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- Dream Psychology - 10/27 -

shows them up as, in reality, realization of sexual desires; whilst, on the other hand, that much of the thought-making when awake, the thoughts saved us as surplus from the day only, reaches presentation in dreams with the help of repressed erotic desires.

Towards the explanation of this statement, which is no theoretical postulate, it must be remembered that no other class of instincts has required so vast a suppression at the behest of civilization as the sexual, whilst their mastery by the highest psychical processes are in most persons soonest of all relinquished. Since we have learnt to understand _infantile sexuality_, often so vague in its expression, so invariably overlooked and misunderstood, we are justified in saying that nearly every civilized person has retained at some point or other the infantile type of sex life; thus we understand that repressed infantile sex desires furnish the most frequent and most powerful impulses for the formation of dreams.[1]

If the dream, which is the expression of some erotic desire, succeeds in making its manifest content appear innocently asexual, it is only possible in one way. The matter of these sexual presentations cannot be exhibited as such, but must be replaced by allusions, suggestions, and similar indirect means; differing from other cases of indirect presentation, those used in dreams must be deprived of direct understanding. The means of presentation which answer these requirements are commonly termed "symbols." A special interest has been directed towards these, since it has been observed that the dreamers of the same language use the like symbols--indeed, that in certain cases community of symbol is greater than community of speech. Since the dreamers do not themselves know the meaning of the symbols they use, it remains a puzzle whence arises their relationship with what they replace and denote. The fact itself is undoubted, and becomes of importance for the technique of the interpretation of dreams, since by the aid of a knowledge of this symbolism it is possible to understand the meaning of the elements of a dream, or parts of a dream, occasionally even the whole dream itself, without having to question the dreamer as to his own ideas. We thus come near to the popular idea of an interpretation of dreams, and, on the other hand, possess again the technique of the ancients, among whom the interpretation of dreams was identical with their explanation through symbolism.

Though the study of dream symbolism is far removed from finality, we now possess a series of general statements and of particular observations which are quite certain. There are symbols which practically always have the same meaning: Emperor and Empress (King and Queen) always mean the parents; room, a woman[2], and so on. The sexes are represented by a great variety of symbols, many of which would be at first quite incomprehensible had not the clews to the meaning been often obtained through other channels.

There are symbols of universal circulation, found in all dreamers, of one range of speech and culture; there are others of the narrowest individual significance which an individual has built up out of his own material. In the first class those can be differentiated whose claim can be at once recognized by the replacement of sexual things in common speech (those, for instance, arising from agriculture, as reproduction, seed) from others whose sexual references appear to reach back to the earliest times and to the obscurest depths of our image-building. The power of building symbols in both these special forms of symbols has not died out. Recently discovered things, like the airship, are at once brought into universal use as sex symbols.

It would be quite an error to suppose that a profounder knowledge of dream symbolism (the "Language of Dreams") would make us independent of questioning the dreamer regarding his impressions about the dream, and would give us back the whole technique of ancient dream interpreters. Apart from individual symbols and the variations in the use of what is general, one never knows whether an element in the dream is to be understood symbolically or in its proper meaning; the whole content of the dream is certainly not to be interpreted symbolically. The knowledge of dream symbols will only help us in understanding portions of the dream content, and does not render the use of the technical rules previously given at all superfluous. But it must be of the greatest service in interpreting a dream just when the impressions of the dreamer are withheld or are insufficient.

Dream symbolism proves also indispensable for understanding the so-called "typical" dreams and the dreams that "repeat themselves." Dream symbolism leads us far beyond the dream; it does not belong only to dreams, but is likewise dominant in legend, myth, and saga, in wit and in folklore. It compels us to pursue the inner meaning of the dream in these productions. But we must acknowledge that symbolism is not a result of the dream work, but is a peculiarity probably of our unconscious thinking, which furnishes to the dream work the matter for condensation, displacement, and dramatization.

[1] Freud, "Three Contributions to Sexual Theory," translated by A.A. Brill (_Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease_ Publishing Company, New York).

[2] The words from "and" to "channels" in the next sentence is a short summary of the passage in the original. As this book will be read by other than professional people the passage has not been translated, in deference to English opinion.--TRANSLATOR.



