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Freud: The Interpretation of Dreams, Chapter 6C

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C. THE MEANS OF REPRESENTATION IN DREAMS

Besides the two factors of condensation and displacement in dreams, which we have found to be at work in the transformation of the latent dream-material into the manifest dream-content, we shall, in the course of this investigation, come upon two further conditions which exercise an unquestionable influence over the selection of the material that eventually appears in the dream. But first, even at the risk of seeming to interrupt our progress, I shall take a preliminary glance at the processes by which the interpretation of dreams is accomplished. I do not deny that the best way of explaining them, and of convincing the critic of their reliability, would be to take a single dream as an example, to detail its interpretation, as I did (in Chapter Two) in the case of the dream of Irma's injection, but then to assemble the dream-thoughts which I had discovered, and from them to reconstruct the formation of the dream -- that is to say, to supplement dream-analysis by dream-synthesis. I have done this with several specimens for my own instruction; but I cannot undertake to do it here, as I am prevented by a number of considerations (relating to the psychic material necessary for such a demonstration) such as any right-thinking person would approve. In the analysis of dreams these considerations present less difficulty, for an analysis may be incomplete and still retain its value, even if it leads only a little way into the structure of the dream. I do not see how a synthesis, to be convincing, could be anything short of complete. I could give a complete synthesis only of the dreams of such persons as are unknown to the reading public. Since, however, neurotic patients are the only persons who furnish me with the means of making such a synthesis, this part of the description of dreams must be postponed until I can carry the psychological explanation of the neuroses far enough to demonstrate their relation to our subject.[1] This will be done elsewhere.

From my attempts to construct dreams synthetically from their dream-thoughts, I know that the material which is yielded by interpretation varies in value. Part of it consists of the essential dream-thoughts, which would completely replace the dream and would in themselves be a sufficient substitute for it, were there no dream-censorship. To the other part one is wont to ascribe slight importance, nor does one set any value on the assertion that all these thoughts have participated in the formation of the dream; on the contrary, they may include notions which are associated with experiences that have occurred subsequently to the dream, between the dream and the interpretation. This part comprises not only all the connecting-paths which have led from the manifest to the latent dream-content, but also the intermediate and approximating associations by means of which one has arrived at a knowledge of these connecting-paths during the work of interpretation.

At this point we are interested exclusively in the essential dream-thoughts. These commonly reveal themselves as a complex of thoughts and memories of the most intricate possible construction, with all the characteristics of the thought-processes known to us in waking life. Not infrequently they are trains of thought which proceed from more than one centre, but which are not without points of contact; and almost invariably we find, along with a train of thought, its contradictory counterpart, connected with it by the association of contrast.

The individual parts of this complicated structure naturally stand in the most manifold logical relations to one another. They constitute foreground and background, digressions, illustrations, conditions, lines of argument and objections. When the whole mass of these dream-thoughts is subjected to the pressure of the dream-work, during which the fragments are turned about, broken up and compacted, somewhat like drifting ice, the question arises, what becomes of the logical ties which had hitherto provided the framework of the structure? What representation do 'if, 'because', 'as though', 'although', 'either -- or' and all the other conjunctions, without which we cannot understand a phrase or a sentence, receive in our dreams?

To begin with, we must answer that the dream has at its disposal no means of representing these logical relations between the dream-thoughts. In most cases it disregards all these conjunctions, and undertakes the elaboration only of the material content of the dream-thoughts. It is left to the interpretation of the dream to restore the coherence which the dream-work has destroyed.

If dreams lack the ability to express these relations, the psychic material of which they are wrought must be responsible for this defect. As a matter of fact, the representative arts -- painting and sculpture -- are similarly restricted, as compared with poetry, which is able to employ speech; and here again the reason for this limitation lies in the material by the elaboration of which the two plastic arts endeavour to express something. Before the art of painting arrived at an understanding of the laws of expression by which it is bound, it attempted to make up for this deficiency. In old paintings little labels hung out of the mouths of the persons represented, giving in writing the speech which the artist despaired of expressing in the picture.

Here, perhaps an objection will be raised, challenging the assertion that our dreams dispense with the representation of logical relations. There are dreams in which the most complicated intellectual operations take place; arguments for and against are adduced, jokes and comparisons are made, just as in our waking thoughts. But here again appearances are deceptive; if the interpretation of such dreams is continued it will be found that all these things are dream-material, not the representation of intellectual activity in the dream. The content of the dream-thoughts is reproduced by the apparent thinking in our dreams, but not the relations of the dream-thoughts to one another, in the determination of which relations thinking consists. I shall give some examples of this. But the fact which is most easily established is that all speeches which occur in dreams, and which are expressly designated as such, are unchanged or only slightly modified replicas of speeches which occur likewise among the memories in the dream-material. Often the speech is only an allusion to an event contained in the dream-thoughts; the meaning of the dream is quite different.

However, I shall not dispute the fact that even critical thought-activity, which does not simply repeat material from the dream-thoughts, plays a part in dream-formation. I shall have to explain the influence of this factor at the close of this discussion. It will then become clear that this thought activity is evoked not by the dream-thoughts, but by the dream itself, after it is, in a certain sense, already completed.

Provisionally, then, it is agreed that the logical relations between the dream-thoughts do not obtain any particular representation in the dream. For instance, where there is a contradiction in the dream, this is either a contradiction directed against the dream itself or a contradiction contained in one of the dream-thoughts; a contradiction in the dream corresponds with a contradiction between the dream-thoughts only in the most indirect and intermediate fashion.

But just as the art of painting finally succeeded in depicting, in the persons represented, at least the intentions behind their words -- tenderness, menace, admonition, and the like by other means than by floating labels, so also the dream has found it possible to render an account of certain of the logical relations between its dream-thoughts by an appropriate modification of the peculiar method of dream-representation. It will be found by experience that different dreams go to different lengths in this respect; while one dream will entirely disregard the logical structure of its material, another attempts to indicate it as completely as possible. In so doing the dream departs more or less widely from the text which it has to elaborate; and its attitude is equally variable in respect to the temporal articulation of the dream-thoughts, if such has been established in the unconscious (as, for example, in the dream of Irma's injection).

