Freud: The Interpretation of Dreams, Chapter 6H
H. THE AFFECTS IN DREAMS
A shrewd remark of Stricker's called our attention to the fact that the expressions of affects in dreams cannot be disposed of in the contemptuous fashion in which we are wont to shake off the dream-content after we have waked. 'If I am afraid of robbers in my dreams, the robbers, to be sure, are imaginary, but the fear of them is real'; and the same thing is true if I rejoice in my dream. According to the testimony of our feelings, an affect experienced in a dream is in no way inferior to one of like intensity experienced in waking life, and the dream presses its claim to be accepted as part of our real psychic experiences, by virtue of its affective rather than its ideational content. In the waking state we do not put the one before the other, since we do not know how to evaluate an affect psychically except in connection with an ideational content. If an affect and an idea are ill-matched as regards their nature or their intensity, our waking judgment becomes confused.
The fact that in dreams the ideational content does not always produce the affective result which in our waking thoughts we should expect as its necessary consequence has always been a cause of astonishment. Strümpell declared that ideas in dreams are stripped of their psychic values. But there is no lack of instances in which the reverse is true; when an intensive manifestation of affect appears in a content which seems to offer no occasion for it. In my dream I may be in a horrible, dangerous, or disgusting situation, and yet I may feel no fear or aversion; on the other hand, I am sometimes terrified by harmless things, and sometimes delighted by childish things.
This enigma disappears more suddenly and more completely than perhaps any other dream-problem if we pass from the manifest to the latent content. We shall then no longer have to explain it, for it will no longer exist. Analysis tells us that the ideational contents have undergone displacements and substitutions, while the affects have remained unchanged. No wonder, then, that the ideational content which has been altered by dream-distortion no longer fits the affect which has remained intact; and no cause for wonder when analysis has put the correct content into its original place.
In a psychic complex which has been subjected to the influence of the resisting censorship, the affects are the unyielding constituent, which alone can guide us to the correct completion. This state of affairs is revealed in the psychoneuroses even more distinctly than in dreams. Here the affect is always in the right, at least as regards its quality; its intensity may, of course, be increased by displacement of the neurotic attention. When the hysterical patient wonders that he should be so afraid of a trifle, or when the sufferer from obsessions is astonished that he should reproach himself so bitterly for a mere nothing, they are both in error, inasmuch as they regard the conceptual content -- the trifle, the mere nothing -- as the essential thing, and they defend themselves in vain, because they make this conceptual content the starting-point of their thought-work. Psychoanalysis, however, puts them on the right path, inasmuch as it recognises that, on the contrary, it is the affect that is justified, and looks for the concept which pertains to it, and which has been repressed by a substitution. All that we need assume is that the liberation of affect and the conceptual content do not constitute the indissoluble organic unity as which we are wont to regard them, but that the two parts may be welded together, so that analysis will separate them. Dream-interpretation shows that this is actually the case.
I will first of all give an example in which analysis explains the apparent absence of affect in a conceptual content which ought to compel a liberation of affect.
Dream 1. The dreamer sees three lions in a desert, one of which is laughing, but she is not afraid of them. Then, however, she must have fled from them, for she is trying to climb a tree. But she finds that her cousin, the French teacher, is already up in the tree, etc.
The analysis yields the following material: The indifferent occasion of dream was a sentence in the dreamer's English exercise: 'The lion's greatest adornment is his mane.' Her father used to wear a beard which encircled his face like a mane. The name of her English teacher is Miss Lyons. An acquaintance of hers had sent her the ballads of Loewe (Loewe = lion). These, then, are the three lions; why should she be afraid of them? She has read a story in which a negro who has incited his fellows to revolt is hunted with bloodhounds, and climbs a tree to save himself. Then follow fragmentary recollections in the merriest mood, such as the following directions for catching lions (from Die Fliegende Blätter): 'Take a desert and put it through a sieve; the lions will be left behind.' Also a very amusing, but not very proper anecdote about an official who is asked why he does not take greater pains to win the favour of his chief, and who replies that he has been trying to creep into favour, but that his immediate superior was already up there. The whole matter becomes intelligible as soon as one learns that on the dream-day the lady had received a visit from her husband's superior. He was very polite to her, and kissed her hand, and she was not at all afraid of him, although he is a 'big bug' (Grosses Tier = big animal) and plays the part of a 'social lion' in the capital of her country. This lion is, therefore, like the lion in A Midsummer Night's Dream, who is unmasked as Snug the joiner; and of such stuff are all the dream-lions of which one is not afraid.
Dream 2. As my second example, I will cite the dream of the girl who saw her sister's little son lying as a corpse in his coffin, but who, it may be added, was conscious of no pain or sorrow. Why she was unmoved we know from the analysis. The dream only disguised her wish to see once more the man she loved; the affect had to be attuned to the wish, and not to its disguisement. There was thus no occasion for sorrow.
