women, and other old women who, since their mundane powers have deserted them, turn their eyes toward the future; and the prophetess is not likely to suffer for her prophecies. Is it possible that my thirst for greatness has originated from this source? But here I recollect an impression from the later years of my childhood, which might serve even better as an explanation. One evening, at a restaurant on the Prater, where my parents were accustomed to take me when I was eleven or twelve years of age, we noticed a man who was going from table to table and, for a small sum, improvising verses upon any subject that was given him. I was sent to bring the poet to our table, and he showed his gratitude. Before asking for a subject he threw off a few rhymes about myself, and told us that if he could trust his inspiration I should probably one day become a minister. I can still distinctly remember the impression produced by this second prophecy. It was in the days of the "bourgeois Ministry"; my father had recently brought home the portraits of the bourgeois university graduates, Herbst, Giskra, Unger, Berger and others, and we illuminated the house in their honour. There were even Jews among them; so that every diligent Jewish schoolboy carried a ministerial portfolio in his satchel. The impression of that time must be responsible for the fact that until shortly before I went to the university I wanted to study jurisprudence, and changed my mind only at the last moment. A medical man has no chance of becoming a minister. And now for my dream: It is only now that I begin to see that it translates me from the sombre present to the hopeful days of the bourgeois Ministry, and completely fulfils what was then my youthful ambition. In treating my two estimable and learned colleagues, merely because they are Jews, so badly, one as though he were a simpleton and the other as though he were a criminal, I am acting as though I were the Minister; I have put myself in his place. What a revenge I take upon his Excellency! He refuses to appoint me Professor extraordinarius, and so in my dream I put myself in his place.
In another case I note the fact that although the wish that excites the dream is a contemporary wish it is nevertheless greatly reinforced by memories of childhood. I refer to a series of dreams which are based on the longing to go to Rome. For a long time to come I shall probably have to satisfy this longing by means of dreams, since, at the season of the year when I should be able to travel, Rome is to be avoided for reasons of health. 1 Thus I once dreamt that I saw the Tiber and the bridge of Sant' Angelo from the window of a railway carriage; presently the train started, and I realized that I had never entered the city at all. The view that appeared in the dream was modelled after a well-known engraving which I had casually noticed the day before in the drawing-room of one of my patients. In another dream someone took me up a hill and showed me Rome half shrouded in mist, and so distant that I was astonished at the distinctness of the view. The content of this dream is too rich to be fully reported here. The motive, "to see the promised land afar," is here easily recognizable. The city which I thus saw in the mist is Lubeck; the original of the hill is the Gleichenberg. In a third dream I am at last in Rome. To my disappointment the scenery is anything but urban: it consists of a little stream of black water, on one side of which are black rocks, while on the other are meadows with large white flowers. I notice a certain Herr Zucker (with whom I am superficially acquainted), and resolve to ask him to show me the way into the city. It is obvious that I am trying in vain to see in my dream a city which I have never seen in my waking life. If I resolve the landscape into its elements, the white flowers point to Ravenna, which is known to me, and which once, for a time, replaced Rome as the capital of Italy. In the marshes around Ravenna we had found the most beautiful water-lilies in the midst of black pools of water; the dream makes them grow in the meadows, like the narcissi of our own Aussee, because we found it so troublesome to cull them from the water. The black rock so close to the water vividly recalls the valley of the Tepl at Karlsbad. Karlsbad now enables me to account for the peculiar circumstance that I ask Herr Zucker to show me the way. In the material of which the dream is woven I am able to recognize two of those amusing Jewish anecdotes which conceal such profound and, at times, such bitter worldly wisdom, and which we are so fond of quoting in our letters and conversation. One is the story of the constitution; it tells how a poor Jew sneaks into the Karlsbad express without a ticket; how he is detected, and is treated more and more harshly by the conductor at each succeeding call for tickets; and how, when a friend whom he meets at one of the stations during his miserable journey asks him where he is going, he answers: "To Karlsbad — if my constitution holds out." Associated in memory with this is another story about a Jew who is ignorant of French, and who has express instructions to ask in Paris for the Rue Richelieu. Paris was for many years the goal of my own longing, and I regarded the satisfaction with which I first set foot on the pavements of Paris as a warrant that I should attain to the fulfilment of other wishes also. Moreover, asking the way is a direct allusion to Rome, for, as we know, "all roads lead to Rome." And further, the name Zucker (sugar) again points to Karlsbad, whither we send persons afflicted with the constitutional disease, diabetes (Zuckerkrankheit, sugardisease.) The occasion for this dream was the proposal of my Berlin friend that we should meet in Prague at Easter. A further association with sugar and diabetes might be found in the matters which I had to discuss with him.
1 I long ago learned that the fulfilment of such wishes only called for a little courage, and I then became a zealous pilgrim to Rome.
A fourth dream, occurring shortly after the last-mentioned, brings me back to Rome. I see a street corner before me, and am astonished that so many German placards should be posted there. On the previous day, when writing to my friend, I had told him, with truly prophetic vision, that Prague would probably not be a comfortable place for German travellers. The dream, therefore, expressed simultaneously the wish to meet him in Rome instead of in the Bohemian capital, and the desire, which probably originated during my student days, that the German language might be accorded more tolerance in Prague. As a matter of fact, I must have understood the Czech language in the first years of my childhood, for I was born in a small village in Moravia, amidst a Slay population. A Czech nursery rhyme, which I heard in my seventeenth year, became, without effort on my part, so imprinted upon my memory that I can repeat it to this day, although I have no idea of its meaning. Thus in these dreams also there is no lack of manifold relations to the impressions of my early childhood.
During my last Italian journey, which took me past Lake Trasimenus, I at length discovered, after I had seen the Tiber, and had reluctantly turned back some fifty miles from Rome, what a reinforcement my longing for the Eternal City had received from the impressions of my childhood. I had just conceived a plan of travelling to Naples via Rome the following year when this sentence, which I must have read in one of our German classics, occurred to me: 1 "It is a question which of the two paced to and fro in his room the more impatiently after he had conceived the plan of going to Rome — Assistant Headmaster Winckelmann or the
great General Hannibal." I myself had walked in Hannibal's footsteps; like him I was destined never to see Rome, and he too had gone to Campania when all were expecting him in Rome. Hannibal, with whom I had achieved this point of similarity, had been my favourite hero during my years at the Gymnasium; like so many boys of my age, I bestowed my sympathies in the Punic war not on the Romans, but on the Carthaginians. Moreover, when I finally came to realize the consequences of belonging to an alien race, and was forced by the anti-Semitic feeling among my classmates to take a definite stand, the figure of the Semitic commander assumed still greater proportions in my imagination. Hannibal and Rome symbolized, in my youthful eyes, the struggle between the tenacity of the Jews and the organization of the Catholic Church. The significance for our emotional life which the anti-Semitic movement has since assumed helped to fix the thoughts and impressions of those earlier days. Thus the desire to go to Rome has in my dream-life become the mask and symbol for a number of warmly cherished wishes, for whose realization one had to work with the tenacity and single-mindedness of the Punic general, though their fulfilment at times seemed as remote as Hannibal's life-long wish to enter Rome.
1 The writer in whose works I found this passage was probably Jean Paul Richter.
And now, for the first time, I happened upon the youthful experience which even to-day still expresses its power in all these emotions and dreams. I might have been ten or twelve years old when my father began to take me with him on his walks, and in his conversation to reveal his views on the things of this world. Thus it was that he once told me the following incident, in order to show me that I had been born into happier times than he: "When I was a young man, I was walking one Saturday along the street in the village where you were born; I was well-dressed, with a new fur cap on my head. Up comes a Christian, who knocks my cap into the mud, and shouts, 'Jew, get off the pavement!'" — "And what did you do?" — "I went into the street and picked up the cap," he calmly replied. That did not seem heroic on the part of the big, strong man who was leading me, a little fellow, by the hand. I contrasted this situation, which did not please me, with another, more in harmony with my sentiments — the scene in which Hannibal's father, Hamilcar Barcas, made his son swear before the household altar to take vengeance on the Romans. 1 Ever since then Hannibal has had a place in my phantasies.
1 In the first edition of this book I gave here the name "Hasdrubal," an amazing error, which I explained in my Psycho pathology of Everyday Life.
I think I can trace my enthusiasm for the Carthaginian general still further back into my childhood, so that it is probably only an instance of an already established emotional relation being transferred to a new vehicle. One of the first books which fell into my childish hands after I learned to read was Thiers' Consulate and Empire. I remember that I pasted on the flat backs of my wooden soldiers little labels bearing the names of the Imperial marshals, and that at that time Massena (as a Jew, Menasse) was already my avowed favourite. 1 This preference is doubtless also to be explained by the fact of my having been born, a hundred years later, on the same date. Napoleon himself is associated with Hannibal through the crossing of the Alps. And perhaps the development of this martial ideal may be traced yet farther back, to the first three years of my childhood, to wishes which my alternately friendly and hostile relations with a boy a year older than myself must have evoked in the weaker of the two playmates.
1 The Jewish descent of the Marshal is somewhat doubtful.
The deeper we go into the analysis of dreams, the more often are we put on the track of childish experiences which play the part of dream-sources in the latent dream-content.
We have learned that dreams very rarely reproduce memories in such a manner as to constitute, unchanged and unabridged, the sole manifest dream-content. Nevertheless, a few authentic examples which show such reproduction have been recorded, and I can add a few new ones, which once more refer to scenes of childhood. In the case of one of my patients a dream once gave a barely distorted reproduction of a sexual incident, which was immediately recognized as an accurate recollection. The memory of it had never been completely lost in the waking life, but it had been greatly obscured, and it was revivified by the previous work of analysis. The dreamer had at the age of twelve visited a bedridden schoolmate, who had exposed himself, probably only by a chance movement in bed. At the sight of the boy's genitals he was seized by a kind of compulsion, exposed himself, and took hold of the member of the other boy who, however, looked at him in surprise and indignation, whereupon he became embarrassed and let it go. A dream repeated this scene twenty-three years later, with all the details of the accompanying emotions, changing it, however, in this respect, that the dreamer played the passive instead of the active role, while the person of the schoolmate was replaced by a contemporary.
As a rule, of course, a scene from childhood is represented in the manifest dream-content only by an allusion, and must be disentangled from the dream by interpretation. The citation of examples of this kind cannot be very convincing, because any guarantee that they are really experiences of childhood is lacking; if they belong to an earlier period of life, they are no longer recognized by our memory. The conclusion that such childish experiences recur at all in dreams is justified in psychoanalytic work by a great number of factors, which in their combined results appear to be sufficiently reliable. But when, for the purposes of dream-interpretation, such references to childish experiences are torn out of their context, they may not perhaps seem very impressive, especially where I do not even give all the material upon which the interpretation is based. However, I shall not let this deter me from giving a few examples.
With one of my female patients all dreams have the character of hurry; she is hurrying so as to be in time, so as not to miss her train, and so on. In one dream she has to visit a girl friend; her mother had told her to ride and not walk; she runs, however, and keeps on calling. The material that emerged in the analysis allowed one to recognize a memory of childish romping, and, especially for one dream, went back to the popular childish game of rapidly repeating the words of a sentence as though it was all one word. All these harmless jokes with little friends were remembered because they replaced other less harmless ones. 1
1 In the original this paragraph contains many plays on the word Hetz (hurry, chase, scurry, game, etc.). — TR.
The following dream was dreamed by another female patient: She is in a large room in which there are all sorts of machines; it is rather like what she would imagine an orthopaedic institute to
be. She hears that I am pressed for time, and that she must undergo treatment along with five others. But she resists, and is unwilling to lie down on the bed — or whatever it is — which is intended for her. She stands in a corner, and waits for me to say "It is not true." The others, meanwhile, laugh at her, saying it is all foolishness on her part. At the same time, it is as though she were called upon to make a number of little squares.
The first part of the content of this dream is an allusion to the treatment and to the transference to myself. The second contains an allusion to a scene of childhood; the two portions are connected by the mention of the bed. The orthopaedic institute is an allusion to one of my talks, in which I compared the treatment, with regard to its duration and its nature. to an orthopaedic treatment. At the beginning of the treatment I had to tell her that for the present I had little time to give her, but that later on I would devote a whole hour to her daily. This aroused in her the old sensitiveness, which is a leading characteristic of children who are destined to become hysterical. Their desire for love is insatiable. My patient was the youngest of six brothers and sisters (hence, with five others), and as such her father's favourite, but in spite of this she seems to have felt that her beloved father devoted far too little time and attention to her. Her waiting for me to say It is not trite was derived as follows: A little tailor's apprentice had brought her a dress, and she had given him the money for it. Then she asked her husband whether she would have to pay the money again if the boy were to lose it. To tease her, her husband answered "Yes" (the teasing in the dream), and she asked again and again, and waited for him to say "It is not true." The thought of the latent dream-content may now be construed as follows: Will she have to pay me double the amount when I devote twice as much time to her? — a thought which is stingy or filthy (the uncleanliness of childhood is often replaced in dreams by greed for money; the word filthy here supplies the bridge). If all the passage referring to her waiting until I say It is not true is intended in the dream as a circumlocution for the word dirty, the standingin-the-corner and not lying-down-on-the-bed are in keeping with this word, as component parts of a scene of her childhood in which she had soiled her bed, in punishment for which she was put into the corner, with a warning that papa would not love her any more, whereupon her brothers and sisters laughed at her, etc. The little squares refer to her young niece, who showed her the arithmetical trick of writing figures in nine squares (I think) in such a way that on being added together in any direction they make fifteen.
Here is a man's dream: He sees two boys tussling with each other; they are cooper's boys, as he concludes from the tools which are lying about; one of the boys has thrown the other down; the prostrate boy is wearing ear-rings with blue stones. He runs towards the assailant with lifted cane, in order to chastise him. The boy takes refuge behind a woman, as though she were his mother, who is standing against a wooden fence. She is the wife of a day-labourer, and she turns her back to the man who is dreaming. Finally she turns about and stares at him with a horrible look, so that he runs away in terror; the red flesh of the lower lid seems to stand out from her eyes.
This dream has made abundant use of trivial occurrences from the previous day, in the course of which he actually saw two boys in the street, one of whom threw the other down. When he walked up to them in order to settle the quarrel, both of them took to their heels. Cooper's boys — this is explained only by a
subsequent dream, in the analysis of which he used the proverbial expression: "To knock the bottom out of the barrel." Ear-rings with blue stones, according to his observation, are worn chiefly by prostitutes. This suggests a familiar doggerel rhyme about two boys: "The other boy was called Marie": that is, he was a girl. The woman standing by the fence: after the scene with the two boys he went for a walk along the bank of the Danube and, taking advantage of being alone, urinated against a wooden fence. A little farther on a respectably dressed, elderly lady smiled at him very pleasantly and wanted to hand him her card with her address.
Since, in the dream, the woman stood as he had stood while urinating, there is an allusion to a woman urinating, and this explains the horrible look and the prominence of the red flesh, which can only refer to the genitals gaping in a squatting posture; seen in childhood, they had appeared in later recollection as proud flesh, as a wound. The dream unites two occasions upon which, as a little boy, the dreamer was enabled to see the genitals of little girls, once by throwing the little girl down, and once while the child was urinating; and, as is shown by another association, he had retained in his memory the punishment administered or threatened by his father on account of these manifestations of sexual curiosity.
A great mass of childish memories, which have been hastily combined into a phantasy, may be found behind the following dream of an elderly lady: She goes out in a hurry to do some shopping. On the Graben she sinks to her knees as though she had broken down. A number of people collect around her, especially cabdrivers, but no one helps her to get up. She makes many vain attempts; finally she must have succeeded, for she is put into a cab which is to take her home. A large, heavily laden basket (something like a market — basket) is thrown after her through the window.
This is the woman who is always harassed in her dreams; just as she used to be harassed when a child. The first situation of the dream is apparently taken from the sight of a fallen horse; just as broken down points to horse-racing. In her youth she was a rider; still earlier she was probably also a horse. With the idea of falling down is connected her first childish reminiscence of the seventeen-year-old son of the hall porter, who had an epileptic seizure in the street and was brought home in a cab. Of this, of course, she had only heard, but the idea of epileptic fits, of falling down, acquired a great influence over her phantasies, and later on influenced the form of her own hysterical attacks. When a person of the female sex dreams of falling, this almost always has a sexual significance; she becomes a fallen woman, and, for the purpose of the dream under consideration, this interpretation is probably the least doubtful, for she falls in the Graben, the street in Vienna which is known as the concourse of prostitutes. The market-basket admits of more than one interpretation; in the sense of refusal (German, Korb = basket = snub, refusal) it reminds her of the many snubs which she at first administered to her suitors and which, she thinks, she herself received later. This agrees with the detail: no one will help her up, which she herself interprets as being disdained. Further, the market-basket recalls phantasies which have already appeared in the course of analysis, in which she imagines that she has married far beneath her station and now goes to the market as a market-woman. Lastly, the market- basket might be interpreted as the mark of a servant. This suggests further memories of her childhood — of a cook who was discharged because she stole; she, too, sank to her knees and begged for mercy. The dreamer was at that time twelve years of age. Then emerges a recollection of a chamber-maid, who was dismissed because she had an affair with the coachman of the household, who, incidentally, married her afterwards. This recollection, therefore, gives us a clue to the cab-drivers in the dream (who, in opposition to the reality, do not stand by the fallen woman). But there still remains to be explained the throwing of the basket; in particular, why it is thrown through the window? This reminds her of the forwarding of luggage by rail, to the custom of Fensterln 1 in the country, and to trivial impressions of a summer resort, of a gentleman who threw some blue plums into the window of a lady's room, and of her little sister, who was frightened because an idiot who was passing looked in at the window. And now, from behind all this emerges an obscure recollection from her tenth year of a nurse in the country to whom one of the men-servants made love (and whose conduct the child may have noticed), and who was sent packing, thrown out, together with her lover (in the dream we have the expression: thrown into); an incident which we have been approaching by several other paths. The luggage or box of a servant is disparagingly described in Vienna as "seven plums." "Pack up your seven plums and get out!"