But what are the means by which the dream-work is enabled to indicate those relations in the dream-material which are difficult to represent? I shall attempt to enumerate these, one by one.

In the first place, the dream renders an account of the connection which is undeniably present between all the portions of the dream-thoughts by combining this material into a unity as a situation or a proceeding. It reproduces logical connection in the form of simultaneity; in this case it behaves rather like the painter who groups together all the philosophers or poets in a picture of the School of Athens, or Parnassus. They never were assembled in any hall or on any mountain-top, although to the reflective mind they do constitute a community.

The dream carries out in detail this mode of representation. Whenever it shows two elements close together, it vouches for a particularly intimate connection between their corresponding representatives in the dream-thoughts. It is as in our method of writing: to signifies that the two letters are to be pronounced as one syllable; while t with o following a blank space indicates that t is the last letter of one word and o the first letter of another. Consequently, dream-combinations are not made up of arbitrary, completely incongruous elements of the dream-material, but of elements that are pretty intimately related in the dream-thoughts also.

For representing causal relations our dreams employ two methods, which are essentially reducible to one. The method of representation more frequently employed -- in cases, for example, where the dream-thoughts are to the effect: 'Because this was thus and thus, this and that must happen' -- consists in making the subordinate clause a prefatory dream and joining the principal clause on to it in the form of the main dream. If my interpretation is correct, the sequence may likewise be reversed. The principal clause always corresponds to that part of the dream which is elaborated in the greatest detail.

An excellent example of such a representation of causality was once provided by a female patient, whose dream I shall subsequently give in full. The dream consisted of a short prologue, and of a very circumstantial and very definitely centred dream-composition. I might entitle it 'Flowery language'. The preliminary dream is as follows: She goes to the two maids in the kitchen and scolds them for taking so long to prepare 'a little bite of food'. She also sees a very large number of heavy kitchen utensils in the kitchen turned upside down in order to drain, even heaped up in stacks. The two maids go to fetch water, and have, as it were, to climb into a river, which reaches up to the house or into the courtyard.

Then follows the main dream, which begins as follows: She is climbing down from a height over a curiously shaped trellis, and she is glad that her dress doesn't get caught anywhere, etc. Now the preliminary dream refers to the house of the lady's parents. The words which are spoken in the kitchen are words which she has probably often heard spoken by her mother. The piles of clumsy pots and pans are taken from an unpretentious hardware shop located in the same house. The second part of this dream contains an allusion to the dreamer's father, who was always pestering the maids, and who during a flood -- for the house stood close to the bank of the river -- contracted a fatal illness. The thought which is concealed behind the preliminary dream is something like this: 'Because I was born in this house, in such sordid and unpleasant surroundings . . .' The main dream takes up the same thought, and presents it in a form that has been altered by a wish-fulfilment: 'I am of exalted origin.' Properly then: 'Because I am of such humble origin, the course of my life has been so and so.'

As far as I can see, the division of a dream into two unequal portions does not always signify a causal relation between the thoughts of the two portions. It often seems as though in the two dreams the same material were presented from different points of view; this is certainly the case when a series of dreams, dreamed the same night, end in a seminal emission, the somatic need enforcing a more and more definite expression. Or the two dreams have proceeded from two separate centres in the dream material, and they overlap one another in the content, so that the subject which in one dream constitutes the centre co-operates in the other as an allusion, and vice versa. But in a certain number of dreams the division into short preliminary dreams and long subsequent dreams actually signifies a causal relation between the two portions. The other method of representing the causal relation is employed with less comprehensive material, and consists in the transformation of an image in the dream into another image, whether it be of a person or a thing. Only where this transformation is actually seen occurring in the dream shall we seriously insist on the causal relation; not where we simply note that one thing has taken the place of another. I said that both methods of representing the causal relation are really reducible to the same method; in both cases causation is represented by succession, sometimes by the succession of dreams, sometimes by the immediate transformation of one image into another. In the great majority of cases, of course, the causal relation is not represented at all, but is effaced amidst the succession of elements that is unavoidable even in the dream-process.

Dreams are quite incapable of expressing the alternative 'either -- or'; it is their custom to take both members of this alternative into the same context, as though they had an equal right to be there. A classic example of this is contained in the dream of Irma's injection. Its latent thoughts obviously mean: I am not responsible for the persistence of Irma's pains; the responsibility rests either with her resistance to accepting the solution or with the fact that she is living under unfavourable sexual conditions, which I am unable to change, or her pains are not hysterical at all, but organic. The dream, however, carries out all these possibilities, which are almost mutually exclusive, and is quite ready to add a fourth solution derived from the dream-wish. After interpreting the dream, I then inserted the either -- or in its context in the dream-thoughts.

But when in narrating a dream the narrator is inclined to employ the alternative either -- or: 'It was either a garden or a living-room,' etc., there is not really an alternative in the dream-thoughts, but an 'and' -- a simple addition. When we use either -- or we are as a rule describing a quality of vagueness in some element of the dream, but a vagueness which may still be cleared up. The rule to be applied in this case is as follows: The individual members of the alternative are to be treated as equal and connected by an 'and'. For instance, after waiting long and vainly for the address of friend who is travelling in Italy, I dream that I receive a telegram which gives me the address. On the telegraph form I see printed in blue letters: the first word is blurred -- perhaps via

or villa; the second is distinctly Sezerno,
or even (Casa).

The second word, which reminds me of Italian names, and of our discussions on etymology, also expresses my annoyance in respect of the fact that my friend has kept his address a secret from me; but each of the possible first three words may be recognised on analysis as an independent and equally justifiable starting-point in the concatenation of ideas.