In a number of dreams the affect does at least remain connected with the conceptual content which has replaced the content really belonging to it. In others, the dissolution of the complex is carried farther. The affect is entirely separated from the idea belonging to it, and finds itself accommodated elsewhere in the dream, where it fits into the new arrangement of the dream-elements. We have seen that the same thing happens to acts of judgment in dreams. If an important inference occurs in the dream-thoughts, there is one in the dream also; but the inference in the dream may be displaced to entirely different material. Not infrequently this displacement is effected in accordance with the principal of antithesis.
I will illustrate the latter possibility by the following dream, which I have subjected to the most exhaustive analysis.
Dream 3. A castle by the sea; afterwards it lies not directly on the coast, but on a narrow canal leading to the sea. A certain Herr P. is the governor of the castle. I stand with him in a large salon with three windows, in front of which rise the projections of a wall, like battlements of a fortress. I belong to the garrison, perhaps as a volunteer naval officer. We fear the arrival of enemy warships, for we are in a state of war. Herr P. intends to leave the castle; he gives me instructions as to what must be done if what we fear should come to pass. His sick wife and his children are in the threatened castle. As soon as the bombardment begins, the large hall is to be cleared. He breathes heavily, and tries to get away; I detain him, and ask him how I am to send him news in case of need. He says something further, and immediately afterwards he sinks to the floor dead. I have probably taxed him unnecessarily with my questions. After his death, which makes no further impression upon me, I consider whether the widow is to remain in the castle, whether I should give notice of the death to the higher command, whether I should take over the control of the castle as the next in command. I now stand at the window, and scrutinise the ships as they pass by; they are cargo steamers, and they rush by over the dark water; several with more than one funnel, others with bulging decks (these are very like the railway stations in the preliminary dream, which has not been related). Then my brother is standing beside me, and we both look out of the window on to the canal. At the sight of one ship we are alarmed, and call out: 'Here comes the warship!' It turns out, however, that they are only the ships which I have already seen, returning. Now comes a small ship, comically truncated, so that it ends amidships; on the deck one sees curious things like cups or little boxes. We call out as with one voice: 'That is the breakfast ship.'
The rapid motion of the ships, the deep blue of the water, the brown smoke of the funnels -- all these together produce an intense and gloomy impression.
The localities in this dream are compiled from several journeys to the Adriatic (Miramare, Duino, Venice, Aquileia). A short but enjoyable Easter trip to Aquileia with my brother, a few weeks before the dream, was still fresh in my memory; also the naval war between America and Spain, and associated with this my anxiety as to the fate of my relatives in America, play a part in the dream. Manifestations of affect appear at two places in this dream. In one place an affect that would be expected is lacking: it is expressly emphasised that the death of the governor makes no impression upon me; at another point, when I see the warships, I am frightened, and experience all the sensations of fright in my sleep. The distribution of affects in this well-constructed dream has been effected in such a way that any obvious contradiction is avoided. For there is no reason why I should be frightened at the governor's death, and it is fitting that, as the commander of the castle, I should be alarmed by the sight of the warship. Now analysis shows that Herr P. is nothing but a substitute for my own ego (in the dream I am his substitute). I am the governor who suddenly dies. The dream-thoughts deal with the future of my family after my premature death. No other disagreeable thought is to be found among the dream thoughts. The alarm which goes with the sight of the warship must be transferred from it to this disagreeable thought. Inversely, the analysis shows that the region of the dream-thoughts from which the warship comes is laden with most cheerful reminiscences. In Venice, a year before the dream, one magically beautiful day, we stood at the windows of our room on the Riva Schiavoni and looked out over the blue lagoon, on which there was more traffic to be seen than usual. Some English ships were expected; they were to be given a festive reception; and suddenly my wife cried, happy as a child: 'Here comes the English warship!' In the dream I am frightened by the very same words; once more we see that speeches in dreams have their origin in speeches in real life. I shall presently show that even the element 'English' in this speech has not been lost for the dream-work. Here, then, between the dream-thoughts and the dream-content, I turn joy into fright, and I need only point to the fact that by means of this transformation I give expression to part of the latent dream-content. The example shows, however, that the dream-work is at liberty to detach the occasion of an affect from its connections in the dream-thoughts, and to insert it at any other place it chooses in the dream-content.