1 Fensterln is the custom, now falling into disuse, found in rural districts of the German Schwarzwald, of lovers who woo their sweethearts at their bedroom windows, to which they ascend by means of a ladder, enjoying such intimacy that the relation practically amounts to a trial marriage. The reputation of the young woman never suffers on account of Fensterln, unless she becomes intimate with too many suitors. — TR.
My collection, of course, contains a plethora of such patients' dreams, the analysis of which leads back to impressions of childhood, often dating back to the first three years of life, which are remembered obscurely, or not at all. But it is a questionable proceeding to draw conclusions from these and apply them to dreams in general, for they are mostly dreams of neurotic, and especially hysterical, persons; and the part played in these dreams by childish scenes might be conditioned by the nature of the neurosis, and not by the nature of dreams in general. In the interpretation of my own dreams, however, which is assuredly not undertaken on account of grave symptoms of illness, it happens just as frequently that in the latent dreamcontent I am unexpectedly confronted with a scene of my childhood, and that a whole series of my dreams will suddenly converge upon the paths proceeding from a single childish experience. I have already given examples of this, and I shall give yet more in different connections. Perhaps I cannot close this chapter more fittingly than by citing several dreams of my own, in which recent events and long-forgotten experiences of my childhood appear together as dream-sources.
After I have been travelling, and have gone to bed hungry and tired, the prime necessities of life begin to assert their claims in sleep, and I dream as follows: I go into a kitchen in order to ask for some pudding. There three women are standing, one of whom is the hostess; she is rolling something in her hands, as though she were making dumplings. She replies that I must wait until she has finished (not distinctly as a speech). I become impatient, and go away affronted. I want to put on an overcoat; but the first I try on is too long. I take it off, and am somewhat astonished to find that it is trimmed with fur. A second coat has a long strip of cloth with a Turkish design sewn into it. A stranger with a long face and a short, pointed beard comes up and
prevents me from putting it on, declaring that it belongs to him. I now show him that it is covered all over with Turkish embroideries. He asks: "How do the Turkish (drawings, strips of cloth . . . ) concern you?" But we soon become quite friendly.
In the analysis of this dream I remember, quite unexpectedly, the first novel which I ever read, or rather, which I began to read from the end of the first volume, when I was perhaps thirteen years of age. I have never learned the name of the novel, or that of its author, but the end remains vividly in my memory. The hero becomes insane, and continually calls out the names of the three women who have brought the greatest happiness and the greatest misfortune into his life. Pelagie is one of these names. I still do not know what to make of this recollection during the analysis. Together with the three women there now emerge the three Parcae, who spin the fates of men, and I know that one of the three women, the hostess in the dream, is the mother who gives life, and who, moreover, as in my own case, gives the child its first nourishment. Love and hunger meet at the mother's breast. A young man — so runs an anecdote — who became a great admirer of womanly beauty, once observed, when the conversation turned upon the handsome wet-nurse who had suckled him as a child, that he was sorry that he had not taken better advantage of his opportunities. I am in the habit of using the anecdote to elucidate the factor of retrospective tendencies in the mechanism of the psychoneuroses. One of the Parcae, then, is rubbing the palms of her hands together, as though she were making dumplings. A strange occupation for one of the Fates, and urgently in need of explanation! This explanation is furnished by another and earlier memory of my childhood. When I was six years old, and receiving my first lessons from my mother, I was expected to believe that we are made of dust, and must, therefore, return to dust. But this did not please me, and I questioned the doctrine. Thereupon my mother rubbed the palms of her hands together-just as in making dumplings, except that there was no dough between them — and showed me the blackish scales of epidermis which were thus rubbed off, as a proof that it is of dust that we are made. Great was my astonishment at this demonstration ad oculos, and I acquiesced in the idea which I was later to hear expressed in the words: "Thou owest nature a death." 1 Thus the women to whom I go in the kitchen, as I so often did in my childhood when I was hungry and my mother, sitting by the fire, admonished me to wait until lunch was ready, are really the Parcae. And now for the dumplings! At least one of my teachers at the University- the very one to whom I am indebted for my histological knowledge (epidermis) — would be reminded by the name Knodl (Knodl means dumpling), of a person whom he had to prosecute for plagiarizing his writings. Committing a plagiarism, taking anything one can lay hands on, even though it belongs to another, obviously leads to the second part of the dream, in which I am treated like the overcoat thief who for some time plied his trade in the lecture halls. I have written the word plagiarism — without definite intention — because it occurred to me, and now I see that it must belong to the latent dream-content and that it will serve as a bridge between the different parts of the manifest dream-content. The chain of associations — Pelagie — plagiarism — plagiostomi 2 (sharks) — fish-bladder — connects the old novel with the affair of Knodl and the overcoats (German: Uberzieher = pullover, overcoat or condom), which obviously refer to an appliance appertaining to the technique of sex. This, it is true, is a very forced and irrational connection, but it is nevertheless one which I could not have established in waking life if it had not already been established by the dream-work. Indeed, as though nothing were sacred to this impulse to enforce associations, the beloved name, Brucke (bridge of words, see above), now serves to remind me of the very institute in which I spent my happiest hours as a
student, wanting for nothing. "So will you at the breasts of Wisdom every day more pleasure find"), in the most complete contrast to the desires which plague me (German: plagen) while I dream. And finally, there emerges the recollection of another dear teacher, whose name once more sounds like something edible (Fleischl — Fleisch = meat — like Knodl = dumplings), and of a pathetic scene in which the scales of epidermis play a part (mother — hostess), and mental derangement (the novel), and a remedy from the Latin pharmacopeia (Kuche = kitchen) which numbs the sensation of hunger, namely, cocaine.
1 Both the affects pertaining to these childish scenes — astonishment and resignation to the inevitable — appeared in a dream of slightly earlier date, which first reminded me of this incident of my childhood.
2 I do not bring in the plagiostomi arbitrarily; they recall a painful incident of disgrace before the same teacher.
In this manner I could follow the intricate trains of thought still farther, and could fully elucidate that part of the dream which is lacking in the analysis; but I must refrain, because the personal sacrifice which this would involve is too great. I shall take up only one of the threads, which will serve to lead us directly to one of the dream-thoughts that lie at the bottom of the medley. The stranger with the long face and pointed beard, who wants to prevent me from putting on the overcoat, has the features of a tradesman of Spalato, of whom my wife bought a great deal of Turkish cloth. His name was Popovic, a suspicious name, which even gave the humorist Stettenheim a pretext for a suggestive remark: "He told me his name, and blushingly shook my hand." 1 For the rest, I find the same misuse of names as above in the case of Pelagie, Knodl, Brucke, Fleischl. No one will deny that such playing with names is a childish trick; if I indulge in it the practice amounts to an act of retribution, for my own name has often enough been the subject of such feeble attempts at wit. Goethe once remarked how sensitive a man is in respect to his name, which he feels that he fills even as he fills his skin; Herder having written the following lines on his name:
Der du von Gottern abstammst, von Gothen oder vom Kote.
So seid ihr Gotterbilder auch zu Staub.
[Thou who art born of the gods, of the Goths, or of the mud. Thus are thy godlike images even dust.]
I realize that this digression on the misuse of names was intended merely to justify this complaint. But here let us stop. . . . The purchase at Spalato reminds me of another purchase at Cattaro, where I was too cautious, and missed the opportunity of making an excellent bargain. (Missing an opportunity at the breast of the wet — nurse; see above.) One of the dream-thoughts occasioned by the sensation of hunger really amounts to this: We should let nothing escape; we should take what we can get, even if we do a little wrong; we should never let an opportunity go by; life is so short, and death inevitable. Because this is meant even sexually, and because desire is unwilling to check itself before the thought of doing wrong, this philosophy of carpe diem has reason to fear the censorship, and must conceal itself behind a dream. And so all sorts of counter-thoughts find expression, with recollections of the time when spiritual nourishment alone was sufficient for the dreamer, with hindrances of every kind and
even threats of disgusting sexual punishments.
1 Popo = "backside," in German nursery language.
A second dream requires a longer preliminary statement:
I had driven to the Western Station in order to start on a holiday trip to the Aussee, but I went on to the platform in time for the Ischl train, which leaves earlier. There I saw Count Thun, who was again going to see the Emperor at Ischl. In spite of the rain he arrived in an open carriage, came straight through the entrance — gate for the local trains, and with a curt gesture and not a word of explanation he waved back the gatekeeper, who did not know him and wanted to take his ticket. After he had left in the Ischl train, I was asked to leave the platform and return to the waiting — room; but after some difficulty I obtained permission to remain. I passed the time noting how many people bribed the officials to secure a compartment; I fully intended to make a complaint — that is, to demand the same privilege. Meanwhile I sang something to myself, which I afterwards recognized as the aria from The Marriage of Figaro:
If my lord Count would tread a measure, tread a measure, Let him but say his pleasure,
And I will play the tune.
(Possibly another person would not have recognized the tune.) The whole evening I was in a high-spirited, pugnacious mood; I chaffed the waiter and the cab-driver, I hope without hurting their feelings; and now all kinds of bold and revolutionary thoughts came into my mind, such as would fit themselves to the words of Figaro, and to memories of Beaumarchais' comedy, of which I had seen a performance at the Comedie Francaise. The
speech about the great men who have taken the trouble to be born; the seigneurial right which Count Almaviva wishes to exercise with regard to Susanne; the jokes which our malicious Opposition journalists make on the name of Count Thun (German, thun = do), calling him Graf Nichtsthun, Count-Do-Nothing. I really do not envy him; he now has a difficult audience with the Emperor before him, and it is I who am the real Count-Do-Nothing, for I am going off for a holiday. I make all sorts of amusing plans for the vacation. Now a gentleman arrives whom I know as a Government representative at the medical examinations, and who has won the flattering nickname of "the Governmental bed-fellow" (literally, by-sleeper) by his activities in this capacity. By insisting on his official status he secured half a first-class compartment, and I heard one guard say to another: "Where are we going to put the gentleman with the first-class half-compartment?" A pretty sort of favouritism! I am paying for a whole first-class compartment. I did actually get a whole compartment to myself, but not in a through carriage, so there was no lavatory at my disposal during the night. My complaints to the guard were fruitless; I revenged myself by suggesting that at least a hole be made in the floor of this compartment, to serve the possible needs of passengers. At a quarter to three in the morning I wake, with an urgent desire to urinate, from the following dream:
A crowd, a students' meeting. . . . A certain Count (Thun or Taaffe) is making a speech. Being asked to say something about the Germans, he declares, with a contemptuous gesture, that their favourite flower is coltsfoot, and he then puts into his buttonhole something like a torn leaf, really the crumpled skeleton of a leaf. I jump up, and I jump up, 1 but I am surprised at my implied attitude. Then, more indistinctly: It seems as though this were the vestibule (Aula); the exits are thronged, and one must escape. I make my way through a suite of handsomely appointed rooms, evidently ministerial apartments, with furniture of a colour between brown and violet, and at last I come to a corridor in which a housekeeper, a fat, elderly woman, is seated. I try to avoid speaking to her, but she apparently thinks I have a right to pass this way, because she asks whether she shall accompany me with the lamp. I indicate with a gesture, or tell her, that she is to remain standing on the stairs, and it seems to me that I am very clever, for after all I am evading detection. Now I am downstairs, and I find a narrow, steeply rising path, which I follow.
1 This repetition has crept into the text of the dream, apparently through absent-mindedness, and I have left it because analysis shows that it has a meaning.
Again indistinctly: It is as though my second task were to get away from the city, just as my first was to get out of the building. I am riding in a one-horse cab, and I tell the driver to take me to a railway station. "I can't drive with you on the railway line itself," I say, when he reproaches me as though I had tired him out. Here it seems as though I had already made a journey in his cab which is usually made by rail. The stations are crowded; I am wondering whether to go to Krems or to Znaim, but I reflect that the Court will be there, and I decide in favour of Graz or some such place. Now I am seated in the railway carriage, which is rather like a tram, and I have in my buttonhole a peculiar long braided thing, on which are violet-brown violets of stiff material, which makes a great impression on people. Here the scene breaks off.
I am once more in front of the railway station, but I am in the company of an elderly gentleman. I think out a scheme for remaining unrecognized, but I see this plan already being carried out. Thinking and experiencing are here, as it were, the same thing. He pretends to be blind, at least in one eye, and I hold before him a male glass urinal (which we have to buy in the city, or have bought). I am thus a sick-nurse, and have to give him the urinal because he is blind. If the conductor sees us in this position, he must pass us by without drawing attention to us. At the same time the position of the elderly man, and his urinating organ, is plastically perceived. Then I wake with a desire to urinate.
The whole dream seems a sort of phantasy, which takes the dreamer back to the year of revolution, 1848, the memory of which had been revived by the jubilee of 1898, as well as by a little excursion to Wachau, on which I visited Emmersdorf, the refuge of the student leader Fischof, 1 to whom several features of the manifest dream-content might refer. The association of ideas then leads me to England, to the house of my brother, who used in jest to twit his wife with the title of Tennyson's poem Fifty Years Ago, whereupon the children were used to correct him: Fifteen Years Ago. This phantasy, however, which attaches itself to the thoughts evoked by the sight of Count Thun, is, like the facade of an Italian church, without organic connection with the structure behind it, but unlike such a facade it is full of gaps, and confused, and in many places portions of the interior break through. The first situation of the dream is made up of a number of scenes, into which I am able to dissect it. The arrogant attitude of the Count in the dream is copied from a scene at my school which occurred in my fifteenth year. We had hatched a conspiracy against an unpopular and ignorant teacher; the leading spirit in this conspiracy was a schoolmate who since that time seems to have taken Henry VIII of England as his model. It fell to me to carry out the coup d'etat, and a discussion of the importance of the Danube (German, Donau) to Austria (Wachau!) was the occasion of an open revolt. One of our fellow-conspirators was our only aristocratic schoolmate — he was called "the giraffe" on account of his conspicuous height — and while he was being reprimanded by the tyrant of the school, the professor of the German language, he stood just as the Count stood in the dream. The explanation of the favourite flower, and the putting into a button-hole of something that must have been a flower (which recalls the orchids which I had given that day to a friend, and also a rose of Jericho) prominently recalls the incident in Shakespeare's historical play which opens the civil wars of the Red and the White Roses; the mention of Henry VIII has paved the way to this reminiscence. Now it is not very far from roses to red and white carnations. (Meanwhile two little rhymes, the one German, the other Spanish, insinuate themselves into the analysis: Rosen, Tulpen, Nelken, alle Blumen welken, 2 and Isabelita, no llores, que se marchitan las flores. 3 The Spanish line occurs in Figaro.) Here in Vienna white carnations have become the badge of the Anti-Semites, red ones of the Social Democrats. Behind this is the recollection of an anti-Semitic challenge during a railway journey in beautiful Saxony (Anglo Saxon). The third scene contributing to the formation of the first situation in the dream dates from my early student days. There was a debate in a German students' club about the relation of philosophy to the general sciences. Being a green youth, full of materialistic doctrines, I thrust myself forward in order to defend an extremely one-sided position. Thereupon a sagacious older fellow — student, who has since then shown his capacity for leading men and organizing the masses, and who, moreover, bears a name belonging to the animal kingdom, rose and gave us a thorough dressing-down; he too, he said, had herded swine in his youth, and had then returned repentant to his father's house. I jumped up (as in the dream), became piggishly rude, and retorted that since I knew he had herded swine, I was not surprised at the tone of his discourse. (In the dream I am surprised at my German Nationalistic feelings.) There was a great commotion, and an almost general demand that I should retract my words, but I stood my ground. The insulted student was too sensible to take the advice which was offered him, that he should send me a challenge, and let the matter drop.
1 This is an error and not a slip, for I learned later that the Emmersdorf in Wachau is not identical with the refuge of the revolutionist Fischof, a place of the same name.