Perhaps we shall now begin to suspect that dream interpretation is capable of giving us hints about the structure of our psychic apparatus which we have thus far expected in vain from philosophy. We shall not, however, follow this track, but return to our original problem as soon as we have cleared up the subject of dream-disfigurement. The question has arisen how dreams with disagreeable content can be analyzed as the fulfillment of wishes. We see now that this is possible in case dream-disfigurement has taken place, in case the disagreeable content serves only as a disguise for what is wished. Keeping in mind our assumptions in regard to the two psychic instances, we may now proceed to say: disagreeable dreams, as a matter of fact, contain something which is disagreeable to the second instance, but which at the same time fulfills a wish of the first instance. They are wish dreams in the sense that every dream originates in the first instance, while the second instance acts towards the dream only in repelling, not in a creative manner. If we limit ourselves to a consideration of what the second instance contributes to the dream, we can never understand the dream. If we do so, all the riddles which the authors have found in the dream remain unsolved.

That the dream actually has a secret meaning, which turns out to be the fulfillment of a wish, must be proved afresh for every case by means of an analysis. I therefore select several dreams which have painful contents and attempt an analysis of them. They are partly dreams of hysterical subjects, which require long preliminary statements, and now and then also an examination of the psychic processes which occur in hysteria. I cannot, however, avoid this added difficulty in the exposition.

When I give a psychoneurotic patient analytical treatment, dreams are always, as I have said, the subject of our discussion. It must, therefore, give him all the psychological explanations through whose aid I myself have come to an understanding of his symptoms, and here I undergo an unsparing criticism, which is perhaps not less keen than that I must expect from my colleagues. Contradiction of the thesis that all dreams are the fulfillments of wishes is raised by my patients with perfect regularity. Here are several examples of the dream material which is offered me to refute this position.

"You always tell me that the dream is a wish fulfilled," begins a clever lady patient. "Now I shall tell you a dream in which the content is quite the opposite, in which a wish of mine is _not_ fulfilled. How do you reconcile that with your theory? The dream is as follows:--

_"I want to give a supper, but having nothing at hand except some smoked salmon, I think of going marketing, but I remember that it is Sunday afternoon, when all the shops are closed. I next try to telephone to some caterers, but the telephone is out of order.... Thus I must resign my wish to give a supper."_

I answer, of course, that only the analysis can decide the meaning of this dream, although I admit that at first sight it seems sensible and coherent, and looks like the opposite of a wish-fulfillment. "But what occurrence has given rise to this dream?" I ask. "You know that the stimulus for a dream always lies among the experiences of the preceding day."

_Analysis._--The husband of the patient, an upright and conscientious wholesale butcher, had told her the day before that he is growing too fat, and that he must, therefore, begin treatment for obesity. He was going to get up early, take exercise, keep to a strict diet, and above all accept no more invitations to suppers. She proceeds laughingly to relate how her husband at an inn table had made the acquaintance of an artist, who insisted upon painting his portrait because he, the painter, had never found such an expressive head. But her husband had answered in his rough way, that he was very thankful for the honor, but that he was quite convinced that a portion of the backside of a pretty young girl would please the artist better than his whole face[1]. She said that she was at the time very much in love with her husband, and teased him a good deal. She had also asked him not to send her any caviare. What does that mean?

As a matter of fact, she had wanted for a long time to eat a caviare sandwich every forenoon, but had grudged herself the expense. Of course, she would at once get the caviare from her husband, as soon as she asked him for it. But she had begged him, on the contrary, not to send her the caviare, in order that she might tease him about it longer.

This explanation seems far-fetched to me. Unadmitted motives are in the habit of hiding behind such unsatisfactory explanations. We are reminded of subjects hypnotized by Bernheim, who carried out a posthypnotic order, and who, upon being asked for their motives, instead of answering: "I do not know why I did that," had to invent a reason that was obviously inadequate. Something similar is probably the case with the caviare of my patient. I see that she is compelled to create an unfulfilled wish in life. Her dream also shows the reproduction of the wish as accomplished. But why does she need an unfulfilled wish?

The ideas so far produced are insufficient for the interpretation of the dream. I beg for more. After a short pause, which corresponds to the overcoming of a resistance, she reports further that the day before she had made a visit to a friend, of whom she is really jealous, because her husband is always praising this woman so much. Fortunately, this friend is very lean and thin, and her husband likes well-rounded figures. Now of what did this lean friend speak? Naturally of her wish to become somewhat stouter. She also asked my patient: "When are you going to invite us again? You always have such a good table."

Dream Psychology - 10/27

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