I will take the opportunity which is here incidentally offered of subjecting to a closer analysis the 'breakfast ship', whose appearance in the dream so absurdly concludes a situation that has been rationally adhered to. If I look more closely at this dream-object, I am impressed after the event by the fact that it was black, and that by reason of its truncation at its widest beam it achieved, at the truncated end, a considerable resemblance to an object which had aroused our interest in the museums of the Etruscan cities. This object was a rectangular cup of black clay, with two handles, upon which stood things like coffee-cups or tea-cups, very similar to our modern service for the breakfast table. Upon inquiry we learned that this was the toilet set of an Etruscan lady, with little boxes for rouge and powder; and we told one another jestingly that it would not be a bad idea to take a thing like that home to the lady of the house. The dream-object, therefore, signifies a 'black toilet' (toilette = dress), or mourning, and refers directly to a death. The other end of the dream-object reminds us of the 'boat' (German, Nachen, from the Greek root, vexus, as a philological friend informs me), upon which corpses were laid in prehistoric times, and were left to be buried by the sea. This is associated with the return of the ships in the dream.
'Silently on his rescued boat the old man drifts into harbour.'
It is the return voyage after the shipwreck (German: Schiff-bruck = ship-breaking); the breakfast ship looks as though it were broken off amidships. But whence comes the name 'breakfast' ship? This is where 'English' comes in, which we have left over from the warships. Breakfast, a breaking of the fast. Breaking again belongs to shipwreck (Schiff-bruch), and fasting is associated with the black (mourning).
But the only thing about this breakfast ship which has been newly created by the dream is its name. The thing existed in reality, and recalls to me one of the merriest moments of my last journey. As we distrusted the fare in Aquileia, we took some food with us from Goerz, and bought a bottle of the excellent Istrian wine in Aquileia; and while the little mail-steamer slowly travelled through the canale delle Mee and into the lonely expanse of lagoon in the direction of Grado, we had breakfast on deck in the highest spirits -- we were the only passengers -- and it tasted to us as few breakfasts have ever tasted. This, then, was the 'breakfast ship', and it is behind this very recollection of the gayest joie de vivre that the dream hides the saddest thoughts of an unknown and mysterious future.
The detachment of affects from the groups of ideas which have occasioned their liberation is the most striking thing that happens to them in dream-formation, but it is neither the only nor even the most essential change which they undergo on the way from the dream-thoughts to the manifest dream. If the affects in the dream-thoughts are compared with those in the dream, one thing at once becomes clear. Wherever there is an affect in the dream, it is to be found also in the dream-thoughts; the converse, however, is not true. In general, a dream is less rich in affects than the psychic material from which it is elaborated. When I have reconstructed the dream-thoughts, I see that the most intense psychic impulses are constantly striving in them for self-assertion, usually in conflict with others which are sharply opposed to them. Now, if I turn back to the dream, I often find it colourless and devoid of any very intensive affective tone. Not only the content, but also the affective tone of my thoughts is often reduced by the dream-work to the level of the indifferent. I might say that a suppression of the affects has been accomplished by the dream-work. Take, for example, the dream of the botanical monograph. It corresponds to a passionate plea for my freedom to act as I am acting, to arrange my life as seems right to me, and to me alone. The dream which results from this sounds indifferent; I have written a monograph; it is lying before me; it is provided with coloured plates, and dried plants are to be found in each copy. It is like the peace of a deserted battlefield; no trace is left of the tumult of battle.
But things may turn out quite differently; vivid expressions of affect may enter into the dream itself; but we will first of all consider the unquestioned fact that so many dreams appear indifferent, whereas it is never possible to go deeply into the dream-thoughts without deep emotion.
The complete theoretical explanation of this suppression of affects during the dream-work cannot be given here; it would require a most careful investigation of the theory of the affects and of the mechanism of repression. Here I can put forward only two suggestions. I am forced -- for other reasons -- to conceive the liberation of affects as a centrifugal process directed towards the interior of the body, analogous to the processes of motor and secretory innervation. Just as in the sleeping state the emission of motor impulses towards the outer world seems to be suspended, so the centrifugal awakening of affects by unconscious thinking during sleep may be rendered more difficult. The affective impulses which occur during the course of the dream-thoughts may thus in themselves be feeble, so that those that find their way into the dream are no stronger. According to this line of thought, the 'suppression of the affects' would not be a consequence of the dream-work at all, but a consequence of the state of sleep. This may be so, but it cannot possibly be all the truth. We must remember that all the more complex dreams have revealed themselves as the result of a compromise between conflicting psychic forces. On the one hand, the wish-forming thoughts have to oppose the contradiction of a censorship; on the other hand, as we have often seen, even in unconscious thinking, every train of thought is harnessed to its contradictory counterpart. Since all these trains of thought are capable of arousing affects, we shall, broadly speaking, hardly go astray if we conceive the suppression of affects as the result of the inhibition which the contrasts impose upon one another, and the censorship upon the urges which it has suppressed. The inhibition of affects would accordingly be the second consequence of the dream-censorship, just as dream-distortion was the first consequence.