2 Roses, tulips, and carnations, flowers all will wither.
3 Do not cry, little Isabella because your flowers have faded.
The remaining elements of this scene of the dream are of more remote origin. What does it mean that the Count should make a scornful reference to coltsfoot? Here I must question my train of associations. Coltsfoot (German: Huflattich), Lattice (lettuce), Salathund (the dog that grudges others what he cannot eat himself). Here plenty of opprobrious epithets may be discerned: Gir-affe (German: Affe = monkey, ape), pig, sow, dog; I might even arrive, by way of the name, at donkey, and thereby pour contempt upon an academic professor. Furthermore, I translate coltsfoot (Huflattich)- I do not know whether I do so correctly — by pisse-en-lit. I get this idea from Zola's Germinal, in which some children are told to bring some dandelion salad with them. The dog — chien — has a name sounding not unlike the verb for the major function (chier, as pisser stands for the minor one). Now we shall soon have the indecent in all its three physical categories, for in the same Germinal, which deals with the future revolution, there is a description of a very peculiar contest, which relates to the production of the gaseous excretions known as flatus. 1 And now I cannot but observe how the way to this flatus has been prepared a long while since, beginning with the flowers, and proceeding to the Spanish rhyme of Isabelita, to Ferdinand and Isabella, and, by way of Henry VIII, to English history at the time of the Armada, after the victorious termination of which the English struck a medal with the inscription: Flavit et dissipati sunt, for the storm had scattered the Spanish fleet. 2 I had thought of using this phrase, half jestingly, as the title of a chapter on "Therapy," if I should ever succeed in giving a detailed account of my conception and treatment of hysteria.
1 Not in Germinal, but in La Terre — a mistake of which I became aware only in the analysis. Here I would call attention to the identity of letters in Huflattich and Flatus.
2 An unsolicited biographer, Dr. F. Wittels, reproaches me for having omitted the name of Jehovah from the above motto. The English medal contains the name of the Deity, in Hebrew letters, on the background of a cloud, and placed in such a manner that one may equally well regard it as part of the picture or as part of the inscription.
I cannot give so detailed an interpretation of the second scene of the dream, out of sheer regard for the censorship. For at this point I put myself in the place of a certain eminent gentleman of the revolutionary period, who had an adventure with an eagle (German: Adler) and who is said to have suffered from incontinence of the bowels, incontinentia and, etc.; and here I believe that I should not be justified in passing the censorship, even though it was an aulic councillor (aula, consiliarizis aulicus) who told me the greater part of this history. The suite of rooms in the dream is suggested by his Excellency's private saloon carriage, into which I was able to glance; but it means, as it so often does in dreams, a woman. 1 The personality of the housekeeper is an ungrateful allusion to a witty old lady, which ill repays her for the good times and the many good stories which I have enjoyed in her house. The incident of the lamp goes back to Grillparzer, who notes a charming experience of a similar nature, of which he afterwards made use in Hero and Leander (the waves of the sea and of love — the Armada and the storm).
1 Frauenzimmer, German, Zimmer-room, is appended to Frauen-woman, in order to imply a slight contempt. — TR.
I must forego a detailed analysis of the two remaining portions of the dream; I shall single out only those elements which lead me back to the two scenes of my childhood for the sake of which alone I have selected the dream. The reader will rightly assume that it is sexual material which necessitates the suppression; but he may not be content with this explanation. There are many things of which one makes no secret to oneself, but which must be treated as secrets in addressing others, and here we are concerned not with the reasons which induce me to conceal the solution, but with the motive of the inner censorship which conceals the real content of the dream even from myself. Concerning this, I will confess that the analysis reveals these three portions of the dream as impertinent boasting, the exuberance of an absurd megalomania, long ago suppressed in my waking life, which, however, dares to show itself, with individual ramifications, even in the manifest dream-content (it seems to me that I am a cunning fellow), making the high-spirited mood of the evening before the dream perfectly intelligible.
Boasting of every kind, indeed thus, the mention of Graz points to the phrase: "What price Graz?" which one is wont to use when one feels unusually wealthy. Readers who recall Master Rabelais's inimitable description of the life and deeds of Gargantua and his son Pantagruel will be able to enroll even the suggested content of the first portion of the dream among the boasts to which I have alluded. But the following belongs to the two scenes of childhood of which I have spoken: I had bought a new trunk for this journey, the colour of which, a brownish violet, appears in the dream several times (violet-brown violets of a stiff cloth, on an object which is known as a girl-catcher — the furniture in the ministerial chambers). Children, we know, believe that one attracts people's attention with anything new. Now I have been told of the following incident of my childhood; my recollection of the occurrence itself has been replaced by my recollection of the story. I am told that at the age of two I still used occasionally to wet my bed, and that when I was reproved for doing so I consoled my father by promising to buy him a beautiful new red bed in N (the nearest large town). Hence, the interpolation in the dream, that we had bought the urinal in the city or had to buy it; one must keep one's promises. (One should note, moreover, the association of the male urinal and the woman's trunk, box.) All the megalomania of the child is contained in this promise. The significance of dreams of urinary difficulties in the case of children has already been considered in the interpretation of an earlier dream (cf. the dream in chapter V., A.). The psycho-analysis of neurotics has taught us to recognize the intimate connection between wetting the bed and the character trait of ambition.
Then, when I was seven or eight years of age another domestic incident occurred which I remember very well. One evening, before going to bed, I had disregarded the dictates of discretion, and had satisfied my needs in my parents' bedroom, and in their presence. Reprimanding me for this delinquency, my father remarked: "That boy will never amount to anything." This must have been a terrible affront to my ambition, for allusions to this scene recur again and again in my dreams, and are constantly coupled with enumerations of my accomplishments and successes, as though I wanted to say: "You see, I have amounted to something after all." This childish scene furnishes the elements for the last image of the dream, in which the roles are interchanged, of course for the purpose of revenge. The elderly man obviously my father, for the blindness in one eye signifies his one-sided glaucoma, 1 is now urinating before me as I once urinated before him. By means of the glaucoma I remind my father of cocaine, which stood him in good stead during his operation, as though I had thereby fulfilled my promise. Besides, I make sport of him; since he is blind, I must hold the glass in front of him, and I delight in allusions to my knowledge of the theory of hysteria, of which I am proud. 2
1 Another interpretation: He is one-eyed like Odin, the father of the gods — Odin's consolation. The consolation in the childish scene: I will buy him a new bed.
2 Here is some more material for interpretation: Holding the urine-glass recalls the story of a peasant (illiterate) at the optician's, who tried on now one pair of spectacles, now another, but was still unable to read.- (Peasant-catcher — girl-catcher in the preceding portion of the dream.) — The peasants' treatment of the feeble-minded father in Zola's La Terre. — The tragic atonement, that in his last days my father soiled his bed like a child; hence, I am his nurse in the dream. — "Thinking and experiencing are here, as it were, identical"; this recalls a highly revolutionary closet drama by Oscar Panizza, in which God, the Father, is ignominiously treated as a palsied greybeard. With Him will and deed are one, and in the book he has to be restrained by His archangel, a sort of Ganymede, from scolding and swearing, because His curses would immediately be fulfilled. — Making plans is a reproach against my father, dating from a later period in the development of the critical faculty, much as the whole rebellious content of the dream, which commits lese majeste and scorns authority, may be traced to a revolt against my father. The sovereign is called the father of his country (Landesvater), and the father is the first and oldest, and for the child the only authority, from whose absolutism the other social authorities have evolved in the course of the history of human civilization (in so far as mother-right does not necessitate a qualification of this doctrine). — The words which occurred to me in the dream, "thinking and experiencing are the same thing," refer to the explanation of hysterical symptoms with which the male urinal (glass) is also associated. — I need not explain the principle of Gschnas to a Viennese; it consists in constructing objects of rare and costly appearance out of trivial, and preferably comical and worthless material — for example, making suits of armour out of kitchen utensils, wisps of straw and Salzstangeln (long rolls), as our artists are fond of doing at their jolly parties. I had learned that hysterical subjects do the same thing; besides what really happens to them, they unconsciously conceive for themselves horrible or extravagantly fantastic incidents, which they build up out of the most harmless and commonplace material of actual experience. The symptoms attach themselves primarily to these phantasies, not to the memory of real events, whether serious or trivial. This explanation had helped me to overcome many difficulties, and afforded me much pleasure. I was able to allude to it by means of the dream-element "male urine-glass," because I had been told that at the last Gschnas evening a poison-chalice of Lucretia Borgia's had been exhibited, the chief constituent of which had consisted of a glass urinal for men, such as is used in hospitals.
If the two childish scenes of urination are, according to my theory, closely associated with the desire for greatness, their resuscitation on the journey to the Aussee was further favoured by the accidental circumstance that my compartment had no lavatory, and that I must be prepared to postpone relief during the journey, as actually happened in the morning when I woke with the sensation of a bodily need. I suppose one might be inclined to credit this sensation with being the actual stimulus of the dream; I should, however, prefer a different explanation, namely, that the dream- thoughts first gave rise to the desire to urinate. It is quite unusual for me to be disturbed in sleep by any physical need, least of all at the time when I woke on this occasion — a quarter to four in the morning. I would forestall a further objection by remarking that I have hardly ever felt a desire to urinate after waking early on other journeys made under more comfortable circumstances. However, I can leave this point undecided without weakening my argument.
Further, since experience in dream-analysis has drawn my attention to the fact that even from dreams the interpretation of which seems at first sight complete, because the dream-sources and the wish — stimuli are easily demonstrable, important trains of thought proceed which reach back into the earliest years of childhood, I had to ask myself whether this characteristic does not even constitute an essential condition of dreaming. If it were permissible to generalize this notion, I should say that every dream is connected through its manifest content with recent experiences, while through its latent content it is connected with the most remote experiences; and I can actually show in the analysis of hysteria that these remote experiences have in a very real sense remained recent right up to the present. But I still find it very difficult to prove this conjecture; I shall have to return to the probable role in dream-formation of the earliest experiences of our childhood in another connection (chapter VII).
Of the three peculiarities of the dream-memory considered above, one — the preference for the unimportant in the dream-content — has been satisfactorily explained by tracing it back to dream distortion. We have succeeded in establishing the existence of the other two peculiarities — the preferential selection of recent and also of infantile material — but we have found it impossible to derive them from the motives of the dream. Let us keep in mind these two characteristics, which we still have to explain or evaluate; a place will have to be found for them elsewhere, either in the discussion of the psychology of the sleeping state, or in the consideration of the structure of the psychic apparatus — which we shall undertake later after we have seen that by means of dream-interpretation we are able to glance as through an inspection — hole into the interior of this apparatus.
But here and now I will emphasize another result of the last few dream-analyses. The dream often appears to have several meanings; not only may several wish-fulfilments be combined in it, as our examples show, but one meaning or one wish-fulfilment may conceal another. until in the lowest stratum one comes upon the fulfilment of a wish from the earliest period of childhood; and here again it may be questioned whether the word often at the beginning of this sentence may not more correctly be replaced by constantly. 1
1The stratification of the meanings of dreams is one of the most delicate but also one of the most fruitful problems of dream interpretation. Whoever forgets the possibility of such stratification is likely to go astray and to make untenable assertions concerning the nature of dreams. But hitherto this subject has been only too imperfectly investigated. So far, a fairly orderly stratification of symbols in dreams due to urinary stimulus has been subjected to a thorough evaluation only by Otto Rank.
If we attempt to interest a cultured layman in the problems of dreams, and if, with this end in view, we ask him what he believes to be the source of dreams, we shall generally find that he feels quite sure he knows at least this part of the solution. He thinks immediately of the influence exercised on the formation of dreams by a disturbed or impeded digestion ("Dreams come from the stomach"), an accidental position of the body, a trifling occurrence during sleep. He does not seem to suspect that even after all these factors have been duly considered something still remains to be explained.
In the introductory chapter we examined at length the opinion of scientific writers on the role of somatic stimuli in the formation of dreams, so that here we need only recall the results of this inquiry. We have seen that three kinds of somatic stimuli will be distinguished: the objective sensory stimuli which proceed from external objects, the inner states of excitation of the sensory organs, having only a subjective reality, and the bodily stimuli arising within the body; and we have also noticed that the writers on dreams are inclined to thrust into the background any psychic sources of dreams which may operate simultaneously with the somatic stimuli, or to exclude them altogether. In testing the claims made on behalf of these somatic stimuli we have learned that the significance of the objective excitation of the sensory organs — whether accidental stimuli operating during sleep, or such as cannot be excluded from the dormant relation of these dream-images and ideas to the internal bodily stimuli and confirmed by experiment; that the part played by the subjective sensory stimuli appears to be demonstrated by the recurrence of hypnagogic sensory images in dreams; and that, although the broadly accepted relation of these dream-images and ideas to the internal bodily stimuli cannot be exhaustively demonstrated, it is at all events confirmed by the well-known influence which an excited state of the digestive, urinary and sexual organs exercises upon the content of our dreams.
Nerve stimulus and bodily stimulus would thus be the anatomical sources of dreams; that is, according to many writers, the sole and exclusive sources of dreams.
But we have already considered a number of doubtful points, which seem to question not so much the correctness of the somatic theory as its adequacy.
However confident the representatives of this theory may be of its factual basis — especially in respect of the accidental and external nerve stimuli, which may without difficulty be recognized in the dream-content — nevertheless they have all come near to admitting that the rich content of ideas found in dreams cannot be derived from the external nerve-stimuli alone. In this connection Miss Mary Whiton Calkins tested her own dreams, and those of a second person, for a period of six weeks, and found that the element of external sensory perception was demonstrable in only 13.2 per cent and 6.7 percent of these dreams respectively. Only two dreams in the whole collection could be referred to organic sensations. These statistics confirm what a cursory survey of our own experience would already, have led us to suspect.
A distinction has often been made between nerve-stimulus dreams which have already been thoroughly investigated, and other forms of dreams. Spitta, for example, divided dreams into nervestimulus dreams and association-dreams. But it was obvious that this solution remained unsatisfactory unless the link between the somatic sources of dreams and their ideational content could be indicated.
In addition to the first objection, that of the insufficient frequency of the external sources of stimulus, a second objection presents itself, namely, the inadequacy of the explanations of dreams afforded by this category of dream-sources. There are two things which the representatives of this theory have failed to explain: firstly, why the true nature of the external stimulus is not recognized in the dream, but is constantly mistaken for something else; and secondly, why the result of the reaction of the perceiving mind to this misconceived stimulus should be so indeterminate and variable. We have seen that Strumpell, in answer to these questions, asserts that the mind, since it turns away from the outer world during sleep, is not in a position to give the correct interpretation of the objective sensory stimulus, but is forced to construct illusions on the basis of the indefinite stimulation arriving from many directions. In his own words (Die Natur und Entstehung der Traume, p. 108).
"When by an external or internal nerve-stimulus during sleep a feeling, or a complex of feelings, or any sort of psychic process arises in the mind, and is perceived by the mind, this process calls up from the mind perceptual images belonging to the sphere of the waking experiences, that is to say, earlier perceptions, either unembellished, or with the psychic values appertaining to them. It collects about itself, as it were, a greater or lesser number of such images, from which the impression resulting from the nerve-stimulus receives its psychic value. In this connection it is commonly said, as in ordinary language we say of the waking procedure, that the mind interprets in sleep the impressions of nervous stimuli. The result of this interpretation is the socalled nerve-stimulus dream-that is, a dream the components of which are conditioned by the fact that a nerve-stimulus produces its psychical effect in the life of the mind in accordance with the laws of reproduction."
In all essential points identical with this doctrine is Wundt's statement that the concepts of dreams proceed, at all events for the most part, from sensory stimuli, and especially from the stimuli of general sensation, and are therefore mostly phantastic illusions — probably only to a small extent pure memoryconceptions raised to the condition of hallucinations. To illustrate the relation between dream-content and dream-stimuli which follows from this theory, Strumpell makes use of an excellent simile. It is "as though ten fingers of a person ignorant of music were to stray over the keyboard of an instrument." The implication is that the dream is not a psychic phenomenon, originating from psychic motives, but the result of a physiological stimulus, which expresses itself in psychic symptomatology because the apparatus affected by the stimulus is not capable of any other mode of expression. Upon a similar assumption is based the explanation of obsessions which Meynert attempted in his famous simile of the dial on which individual figures are most deeply embossed.
Popular though this theory of the somatic dream-stimuli has become, and seductive though it may seem, it is none the less easy to detect its weak point. Every somatic dream-stimulus which provokes the psychic apparatus in sleep to interpretation by the formation of illusions may evoke an incalculable number of such attempts at interpretation. It may consequently be represented in the dream-content by an extraordinary number of different concepts. 1 But the theory of Strumpell and Wundt cannot point to any sort of motive which controls the relation between the external stimulus and the dream-concept chosen to interpret it, and therefore it cannot explain the "peculiar choice" which the stimuli "often enough make in the course of their productive activity" (Lipps, Grundtatsachen des Seelen-lebens, p. 170). Other objections may be raised against the fundamental assumption behind the theory of illusions — the assumption that during sleep the mind is not in a condition to recognize the real nature of the objective sensory stimuli. The old physiologist Burdach shows us that the mind is quite capable even during sleep of a correct interpretation of the sensory impressions which reach it, and of reacting in accordance with this correct interpretation, inasmuch as he demonstrates that certain sensory impressions which seem important to the individual may be excepted from the general neglect of the sleeping mind (as in the example of nurse and child), and that one is more surely awakened by one's own name than by an indifferent auditory impression; all of which presupposes, of course, that the mind discriminates between sensations, even in sleep. Burdach infers from these observations that we must not assume that the mind is incapable of interpreting sensory stimuli in the sleeping state, but rather that it is not sufficiently interested in them. The arguments which Burdach employed in 1830 reappear unchanged in the works of Lipps (in the year 1883), where they are employed for the purpose of attacking the theory of somatic stimuli. According to these arguments the mind seems to be like the sleeper in the anecdote, who, on being asked, "Are you asleep?" answers "No," and on being again addressed with the words: "Then lend me ten florins," takes refuge in the excuse: "I am asleep."