During the night before the funeral of my father I dreamed of a printed placard, a card or poster rather like the notices in the waiting-rooms of railway stations which announce that smoking is prohibited. The sign reads either:

You are requested to shut the eyes

or

You are requested to shut one eye

an alternative which I am in the habit of representing in the following form:

						the
			You are requested to shut  eye(s).
						one

Each of the two versions has its special meaning, and leads along particular paths in the dream-interpretation. I had made the simplest possible funeral arrangements, for I knew what the deceased thought about such matters. Other members of the family, however, did not approve of such puritanical simplicity; they thought we should feel ashamed in the presence of the other mourners. Hence one of the wordings of the dream asks for the 'shutting of one eye', that is to say, it asks that people should show consideration. The significance of the vagueness, which is here represented by an either -- or, is plainly to be seen. The dream-work has not succeeded in concocting a coherent and yet ambiguous wording for the dream-thoughts. Thus the two principal trains of thought are separated from each other, even in the dream-content.

In some few cases the division of a dream into two equal parts expresses the alternative which the dream finds it so difficult to present.

The attitude of dreams to the category of antithesis and contradiction is very striking. This category is simply ignored; the word 'No' does not seem to exist for a dream. Dreams are particularly fond of reducing antitheses to uniformity, or representing them as one and the same thing. Dreams likewise take the liberty of representing any element whatever by its desired opposite, so that it is at first impossible to tell, in respect of any element which is capable of having an opposite, whether it is contained in the dream-thoughts in the negative or the positive sense.[2] In one of the recently cited dreams, whose introductory portion we have already interpreted ('because my origin is so and so'), the dreamer climbs down over a trellis, and holds a blossoming bough in her hands. Since this picture suggests to her the angel in paintings of the Annunciation (her own name is Mary) bearing a lily-stem in his hand, and the white-robed girls walking in procession on Corpus Christi Day, when the streets are decorated with green boughs, the blossoming bough in the dream is quite clearly an allusion to sexual innocence. But the bough is thickly studded with red blossoms, each of which resembles a camellia. At the end of her walk (so the dream continues) the blossoms are already beginning to fall; then follow unmistakable allusions to menstruation. But this very bough, which is carried like a lily-stem and as though by an innocent girl, is also an allusion to Camille, who, as we know, usually wore a white camellia, but a red one during menstruation. The same blossoming bough ('the flower of maidenhood' in Goethe's songs of the miller's daughter) represents at once sexual innocence and its opposite. Moreover, the same dream, which expresses the dreamer's joy at having succeeded in passing through life unsullied, hints in several places (as in the falling of the blossom) at the opposite train of thought, namely, that she had been guilty of various sins against sexual purity (that is, in her childhood). In the analysis of the dream we may clearly distinguish the two trains of thought, of which the comforting one seems to be superficial, and the reproachful one more profound. The two are diametrically opposed to each other, and their similar yet contrasting elements have been represented by identical dream-elements.

The mechanism of dream-formation is favourable in the highest degree to only one of the logical relations. This relation is that of similarity, agreement, contiguity, 'just as'; a relation which may be represented in our dreams, as no other can be, by the most varied expedients. The 'screening' which occurs in the dream-material, or the cases of 'just as', are the chief points of support for dream-formation, and a not inconsiderable part of the dream-work consists in creating new 'screenings' of this kind in cases where those that already exist are prevented by the resistance of the censorship from making their way into the dream. The effort towards condensation evinced by the dream-work facilitates the representation of a relation of similarity.

Similarity, agreement, community, are quite generally expressed in dreams by contraction into a unity, which is either already found in the dream-material or is newly created. The first case may be referred to as identification, the second as composition. Identification is used where the dream is concerned with persons, composition where things constitute the material to be unified; but compositions are also made of persons. Localities are often treated as persons.

Identification consists in giving representation in the dream-content to only one of two or more persons who are related by some common feature, while the second person or other persons appear to be suppressed as far as the dream is concerned. In the dream this one 'screening' person enters into all the relations and situations which derive from the persons whom she screens. In cases of composition, however, when persons are combined, there are already present in the dream-image features which are characteristic of, but not common to, the persons in question, so that a new unity, a composite person, appears as the result of the union of these features. The combination itself may be effected in various ways. Either the dream-person bears the name of one of the persons to whom he refers -- and in this case we simply know, in a manner that is quite analogous to knowledge in waking life, that this or that person is intended -- while the visual features belong to another person; or the dream-image itself is compounded of visual features which in reality are derived from the two. Also, in place of the visual features, the part played by the second person may be represented by the attitudes and gestures which are usually ascribed to him by the words he speaks, or by the situations in which he is placed. In this latter method of characterisation the sharp distinction between the identification and the combination of persons begins to disappear. But it may also happen that the formation of such a composite person is unsuccessful. The situations or actions of the dream are then attributed to one person, and the other -- as a rule the more important -- is introduced as an inactive spectator. Perhaps the dreamer will say: 'My mother was there too' (Stekel). Such an element of the dream-content is then comparable to a determinative in hieroglyphic script which is not meant to be expressed, but is intended only to explain another sign.

The common feature which justifies the union of two person -- that is to say, which enables it to be made -- may either be represented in the dream or it may be absent. As a rule identification or composition of persons actually serves to avoid the necessity of representing this common feature. Instead of repeating: 'A is ill-disposed towards me, and so is B', I make, in my dream, a composite person of A and B; or I conceive A as doing something which is alien to his character, but which is characteristic of B. The dream-person obtained in this way appears in the dream in some new connection, and the fact that he signifies both A and B justifies my inserting that which is common to both persons -- their hostility towards me -- at the proper place in the dream-interpretation. In this manner I often achieve a quite extraordinary degree of condensation of the dream-content; I am able to dispense with the direct representation of the very complicated relations belonging to one person, if I can find a second person who has an equal claim to some of these relations. It will be readily understood how far this representation by means of identification may circumvent the censoring resistance which sets up such harsh conditions for the dream-work. The thing that offends the censorship may reside in those very ideas which are connected in the dream-material with the one person; I now find a second person, who likewise stands in some relation to the objectionable material, but only to a part of it. Contact at that one point which offends the censorship now justifies my formation of a composite person, who is characterised by the indifferent features of each. This person, the result of combination or identification, being free of the censorship, is now suitable for incorporation in the dream-content. Thus, by the application of dream-condensation, I have satisfied the demands of the dream-censorship.