I will here insert an example of a dream in which the indifferent emotional tone of the dream-content may be explained by the antagonism of the dream-thoughts. I must relate the following short dream, which every reader will read with disgust.
Dream 4. Rising ground, and on it something like an open-air latrine; a very long bench, at the end of which is a wide aperture. The whole of the back edge is thickly covered with little heaps of excrement of all sizes and degrees of freshness. A thicket behind the bench. I urinate upon the bench, a long stream of urine rinses everything clean, the patches of excrement come off easily and fall into the opening. Nevertheless, it seems as though something remained at the end.
Why did I experience no disgust in this dream?
Because, as the analysis shows, the most pleasant and gratifying thoughts have co-operated in the formation of this dream. Upon analysing it, I immediately think of the Augean stables which were cleansed by Hercules. I am this Hercules. The rising ground and the thicket belong to Aussee, where my children are now staying I have discovered the infantile etiology of the neuroses, and have thus guarded my own children from falling ill. The bench (omitting the aperture, of course) is the faithful copy of a piece of furniture of which an affectionate female patient has made me a present. This reminds me how my patients honour me. Even the museum of human excrement is susceptible of a gratifying interpretation. However much it disgusts me, it is a souvenir of the beautiful land of Italy, where in the small cities, as everyone knows, the privies are not equipped in any other way. The stream of urine that washes everything clean is an unmistakable allusion to greatness. It is in this manner that Gulliver extinguishes the great fire in Lilliput; to be sure, he thereby incurs the displeasure of the tiniest of queens. In this way, too, Gargantua. the superman of Master Rabelais, takes vengeance upon the Parisians, straddling Notre-Dame and training his stream of urine upon the city. Only yesterday I was turning over the leaves of Garnier's illustrations to Rabelais before I went to bed. And, strangely enough, here is another proof that I am the superman! The platform of Notre-Dame was my favourite nook in Paris; every free afternoon I used to go up into the towers of the cathedral and there clamber about between the monsters and gargoyles. The circumstance that all the excrement vanishes so rapidly before the stream of urine corresponds to the motto: Afflavit et dissipati sunt, which I shall some day make the title of a chapter on the therapeutics of hysteria.
And now as to the affective occasion of the dream. It had been a hot summer afternoon; in the evening, I had given my lecture on the connection between hysteria and the perversions, and everything which I had to say displeased me thoroughly, and seemed utterly valueless. I was tired; I took not the least pleasure in my difficult work, and longed to get away from this rummaging in human filth; first to see my children, and then to revisit the beauties of Italy. In this mood I went from the lecture-hall to a café to get some little refreshment in the open air, for my appetite had forsaken me. But a member of my audience went with me; he begged for permission to sit with me while I drank my coffee and gulped down my roll, and began to say flattering things to me. He told me how much he had learned from me, that he now saw everything through different eyes, that I had cleansed the Augean stables of error and prejudice, which encumbered the theory of the neuroses -- in short, that I was a very great man. My mood was ill-suited to his hymn of praise; I struggled with my disgust, and went home earlier in order to get rid of him; and before I went to sleep I turned over the leaves of Rabelais, and read a short story by C. F. Meyer entitled Die Leiden eines Knaben (The Sorrows of a Boy).
The dream had originated from this material, and Meyer's novel had supplied the recollections of scenes of childhood.
The day's mood of annoyance and disgust is continued in the dream, inasmuch as it is permitted to furnish nearly all the material for the dream-content. But during the night the opposite mood of vigorous, even immoderate self-assertion awakened and dissipated the earlier mood. The dream had to assume such a form as would accommodate both the expressions of self-depreciation and exaggerated self-glorification in the same material. This compromise-formation resulted in an ambiguous dream-content, but, owing to the mutual inhibition of the opposites, in an indifferent emotional tone.
According to the theory of wish-fulfilment, this dream would not have been possible had not the opposed, and indeed suppressed, yet pleasure-emphasised megalomaniac train of thought been added to the thoughts of disgust. For nothing painful is intended to be represented in dreams; the painful elements of our daily thoughts are able to force their way into our dreams only if at the same time they are able to disguise a wish-fulfilment.