1 I would advise everyone to read the exact and detailed records (collected in two volumes) of the dreams experimentally produced by Mourly Vold in order to convince himself how little the conditions of the experiments help to explain the content of the individual dream, and how little such experiments help us towards an understanding of the problems of dreams.
The inadequacy of the theory of somatic dream-stimuli may be further demonstrated in another way. Observation shows that external stimuli do not oblige me to dream, even though these stimuli appear in the dream-content as soon as I begin to dream — supposing that I do dream. In response to a touch or pressure stimulus experienced while I am asleep, a variety of reactions are at my disposal. I may overlook it, and find on waking that my leg has become uncovered, or that I have been lying on an arm; indeed, pathology offers me a host of examples of powerfully exciting sensory and motor stimuli of different kinds which remain ineffective during sleep. I may perceive the sensation during sleep, and through my sleep, as it were, as constantly happens in the case of pain stimuli, but without weaving the pain into the texture of a dream. And thirdly, I may wake up in response to the stimulus, simply in order to avoid it. Still another, fourth, reaction is possible: namely, that the nervestimulus may cause me to dream; but the other possible reactions occur quite as frequently as the reaction of dream-formation. This, however, would not be the case if the incentive to dreaming did not lie outside the somatic dream-sources.
Appreciating the importance of the above-mentioned lacunae in the explanation of dreams by somatic stimuli, other writers — Scherner, for example, and, following him, the philosopher Volkelt — endeavoured to determine more precisely the nature of the psychic activities which cause the many-coloured images of our dreams to proceed from the somatic stimuli, and in so doing they approached the problem of the essential nature of dreams as a problem of psychology, and regarded dreaming as a psychic activity. Scherner not only gave a poetical, vivid and glowing description of the psychic peculiarities which unfold themselves in the course of dream-formation, but he also believed that he had hit upon the principle of the method the mind employs in dealing with the stimuli which are offered to it. The dream, according to Scherner, in the free activity of the phantasy, which has been released from the shackles imposed upon it during the day, strives to represent symbolically the nature of the organ from which the stimulus proceeds. Thus there exists a sort of dream-book, a guide to the interpretation of dreams, by means of which bodily sensations, the conditions of the organs, and states of stimulation, may be inferred from the dream-images. "Thus the image of a cat expressed extreme ill-temper; the image of pale, smooth pastry the nudity of the body. The human body as a whole is pictured by the phantasy of the dream as a house, and the individual organs of the body as parts of the house. In toothache-dreams a vaulted vestibule corresponds to the mouth, and a staircase to the descent from the pharynx to the oesophagus; in the headache-dream a ceiling covered with disgusting toad-like spiders is chosen to denote the upper part of the head." "Many different symbols are employed by our dreams for the same organ: thus the breathing lung finds its symbol in a roaring stove, filled with flames, the heart in empty boxes and baskets, and the bladder in round, bag-shaped or merely hollow objects. It is of particular significance that at the close of the dream the stimulating organ or its function is often represented without disguise and usually on the dreamer's own body. Thus the toothache-dream commonly ends by the dreamer drawing a tooth out of his mouth." It cannot be said that this theory of dream-interpretation has found much favour with other writers. It seems, above all, extravagant; and so Scherner's readers have hesitated to give it even the small amount of credit to which it is, in my opinion, entitled. As will be seen, it tends to a revival of dream-interpretation by means of symbolism, a method employed by the ancients; only the province from which the interpretation is to be derived is restricted to the human body. The lack of a scientifically comprehensible technique of interpretation must seriously limit the applicability of Scherner's theory. Arbitrariness in the interpretation of dreams would appear to be by no means excluded, especially since in this case also a stimulus may be expressed in the dream-content by several representative symbols; thus even Scherner's follower Volkelt was unable to confirm the representation of the body as a house. Another objection is that here again the dream-activity is regarded as a useless and aimless activity of the mind, since, according to this theory, the mind is content with merely forming phantasies around the stimulus with which it is dealing, without even remotely attempting to abolish the stimulus.
Scherner's theory of the symbolization of bodily stimuli by the dream is seriously damaged by yet another objection. These bodily stimuli are present at all times, and it is generally assumed that the mind is more accessible to them during sleep than in the waking state. It is therefore impossible to understand why the mind does not dream continuously all night long, and why it does not dream every night about all the organs. If one attempts to evade this objection by positing the condition that special excitations must proceed from the eye, the ear, the teeth, the bowels, etc., in order to arouse the dream-activity, one is confronted with the difficulty of proving that this increase of stimulation is objective; and proof is possible only in a very few cases. If the dream of flying is a symbolization of the upward and downward motion of the pulmonary lobes, either this dream, as has already been remarked by Strumpell, should be dreamt much oftener, or it should be possible to show that respiration is more active during this dream. Yet a third alternative is possible — and it is the most probable of all — namely, that now and again special motives are operative to direct the attention to the visceral sensations which are constantly present. But this would take us far beyond the scope of Scherner's theory.
The value of Scherner's and Volkelt's disquisitions resides in their calling our attention to a number of characteristics of the dream-content which are in need of explanation, and which seem to promise fresh discoveries. It is quite true that symbolizations of the bodily organs and functions do occur in dreams: for example, that water in a dream often signifies a desire to urinate, that the male genital organ may be represented by an upright staff, or a pillar, etc. With dreams which exhibit a very animated field of vision and brilliant colours, in contrast to the dimness of other dreams, the interpretation that they are "dreams due to visual stimulation" can hardly be dismissed, nor can we dispute the participation of illusion-formation in dreams which contain noise and a medley of voices. A dream like that of Scherner's, that two rows of fair handsome boys stood facing one another on a bridge, attacking one another, and then resuming their positions, until finally the dreamer himself sat down on a bridge and drew a long tooth from his jaw; or a similar dream of Volkelt's, in which two rows of drawers played a part, and which again ended in the extraction of a tooth; dream-formations of this kind, of which both writers relate a great number, forbid our dismissing Scherner's theory as an idle invention without seeking the kernel of truth which may be contained in it. We are therefore confronted with the task of finding a different explanation of the supposed symbolization of the alleged dental stimulus.
Throughout our consideration of the theory of the somatic sources of dreams, I have refrained from urging the argument which arises from our analyses of dreams. If, by a procedure which has not been followed by other writers in their investigation of dreams, we can prove that the dream possesses intrinsic value as psychic action, that a wish supplies the motive of its formation, and that the experiences of the previous day furnish the most obvious material of its content, any other theory of dreams which neglects such an important method of investigation — and accordingly makes the dream appear a useless and enigmatical psychic reaction to somatic stimuli — may be dismissed without special criticism. For in this case there would have to be — and this is highly improbable — two entirely different kinds of dreams, of which only one kind has come under our observation, while the other kind alone has been observed by the earlier investigators. It only remains now to find a place in our theory of dreams for the facts on which the current doctrine of somatic dream-stimuli is based.
We have already taken the first step in this direction in advancing the thesis that the dream-work is under a compulsion to elaborate into a unified whole all the dream-stimuli which are simultaneously present (chapter V., A, above). We have seen that when two or more experiences capable of making an impression on the mind have been left over from the previous day, the wishes that result from them are united into one dream; similarly, that the impressions possessing psychic value and the indifferent experiences of the previous day unite in the dream-material, provided that connecting ideas between the two can be established. Thus the dream appears to be a reaction to everything which is simultaneously present as actual in the sleeping mind. As far as we have hitherto analysed the dreammaterial, we have discovered it to be a collection of psychic remnants and memory-traces, which we were obliged to credit (on account of the preference shown for recent and for infantile material) with a character of psychological actuality, though the nature of this actuality was not at the time determinable. We shall now have little difficulty in predicting what will happen when to these actualities of the memory fresh material in the form of sensations is added during sleep. These stimuli, again, are of importance to the dream because they are actual; they are united with the other psychic actualities to provide the material for dream-formation. To express it in other words, the stimuli which occur during sleep are elaborated into a wish-fulfilment, of which the other components are the psychic remnants of daily experience with which we are already familiar. This combination, however, is not inevitable; we have seen that more than one kind of behaviour toward the physical stimuli received during sleep is possible. Where this combination is effected, a conceptual material for the dream-content has been found which will represent both kinds of dream-sources, the somatic as well as the psychic.
The nature of the dream is not altered when somatic material is added to the psychic dream-sources; it still remains a wish fulfilment, no matter how its expression is determined by the actual material available.
I should like to find room here for a number of peculiarities which are able to modify the significance of external stimuli for the dream. I imagine that a co-operation of individual, physiological and accidental factors, which depend on the circumstances of the moment, determines how one will behave in individual cases of more intensive objective stimulation during sleep; habitual or accidental profundity of sleep, in conjunction with the intensity of the stimulus, will in one case make it possible so to suppress the stimulus that it will not disturb the sleeper, while in another case it will force the sleeper to wake, or will assist the attempt to subdue the stimulus by weaving it into the texture of the dream. In accordance with the multiplicity of these constellations, external objective stimuli will be expressed more rarely or more frequently in the case of one person than in that of another. In my own case. since I am an excellent sleeper, and obstinately refuse to allow myself to be disturbed during sleep on any pretext whatever, this intrusion of external causes of excitation into my dreams is very rare, whereas psychic motives apparently cause me to dream very easily. Indeed, I have noted only a single dream in which an objective, painful source of stimulation is demonstrable, and it will be highly instructive to see what effect the external stimulus had in this particular dream.
I am riding a gray horse, at first timidly and awkwardly, as though I were merely carried along. Then I meet a colleague, P, also on horseback, and dressed in rough frieze; he is sitting erect in the saddle; he calls my attention to something (probably to the fact that I have a very bad seat). Now I begin to feel more and more at ease on the back of my highly intelligent horse; I sit more comfortably, and I find that I am quite at home up here. My saddle is a sort of pad, which completely fills the space between the neck and the rump of the horse. I ride between two vans, and just manage to clear them. After riding up the street for some distance, I turn round and wish to dismount, at first in front of a little open chapel which is built facing on to the street. Then I do really dismount in front of a chapel which stands near the first one; the hotel is in the same street; I might let the horse go there by itself, but I prefer to lead it thither. It seems as though I should be ashamed to arrive there on horseback. In front of the hotel there stands a page-boy, who shows me a note of mine which has been found, and ridicules me on account of it. On the note is written, doubly underlined, "Eat nothing," and then a second sentence (indistinct): something like "Do not work"; at the same time a hazy idea that I am in a strange city, in which I do not work.
It will not at once be apparent that this dream originated under the influence, or rather under the compulsion, of a painstimulus. The day before, however, I had suffered from boils, which made every movement a torture, and at last a boil had grown to the size of an apple at the root of the scrotum, and had caused me the most intolerable pains at every step; a feverish lassitude, lack of appetite, and the hard work which I had nevertheless done during the day, had conspired with the pain to upset me. I was not altogether in a condition to discharge my duties as a physician, but in view of the nature and the location of the malady, it was possible to imagine something else for which I was most of all unfit, namely riding. Now it is this very activity of riding into which I am plunged by the dream; it is the most energetic denial of the pain which imagination could conceive. As a matter of fact, I cannot ride; I do not dream of doing so; I never sat on a horse but once — and then without a saddle — and I did not like it. But in this dream I ride as though I had no boil on the perineum; or rather, I ride, just because I want to have none. To judge from the description, my saddle is the poultice which has enabled me to fall asleep. Probably, being thus comforted, I did not feel anything of my pain during the first few hours of my sleep. Then the painful sensations made themselves felt, and tried to wake me; whereupon the dream came and said to me, soothingly: "Go on sleeping, you are not going to wake! You have no boil, for you are riding on horseback, and with a boil just there no one could ride!" And the dream was successful; the pain was stifled, and I went on sleeping.
But the dream was not satisfied with "suggesting away" the boil by tenaciously holding fast to an idea incompatible with the malady (thus behaving like the hallucinatory insanity of a mother who has lost her child, or of a merchant who has lost his fortune). In addition, the details of the sensation denied and of the image used to suppress it serve the dream also as a means to connect other material actually present in the mind with the situation in the dream, and to give this material representation. I am riding on a gray horse — the colour of the horse exactly corresponds with the pepper-and-salt suit in which I last saw my colleague P in the country. I have been warned that highly seasoned food is the cause of boils, and in any case it is preferable as an aetiological explanation to sugar, which might be thought of in connection with furunculosis. My friend P likes to ride the high horse with me ever since he took my place in the treatment of a female patient, in whose case I had performed great feats (Kuntstucke: in the dream I sit the horse at first sideways, like a trick-rider, Kunstreiter), but who really, like the horse in the story of the Sunday equestrian, led me wherever she wished. Thus the horse comes to be a symbolic representation of a lady patient (in the dream it is highly intelligent). I feel quite at home refers to the position which I occupied in the patient's household until I was replaced by my colleague P. "I thought you were safe in the saddle up there," one of my few wellwishers among the eminent physicians of the city recently said to me, with reference to the same household. And it was a feat to practise psychotherapy for eight to ten hours a day, while suffering such pain, but I know that I cannot continue my peculiarly strenuous work for any length of time without perfect physical health, and the dream is full of dismal allusions to the situation which would result if my illness continued (the note, such as neurasthenics carry and show to their doctors): Do not work, do not eat. On further interpretation I see that the dream activity has succeeded in finding its way from the wish-situation of riding to some very early childish quarrels which must have occurred between myself and a nephew, who is a year older than I, and is now living in England. It has also taken up elements from my journeys in Italy: the street in the dream is built up out of impressions of Verona and Siena. A still deeper interpretation leads to sexual dream-thoughts, and I recall what the dream allusions to that beautiful country were supposed to mean in the dream of a female patient who had never been to Italy (to Italy, German: gen Italien = Genitalien = genitals); at the same time there are references to the house in which I preceded my friend P as physician, and to the place where the boil is located.
In another dream, I was similarly successful in warding off a threatened disturbance of my sleep; this time the threat came from a sensory stimulus. It was only chance, however, that enabled me to discover the connection between the dream and the accidental dream-stimulus, and in this way to understand the dream. One midsummer morning in a Tyrolese mountain resort I woke with the knowledge that I had dreamed: The Pope is dead. I was not able to interpret this short, non-visual dream. I could remember only one possible basis of the dream, namely, that shortly before this the newspapers had reported that His Holiness was slightly indisposed. But in the course of the morning my wife asked me: "Did you hear the dreadful tolling of the church bells this morning?" I had no idea that I had heard it, but now I understood my dream. It was the reaction of my need for sleep to the noise by which the pious Tyroleans were trying to wake me. I avenged myself on them by the conclusion which formed the content of my dream, and continued to sleep, without any further interest in the tolling of the bells.
Among the dreams mentioned in the previous chapters there are several which might serve as examples of the elaboration of so called nerve-stimuli. The dream of drinking in long draughts is such an example; here the somatic stimulus seems to be the sole source of the dream, and the wish arising from the sensation — thirst — the only motive for dreaming. We find much the same thing in other simple dreams, where the somatic stimulus is able of itself to generate a wish. The dream of the sick woman who throws the cooling apparatus from her cheek at night is an instance of an unusual manner of reacting to a pain-stimulus with a wish fulfilment; it seems as though the patient had temporarily succeeded in making herself analgesic, and accompanied this by ascribing her pains to a stranger.
My dream of the three Parcae is obviously a hunger-dream, but it has contrived to shift the need for food right back to the child's longing for its mother's breast, and to use a harmless desire as a mask for a more serious one that cannot venture to express itself so openly. In the dream of Count Thun we were able to see by what paths an accidental physical need was brought into relation with the strongest, but also the most rigorously repressed impulses of the psychic life. And when, as in the case reported by Garnier, the First Consul incorporates the sound of an exploding infernal machine into a dream of battle before it causes him to wake, the true purpose for which alone psychic activity concerns itself with sensations during sleep is revealed with unusual clarity. A young lawyer, who is full of his first great bankruptcy case, and falls asleep in the afternoon, behaves just as the great Napoleon did. He dreams of a certain G. Reich in Hussiatyn, whose acquaintance he has made in connection with the bankruptcy case, but Hussiatyn (German: husten, to cough) forces itself upon his attention still further; he is obliged to wake, only to hear his wife — who is suffering from bronchial catarrh — violently coughing.