When a common feature of two persons is represented in a dream, this is usually a hint to look for another concealed common feature, the representation of which is made impossible by the censorship. Here a displacement of the common feature has occurred, which in some degree facilitates representation. From the circumstance that the composite person is shown to me in the dream with an indifferent common feature, I must infer that another common feature which is by no means indifferent exists in the dream-thoughts.

Accordingly, the identification or combination of persons serves various purposes in our dreams; in the first place, that of representing a feature common to two persons; secondly, that of representing a displaced common feature; and, thirdly, that of expressing a community of features which is merely wished for. As the wish for a community of features in two persons often coincides with the interchanging of these persons, this relation also is expressed in dreams by identification. In the dream of Irma's injection I wish to exchange one patient for another -- that is to say, I wish this other person to be my patient, as the former person has been; the dream deals with this wish by showing me a person who is called Irma, but who is examined in a position such as I have had occasion to see only the other person occupy. In the dream about my uncle this substitution is made the centre of the dream; I identify myself with the minister by judging and treating my colleagues as shabbily as he does.

It has been my experience -- and to this I have found no exception -- that every dream treats of oneself. Dreams are absolutely egoistic.[3] In cases where not my ego but only a strange person occurs in the dream-content, I may safely assume that by means of identification my ego is concealed behind that person. I am permitted to supplement my ego. On other occasions, when my ego appears in the dream the situation in which it is placed tells me that another person is concealing himself, by means of identification, behind the ego. In this case I must be prepared to find that in the interpretation I should transfer something which is connected with this person -- the hidden common feature -- to myself. There are also dreams in which my ego appears together with other persons who, when the identification is resolved, once more show themselves to be my ego. Through these identifications I shall then have to connect with my ego certain ideas to which the censorship has objected. I may also give my ego multiple representation in my dream, either directly or by means of identification with other people. By means of several such identifications an extraordinary amount of thought material may be condensed.[4] That one's ego should appear in the same dream several times or in different forms is fundamentally no more surprising than that it should appear, in conscious thinking, many times and in different places or in different relations: as, for example, in the sentence: 'When I think what a healthy child I was.'

Still easier than in the case of persons is the resolution of identifications in the case of localities designated by their own names, as here the disturbing influence of the all-powerful ego is lacking. In one of my dreams of Rome (p.96) the name of the place in which I find myself is Rome; I am surprised, however, by a large number of German placards at a street corner. This last is a wish-fulfilment, which immediately suggests Prague; the wish itself probably originated at a period of my youth when I was imbued with a German nationalistic spirit which today is quite subdued. At the time of my dream I was looking forward to meeting a friend in Prague; the identification of Rome with Prague is therefore explained by a desired common feature; I would rather meet my friend in Rome than in Prague; for the purpose of this meeting I should like to exchange Prague for Rome.

The possibility of creating composite formations is one of the chief causes of the fantastic character so common in dreams, in that it introduces into the dream-content elements which could never have been objects of perception. The psychic process which occurs in the creation of composite formations is obviously the same as that which we employ in conceiving or figuring a dragon or a centaur in our waking senses. The only difference is that in the fantastic creations of waking life the impression intended is itself the decisive factor, while the composite formation in the dream is determined by a factor -- the common feature in the dream-thoughts -- which is independent of its form. Composite formations in dreams may be achieved in a great many different ways. In the most artless of these methods only the properties of the one thing are represented, and this representation is accompanied by a knowledge that they refer to another object also. A more careful technique combines features of the one object with those of the other in a new image, while it makes skilful use of any really existing resemblances between the two objects. The new creation may prove to be wholly absurd, or even successful as a fantasy, according as the material and the wit employed in constructing it may permit. If the objects to be condensed into a unity are too incongruous, the dream-work is content with creating a composite formation with a comparatively distinct nucleus, to which are attached more indefinite modifications. The unification into one image has here been to some extent unsuccessful; the two representations overlap one another, and give rise to something like a contest between the visual images. Similar representations might be obtained in a drawing if one were to attempt to give form to a unified abstraction of disparate perceptual images.

Dreams naturally abound in such composite formations; I have given several examples of these in the dreams already analysed, and will now cite more such examples. In the dream on p. 199, which describes the career of my patient 'in flowery language', the dream-ego carries a spray of blossom in her hand which, as we have seen, signifies at once sexual innocence and sexual transgression. Moreover, from the manner in which the blossoms are set on, they recall cherry-blossom; the blossoms themselves, considered singly, are camellias, and finally the whole spray gives the dreamer the impression of an exotic plant. The common feature in the elements of this composite formation is revealed by the dream-thoughts. The blossoming spray is made up of allusions to presents by which she was induced or was to have been induced to behave in a manner agreeable to the giver. So it was with cherries in her childhood, and with a camellia-tree in her later years; the exotic character is an allusion to a much-travelled naturalist, who sought to win her favour by means of a drawing of a flower. Another female patient contrives a composite meaning out of bathing machines at a seaside resort, country privies, and the attics of our city dwelling-houses. A reference to human nakedness and exposure is common to the first two elements; and we may infer from their connection with the third element that (in her childhood) the garret was likewise the scene of bodily exposure. A dreamer of the male sex makes a composite locality out of two places in which 'treatment' is given -- my office and the assembly rooms in which he first became acquainted with his wife. Another, a female patient, after her elder brother has promised to regale her with caviare, dreams that his legs are covered all over with black beads of caviare. The two elements, 'taint' in a moral sense and the recollection of a cutaneous eruption in childhood which made her legs look as though studded over with red instead of black spots, have here been combined with the beads of caviare to form a new idea -- the idea of 'what she gets from her brother.' In this dream parts of the human body are treated as objects, as is usually the case in dreams. In one of the dreams recorded by Ferenczi there occurs a composite formation made up of the person of a physician and a horse, and this composite being wears a nightshirt. The common feature in these three components was revealed in the analysis, after the nightshirt had been recognised as an allusion to the father of the dreamer in a scene of childhood. In each of the three cases there was some object of her sexual curiosity. As a child she had often been taken by her nurse to the army stud, where she had the amplest opportunity to satisfy her curiosity, at that time still uninhibited.