The dream-work is able to dispose of the affects of the dream-thoughts in yet another way than by admitting them or reducing them to zero. It can transform them into their opposites. We are acquainted with the rule that for the purposes of interpretation every element of the dream may represent its opposite, as well as itself. One can never tell beforehand which is to be posited; only the context can decide this point. A suspicion of this state of affairs has evidently found its way into the popular consciousness; the dream-books, in their interpretations, often proceed according to the principle of contraries. This transformation into the contrary is made possible by the intimate associative ties which in our thoughts connect the idea of a thing with that of its opposite. Like every other displacement, this serves the purposes of the censorship, but it is often the work of wish-fulfilment, for wish-fulfilment consists in nothing more than the substitution of an unwelcome thing by its opposite. Just as concrete images may be transformed into their contraries in our dreams, so also may the affects of the dream-thoughts, and it is probable that this inversion of affects is usually brought about by the dream-censorship. The suppression and inversion of affects is useful even in social life, as is shown by the familiar analogy of the dream-censorship and, above all, hypocrisy. If I am conversing with a person to whom I must show consideration while I should like to address him as an enemy, it is almost more important that I should conceal the expression of my affect from him than that I should modify the verbal expression of my thoughts. If I address him in courteous terms, but accompany them by looks or gestures of hatred and disdain, the effect which I produce upon him is not very different from what it would have been had I cast my unmitigated contempt into his face. Above all, then, the censorship bids me suppress my affects, and if I am a master of the art of dissimulation I can hypocritically display the opposite affect -- smiling where I should like to be angry, and pretending affection where I should like to destroy.
We have already had an excellent example of such an inversion of affect in the service of the dream-censorship. In the dream 'of my uncle's beard' I feel great affection for my friend R. while (and because) the dream-thoughts berate him as a simpleton. From this example of the inversion of affects we derived our first proof of the existence of the censorship. Even here it is not necessary to assume that the dream-work creates a counter-affect of this kind that is altogether new; it usually finds it lying ready in the material of the dream-thoughts, and merely intensifies it with the psychic force of the defence-motives until it is able to predominate in the dream-formation. In the dream of my uncle, the affectionate counter-affect probably has its origin in an infantile source (as the continuation of the dream would suggest), for owing to the peculiar nature of my earliest childhood experiences the relation of uncle and nephew has become the source of all my friendships and hatred (cf. analysis on p. 279).
An excellent example of such a reversal of affect is found in a dream recorded by Ferenczi.
An elderly gentleman was awakened at night by his wife, who was frightened because he laughed so loudly and uncontrollably in his sleep. The man afterwards related that he had had the following dream: I lay in my bed, a gentleman known to me came in, I wanted to turn on the light, but I could not; I attempted to do so repeatedly, but in vain. Thereupon my wife got out of bed, in order to help me, but she, too, was unable to manage it; being ashamed of her néligé in the presence of the gentleman, she finally gave it up and went back to her bed; all this was so comical that I had to laugh terribly. My wife said: 'What are you laughing at, what are you laughing at?' but I continued to laugh until I woke. The following day the man was extremely depressed, and suffered from headache: 'From too much laughter, which shook me up,' he thought.
Analytically considered, the dream looks less comical. In the latent dream-thoughts the 'gentleman known' to him who came into the room is the image of death as the 'great unknown', which was awakened in his mind on the previous day. The old gentleman, who suffers from arteriosclerosis, had good reason to think of death on the day before the dream. The uncontrollable laughter takes the place of weeping and sobbing at the idea that he has to die. It is the light of life that he is no longer able to turn on. This mournful thought may have associated itself with a failure to effect sexual intercourse, which he had attempted shortly before this, and in which the assistance of his wife en négligé was of no avail; he realised that he was already on the decline. The dream-work knew how to transform the sad idea of impotence and death into a comic scene, and the sobbing into laughter.
There is one class of dreams which has a special claim to be called 'hypocritical', and which severely tests the theory of wishfulfilment. My attention was called to them when Frau Dr M. Hilferding proposed for discussion by the Psychoanalytic Society of Vienna a dream recorded by Rosegger, which is here reprinted:
In Waldheimat, vol. xi, Rosegger writes as follows in his story, Fremd gemacht (p. 303):
I usually enjoy healthful sleep, yet I have gone without repose on many a night; in addition to my modest existence as a student and literary man, I have for long years dragged out the shadow of a veritable tailor's life -- like a ghost from which I could not become divorced.
It is not true that I have occupied myself very often or very intensely with thoughts of my past during the day. A stormer of heaven and earth who has escaped from the hide of the Philistine has other things to think about. And as a gay young fellow, I hardly gave a thought to my nocturnal dreams; only later, when I had formed the habit of thinking about everything, or when the Philistine within me began to assert itself a little, did it strike me that -- when I dreamed at all -- I was always a journeyman tailor, and that in that capacity I had already worked in my master's shop for a long time without any pay. As I sat there beside him, and sewed and pressed, I was perfectly well aware that I no longer belonged there, and that as a burgess of the town I had other things to attend to; but I was always on a holiday, or away in the country, and so I sat beside my master and helped him. I often felt far from comfortable about it, and regretted the waste of time which I might have employed for better and more useful purposes. If anything was not quite correct in measure and cut I had to put up with a scolding from my master. Of wages there was never a question. Often, as I sat with bent back in the dark workshop, I decided to give notice and make myself scarce. Once I actually did so, but the master took no notice of me, and next time I was sitting beside him again and sewing.