Let us compare the dream of Napoleon I— who, incidentally, was an excellent sleeper — with that of the sleepy student, who was awakened by his landlady with the reminder that he had to go to the hospital, and who thereupon dreamt himself into a bed in the hospital, and then slept on, the underlying reasoning being as follows: If I am already in the hospital, I needn't get up to go there. This is obviously a convenience-dream; the sleeper frankly admits to himself his motive in dreaming; but he thereby reveals one of the secrets of dreaming in general. In a certain sense, all dreams are convenience-dreams; they serve the purpose of continuing to sleep instead of waking. The dream is the guardian of sleep, not its disturber. In another place we shall have occasion to justify this conception in respect to the psychic factors that make for waking; but we can already demonstrate its applicability to the objective external stimuli. Either the mind does not concern itself at all with the causes of sensations during sleep, if it is able to carry this attitude through as against the intensity of the stimuli, and their significance, of which it is well aware; or it employs the dream to deny these stimuli; or, thirdly, if it is obliged to recognize the stimuli, it seeks that interpretation of them which will represent the actual sensation as a component of a desired situation which is compatible with sleep. The actual sensation is woven into the dream in order to deprive it of its reality. Napoleon is permitted to go on sleeping; it is only a dream-memory of the thunder of the guns at Arcole which is trying to disturb him. 1
1 The two sources from which I know of this dream do not entirely agree as to its content.
The wish to sleep, to which the conscious ego has adjusted itself, and which (together with the dream-censorship and the "secondary elaboration" to be mentioned later) represents the ego's contribution to the dream, must thus always be taken into account as a motive of dream-formation, and every successful dream is a fulfilment of this wish. The relation of this general, constantly present, and unvarying sleep-wish to the other wishes of which now one and now another is fulfilled by the dreamcontent, will be the subject of later consideration. In the wish to sleep we have discovered a motive capable of supplying the deficiency in the theory of Strumpell and Wundt, and of explaining the perversity and capriciousness of the interpretation of the external stimulus. The correct interpretation, of which the sleeping mind is perfectly capable, would involve active interest, and would require the sleeper to wake; hence, of those interpretations which are possible at all, only such are admitted as are acceptable to the dictatorial censorship of the sleep-wish. The logic of dream situations would run, for example: "It is the nightingale, and not the lark." For if it is the lark, love's night is at an end. From among the interpretations of the stimulus which are thus admissible, that one is selected which can secure the best connection with the wish — impulses that are lying in wait in the mind. Thus everything is definitely determined, and nothing is left to caprice. The misinterpretation is not an illusion, but — if you will — an excuse. Here again, as in substitution by displacement in the service of the dream-censorship, we have an act of deflection of the normal psychic procedure.
If the external nerve-stimuli and the inner bodily stimuli are sufficiently intense to compel psychic attention, they represent — that is, if they result in dreaming at all, and not in waking — a fixed point for dream-formation, a nucleus in the dream-material, for which an appropriate wish-fulfilment is sought, just as (see above) mediating ideas between two psychical dream-stimuli are sought. To this extent it is true of a number of dreams that the somatic element dictates the dream-content. In this extreme case even a wish that is not actually present may be aroused for the purpose of dream-formation. But the dream cannot do otherwise than represent a wish in some situation as fulfilled; it is, as it were, confronted with the task of discovering what wish can be represented as fulfilled by the given sensation. Even if this given material is of a painful or disagreeable character, yet it is not unserviceable for the purposes of dream-formation. The psychic life has at its disposal even wishes whose fulfilment evokes displeasure, which seems a contradiction, but becomes perfectly intelligible if we take into account the presence of two sorts of psychic instance and the censorship that subsists between them.
In the psychic life there exist, as we have seen, repressed wishes, which belong to the first system, and to whose fulfilment the second system is opposed. We do not mean this in a historic sense — that such wishes have once existed and have subsequently been destroyed. The doctrine of repression, which we need in the study of psychoneuroses, asserts that such repressed wishes still exist, but simultaneously with an inhibition which weighs them down. Language has hit upon the truth when it speaks of the suppression (sub-pression, or pushing under) of such impulses. The psychic mechanism which enables such suppressed wishes to force their way to realization is retained in being and in working order. But if it happens that such a suppressed wish is fulfilled, the vanquished inhibition of the second system (which is capable of consciousness) is then expressed as discomfort. And, in order to conclude this argument: If sensations of a disagreeable character which originate from somatic sources are present during sleep, this constellation is utilized by the dreamactivity to procure the fulfilment — with more or less maintenance of the censorship — of an otherwise suppressed wish.
This state of affairs makes possible a certain number of anxiety dreams, while others of these dream-formations which are unfavourable to the wish-theory exhibit a different mechanism. For the anxiety in dreams may of course be of a psychoneurotic character, originating in psycho-sexual excitation, in which case, the anxiety corresponds to repressed libido. Then this anxiety, like the whole anxiety-dream, has the significance of a neurotic symptom, and we stand at the dividing-line where the wish — fulfilling tendency of dreams is frustrated. But in other anxiety — dreams the feeling of anxiety comes from somatic sources (as in the case of persons suffering from pulmonary or cardiac trouble, with occasional difficulty in breathing), and then it is used to help such strongly suppressed wishes to attain fulfilment in a dream, the dreaming of which from psychic motives would have resulted in the same release of anxiety. It is not difficult to reconcile these two apparently contradictory cases. When two psychic formations, an affective inclination and a conceptual content, are intimately connected, either one being actually present will evoke the other, even in a dream; now the anxiety of somatic origin evokes the suppressed conceptual content, now it is the released conceptual content, accompanied by sexual excitement, which causes the release of anxiety. In the one case, it may be said that a somatically determined affect is psychically interpreted; in the other case, all is of psychic origin, but the content which has been suppressed is easily replaced by a somatic interpretation which fits the anxiety. The difficulties which lie in the way of understanding all this have little to do with dreams; they are due to the fact that in discussing these points we are touching upon the problems of the development of anxiety and of repression.
The general aggregate of bodily sensation must undoubtedly be included among the dominant dream-stimuli of internal bodily origin. Not that it is capable of supplying the dream-content; but it forces the dream-thoughts to make a choice from the material destined to serve the purpose of representation in the dream-content, inasmuch as it brings within easy reach that part of the material which is adapted to its own character, and holds the rest at a distance. Moreover, this general feeling, which survives from the preceding day, is of course connected with the psychic residues that are significant for the dream. Moreover, this feeling itself may be either maintained or overcome in the dream, so that it may, if it is painful, veer round into its opposite.
If the somatic sources of excitation during sleep — that is, the sensations of sleep — are not of unusual intensity, the part which they play in dream-formation is, in my judgment, similar to that of those impressions of the day which are still recent, but of no great significance. I mean that they are utilized for the dream formation if they are of such a kind that they can be united with the conceptual content of the psychic dream-source, but not otherwise. They are treated as a cheap ever-ready material, which can be used whenever it is needed, and not as valuable material which itself prescribes the manner in which it must be utilized. I might suggest the analogy of a connoisseur giving an artist a rare stone, a piece of onyx, for example, in order that it may be fashioned into a work of art. Here the size of the stone, its colour, and its markings help to decide what head or what scene shall be represented; while if he is dealing with a uniform and abundant material such as marble or sandstone, the artist is guided only by the idea which takes shape in his mind. Only in this way, it seems to me, can we explain the fact that the dreamcontent furnished by physical stimuli of somatic origin which are not unusually accentuated does not make its appearance in all dreams and every night. 1
1 Rank has shown, in a number of studies, that certain awakening dreams provoked by organic stimuli (dreams of urination and ejaculation) are especially calculated to demonstrate the conflict between the need for sleep and the demands of the organic need, as well as the influence of the latter on the dreamcontent.
Perhaps an example which takes us back to the interpretation of dreams will best illustrate my meaning. One day I was trying to understand the significance of the sensation of being inhibited, of not being able to move from the spot, of not being able to get something done, etc., which occurs so frequently in dreams, and is so closely allied to anxiety. That night I had the following dream: I am very incompletely dressed, and I go from a flat on the ground- floor up a flight of stairs to an upper story. In doing this I jump up three stairs at a time, and I am glad to find that I can mount the stairs so quickly. Suddenly I notice that a servant-maid is coming down the stairs — that is, towards me. I am ashamed, and try to hurry away, and now comes this feeling of being inhibited; I am glued to the stairs, and cannot move from the spot.
Analysis: The situation of the dream is taken from an every-day reality. In a house in Vienna I have two apartments, which are connected only by the main staircase. My consultation-rooms and my study are on the raised ground-floor, and my living-rooms are on the first floor. Late at night, when I have finished my work downstairs, I go upstairs to my bedroom. On the evening before the dream I had actually gone this short distance with my garments in disarray — that is, I had taken off my collar, tie and cuffs; but in the dream this had changed into a more advanced, but, as usual, indefinite degree of undress. It is a habit of mine to run up two or three steps at a time; moreover, there was a wish-fulfilment recognized even in the dream, for the ease with which I run upstairs reassures me as to the condition of my heart. Further, the manner in which I run upstairs is an effective contrast to the sensation of being inhibited, which occurs in the second half of the dream. It shows me — what needed no proof — that dreams have no difficulty in representing motor actions fully and completely carried out; think, for example, of flying in dreams!
But the stairs up which I go are not those of my own house; at first I do not recognize them; only the person coming towards me informs me of their whereabouts. This woman is the maid of an old lady whom I visit twice daily in order to give her hypodermic injections; the stairs, too, are precisely similar to those which I have to climb twice a day in this old lady's house.
How do these stairs and this woman get into my dream? The shame of not being fully dressed is undoubtedly of a sexual character; the servant of whom I dream is older than I, surly, and by no means attractive. These questions remind me of the following incident: When I pay my morning visit at this house I am usually seized with a desire to clear my throat; the sputum falls on the stairs. There is no spittoon on either of the two floors, and I consider that the stairs should be kept clean not at my expense, but rather by the provision of a spittoon. The housekeeper, another elderly, curmudgeonly person, but, as I willingly admit, a woman of cleanly instincts, takes a different view of the matter. She lies in wait for me, to see whether I shall take the liberty referred to, and, if she sees that I do, I can distinctly hear her growl. For days thereafter, when we meet she refuses to greet me with the customary signs of respect. On the day before the dream the housekeeper's attitude was reinforced by that of the maid. I had just furnished my usual hurried visit to the patient when the servant confronted me in the ante-room, observing: "You might as well have wiped your shoes today, doctor, before you came into the room. The red carpet is all dirty again from your feet." This is the only justification for the appearance of the stairs and the maid in my dream.
Between my leaping upstairs and my spitting on the stairs there is an intimate connection. Pharyngitis and cardiac troubles are both supposed to be punishments for the vice of smoking, on account of which vice my own housekeeper does not credit me with excessive tidiness, so that my reputation suffers in both the houses which my dream fuses into one.
I must postpone the further interpretation of this dream until I can indicate the origin of the typical dream of being incompletely clothed. In the meantime, as a provisional deduction from the dream just related, I note that the dream-sensation of inhibited movement is always aroused at a point where a certain connection requires it. A peculiar condition of my motor system during sleep cannot be responsible for this dream-content, since a moment earlier I found myself, as though in confirmation of this fact, skipping lightly up the stairs.
Generally speaking, we are not in a position to interpret another person's dream if he is unwilling to furnish us with the unconscious thoughts which lie behind the dream-content, and for this reason the practical applicability of our method of dream-interpretation is often seriously restricted. 1 But there are dreams which exhibit a complete contrast to the individual's customary liberty to endow his dream-world with a special individuality, thereby making it inaccessible to an alien understanding: there are a number of dreams which almost every one has dreamed in the same manner, and of which we are accustomed to assume that they have the same significance in the case of every dreamer. A peculiar interest attaches to these typical dreams, because, no matter who dreams them, they presumably all derive from the same sources, so that they would seem to be particularly fitted to provide us with information as to the sources of dreams.
1 The statement that our method of dream-interpretation is inapplicable when we have not at our disposal the dreamer's association-material must be qualified. In one case our work of interpretation is independent of these associations: namely, when the dreamer make use of symbolic elements in his dream. We then employ what is, strictly speaking, a second auxiliary method of dream-interpretation. (See below).
With quite special expectations, therefore, we shall proceed to test our technique of dream-interpretation on these typical dreams, and only with extreme reluctance shall we admit that precisely in respect of this material our method is not fully verified. In the interpretation of typical dreams we as a rule fail to obtain those associations from the dreamer which in other cases have led us to comprehension of the dream, or else these associations are confused and inadequate, so that they do not help us to solve our problem.
Why this is the case, and how we can remedy this defect in our technique, are points which will be discussed in a later chapter. The reader will then understand why I can deal with only a few of the group of typical dreams in this chapter, and why I have postponed the discussion of the others.
In a dream in which one is naked or scantily clad in the presence of strangers, it sometimes happens that one is not in the least ashamed of one's condition. But the dream of nakedness demands our attention only when shame and embarrassment are felt in it, when one wishes to escape or to hide, and when one feels the strange inhibition of being unable to stir from the spot, and of being utterly powerless to alter the painful situation. It is only in this connection that the dream is typical; otherwise the nucleus of its content may be involved in all sorts of other connections, or may be replaced by individual amplifications. The essential point is that one has a painful feeling of shame, and is anxious to hide one's nakedness, usually by means of locomotion, but is absolutely unable to do so. I believe that the great majority of my readers will at some time have found themselves in this situation in a dream.
The nature and manner of the exposure is usually rather vague. The dreamer will say, perhaps, "I was in my chemise," but this is rarely a clear image; in most cases the lack of clothing is so indeterminate that it is described in narrating the dream by an alternative: "I was in my chemise or my petticoat." As a rule the deficiency in clothing is not serious enough to justify the feeling of shame attached to it. For a man who has served in the army, nakedness is often replaced by a manner of dressing that is contrary to regulations. "I was in the street without my sabre, and I saw some officers approaching," or "I had no collar," or "I was wearing checked civilian trousers," etc.
The persons before whom one is ashamed are almost always strangers, whose faces remain indeterminate. It never happens, in the typical dream, that one is reproved or even noticed on account of the lack of clothing which causes one such embarrassment. On the contrary, the people in the dream appear to be quite indifferent; or, as I was able to note in one particularly vivid dream, they have stiff and solemn expressions. This gives us food for thought.
The dreamer's embarrassment and the spectator's indifference constitute a contradition such as often occurs in dreams. It would be more in keeping with the dreamer's feelings if the strangers were to look at him in astonishment, or were to laugh at him, or be outraged. I think, however, that this obnoxious feature has been displaced by wish-fulfilment, while the embarrassment is for some reason retained, so that the two components are not in agreement. We have an interesting proof that the dream which is partially distorted by wish-fulfilment has not been properly understood; for it has been made the basis of a fairy-tale familiar to us all in Andersen's version of The Emperor's New Clothes, and it has more recently received poetical treatment by Fulda in The Talisman. In Andersen's fairy-tale we are told of two impostors who weave a costly garment for the Emperor, which shall, however, be visible only to the good and true. The Emperor goes forth clad to this invisible garment, and since the imaginary fabric serves as a sort of touchstone, the people are frightened into behaving as though they did not notice the Emperor's nakedness.
But this is really the situation in our dream. It is not very venturesome to assume that the unintelligible dream-content has provided an incentive to invent a state of undress which gives meaning to the situation present in the memory. This situation is thereby robbed of its original meaning, and made to serve alien ends. But we shall see that such a misunderstanding of the dream-content often occurs through the conscious activity of a second psychic system, and is to be recognized as a factor of the final form of the dream; and further, that in the development of obsessions and phobias similar misunderstandings — still, of course, within the same psychic personality — play a decisive part. It is even possible to specify whence the material for the fresh interpretation of the dream is taken. The impostor is the dream, the Emperor is the dreamer himself, and the moralizing tendency betrays a hazy knowledge of the fact that there is a question, in the latent dream-content, of forbidden wishes, victims of repression. The connection in which such dreams appear during my analysis of neurotics proves beyond a doubt that a memory of the dreamer's earliest childhood lies at the foundation of the dream. Only in our childhood was there a time when we were seen by our relatives, as well as by strange nurses, servants and visitors, in a state of insufficient clothing, and at that time we were not ashamed of our nakedness. 1 In the case of many rather older children it may be observed that being undressed has an exciting effect upon them, instead of making them feel ashamed. They laugh, leap about, slap or thump their own bodies; the mother, or whoever is present, scolds them, saying: "Fie, that is shameful — you mustn't do that!" Children often show a desire to display themselves; it is hardly possible to pass through a village in country districts without meeting a two-or three-year-old child who lifts up his or her blouse or frock before the traveller, possibly in his honour. One of my patients has retained in his conscious memory a scene from his eighth year, in which, after undressing for bed, he wanted to dance into his little sister's room in his shirt, but was prevented by the servant. In the history of the childhood of neurotics, exposure before children of the opposite sex plays a prominent part; in paranoia, the delusion of being observed while dressing and undressing may be directly traced to these experiences; and among those who have remained perverse, there is a class in whom the childish impulse is accentuated into a symptom: the class of exhibitionists.
1 The child appears in the fairy-tale also, for there a little child suddenly cries out: "But he hasn't anything on at all!"
This age of childhood, in which the sense of shame is unknown, seems a paradise when we look back upon it later, and paradise itself is nothing but the mass-phantasy of the childhood of the individual. This is why in paradise men are naked and unashamed, until the moment arrives when shame and fear awaken; expulsion follows, and sexual life and cultural development begin. Into this paradise dreams can take us back every night; we have already ventured the conjecture that the impressions of our earliest childhood (from the prehistoric period until about the end of the third year) crave reproduction for their own sake, perhaps without further reference to their content, so that their repetition is a wish-fulfilment. Dreams of nakedness, then, are exhibition-dreams. 1
1 Ferenczi has recorded a number of interesting dreams of nakedness in women which were without difficulty traced to the infantile delight in exhibitionism, but which differ in many features from the typical dream of nakedness discussed above.