I have already stated that the dream has no means of expressing the relation of contradiction, contrast, negation. I shall now contradict this assertion for the first time. A certain number of cases of what may be summed up under the word 'contrast' obtain representation, as we have seen, simply by means of identification -- that is, when an exchange, a substitution, can be bound up with the contrast. Of this we have cited repeated examples. Certain other of the contrasts in the dream-thoughts, which perhaps come under the category of 'inverted, turned into the opposite', are represented in dreams in the following remarkable manner, which may almost be described as witty. The 'inversion' does not itself make its way into the dream-content, but manifests its presence in the material by the fact that a part of the already formed dream-content which is, for other reasons, closely connected in context is -- as it were subsequently -- inverted. It is easier to illustrate this process than to describe it. In the beautiful 'Up and Down' dream (p. 176) the dream-representation of ascending is an inversion of its prototype in the dream-thoughts: that is, of the introductory scene of Daudet's Sappho; in the dream climbing is difficult at first and easy later on, whereas in the novel it is easy at first, and later becomes more and more difficult. Again, 'above' and 'below', with reference to the dreamer's brother, are reversed in the dream. This points to a relation of inversion or contrast between two parts of the material in the dream-thoughts, which indeed we found in them, for in the childish fantasy of the dreamer he is carried by his nurse, while in the novel, on the contrary, the hero carries his beloved. My dream of Goethe's attack on Herr M. (to be cited later) likewise contains an inversion of this sort, which must be set right before the dream can be interpreted. In this dream Goethe attacks a young man, Herr M.; the reality, as contained in the dream-thoughts, is that an eminent man, a friend of mine, has been attacked by an unknown young author. In the dream I reckon time from the date of Goethe's death; in reality the reckoning was made from the year in which the paralytic was born. The thought which influences the dream-material reveals itself as my opposition to the treatment of Goethe as though he were a lunatic. 'It is the other way about,' says the dream; 'if you don't understand the book it is you who are feeble-minded, not the author.' All these dreams of inversion, moreover, seem to me to imply an allusion to the contemptuous phrase, 'to turn one's back upon a person' (German: einem die Kehrseite zeigen, lit. to show a person one's backside): cf. the inversion in respect of the dreamer's brother in the Sappho dream. It is further worth noting how frequently inversion is employed in precisely those dreams which are inspired by repressed homosexual impulses.

Moreover, inversion, or transformation into the opposite, is one of the most favoured and most versatile methods of representation which the dream-work has at its disposal. It serves, in the first place, to enable the wish-fulfilment to prevail against a definite element of the dream-thoughts. 'If only it were the other way about!' is often the best expression for the reaction of the ego against a disagreeable recollection. But inversion becomes extraordinarily useful in the service of the censorship, for it effects, in the material to be represented, a degree of distortion which at first simply paralyses our understanding of the dream. It is therefore always permissible, if a dream stubbornly refuses to surrender its meaning, to venture on the experimental inversion of definite portions of its manifest content. Then, not infrequently, everything becomes clear.

Besides the inversion of content, the temporal inversion must not be overlooked. A frequent device of dream-distortion consists in presenting the final issue of the event or the conclusion of the train of thought at the beginning of the dream, and appending at the end of the dream, and appending at the end of the dream the premises of the conclusion, or the causes of the event. Anyone who forgets this technical device of dream-distortion stands helpless before the problem of dream-interpretation.[5]

In many cases, indeed, we discover the meaning of the dream only when we have subjected the dream-content to a multiple inversion, in accordance with the different relations. For example, in the dream of a young patient who is suffering from obsessional neurosis, the memory of the childish death-wish directed against a dreaded father concealed itself behind the following words: His father scolds him because he comes home so late, but the context of the psychoanalytic treatment and the impressions of the dreamer show that the sentence must be read as follows: He is angry with his father, and further, that his father always came home too early (i.e. too soon). He would have preferred that his father should not come home at all, which is identical with the wish (see p. 143 ff.) that his father would die. As a little boy, during the prolonged absence of his father, the dreamer was guilty of a sexual aggression against another child, and was punished by the threat: 'Just you wait until your father comes home!'

If we should seek to trace the relations between the dream-content and the dream-thoughts a little farther, we shall do this best by making the dream itself our point of departure, and asking ourselves: What do certain formal characteristics of the dream-presentation signify in relation to the dream-thoughts? First and foremost among the formal characteristics which are bound to impress us in dreams are the differences in the sensory intensity of the single dream-images, and in the distinctness of various parts of the dream, or of whole dreams as compared with one another. The differences in the intensity of individual dream images cover the whole gamut, from a sharpness of definition which one is inclined -- although without warrant -- to rate more highly than that of reality, to a provoking indistinctness which we declare to be characteristic of dreams, because it really is not wholly comparable to any of the degrees of indistinctness which we occasionally perceive in real objects. Moreover, we usually describe the impression which we receive of an indistinct object in a dream as 'fleeting', while we think of the more distinct dream-images as having been perceptible also for a longer period of time. We must now ask ourselves by what conditions in the dream-material these differences in the distinctness of the individual portions of the dream-content are brought about.

Before proceeding farther, it is necessary to deal with certain expectations which seem to be almost inevitable. Since actual sensations experienced during sleep may constitute part of the dream-material, it will probably be assumed that these sensations, or the dream-elements resulting from them, are emphasised by a special intensity, or conversely, that anything which is particularly vivid in the dream can probably be traced to such real sensations during sleep. My experience, however, has never confirmed this. It is not true that those elements of a dream which are derivatives of real impressions perceived in sleep (nerve stimuli) are distinguished by their special vividness from others which are based on memories. The factor of reality is inoperative in determining the intensity of dream-images.