How happy I was when I woke up after such weary hours! And I then resolved that, if this intrusive dream should ever occur again, I would energetically throw it off, and would cry aloud: 'It is only a delusion, I am lying in bed, and I want to sleep' . . . And the next night I would be sitting in the tailor's shop again.
So it went on for years, with dismal regularity. Once, when the master and I were working at Alpelhofer's, at the house of the peasant with whom I began my apprenticeship, it happened that my master was particularly dissatisfied with my work. 'I should like to know where in the world your thoughts are?' he cried, and looked at me sullenly. I thought the most sensible thing to do would be to get up and explain to the master that I was working with him only as a favour, and then take my leave. But I did not do this. I even submitted when the master engaged an apprentice, and ordered me to make room for him on the bench. I moved into the corner, and kept on sewing. On the same day another journeyman was engaged; a bigoted fellow; he was the Bohemian who had worked for us nineteen years earlier, and then had fallen into the lake on his way home from the public-house. When he tried to sit down there was no room for him. I looked at the master inquiringly, and he said to me: 'You have no talent for tailoring; you may go; you're a stranger henceforth.' My fright on that occasion was so overpowering that I woke.
The grey of morning glimmered through the clear windows of my familiar home. Objects d'art surrounded me; in the tasteful bookcase stood the eternal Homer, the gigantic Dante, the incomparable Shakespeare, the glorious Goethe -- all radiant and immortal. From the adjoining room resounded the clear little voices of the children, who were waking up prattling to their mother. I felt as though I had rediscovered that idyllically sweet, peaceful, poetical and spiritualised life in which I have so often and so deeply been conscious of contemplative human happiness. And yet I was vexed that I had not given my master notice first, but had been dismissed by him.
And how remarkable this seems to me: since that night, when my master 'made a stranger' of me, I have enjoyed restful sleep; I no longer dream of my tailoring days, which now lie in the remote past; which in their unpretentious simplicity were really so cheerful, but which, none the less, have cast a long shadow over the later years of my life.
In this series of dreams of a poet who, in his younger years, had been a journeyman tailor, it is hard to recognise the domination of the wish-fulfilment. All the delightful things occurred in his waking life, while the dream seemed to drag along with it the ghost-like shadow of an unhappy existence which had long been forgotten. Dreams of my own of a similar character enable me to give some explanation of such dreams. As a young doctor, I worked for a long time in the Chemical Institute without being able to accomplish anything in that exacting science, so that in the waking state I never think about this unfruitful and actually somewhat humiliating period of my student days. On the other hand, I have a recurring dream to the effect that I am working in the laboratory, making analyses, and experiments, and so forth: these dreams, like the examination-dreams, are disagreeable, and they are never very distinct. During the analysis of one of these dreams my attention was directed to the word 'analysis' which gave me the key to an understanding of them. since then I have become an 'analyst'. I make analyses which are greatly praised -- psychoanalyses, of course. Now I understand: when I feel proud of these analyses in my waking life, and feel inclined to boast of my achievements, my dreams hold up to me at night those other, unsuccessful analyses, of which I have no reason to be proud; they are the punitive dreams of the upstart, like those of the journeyman tailor who became a celebrated poet. But how is it possible for a dream to place itself at the service of self-criticism in its conflict with parvenu pride, and to take as its content a rational warning instead of a prohibited wish-fulfilment? I have already hinted that the answer to this question presents many difficulties. We may conclude that the foundation of the dream consisted at first of an arrogant fantasy of ambition; but that in its stead only its suppression and abasement has reached the dream-content. One must remember that there are masochistic tendencies in mental life to which such an inversion might be attributed. I see no objection to regarding such dreams as punishment-dreams, as distinguished from wish-fulfilling dreams. I should not see in this any limitation of the theory of dreams hitherto as presented, but merely a verbal concession to the point of view to which the convergence of contraries seems strange. But a more thorough investigation of individual dreams of this class allows us to recognise yet another element. In an indistinct, subordinate portion of one of my laboratory dreams, I was just at the age which placed me in the most gloomy and most unsuccessful year of my professional' career; I still had no position, and no idea how I was going to support myself, when I suddenly found that I had the choice of several women whom I might marry! I was, therefore, young again and, what is more, she was young again -- the woman who has shared with me all these difficult years. In this way, one of the wishes which constantly gnaws at the heart of the ageing man was revealed as the unconscious dream-instigator. The conflict raging in other psychic strata between vanity and self-criticism had certainly determined the dream-content, but the more deeply-rooted wish for youth had alone made it possible as a dream. One often says to oneself even in the waking state: 'To be sure, things are going well with you today, and once you found life very hard; but, after all, life was sweet in those days, when you were still so young.'