The nucleus of an exhibition-dream is furnished by one's own person, which is seen not as that of a child, but as it exists in the present, and by the idea of scanty clothing which emerges indistinctly, owing to the superimposition of so many later situations of being partially clothed, or out of consideration for the censorship; to these elements are added the persons in whose presence one is ashamed. I know of no example in which the actual spectators of these infantile exhibitions reappear in a dream; for a dream is hardly ever a simple recollection. Strangely enough, those persons who are the objects of our sexual interest in childhood are omitted from all reproductions, in dreams, in hysteria or in obsessional neurosis; paranoia alone restores the spectators, and is fanatically convinced of their presence, although they remain unseen. The substitute for these persons offered by the dream, the number of strangers who take no notice of the spectacle offered them, is precisely the counter — wish to that single intimately-known person for whom the exposure was intended. "A number of strangers," moreover, often occur in dreams in all sorts of other connections; as a counter-wish they always signify a secret. 1 It will be seen that even that restitution of the old state of affairs that occurs in paranoia complies with this counter-tendency. One is no longer alone; one is quite positively being watched; but the spectators are a number of strange, curiously indeterminate people.
1 For obvious reasons the presence of the whole family in the dream has the same significance.
Furthermore, repression finds a place in the exhibition-dream. For the disagreeable sensation of the dream is, of course, the reaction on the part of the second psychic instance to the fact that the exhibitionistic scene which has been condemned by the censorship has nevertheless succeeded in presenting itself. The only way to avoid this sensation would be to refrain from reviving the scene.
In a later chapter we shall deal once again with the feeling of inhibition. In our dreams it represents to perfection a conflict of the will, a denial. According to our unconscious purpose, the exhibition is to proceed; according to the demands of the censorship, it is to come to an end.
The relation of our typical dreams to fairy-tales and other fiction and poetry is neither sporadic nor accidental. Sometimes the penetrating insight of the poet has analytically recognized the process of transformation of which the poet is otherwise the instrument, and has followed it up in the reverse direction; that is to say, has traced a poem to a dream. A friend has called my attention to the following passage in G. Keller's Der Grune Heinrich: "I do not wish, dear Lee, that you should ever come to realize from experience the exquisite and piquant truth in the situation of Odysseus, when he appears, naked and covered with mud, before Nausicaa and her playmates! Would you like to know what it means? Let us for a moment consider the incident closely. If you are ever parted from your home, and from all that is dear to you, and wander about in a strange country; if you have seen much and experienced much; if you have cares and sorrows, and are, perhaps, utterly wretched and forlorn, you will some night inevitably dream that you are approaching your home; you will see it shining and glittering in the loveliest colours; lovely and gracious figures will come to meet you; and then you will suddenly discover that you are ragged, naked, and covered with dust. An indescribable feeling of shame and fear overcomes you; you try to cover yourself, to hide, and you wake up bathed in sweat. As long as humanity exists, this will be the dream of the care-laden, tempest-tossed man, and thus Homer has drawn this situation from the profoundest depths of the eternal nature of humanity."
What are the profoundest depths of the eternal nature of humanity, which the poet commonly hopes to awaken in his listeners, but these stirrings of the psychic life which are rooted in that age of childhood, which subsequently becomes prehistoric? Childish wishes, now suppressed and forbidden, break into the dream behind the unobjectionable and permissibly conscious wishes of the homeless man, and it is for this reason that the dream which is objectified in the legend of Nausicaa regularly develops into an anxiety-dream.
My own dream of hurrying upstairs, which presently changed into being glued to the stairs, is likewise an exhibition-dream, for it reveals the essential ingredients of such a dream. It must therefore be possible to trace it back to experiences in my childhood, and the knowledge of these should enable us to conclude how far the servant's behaviour to me (i.e., her reproach that I had soiled the carpet) helped her to secure the position which she occupies in the dream. Now I am actually able to furnish the desired explanation. One learns in a psycho — analysis to interpret temporal proximity by material connection; two ideas which are apparently without connection, but which occur in immediate succession, belong to a unity which has to be deciphered; just as an a and a b, when written in succession, must be pronounced as one syllable, ab. It is just the same with the interrelations of dreams. The dream of the stairs has been taken from a series of dreams with whose other members I am familiar, having interpreted them. A dream included in this series must belong to the same context. Now, the other dreams of the series are based on the memory of a nurse to whom I was entrusted for a season, from the time when I was still at the breast to the age of two and a half, and of whom a hazy recollection has remained in my consciousness. According to information which I recently obtained from my mother, she was old and ugly, but very intelligent and thorough; according to the inferences which I am justified in drawing from my dreams, she did not always treat me quite kindly, but spoke harshly to me when I showed insufficient understanding of the necessity for cleanliness. Inasmuch as the maid endeavoured to continue my education in this respect, she is entitled to be treated, in my dream, as an incarnation of the prehistoric old woman. It is to be assumed, of course, that the child was fond of his teacher in spite of her harsh behaviour. 1
1 A supplementary interpretation of this dream: To spit (spucken) on the stairs, since spuken (to haunt) is the occupation of spirits (cf. English, "spook"), led me by a free translation to espirit d'escalier. "Stairwit" means unreadiness at repartee, (Schlagfertigkeit = literally: "readiness to hit out") with which I really have to reproach myself. But was the nurse deficient in Schlagfertigkeit?
Another series of dreams which may be called typical are those whose content is that a beloved relative, a parent, brother, sister, child, or the like, has died. We must at once distinguish two classes of such dreams: those in which the dreamer remains unmoved, and those in which he feels profoundly grieved by the death of the beloved person, even expressing this grief by shedding tears in his sleep.
We may ignore the dreams of the first group; they have no claim to be reckoned as typical. If they are analysed, it is found that they signify something that is not contained in them, that they are intended to mask another wish of some kind. This is the case in the dream of the aunt who sees the only son of her sister lying on a bier (chapter IV). The dream does not mean that she desires the death of her little nephew; as we have learned, it merely conceals the wish to see a certain beloved person again after a long separation — the same person whom she had seen after as long an interval at the funeral of another nephew. This wish, which is the real content of the dream, gives no cause for sorrow, and for that reason no sorrow is felt in the dream. We see here that the feeling contained in the dream does not belong to the manifest, but to the latent dream-content, and that the affective content has remained free from the distortion which has befallen the conceptual content.
It is otherwise with those dreams in which the death of a beloved relative is imagined, and in which a painful affect is felt. These signify, as their content tells us, the wish that the person in question might die; and since I may here expect that the feelings of all my readers and of all who have had such dreams will lead them to reject my explanation, I must endeavour to rest my proof on the broadest possible basis.
We have already cited a dream from which we could see that the wishes represented as fulfilled in dreams are not always current wishes. They may also be bygone, discarded, buried and repressed wishes, which we must nevertheless credit with a sort of continued existence, merely on account of their reappearance in a dream. They are not dead, like persons who have died, in the sense that we know death, but are rather like the shades in the Odyssey which awaken to a certain degree of life so soon as they have drunk blood. The dream of the dead child in the box (chapter IV) contained a wish that had been present fifteen years earlier, and which had at that time been frankly admitted as real. Further- and this, perhaps, is not unimportant from the standpoint of the theory of dreams — a recollection from the dreamer's earliest childhood was at the root of this wish also. When the dreamer was a little child — but exactly when cannot be definitely determined — she heard that her mother, during the pregnancy of which she was the outcome, had fallen into a profound emotional depression, and had passionately wished for the death of the child in her womb. Having herself grown up and become pregnant, she was only following the example of her mother.
If anyone dreams that his father or mother, his brother or sister, has died, and his dream expresses grief, I should never adduce this as proof that he wishes any of them dead now. The theory of dreams does not go as far as to require this; it is satisfied with concluding that the dreamer has wished them dead at some time or other during his childhood. I fear, however, that this limitation will not go far to appease my critics; probably they will just as energetically deny the possibility that they ever had such thoughts, as they protest that they do not harbour them now. I must, therefore, reconstruct a portion of the submerged infantile psychology on the basis of the evidence of the present. 1
1 Cf. also "Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-year-old Boy," Collected Papers, III; and "On the Sexual Theories of Children," Ibid., II.
Let us first of all consider the relation of children to their brothers and sisters. I do not know why we presuppose that it must be a loving one, since examples of enmity among adult brothers and sisters are frequent in everyone's experience, and since we are so often able to verify the fact that this estrangement originated during childhood, or has always existed. Moreover, many adults who today are devoted to their brothers and sisters, and support them in adversity, lived with them in almost continuous enmity during their childhood. The elder child ill — treated the younger, slandered him, and robbed him of his toys; the younger was consumed with helpless fury against the elder, envied and feared him, or his earliest impulse toward liberty and his first revolt against injustice were directed against his oppressor. The parents say that the children do not agree, and cannot find the reason for it. It is not difficult to see that the character even of a well-behaved child is not the character we should wish to find in an adult. A child is absolutely egoistical; he feels his wants acutely, and strives remorselessly to satisfy them, especially against his competitors, other children, and first of all against his brothers and sisters. And yet we do not on that account call a child wicked — we call him naughty; he is not responsible for his misdeeds, either in our own judgment or in the eyes of the law. And this is as it should be; for we may expect that within the very period of life which we reckon as childhood, altruistic impulses and morality will awake in the little egoist, and that, in the words of Meynert, a secondary ego will overlay and inhibit the primary ego. Morality, of course, does not develop simultaneously in all its departments, and furthermore, the duration of the amoral period of childhood differs in different individuals. Where this morality fails to develop we are prone to speak of degeneration; but here the case is obviously one of arrested development. Where the primary character is already overlaid by the later development it may be at least partially uncovered again by an attack of hysteria. The correspondence between the so-called hysterical character and that of a naughty child is positively striking. The obsessional neurosis, on the other hand, corresponds to a super-morality, which develops as a strong reinforcement against the primary character that is threatening to revive.
Many persons, then, who now love their brothers and sisters, and who would feel bereaved by their death, harbour in their unconscious hostile wishes, survivals from an earlier period, wishes which are able to realize themselves in dreams. It is, however, quite especially interesting to observe the behaviour of little children up to their third and fourth year towards their younger brothers or sisters. So far the child has been the only one; now he is informed that the stork has brought a new baby. The child inspects the new arrival, and expresses his opinion with decision: "The stork had better take it back again!" 1
1 Hans, whose phobia was the subject of the analysis in the above — mentioned publication, cried out at the age of three and a half, while feverish, shortly after the birth of a sister: "But I don't want to have a little sister." In his neurosis, eighteen months later, he frankly confessed the wish that his mother should drop the child into the bath while bathing it, in order that it might die. With all this, Hans was a good-natured, affectionate child, who soon became fond of his sister, and took her under his special protection.
I seriously declare it as my opinion that a child is able to estimate the disadvantages which he has to expect on account of a new-comer. A connection of mine, who now gets on very well with a sister, who is four years her junior, responded to the news of this sister's arrival with the reservation: "But I shan't give her my red cap, anyhow." If the child should come to realize only at a later stage that its happiness may be prejudiced by a younger brother or sister, its enmity will be aroused at this period. I know of a case where a girl, not three years of age, tried to strangle an infant in its cradle, because she suspected that its continued presence boded her no good. Children at this time of life are capable of a jealousy that is perfectly evident and extremely intense. Again, perhaps the little brother or sister really soon disappears, and the child once more draws to himself the whole affection of the household; then a new child is sent by the stork; is it not natural that the favourite should conceive the wish that the new rival may meet the same fate as the earlier one, in order that he may be as happy as he was before the birth of the first child, and during the interval after his death? 1 Of course, this attitude of the child towards the younger brother or sister is, under normal circumstances, a mere function of the difference of age. After a certain interval the maternal instincts of the older girl will be awakened towards the helpless new-born infant.
1 Such cases of death in the experience of children may soon be forgotten in the family, but psycho-analytical investigation shows that they are very significant for a later neurosis.
Feelings of hostility towards brothers and sisters must occur far more frequently in children than is observed by their obtuse elders. 1
1 Since the above was written, a great many observations relating to the originally hostile attitude of children toward their brothers and sisters, and toward one of their parents, have been recorded in the literature of psycho-analysis. One writer, Spitteler, gives the following peculiarly sincere and ingenious description of this typical childish attitude as he experienced it in his earliest childhood: "Moreover, there was now a second Adolf. A little creature whom they declared was my brother, but I could not understand what he could be for, or why they should pretend he was a being like myself. I was sufficient unto myself: what did I want with a brother? And he was not only useless, he was also even troublesome. When I plagued my grandmother, he too wanted to plague her; when I was wheeled about in the baby — carriage he sat opposite me, and took up half the room, so that we could not help kicking one another."
In the case of my own children, who followed one another rapidly, I missed the opportunity of making such observations, I am now retrieving it, thanks to my little nephew, whose undisputed domination was disturbed after fifteen months by the arrival of a feminine rival. I hear, it is true, that the young man behaves very chivalrously toward his little sister, that he kisses her hand and strokes her; but in spite of this I have convinced myself that even before the completion of his second year he is using his new command of language to criticize this person, who, to him, after all, seems superfluous. Whenever the conversation turns upon her he chimes in, and cries angrily: "Too (l)ittle, too (l)ittle!" During the last few months, since the child has outgrown this disparagement, owing to her splendid development, he has found another reason for his insistence that she does not deserve so much attention. He reminds us, on every suitable pretext: "She hasn't any teeth." 1 We all of us recollect the case of the eldest daughter of another sister of mine. The child, who was then six years of age, spent a full half-hour in going from one aunt to another with the question: "Lucie can't understand that yet, can she?" Lucie was her rival — two and a half years younger.
1 The three-and-a-half-year-old Hans embodied his devastating criticism of his little sister in these identical words (loc. cit.). He assumed that she was unable to speak on account of her lack of teeth.
I have never failed to come across this dream of the death of brothers or sisters, denoting an intense hostility, e.g., I have met it in all my female patients. I have met with only one exception, which could easily be interpreted into a confirmation of the rule. Once, in the course of a sitting, when I was explaining this state of affairs to a female patient, since it seemed to have some bearing on the symptoms under consideration that day, she answered, to my astonishment, that she had never had such dreams. But another dream occurred to her, which presumably had nothing to do with the case — a dream which she had first dreamed at the age of four, when she was the youngest child, and had since then dreamed repeatedly. "A number of children, all her brothers and sisters with her boy and girl cousins, were romping about in a meadow. Suddenly they all grew wings, flew up, and were gone." She had no idea of the significance of this dream; but we can hardly fail to recognize it as a dream of the death of all the brothers and sisters, in its original form, and but little influenced by the censorship. I will venture to add the following analysis of it: on the death of one out of this large number of children — in this case the children of two brothers were brought up together as brothers and sisters — would not our dreamer, at that time not yet four years of age, have asked some wise, grown-up person: "What becomes of children when they are dead?" The answer would probably have been: "They grow wings and become angels." After this explanation. all the brothers and sisters and cousins in the dream now have wings, like angels and- this is the important point — they fly away. Our little angel-maker is left alone: just think, the only one out of such a crowd! That the children romp about a meadow, from which they fly away, points almost certainly to butterflies — it is as though the child had been influenced by the same association of ideas which led the ancients to imagine Psyche, the soul, with the wings of a butterfly.
Perhaps some readers will now object that the inimical impulses of children toward their brothers and sisters may perhaps be admitted, but how does the childish character arrive at such heights of wickedness as to desire the death of a rival or a stronger playmate, as though all misdeeds could be atoned for only by death? Those who speak in this fashion forget that the child's idea of being dead has little but the word in common with our own. The child knows nothing of the horrors of decay, of shivering in the cold grave, of the terror of the infinite Nothing, the thought of which the adult, as all the myths of the hereafter testify, finds so intolerable. The fear of death is alien to the child; and so he plays with the horrid word, and threatens another child: "If you do that again, you will die, just like Francis died"; at which the poor mother shudders, unable perhaps to forget that the greater proportion of mortals do not survive beyond the years of childhood. Even at the age of eight, a child returning from a visit to a natural history museum may say to her mother: "Mamma, I do love you so; if you ever die, I am going to have you stuffed and set you up here in the room, so that I can always, always see you!" So different from our own is the childish conception of being dead. 1
1 To my astonishment, I was told that a highly intelligent boy of ten, after the sudden death of his father, said: "I understand that father is dead, but I can't see why he does not come home to supper." Further material relating to this subject will be found in the section "Kinderseele," edited by Frau Dr. von HugHellmuth, in Imago Vol. i-v, 1912-18.
Being dead means, for the child, who has been spared the sight of the suffering that precedes death, much the same as being gone, and ceasing to annoy the survivors. The child does not distinguish the means by which this absence is brought about, whether by distance, or estrangement, or death. 1 If, during the child's prehistoric years, a nurse has been dismissed, and if his mother dies a little while later, the two experiences, as we discover by analysis, form links of a chain in his memory. The fact that the child does not very intensely miss those who are absent has been realized, to her sorrow, by many a mother, when she has returned home from an absence of several weeks, and has been told, upon inquiry: "The children have not asked for their mother once." But if she really departs to "that undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller returns," the children seem at first to have forgotten her, and only subsequently do they begin to remember their dead mother.