Further, it might be expected that the sensory intensity (vividness) of single dream-images is in proportion to the psychic intensity of the elements corresponding to them in the dream-thoughts. In the latter, intensity is identical with psychic value; the most intense elements are in fact the most significant, and these constitute the central point of the dream-thoughts. We know, however, that it is precisely these elements which are usually not admitted to the dream-content, owing to the vigilance of the censorship. Still, it might be possible for their most immediate derivatives, which represent them in the dream, to reach a higher degree of intensity without, however, for that reason constituting the central point of the dream-representation. This assumption also vanishes as soon as we compare the dream and the dream-material. The intensity of the elements in the one has nothing to do with the intensity of the elements in the other; as a matter of fact, a complete 'transvaluation of all psychic values' takes place between the dream-material and the dream. The very element of the dream which is transient and hazy, and screened by more vigorous images, is often discovered to be the one and only direct derivative of the topic that completely dominates the dream-thoughts.

The intensity of the dream-elements proves to be determined in a different manner: that is, by two factors which are mutually independent. It will readily be understood that those elements by means of which the wish-fulfilment expresses itself are those which are intensely represented. But analysis tells us that from the most vivid elements of the dream the greatest number of trains of thought proceed, and that those which are most vivid are at the same time those which are best determined. No change of meaning is involved if we express this latter empirical proposition in the following formula: The greatest intensity is shown by those elements of the dream for whose formation the most extensive condensation-work was required. We may, therefore, expect that it will be possible to express this condition, as well as the other condition of the wish-fulfilment in a single formula.

I must utter a warning that the problem which I have just been considering -- the causes of the greater or lesser intensity or distinctness of single elements in dreams -- is not to be confounded with the other problem -- that of variations in the distinctness of whole dreams or sections of dreams. In the former case the opposite of distinctness is haziness; in the latter, confusion. It is, of course, undeniable that in both scales the two kinds of intensities rise and fall in unison. A portion of the dream which seems clear to us usually contains vivid elements; an obscure dream, on the contrary, is composed of less vivid elements. But the problem offered by the scale of definition, which ranges from the apparently clear to the indistinct or confused, is far more complicated than the problem of the fluctuations in vividness of the dream-elements. For reasons which will be given later, the former cannot at this stage be further discussed. In isolated cases one observes, not without surprise, that the impression of distinctness or indistinctness produced by a dream has nothing to do with the dream-structure, but proceeds from the dream-material, as one of its ingredients. Thus, for example, I remember a dream which on waking seemed so particularly well-constructed, flawless and clear that I made up my mind, while I was still in a somnolent state, to admit a new category of dreams -- those which had not been subject to the mechanism of condensation and distortion, and which might thus be described as 'fantasies during sleep.' A closer examination, however, proved that this unusual dream suffered from the same structural flaws and breaches as exist in all other dreams; so I abandoned the idea of a category of 'dream-fantasies'.[6] The content of the dream, reduced to its lowest terms, was that I was expounding to a friend a difficult and long-sought theory of bisexuality, and the wish-fulfilling power of the dream was responsible for the fact that this theory (which, by the way, was not communicated in the dream) appeared to be so lucid and flawless. Thus, what I believed to be a judgment as regards the finished dream was a part, and indeed the most essential part, of the dream-content. Here the dream-work reached out, as it were, into my first waking thoughts, and presented to me, in the form of a judgment of the dream, that part of the dream-material which it had failed to represent with precision in the dream. I was once confronted with the exact counterpart of this case by a female patient who at first absolutely declined to relate a dream which was necessary for the analysis 'because it was so hazy and confused', and who finally declared, after repeatedly protesting the inaccuracy of her description, that it seemed to her that several persons -- herself, her husband, and her father -- had occurred in the dream, and that she had not known whether her husband was her father, or who really was her father, or something of that sort. Comparison of this dream with the ideas which occurred to the dreamer in the course of the sitting showed beyond a doubt that it dealt with the rather commonplace story of a maidservant who has to confess that she is expecting a child, and hears doubts expressed as to 'who the father really is'.[7] The obscurity manifested by this dream, therefore, was once more a portion of the dream-exciting material. A fragment of this material was represented in the form of the dream. The form of the dream or of dreaming is employed with astonishing frequency to represent the concealed content.

Glosses on the dream, and seemingly harmless comments on it, often serve in the most subtle manner to conceal -- although, of course, they really betray -- a part of what is dreamed. As, for example, when the dreamer says: Here the dream was wiped out, and the analysis gives an infantile reminiscence of listening to someone cleaning himself after defecation. Or another example, which deserves to be recorded in detail: A young man has a very distinct dream, reminding him of fantasies of his boyhood which have remained conscious. He found himself in a hotel at a seasonal resort; it was night; he mistook the number of his room, and entered a room in which an elderly lady and her two daughters were undressing to go to bed. He continues: 'Then there are some gaps in the dream; something is missing; and at the end there was a man in the room, who wanted to throw me out, and with whom I had to struggle.' He tries in vain to recall the content and intention of the boyish fantasy to which the dream obviously alluded. But we finally become aware that the required content had already been given in his remarks concerning the indistinct part of the dream. The 'gaps' are the genital apertures of the women who are going to bed: 'Here something is missing' describes the principal characteristic of the female genitals. In his young days he burned with curiosity to see the female genitals, and was still inclined to adhere to the infantile sexual theory which attributes a male organ to women.

A very similar form was assumed in an analogous reminiscence of another dreamer. He dreamed: I go with Fräulein K. into the restaurant of the Volksgarten . . . then comes a dark place, an interruption . . . then I find myself in the salon of a brothel, where I see two or three women, one in a chemise and drawers.