Another group of dreams, which I have often myself experienced, and which I have recognised to be hypocritical, have as their content a reconciliation with persons with whom one has long ceased to have friendly relations. The analysis constantly discovers an occasion which might well induce me to cast aside the last remnants of consideration for these former friends, and to treat them as strangers or enemies. But the dream chooses to depict the contrary relation.
In considering dreams recorded by a novelist or poet, we may often enough assume that he has excluded from the record those details which he felt to be disturbing and regarded as unessential. His dreams thus set us a problem which could be readily solved if we had an exact reproduction of the dream-content.
O. Rank has called my attention to the fact that in Grimm's fairy-tale of the valiant little tailor, or Seven at one Stroke, there is related a very similar dream of an upstart. The tailor, who has become a hero, and has married the king's daughter, dreams one night while lying beside the princess, his wife, about his trade; having become suspicious, on the following night she places armed guards where they can listen to what is said by the dreamer, and arrest him. But the little tailor is warned, and is able to correct his dream.
The complicated processes of removal, diminution, and inversion by which the affects of the dream-thoughts finally become the affects of the dream may be very well surveyed in suitable syntheses of completely analysed dreams. I shall here discuss a few examples of affective manifestations in dreams which will, I think, prove this conclusively in some of the cases cited.
Dream 5. In the dream about the odd task which the elder Brücke sets me -- that of preparing my own pelvis -- I am aware in the dream itself of not feeling appropriate horror. Now this is a wish-fulfilment in more senses than one. The preparation signifies the self-analyses which I perform, as it were, by publishing my book on dreams, which I actually found so painful that I postponed the printing of the completed manuscript for more than a year. The wish now arises that I may disregard this feeling of aversion, and for that reason I feel no horror (Grauen, which also means 'to grow grey') in the dream. I should much like to escape 'Grauen' in the other sense too, for I am already growing quite grey, and the grey in my hair warns me to delay no longer For we know that at the end of the dream this thought secures representation: 'I shall have to leave my children to reach the goal of their difficult journey without my help.'
In the two dreams that transfer the expression of satisfaction to the moments immediately after waking, this satisfaction is in the one case motivated by the expectation that I am now going to learn what is meant by 'I have already dreamed of this', and refers in reality to the birth of my first child, and in the other case it is motivated by the conviction that 'that which has been announced by a premonitory sign' is now going to happen, and the satisfaction is that which I felt on the arrival of my second son. Here the same affects that dominated in the dream-thoughts have remained in the dream, but the process is probably not quite so simple as this in any dream. If the two analyses are examined a little more closely it will be seen that this satisfaction, which does not succumb to the censorship, receives reinforcement from a source which must fear the censorship and whose affect would certainly have aroused opposition if it had not screened itself by a similar and readily admitted affect of satisfaction from the permitted source, and had, so to speak, sneaked in behind it. I am unfortunately unable to show this in the case of the actual dream, but an example from another situation will make my meaning intelligible. I will put the following case: Let there be a person near me whom I hate so strongly that I have a lively impulse to rejoice should anything happen to him. But the moral side of my nature does not give way to this impulse; I do not dare to express this sinister wish, and when something does happen to him which he does not deserve I suppress my satisfaction, and force myself to thoughts and expressions of regret. Everyone will at some time have found himself in such a position. But now let it happen that the hated person, through some transgression of his own, draws upon himself a well-deserved calamity; I shall now be allowed to give free rein to my satisfaction at his being visited by a just punishment, and I shall be expressing an opinion which coincides with that of other impartial persons. But I observe that my satisfaction proves to be more intense than that of others, for it has received reinforcement from another source -- from my hatred, which was hitherto prevented by the inner censorship from furnishing the affect, but which, under the altered circumstances, is no longer prevented from doing so. This case generally occurs in social life when antipathetic persons or the adherents of an unpopular minority have been guilty of some offence. Their punishment is then usually commensurate not with the guilt, but with their guilt plus the ill-will against them that has hitherto not been put into effect. Those who punish them doubtless commit an injustice, but they are prevented from becoming aware of it by the satisfaction arising from the release within themselves of a suppression of long standing. In such cases the quality of the affect is justified, but not its degree; and the selfcriticism that has been appeased in respect of the first point is only too ready to neglect to scrutinise the second point. Once you have opened the doors more people enter than it was your original intention to admit.