1 The observation of a father trained in psycho-analysis was able to detect the very moment when his very intelligent little daughter, age four, realized the difference between being away and being dead. The child was being troublesome at table, and noted that one of the waitresses in the pension was looking at her with an expression of annoyance. "Josephine ought to be dead," she thereupon remarked to her father. "But why dead?" asked the father, soothingly. "Wouldn't it be enough if she went away?" "No," replied the child, "then she would come back again." To the uncurbed self-love (narcissism) of the child, every inconvenience constitutes the crime of lese majeste, and, as in the Draconian code, the child's feelings prescribe for all such crimes the one invariable punishment.
While, therefore, the child has its motives for desiring the absence of another child, it is lacking in all those restraints which would prevent it from clothing this wish in the form of a death-wish; and the psychic reaction to dreams of a death-wish proves that, in spite of all the differences of content, the wish in the case of the child is after all identical with the corresponding wish in an adult.
If, then, the death-wish of a child in respect of his brothers and sisters is explained by his childish egoism, which makes him regard his brothers and sisters as rivals, how are we to account for the same wish in respect of his parents, who bestow their love on him, and satisfy his needs, and whose preservation he ought to desire for these very egoistical reasons?
Towards a solution of this difficulty we may be guided by our knowledge that the very great majority of dreams of the death of a parent refer to the parent of the same sex as the dreamer, so that a man generally dreams of the death of his father, and a woman of the death of her mother. I do not claim that this happens constantly; but that it happens in a great majority of cases is so evident that it requires explanation by some factor of general significance. 1 Broadly speaking, it is as though a sexual preference made itself felt at an early age, as though the boy regarded his father, and the girl her mother, as a rival in love — by whose removal he or she could but profit.
1 The situation is frequently disguised by the intervention of a tendency to punishment, which, in the form of a moral reaction, threatens the loss of the beloved parent.
Before rejecting this idea as monstrous, let the reader again consider the actual relations between parents and children. We must distinguish between the traditional standard of conduct, the filial piety expected in this relation, and what daily observation shows us to be the fact. More than one occasion for enmity lies hidden amidst the relations of parents and children; conditions are present in the greatest abundance under which wishes which cannot pass the censorship are bound to arise. Let us first consider the relation between father and son. In my opinion the sanctity with which we have endorsed the injunctions of the Decalogue dulls our perception of the reality. Perhaps we hardly dare permit ourselves to perceive that the greater part of humanity neglects to obey the fifth commandment. In the lowest as well as in the highest strata of human society, filial piety towards parents is wont to recede before other interests. The obscure legends which have been handed down to us from the primeval ages of human society in mythology and folklore give a deplorable idea of the despotic power of the father, and the ruthlessness with which it was exercised. Kronos devours his children, as the wild boar devours the litter of the sow; Zeus emasculates his father 1 and takes his place as ruler. The more tyrannically the father ruled in the ancient family, the more surely must the son, as his appointed successor, have assumed the position of an enemy, and the greater must have been his impatience to attain to supremacy through the death of his father. Even in our own middle-class families the father commonly fosters the growth of the germ of hatred which is naturally inherent in the paternal relation, by refusing to allow the son to be a free agent or by denying him the means of becoming so. A physician often has occasion to remark that a son's grief at the loss of his father cannot quench his gratification that he has at last obtained his freedom. Fathers, as a rule, cling desperately to as much of the sadly antiquated potestas patris familias 2 as still survives in our modern society, and the poet who, like Ibsen, puts the immemorial strife between father and son in the foreground of his drama is sure of his effect. The causes of conflict between mother and daughter arise when the daughter grows up and finds herself watched by her mother when she longs for real sexual freedom, while the mother is reminded by the budding beauty of her daughter that for her the time has come to renounce sexual claims.
1 At least in some of the mythological accounts. According to others, emasculation was inflicted only by Kronos on his father Uranos.
With regard to the mythological significance of this motive, cf. Otto Rank's Der Mythus von der Geburt des Helden, in No. v of Schriften zur angew. Seelen-kunde (1909), and Das Inzestmotiv in Dichtung und Sage (1912), chap. ix, 2.
2 Authority of the father.
All these circumstances are obvious to everyone, but they do not help us to explain dreams of the death of their parents in persons for whom filial piety has long since come to be unquestionable. We are, however, prepared by the foregoing discussion to look for the origin of a death-wish in the earliest years of childhood.
In the case of psychoneurotics, analysis confirms this conjecture beyond all doubt. For analysis tells us that the sexual wishes of the child — in so far as they deserve this designation in their nascent state — awaken at a very early age, and that the earliest affection of the girl-child is lavished on the father, while the earliest infantile desires of the boy are directed upon the mother. For the boy the father, and for the girl the mother, becomes an obnoxious rival, and we have already shown, in the case of brothers and sisters, how readily in children this feeling leads to the death-wish. As a general rule, sexual selection soon makes its appearance in the parents; it is a natural tendency for the father to spoil his little daughters, and for the mother to take the part of the sons, while both, so long as the glamour of sex does not prejudice their judgment, are strict in training the children. The child is perfectly conscious of this partiality, and offers resistance to the parent who opposes it. To find love in an adult is for the child not merely the satisfaction of a special need; it means also that the child's will is indulged in all other respects. Thus the child is obeying its own sexual instinct, and at the same time reinforcing the stimulus proceeding from the parents, when its choice between the parents corresponds with their own.
The signs of these infantile tendencies are for the most part over-looked; and yet some of them may be observed even after the early years of childhood. An eight-year-old girl of my acquaintance, whenever her mother is called away from the table, takes advantage of her absence to proclaim herself her successor. "Now I shall be Mamma; Karl, do you want some more vegetables? Have some more, do," etc. A particularly clever and lively little girl, not yet four years of age, in whom this trait of child psychology is unusually transparent, says frankly: "Now mummy can go away; then daddy must marry me, and I will be his wife." Nor does this wish by any means exclude the possibility that the child may most tenderly love its mother. If the little boy is allowed to sleep at his mother's side whenever his father goes on a journey, and if after his father's return he has to go back to the nursery, to a person whom he likes far less, the wish may readily arise that his father might always be absent, so that he might keep his place beside his dear, beautiful mamma; and the father's death is obviously a means for the attainment of this wish; for the child's experience has taught him that dead folks, like grandpapa, for example, are always absent; they never come back.
While such observations of young children readily accommodate themselves to the interpretation suggested, they do not, it is true, carry the complete conviction which is forced upon a physician by the psycho-analysis of adult neurotics. The dreams of neurotic patients are communicated with preliminaries of such a nature that their interpretation as wish-dreams becomes inevitable. One day I find a lady depressed and weeping. She says: "I do not want to see my relatives any more; they must shudder at me." Thereupon, almost without any transition, she tells me that she has remembered a dream, whose significance, of course, she does not understand. She dreamed it when she was four years old, and it was this: A fox or a lynx is walking about the roof; then something falls down, or she falls down, and after that, her mother is carried out of the house — dead; whereat the dreamer weeps bitterly. I have no sooner informed her that this dream must signify a childish wish to see her mother dead, and that it is because of this dream that she thinks that her relatives must shudder at her, than she furnishes material in explanation of the dream. "Lynx-eye" is an opprobrious epithet which a street boy once bestowed on her when she was a very small child; and when she was three years old a brick or tile fell on her mother's head, so that she bled profusely.
I once had occasion to make a thorough study of a young girl who was passing through various psychic states. In the state of frenzied confusion with which her illness began, the patient manifested a quite peculiar aversion for her mother; she struck her and abused her whenever she approached the bed, while at the same period she was affectionate and submissive to a much older sister. Then there followed a lucid but rather apathetic condition, with badly disturbed sleep. It was in this phase that I began to treat her and to analyse her dreams. An enormous number of these dealt, in a more or less veiled fashion, with the death of the girl's mother; now she was present at the funeral of an old woman, now she saw herself and her sister sitting at a table, dressed in mourning; the meaning of the dreams could not be doubted. During her progressive improvement hysterical phobias made their appearance, the most distressing of which was the fear that something had happened to her mother. Wherever she might be at the time, she had then to hurry home in order to convince herself that her mother was still alive. Now this case, considered in conjunction with the rest of my experience. was very instructive; it showed, in polyglot translations, as it were, the different ways in which the psychic apparatus reacts to the same exciting idea. In the state of confusion, which I regard as an overthrow of the second psychic instance by the first instance, at other times suppressed, the unconscious enmity towards the mother gained the upper hand, and found physical expression; then, when the patient became calmer, the insurrection was suppressed, and the domination of the censorship restored, and this enmity had access only to the realms of dreams, in which it realized the wish that the mother might die; and, after the normal condition had been still further strengthened, it created the excessive concern for the mother as a hysterical counter-reaction and defensive phenomenon. In the light of these considerations, it is no longer inexplicable why hysterical girls are so often extravagantly attached to their mothers.
On another occasion I had an opportunity of obtaining a profound insight into the unconscious psychic life of a young man for whom an obsessional neurosis made life almost unendurable, so that he could not go into the streets, because he was tormented by the fear that he would kill everyone he met. He spent his days in contriving evidence of an alibi in case he should be accused of any murder that might have been committed in the city. It goes without saying that this man was as moral as he was highly cultured. The analysis — which, by the way, led to a cure — revealed, as the basis of this distressing obsession, murderous impulses in respect of his rather overstrict father — impulses which, to his astonishment, had consciously expressed themselves when he was seven years old, but which, of course, had originated in a much earlier period of his childhood. After the painful illness and death of his father, when the young man was in his thirty-first year, the obsessive reproach made its appearance, which transferred itself to strangers in the form of this phobia. Anyone capable of wishing to push his own father from a mountain — top into an abyss cannot be trusted to spare the lives of persons less closely related to him; he therefore does well to lock himself into his room.
According to my already extensive experience, parents play a leading part in the infantile psychology of all persons who subsequently become psychoneurotics. Falling in love with one parent and hating the other forms part of the permanent stock of the psychic impulses which arise in early childhood, and are of such importance as the material of the subsequent neurosis. But I do not believe that psychoneurotics are to be sharply distinguished in this respect from other persons who remain normal — that is, I do not believe that they are capable of creating something absolutely new and peculiar to themselves. It is far more probable — and this is confirmed by incidental observations of normal children — that in their amorous or hostile attitude toward their parents, psychoneurotics do no more than reveal to us, by magnification, something that occurs less markedly and intensively in the minds of the majority of children. Antiquity has furnished us with legendary matter which corroborates this belief, and the profound and universal validity of the old legends is explicable only by an equally universal validity of the above-mentioned hypothesis of infantile psychology.
I am referring to the legend of King Oedipus and the Oedipus Rex of Sophocles. Oedipus, the son of Laius, king of Thebes, and Jocasta, is exposed as a suckling, because an oracle had informed the father that his son, who was still unborn, would be his murderer. He is rescued, and grows up as a king's son at a foreign court, until, being uncertain of his origin, he, too, consults the oracle, and is warned to avoid his native place, for he is destined to become the murderer of his father and the husband of his mother. On the road leading away from his supposed home he meets King Laius, and in a sudden quarrel strikes him dead. He comes to Thebes, where he solves the riddle of the Sphinx, who is barring the way to the city, whereupon he is elected king by the grateful Thebans, and is rewarded with the hand of Jocasta. He reigns for many years in peace and honour, and begets two sons and two daughters upon his unknown mother, until at last a plague breaks out — which causes the Thebians to consult the oracle anew. Here Sophocles' tragedy begins. The messengers bring the reply that the plague will stop as soon as the murderer of Laius is driven from the country. But where is he?
Where shall be found,
Faint, and hard to be known, the trace of the ancient guilt?
The action of the play consists simply in the disclosure, approached step by step and artistically delayed (and comparable to the work of a psycho-analysis) that Oedipus himself is the murderer of Laius, and that he is the son of the murdered man and Jocasta. Shocked by the abominable crime which he has unwittingly committed, Oedipus blinds himself, and departs from his native city. The prophecy of the oracle has been fulfilled.
The Oedipus Rex is a tragedy of fate; its tragic effect depends on the conflict between the all-powerful will of the gods and the vain efforts of human beings threatened with disaster; resignation to the divine will, and the perception of one's own impotence is the lesson which the deeply moved spectator is supposed to learn from the tragedy. Modern authors have therefore sought to achieve a similar tragic effect by expressing the same conflict in stories of their own invention. But the playgoers have looked on unmoved at the unavailing efforts of guiltless men to avert the fulfilment of curse or oracle; the modern tragedies of destiny have failed of their effect.
If the Oedipus Rex is capable of moving a modern reader or playgoer no less powerfully than it moved the contemporary Greeks, the only possible explanation is that the effect of the Greek tragedy does not depend upon the conflict between fate and human will, but upon the peculiar nature of the material by which this conflict is revealed. There must be a voice within us which is prepared to acknowledge the compelling power of fate in the Oedipus, while we are able to condemn the situations occurring in Die Ahnfrau or other tragedies of fate as arbitrary inventions. And there actually is a motive in the story of King Oedipus which explains the verdict of this inner voice. His fate moves us only because it might have been our own, because the oracle laid upon us before our birth the very curse which rested upon him. It may be that we were all destined to direct our first sexual impulses toward our mothers, and our first impulses of hatred and violence toward our fathers; our dreams convince us that we were. King Oedipus, who slew his father Laius and wedded his mother Jocasta, is nothing more or less than a wish-fulfilment — the fulfilment of the wish of our childhood. But we, more fortunate than he, in so far as we have not become psychoneurotics, have since our childhood succeeded in withdrawing our sexual impulses from our mothers, and in forgetting our jealousy of our fathers. We recoil from the person for whom this primitive wish of our childhood has been fulfilled with all the force of the repression which these wishes have undergone in our minds since childhood. As the poet brings the guilt of Oedipus to light by his investigation, he forces us to become aware of our own inner selves, in which the same impulses are still extant, even though they are suppressed. The antithesis with which the chorus departs:
. . . Behold, this is Oedipus,
Who unravelled the great riddle, and was first in power,
Whose fortune all the townsmen praised and envied;
See in what dread adversity he sank!
-this admonition touches us and our own pride, we who, since the years of our childhood, have grown so wise and so powerful in our own estimation. Like Oedipus, we live in ignorance of the desires that offend morality, the desires that nature has forced upon us and after their unveiling we may well prefer to avert our gaze from the scenes of our childhood. 1
1 None of the discoveries of psycho-analytical research has evoked such embittered contradiction, such furious opposition, and also such entertaining acrobatics of criticism, as this indication of the incestuous impulses of childhood which survive in the unconscious. An attempt has even been made recently, in defiance of all experience, to assign only a symbolic significance to incest. Ferenczi has given an ingenious reinterpretation of the Oedipus myth, based on a passage in one of Schopenhauer's letters, in Imago, i, (1912). The Oedipus complex, which was first alluded to here in The Interpretation of Dreams, has through further study of the subject, acquired an unexpected significance for the understanding of human history and the evolution of religion and morality. See Toten and Taboo.
In the very text of Sophocles' tragedy there is an unmistakable reference to the fact that the Oedipus legend had its source in dream-material of immemorial antiquity, the content of which was the painful disturbance of the child's relations to its parents caused by the first impulses of sexuality. Jocasta comforts Oedipus — who is not yet enlightened, but is troubled by the recollection of the oracle — by an allusion to a dream which is often dreamed, though it cannot, in her opinion, mean anything:
For many a man hath seen himself in dreams His mother's mate, but he who gives no heed To suchlike matters bears the easier life.
The dream of having sexual intercourse with one's mother was as common then as it is today with many people, who tell it with indignation and astonishment. As may well be imagined, it is the key to the tragedy and the complement to the dream of the death of the father. The Oedipus fable is the reaction of phantasy to these two typical dreams, and just as such a dream, when occurring to an adult, is experienced with feelings of aversion, so the content of the fable must include terror and self — chastisement. The form which it subsequently assumed was the result of an uncomprehending secondary elaboration of the material, which sought to make it serve a theological intention. 1 The attempt to reconcile divine omnipotence with human responsibility must, of course, fail with this material as with any other.