Analysis. -- Fräulein K. is the daughter of his former employer; as he himself admits, she was a sister-substitute. He rarely had the opportunity of talking to her, but they once had a conversation in which 'one recognised one's sexuality, so to speak, as though one were to say: I am a man and you are a woman.' He had been only once to the above-mentioned restaurant, when he was accompanied by the sister of his brother-in-law, a girl to whom he was quite indifferent. On another occasion he accompanied three ladies to the door of the restaurant. The ladies were his sister, his sister-in-law, and the girl already mentioned. He was perfectly indifferent to all three of them, but they all belonged to the 'sister category'. He had visited a brothel but rarely, perhaps two or three times in his life.

The interpretation is based on the 'dark place', the 'interruption' in the dream, and informs us that on occasion, but in fact only rarely, obsessed by his boyish curiosity, he had inspected the genitals of his sister, a few years his junior. A few days later the misdemeanour indicated in the dream recurred to his conscious memory.

All dreams of the same night belong, in respect of their content, to the same whole; their division into several parts, their grouping and number, are all full of meaning and may be regarded as pieces of information about the latent dream-thoughts. In the interpretation of dreams consisting of several main sections, or of dreams belonging to the same night, we must not overlook the possibility that these different and successive dreams mean the same thing, expressing the same impulses in different material. That one of these homologous dreams which comes first in time is usually the most distorted and most bashful, while the next dream is bolder and more distinct.

Even Pharaoh's dream of the ears and the kine, which Joseph interpreted, was of this kind. It is given by Josephus in greater detail than in the Bible. After relating the first dream, the King said: 'After I had seen this vision I awaked out of my sleep, and, being in disorder, and considering with myself what this appearance should be, I fell asleep again, and saw another dream much more wonderful than the foregoing, which still did more affright and disturb me.' After listening to the relation of the dream, Joseph said: 'This dream, O King, although seen under two forms, signifies one and the same event of things.'[8]

Jung, in his Beitrag sur Psychologie des Gerüchtes, relates how a veiled erotic dream of a schoolgirl was understood by her friends without interpretation, and continued by them with variations, and he remarks, with reference to one of these narrated dreams, 'that the concluding idea of a long series of dream-images had precisely the same content as the first image of the series had endeavoured to represent. The censorship thrust the complex out of the way as long as possible by a constant renewal of symbolic screenings, displacements, transformations into something harmless, etc.' Scherner was well acquainted with this peculiarity of dream-representation, and describes it in his Leben des Traumes in terms of a special law in the Appendix to his doctrine of organic stimulation: 'But finally, in all symbolic dream-formations emanating from definite nerve stimuli, the fantasy observes the general law that at the beginning of the dream it depicts the stimulating object only by the remotest and freest allusions, but towards the end, when the graphic impulse becomes exhausted, the stimulus itself is nakedly represented by its appropriate organ or its function; whereupon the dream, itself describing its organic motive, achieves its end . . .'

A pretty confirmation of this law of Scherner's has been furnished by Otto Rank in his essay Ein Traum, der sich selbst deutet. This dream, related to him by a girl, consisted of two dreams of the same night, separated by an interval of time, the second of which ended with an orgasm. It was possible to interpret this orgastic dream in detail in spite of the few ideas contributed by the dreamer, and the wealth of relations between the two dream-contents made it possible to recognise that the first dream expressed in modest language the same thing as the second, so that the latter -- the orgastic dream -- facilitated a full explanation of the former. From this example, Rank very justifiably argues the significance of orgastic dreams for the theory of dreams in general.

But in my experience it is only in rare cases that one is in a position to translate the lucidity or confusion of a dream, respectively, into a certainty or doubt in the dream-material. Later on I shall have to disclose a hitherto unmentioned factor in dream-formation, upon whose operation this qualitative scale in dreams is essentially dependent.

In many dreams in which a certain situation and environment are preserved for some time, there occur interruptions which may be described in the following words: 'But then it seemed as though it were, at the same time, another place, and there such and such a thing happened.' In these cases what interrupts the main action of the dream, which after a while may be continued again, reveals itself in the dream-material as a subordinate clause, an interpolated thought. Conditionality in the dream-thoughts is represented by simultaneity in the dream-content (wenn or wann = if or when, while).

We may now ask, What is the meaning of the sensation of inhibited movement which so often occurs in dreams, and is so closely allied to anxiety? One wants to move, and is unable to stir from the spot; or wants to accomplish something, and encounters obstacle after obstacle. The train is about to start, and one cannot reach it; one's hand is raised to avenge an insult, and its strength fails, etc. We have already met with this sensation in exhibition-dreams, but have as yet made no serious attempt to interpret it. It is convenient, but inadequate, to answer that there is motor paralysis in sleep, which manifests itself by means of the sensation alluded to. We may ask: 'Why is it, then, that we do not dream continually of such inhibited movements?' And we may permissibly suspect that this sensation, which may at any time occur during sleep, serves some sort of purpose for representation, and is evoked only when the need of this representation is present in the dream-material.

Inability to do a thing does not always appear in the dream as a sensation; it may appear simply as part of the dream-content. I think one case of this kind is especially fitted to enlighten us as to the meaning of this peculiarity. I shall give an abridged version of a dream in which I seem to be accused of dishonesty. The scene is a mixture made up of a private sanatorium and several other places. A manservant appears, to summon me to an inquiry. I know in the dream that something has been missed, and that the inquiry is taking place because I am suspected of having appropriated the lost article. Analysis shows that inquiry is to be taken in two senses; it includes the meaning of medical examination. Being conscious of my innocence, and my position as consultant in this sanatorium, I calmly follow the manservant. We are received at the door by another manservant who says, pointing at me, 'Have you brought him? Why, he is a respectable man.' Thereupon, and unattended, I enter a great hall where there are many machines, which reminds me of an inferno with its hellish instruments of punishment. I see a colleague strapped to an appliance; he has every reason to be interested in my appearance, but he takes no notice of me. I understand that I may now go. Then I cannot find my hat, and cannot go after all.

The wish that the dream fulfils is obviously the wish that my honesty shall be acknowledged, and that I may be permitted to go; there must therefore be all sorts of material in the dream-thoughts which comprise a contradiction of this wish. The fact that I may go is the sign of my absolution; if, then, the dream provides at its close an event which prevents me from going, we may readily conclude that the suppressed material of the contradiction is asserting itself in this feature. The fact that I cannot find my hat therefore means: 'You are not after all an honest man.' The inability to do something in the dream is the expression of a contradiction, a 'No'; so that our earlier assertion, to the effect that the dream is not capable of expressing a negation, must be revised accordingly.[9]

In other dreams in which the inability to do something occurs, not merely as a situation, but also as a sensation, the same contradiction is more emphatically expressed by the sensation of inhibited movement, or a will to which a counter-will is opposed. Thus the sensation of inhibited movement represents a conflict of will. We shall see later on that this very motor paralysis during sleep is one of the fundamental conditions of the psychic process which functions during dreaming. Now an impulse which is conveyed to the motor system is none other than the will, and the fact that we are certain that this impulse will be inhibited in sleep makes the whole process extraordinarily well-adapted to the representation of a will towards something and of a 'No' which opposes itself thereto. From my explanation of anxiety, it is easy to understand why the sensation of the inhibited will is so closely allied to anxiety, and why it is so often connected with it in dreams. Anxiety is a libidinal impulse which emanates from the unconscious and is inhibited by the preconscious.[10] Therefore, when a sensation of inhibition in the dream is accompanied by anxiety, the dream must be concerned with a volition which was at one time capable of arousing libido; there must be a sexual impulse.

As for the judgment which is often expressed during a dream: 'Of course, it is only a dream', and the psychic force to which it may be ascribed, I shall discuss these questions later on. For the present I will merely say that they are intended to depreciate the importance of what is being dreamed. The interesting problem allied to this, as to what is meant if a certain content in the dream is characterised in the dream itself as having been 'dreamed' -- the riddle of a 'dream within a dream' -- has been solved in a similar sense by W. Stekel, by the analysis of some convincing examples. Here again the part of the dream 'dreamed' is to be depreciated in value and robbed of its reality; that which the dreamer continues to dream after waking from the 'dream within a dream' is what the dream-wish desires to put in place of the obliterated reality. It may therefore be assumed that the part 'dreamed' contains the representation of the reality, the real memory, while, on the other hand, the continued dream contains the representation of what the dreamer merely wishes. The inclusion of a certain content in 'a dream within a dream' is therefore equivalent to the wish that what has been characterised as a dream had never occurred. In other words: when a particular incident is represented by the dream-work in a 'dream', it signifies the strongest confirmation of the reality of this incident, the most emphatic affirmation of it. The dream-work utilises the dream itself as a form of repudiation, and thereby confirms the theory that a dream is a wish-fulfilment.

[1]I have since given the complete analysis and synthesis of two dreams in the Bruchstück einer Hysterieanalyse, 1905 (Ges. Schriften, Bd. viii). Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, translated by Strachey, Collected Papers, vol. iii, Hogarth Press, London. O. Rank's analysis, Ein Traum der sich selbst deutet, deserves mention as the most complete interpretation of a comparatively long dream.

[2]From a work of K. Abel's Der Gegensinn der Urworte, 1884 (see my review of it in the Bleuler-Freud Jahrbuch, ii, 1910 (Ges. Schriften, Bd. x), I learned the surprising fact, which is confirmed by other philologists, that the oldest languages behaved just as dreams do in this regard. They had originally only one word for both extremes in a series of qualities or activities (strong-weak, old-young, far-near, bind-separate), and formed separate designations for the two opposites only secondarily, by slight modifications of the common primitive word. Abel demonstrates a very large number of those relationships in ancient Egyptian, and points to distinct remnants of the same development in the Semitic and Indo-Germanic languages.

[3]cf. here the observations made on pp. 161ff.

[4]If I do not know behind which of the persons appearing in the dream I am to look for my ego, I observe the following rule: That person in the dream who is subject to an emotion which I am aware of while asleep is the one that conceals my ego.

[5]The hysterical attack often employs the same device of temporal inversion in order to conceal its meaning from the observer. The attack of a hysterical girl, for example, consists in enacting a little romance, which she has imagined in the unconscious in connection with an encounter in a tram. A man, attracted by the beauty of her foot, addresses her while she is reading, whereupon she goes with him and a passionate love-scene ensues. Her attack begins with the representation of this scene by writhing movements of the body (accompanied by movements of the lips and folding of the arms to signify kisses and embraces), whereupon she hurries into the next room, sits down on a chair, lifts her skirt in order to show her foot, acts as though she were about to read a book, and speaks to me (answers me). Cf. the observation of Artemidorus: 'In interpreting dreamstories one must consider them the first time from the beginning to the end, and the second time from the end to the beginning.'

[6]I do not know today whether I was justified in doing so.

[7]Accompanying hysterical symptoms, amenorrhoea and profound depression were the chief troubles of this patient.

[8]Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, book ii, chap. v, trans. by Wm. Whiston, David McKay, Philadelphia.

[9]A reference to an experience of childhood emerges, in the complete analysis, through the following connecting links: 'The Moor has done his duty, the Moor can go.' And then follows the waggish question: 'How old is the Moor when he has done his duty?' -- 'A year, then he can go (walk).' (It is said that I came into the world with so much black curly hair that my mother declared that I was a little Moor.) The fact that I cannot find my hat is an experience of the day which has been exploited in various senses. Our servant, who is a genius at stowing things away, had hidden the hat. A rejection of melancholy thoughts of death is concealed behind the conclusion of the dream: 'I have not nearly done my duty yet; I cannot go yet.' Birth and death together -- as in the dream of Goethe and the paralytic, which was a little earlier in date.

[10]This theory is not in accordance with more recent views.


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