1 Cf. the dream-material of exhibitionism, earlier in this chapter.
Another of the great poetic tragedies, Shakespeare's Hamlet, is rooted in the same soil as Oedipus Rex. But the whole difference in the psychic life of the two widely separated periods of civilization, and the progress, during the course of time, of repression in the emotional life of humanity, is manifested in the differing treatment of the same material. In Oedipus Rex the basic wish-phantasy of the child is brought to light and realized as it is in dreams; in Hamlet it remains repressed, and we learn of its existence — as we discover the relevant facts in a neurosis — only through the inhibitory effects which proceed from it. In the more modern drama, the curious fact that it is possible to remain in complete uncertainty as to the character of the hero has proved to be quite consistent with the over-powering effect of the tragedy. The play is based upon Hamlet's hesitation in accomplishing the task of revenge assigned to him; the text does not give the cause or the motive of this hesitation, nor have the manifold attempts at interpretation succeeded in doing so. According to the still prevailing conception, a conception for which Goethe was first responsible. Hamlet represents the type of man whose active energy is paralyzed by excessive intellectual activity: "Sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought." According to another conception. the poet has endeavoured to portray a morbid, irresolute character, on the verge of neurasthenia. The plot of the drama, however, shows us that Hamlet is by no means intended to appear as a character wholly incapable of action. On two separate occasions we see him assert himself: once in a sudden outburst of rage, when he stabs the eavesdropper behind the arras, and on the other occasion when he deliberately, and even craftily, with the complete unscrupulousness of a prince of the Renaissance, sends the two courtiers to the death which was intended for himself. What is it, then, that inhibits him in accomplishing the task which his father's ghost has laid upon him? Here the explanation offers itself that it is the peculiar nature of this task. Hamlet is able to do anything but take vengeance upon the man who did away with his father and has taken his father's place with his mother — the man who shows him in realization the repressed desires of his own childhood. The loathing which should have driven him to revenge is thus replaced by self-reproach, by conscientious scruples, which tell him that he himself is no better than the murderer whom he is required to punish. I have here translated into consciousness what had to remain unconscious in the mind of the hero; if anyone wishes to call Hamlet an hysterical subject I cannot but admit that this is the deduction to be drawn from my interpretation. The sexual aversion which Hamlet expresses in conversation with Ophelia is perfectly consistent with this deduction — the same sexual aversion which during the next few years was increasingly to take possession of the poet's soul, until it found its supreme utterance in Timon of Athens. It can, of course, be only the poet's own psychology with which we are confronted in Hamlet; and in a work on Shakespeare by Georg Brandes (1896) I find the statement that the drama was composed immediately after the death of Shakespeare's father (1601) — that is to say, when he was still mourning his loss, and during a revival, as we may fairly assume, of his own childish feelings in respect of his father. It is known, too, that Shakespeare's son, who died in childhood, bore the name of Hamnet (identical with Hamlet). Just as Hamlet treats of the relation of the son to his parents, so Macbeth, which was written about the same period, is based upon the theme of childlessness. Just as all neurotic symptoms, like dreams themselves, are capable of hyper-interpretation, and even require such hyper-interpretation before they become perfectly intelligible, so every genuine poetical creation must have proceeded from more than one motive, more than one impulse in the mind of the poet, and must admit of more than one interpretation. I have here attempted to interpret only the deepest stratum of impulses in the mind of the creative poet. 1
1 These indications in the direction of an analytical understanding of Hamlet were subsequently developed by Dr. Ernest Jones, who defended the above conception against others which have been put forward in the literature of the subject (The Problem of Hamlet and the Oedipus Complex, ). The relation of the material of Hamlet to the myth of the birth of the hero has been demonstrated by O. Rank. Further attempts at an analysis of Macbeth will be found in my essay on "Some Character Types Met with in Psycho-Analytic Work," Collected Papers, IV., in L. Jeckel's "Shakespeare's Macbeth," in Imago, V. (1918) and in "The Oedipus Complex as an Explanation of Hamlet's Mystery: a Study in Motive" (American Journal of Psycology , vol. xxi).
With regard to typical dreams of the death of relatives, I must add a few words upon their significance from the point of view of the theory of dreams in general. These dreams show us the occurrence of a very unusual state of things; they show us that the dream-thought created by the repressed wish completely escapes the censorship, and is transferred to the dream without alteration. Special conditions must obtain in order to make this possible. The following two factors favour the production of these dreams: first, this is the last wish that we could credit ourselves with harbouring; we believe such a wish "would never occur to us even in a dream"; the dream-censorship is therefore unprepared for this monstrosity, just as the laws of Solon did not foresee the necessity of establishing a penalty for patricide. Secondly, the repressed and unsuspected wish is, in this special case, frequently met half-way by a residue from the day's experience, in the form of some concern for the life of the beloved person. This anxiety cannot enter into the dream otherwise than by taking advantage of the corresponding wish; but the wish is able to mask itself behind the concern which has been aroused during the day. If one is inclined to think that all this is really a very much simpler process, and to imagine that one merely continues during the night, and in one's dream, what was begun during the day, one removes the dreams of the death of those dear to us out of all connection with the general explanation of dreams, and a problem that may very well be solved remains a problem needlessly.
It is instructive to trace the relation of these dreams to anxiety-dreams. In dreams of the death of those dear to us the repressed wish has found a way of avoiding the censorship — and the distortion for which the censorship is responsible. An invariable concomitant phenomenon then, is that painful emotions are felt in the dream. Similarly, an anxiety-dream occurs only when the censorship is entirely or partially overpowered, and on the other hand, the overpowering of the censorship is facilitated when the actual sensation of anxiety is already present from somatic sources. It thus becomes obvious for what purpose the censorship performs its office and practises dream-distortion; it does so in order to prevent the development of anxiety or other forms of painful affect.
I have spoken in the foregoing sections of the egoism of the child's psyche, and I now emphasize this peculiarity in order to suggest a connection, for dreams too have retained this characteristic. All dreams are absolutely egoistical; in every dream the beloved ego appears, even though in a disguised form. The wishes that are realized in dreams are invariably the wishes of this ego; it is only a deceptive appearance if interest in another person is believed to have evoked a dream. I will now analyse a few examples which appear to contradict this assertion.
A boy not yet four years of age relates the following dream: He saw a large garnished dish, on which was a large joint of roast meat; and the joint was suddenly — not carved — but eaten up. He did not see the person who ate it. 1
1 Even the large, over-abundant, immoderate and exaggerated things occurring in dreams may be a childish characteristic. A child wants nothing more intensely than to grow big, and to eat as much of everything as grown-ups do; a child is hard to satisfy; he knows no such word as enough and insatiably demands the repetition of whatever has pleased him or tasted good to him. He learns to practise moderation, to be modest and resigned, only through training. As we know, the neurotic also is inclined to immoderation and excess.
Who can he be, this strange person, of whose luxurious repast the little fellow dreams? The experience of the day must supply the answer. For some days past the boy, in accordance with the doctor's orders, had been living on a milk diet; but on the evening of the dream-day he had been naughty, and, as a punishment, had been deprived of his supper. He had already undergone one such hunger-cure, and had borne his deprivation bravely. He knew that he would get nothing, but he did not even allude to the fact that he was hungry. Training was beginning to produce its effect; this is demonstrated even by the dream, which reveals the beginnings of dream-distortion. There is no doubt that he himself is the person whose desires are directed toward this abundant meal, and a meal of roast meat at that. But since he knows that this is forbidden him, he does not dare, as hungry children do in dreams (cf. my little Anna's dream about strawberries, chapter III), to sit down to the meal himself. The person remains anonymous.
One night I dream that I see on a bookseller's counter a new volume of one of those collectors' series, which I am in the habit of buying (monographs on artistic subjects, history, famous artistic centres, etc.). The new collection is entitled "Famous Orators" (or Orations), and the first number bears the name of Dr. Lecher.
On analysis it seems to me improbable that the fame of Dr. Lecher, the long-winded speaker of the German Opposition, should occupy my thoughts while I am dreaming. The fact is that a few days ago I undertook the psychological treatment of some new patients, and am now forced to talk for ten to twelve hours a day. Thus I myself am a long-winded speaker.
On another occasion I dream that a university lecturer of my acquaintance says to me: "My son, the myopic." Then follows a dialogue of brief observations and replies. A third portion of the dream follows, in which I and my sons appear, and so far as the latent dream-content is concerned, the father, the son, and Professor M, are merely lay figures, representing myself and my eldest son. Later on I shall examine this dream again, on account of another peculiarity.
The following dream gives an example of really base, egoistical feelings, which conceal themselves behind an affectionate concern:
My friend Otto looks ill; his face is brown and his eyes protrude.
Otto is my family physician, to whom I owe a debt greater than I can ever hope to repay, since he has watched for years over the health of my children, has treated them successfully when they have been ill, and, moreover, has given them presents whenever he could find any excuse for doing so. He paid us a visit on the day of the dream, and my wife noticed that he looked tired and exhausted. At night I dream of him, and my dream attributes to him certain of the symptoms of Basedow's disease. If you were to disregard my rules for dream-interpretation you would understand this dream to mean that I am concerned about the health of my friend, and that this concern is realized in the dream. It would thus constitute a contradiction not only of the assertion that a dream is a wish-fulfilment, but also of the assertion that it is accessible only to egoistical impulses. But will those who thus interpret my dream explain why I should fear that Otto has Basedow's disease, for which diagnosis his appearance does not afford the slightest justification? My analysis, on the other hand, furnishes the following material, deriving from an incident which had occurred six years earlier. We were driving — a small party of us, including Professor R— in the dark through the forest of N, which lies at a distance of some hours from where we were staying in the country. The driver, who was not quite sober, overthrew us and the carriage down a bank, and it was only by good fortune that we all escaped unhurt. But we were forced to spend the night at the nearest inn, where the news of our mishap aroused great sympathy. A certain gentleman, who showed unmistakable symptoms of morbus Basedowii — the brownish colour of the skin of the face and the protruding eyes, but no goitre — placed himself entirely at our disposal, and asked what he could do for us. Professor R answered in his decisive way, "Nothing, except lend me a nightshirt." Whereupon our generous friend replied: "I am sorry, but I cannot do that," and left us.
In continuing the analysis, it occurs to me that Basedow is the name not only of a physician but also of a famous pedagogue. (Now that I am wide awake, I do not feel quite sure of this fact.) My friend Otto is the person whom I have asked to take charge of the physical education of my children — especially during the age of puberty (hence the nightshirt) in case anything should happen to me. By seeing Otto in my dream with the morbid symptoms of our above-mentioned generous helper, I clearly mean to say: "If anything happens to me, he will do just as little for my children as Baron L did for us, in spite of his amiable offers." The egoistical flavour of this dream should now be obvious enough. 1
1 While Dr. Ernest Jones was delivering a lecture before an American scientific society, and was speaking of egoism in dreams, a learned lady took exception to this unscientific generalization. She thought the lecturer was entitled to pronounce such a verdict only on the dreams of Austrians, but had no right to include the dreams of Americans. As for herself, she was sure that all her dreams were strictly altruistic.
In justice to this lady with her national pride it may, however, be remarked that the dogma: "the dream is wholly egoistic" must not be misunderstood. For inasmuch as everything that occurs in preconscious inking may appear in dreams (in the content as well as the latent dream-thoughts) the altruistic feelings may possibly occur. Similarly, affectionate or amorous feelings for another person, if they exist in the unconscious, may occur in dreams. The truth of the assertion is therefore restricted to the fact that among the unconscious stimuli of dreams one very often finds egoistical tendencies which seem to have been overcome in the waking state.
But where is the wish-fulfilment to be found in this? Not in the vengeance wreaked on my friend Otto (who seems to be fated to be badly treated in my dreams), but in the following circumstance: Inasmuch as in my dream I represented Otto as Baron L, I likewise identified myself with another person, namely, with Professor R; for I have asked something of Otto, just as R asked something of Baron L at the time of the incident I have described. And this is the point. For Professor R has gone his way independently, outside academic circles, just as I myself have done, and has only in his later years received the title which he had earned before. Once more, then, I want to be a professor! The very phrase in his later years is a wish-fulfilment, for it means that I shall live long enough to steer my boys through the age of puberty myself.
Of other typical dreams, in which one flies with a feeling of ease or falls in terror, I know nothing from my own experience, and whatever I have to say about them I owe to my psychoanalyses. From the information thus obtained one must conclude that these dreams also reproduce impressions made in childhood — that is, that they refer to the games involving rapid motion which have such an extraordinary attraction for children. Where is the uncle who has never made a child fly by running with it across the room with outstretched arms, or has never played at falling with it by rocking it on his knee and then suddenly straightening his leg, or by lifting it above his head and suddenly pretending to withdraw his supporting hand? At such moments children shout with joy, and insatiably demand a repetition of the performance, especially if a little fright and dizziness are involved in the game; in after years they repeat their sensations in dreams. but in dreams they omit the hands that held them, so that now they are free to float or fall. We know that all small children have a fondness for such games as rocking and see-sawing; and if they see gymnastic performances at the circus their recollection of such games is refreshed. 1 In some boys a hysterical attack will consist simply in the reproduction of such performances, which they accomplish with great dexterity. Not infrequently sexual sensations are excited by these games of movement, which are quite neutral in themselves. 2 To express the matter in a few words: the exciting games of childhood are repeated in dreams of flying, falling, reeling and the like, but the voluptuous feelings are now transformed into anxiety. But, as every mother knows, the excited play of children often enough culminates in quarrelling and tears.
1 Psycho-analytic investigation has enabled us to conclude that in the predilection shown by children for gymnastic performances, and in the repetition of these in hysterical attacks, there is, besides the pleasure felt in the organ, yet another factor at work (often unconscious): namely, a memory-picture of sexual intercourse observed in human beings or animals.
2 A young colleague, who is entirely free from nervousness, tells me, in this connection: "I know from my own experience that while swinging, and at the moment at which the downward movement was at its maximum, I used to have a curious feeling in my genitals, which, although it was not really pleasing to me, I must describe as a voluptuous feeling." I have often heard from patients that the first erections with voluptuous sensations which they can remember to have had in boyhood occurred while they were climbing. It is established with complete certainty by psycho-analysis that the first sexual sensations often have their origin in the scufflings and wrestlings of childhood.
I have therefore good reason for rejecting the explanation that it is the state of our dermal sensations during sleep, the sensation of the movements of the lungs, etc., that evokes dreams of flying and falling. I see that these very sensations have been reproduced from the memory to which the dream refers — and that they are, therefore, dream-content and not dream-sources.
I do not for a moment deny, however, that I am unable to furnish a full explanation of this series of typical dreams. Precisely here my material leaves me in the lurch. I must adhere to the general opinion that all the dermal and kinetic sensations of these typical dreams are awakened as soon as any psychic motive of whatever kind has need of them, and that they are neglected when there is no such need of them. The relation to infantile experiences seems to be confirmed by the indications which I have obtained from the analyses of psychoneurotics. But I am unable to say what other meanings might, in the course of the dreamer's life, have become attached to the memory of these sensations- different, perhaps, in each individual, despite the typical appearance of these dreams — and I should very much like to be in a position to fill this gap with careful analyses of good examples. To those who wonder why I complain of a lack of material, despite the frequency of these dreams of flying, falling, tooth-drawing, etc., I must explain that I myself have never experienced any such dreams since I have turned my attention to the subject of dream-interpretation. The dreams of neurotics which are at my disposal, however, are not all capable of interpretation, and very often it is impossible to penetrate to the farthest point of their hidden intention; a certain psychic force which participated in the building up of the neurosis, and which again becomes active during its dissolution, opposes interpretation of the final problem.
Everyone who has received his certificate of matriculation after passing his final examination at school complains of the persistence with which he is plagued by anxiety-dreams in which he has failed, or must go through his course again, etc. For the holder of a university degree this typical dream is replaced by another, which represents that he has not taken his doctor's degree, to which he vainly objects, while still asleep, that he has already been practising for years, or is already a university lecturer or the senior partner of a firm of lawyers, and so on. These are the ineradicable memories of the punishments we suffered as children for misdeeds which we had committed — memories which were revived in us on the dies irae, dies illa 1 of the gruelling examination at the two critical junctures in our careers as students. The examination-anxiety of neurotics is likewise intensified by this childish fear. When our student days are over, it is no longer our parents or teachers who see to our punishment; the inexorable chain of cause and effect of later life has taken over our further education. Now we dream of our matriculation, or the examination for the doctor's degree — and who has not been faint-hearted on such occasions? — whenever we fear that we may be punished by some unpleasant result because we have done something carelessly or wrongly, because we have not been as thorough as we might have been — in short, whenever we feel the burden of responsibility.
1 Day of wrath.
For a further explanation of examination-dreams I have to thank a remark made by a colleague who had studied this subject, who once stated, in the course of a scientific discussion, that in his experience the examination-dream occurred only to persons who had passed the examination, never to those who had flunked. We have had increasing confirmation of the fact that the anxiety-dream of examination occurs when the dreamer is anticipating a responsible task on the following day, with the possibility of disgrace; recourse will then be had to an occasion in the past on which a great anxiety proved to have been without real justification, having, indeed, been refuted by the outcome. Such a dream would be a very striking example of the way in which the dream-content is misunderstood by the waking instance. The exclamation which is regarded as a protest against the dream: "But I am already a doctor," etc., would in reality be the consolation offered by the dream, and should, therefore, be worded as follows: "Do not be afraid of the morrow; think of the anxiety which you felt before your matriculation; yet nothing happened to justify it, for now you are a doctor," etc. But the anxiety which we attribute to the dream really has its origin in the residues of the dream-day.
The tests of this interpretation which I have been able to make in my own case, and in that of others, although by no means exhaustive, were entirely in its favour. 1 For example, I failed in my examination for the doctor's degree in medical jurisprudence; never once has the matter worried me in my dreams, while I have often enough been examined in botany, zoology, and chemistry, and I sat for the examinations in these subjects with well-justified anxiety, but escaped disaster, through the clemency of fate, or of the examiner. In my dreams of school examinations, I am always examined in history, a subject in which I passed brilliantly at the time, but only, I must admit, because my good-natured professor — my one-eyed benefactor in another dream — did not overlook the fact that on the examination-paper which I returned to him I had crossed out with my fingernail the second of three questions, as a hint that he should not insist on it. One of my patients, who withdrew before the matriculation examination. only to pass it later, but failed in the officer's examination, so that he did not become an officer, tells me that he often dreams of the former examination, but never of the latter.
1 See also chapter VI., A.
W. Stekel, who was the first to interpret the matriculation dream, maintains that this dream invariably refers to sexual experiences and sexual maturity. This has frequently been confirmed in my experience.
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