A striking feature of the neurotic character, namely, that in it causes capable of evoking affect produce results which are qualitatively justified but quantitatively excessive, is to be explained on these lines, in so far as it admits of a psychological explanation at all. But the excess of affect proceeds from unconscious and hitherto suppressed affective sources which are able to establish an associative connection with the actual occasion, and for whose liberation of affect the unprotested and permitted source of affects opens up the desired path. Our attention is thus called to the fact that the relation of mutual inhibition must not be regarded as the only relation obtaining between the suppressed and the suppressing psychic institution. The cases in which the two institution bring about a pathological result by co-operation and mutual reinforcement deserve just as much attention. These hints regarding the psychic mechanism will contribute to our understanding of the expressions of affects in dreams. A gratification which makes its appearance in a dream, and which, of course, may readily be found in its proper place in the dream-thoughts, may not always be fully explained by means of this reference. As a rule, it is necessary to search for a second source in the dream-thoughts, upon which the pressure of the censorship rests, and which, under this pressure, would have yielded not gratification but the contrary affect, had it not been enabled by the presence of the first dream-source to free its gratification-affect from repression, and reinforce the gratification springing from the other source. Hence affects which appear in dreams appear to be formed by the confluence of several tributaries, and are over-determined in respect of the material of the dream-thoughts. Sources of affect which are able to furnish the same affect combine in the dream-work in order to produce it.
Some insight into these involved relations is gained from the analysis of the admirable dream in which 'non vixit' constitutes the central point (cf. p. 277). In this dream expressions of affect of different qualities are concentrated at two points in the manifest content. Hostile and painful impulses (in the dream itself we have the phrase 'overcome by strange emotions') overlap one another at the point where I destroy my antagonistic friend with a couple of words. At the end of the dream I am greatly pleased, and am quite ready to believe in a possibility which I recognise as absurd when I am awake, namely, that there are revenants who can be swept away by a mere wish.
I have not yet mentioned the occasion of this dream. It is an important one, and leads us far down into the meaning of the dream. From my friend in Berlin (whom I have designed as Fl.) I had received the news that he was about to undergo an operation, and that relatives of his living in Vienna would inform me as to his condition. The first few messages after the operation were not very reassuring, and caused me great anxiety. I should have liked to go to him myself, but at that time I was afflicted with a painful complaint which made every movement a torment. I now learn from the dream-thoughts that I feared for this dear friend's life. I knew that his only sister, with whom I had never been acquainted, had died young, after a very brief illness. (In the dream Fl. tells me about his sister, and says: 'In three-quarters of an hour she was dead.') I must have imagined that his own constitution was not much stronger, and that I should soon be travelling, in spite of my health, in response to far worse news -- and that I should arrive too late, for which I should eternally reproach myself. This reproach, that I should arrive too late, has become the central point of the dream, but it has been represented in a scene in which the revered teacher of my student years -- Brücke -- reproaches me for the same thing with a terrible look from his blue eyes. What brought about this alteration of the scene will soon become apparent: the dream cannot reproduce the scene itself as I experienced it. To be sure, it leaves the blue eyes to the other man, but it gives me the part of the annihilator, an inversion which is obviously the work of the wish-fulfilment. My concern for the life of my friend, my self-reproach for not having gone to him, my shame (he had come to me in Vienna unobtrusively), my desire to consider myself excused on account of my illness -- all this builds up an emotional tempest which is distinctly felt in my sleep, and which rages in that region of the dream-thoughts.
But there was another thing in the occasion of the dream which had quite the opposite effect. With the unfavourable news during the first days of the operation I received also an injunction to speak to no one about the whole affair, which hurt my feelings, for it betrayed an unnecessary distrust of my discretion. I know, of course, that this request did not proceed from my friend, but that it was due to clumsiness or excessive timidity on the part of the messenger; yet the concealed reproach affected me very disagreeably, because it was not altogether unjustified. As we know, only reproaches which 'have something in them' have the power to hurt. Years ago, when I was younger than I am now, I knew two men who were friends, and who honoured me with their friendship; and I quite superfluously told one of them what the other had said of him. This incident, of course, had nothing to do with the affairs of my friend Fl., but I have never forgotten the reproaches to which I had to listen on that occasion. One of the two friends between whom I made trouble was Professor Fleischl; the other one I will call by his baptismal name, Josef, a name which was borne also by my friend and antagonist P., who appears in this dream.
In the dream the element unobtrusively points to the reproach that I cannot keep anything to myself, and so does the question of Fl. as to how much of his affairs I have told P. But it is the intervention of that old memory which transposes the reproach for arriving too late from the present to the time when I was working in Brücke's laboratory; and by replacing the second person in the annihilation scene of the dream by a Josef, I enable this scene to represent not only the first reproach -- that I have arrived too late -- but also that other reproach, more strongly affected by the repression, to the effect that I do not keep secrets. The work of condensation and displacement in this dream, as well as the motives for it, are now obvious.
My present trivial annoyance at the injunction not to divulge secrets draws reinforcement from springs that flow far beneath the surface, and so swells to a stream of hostile impulses towards persons who are in reality dear to me. The source which furnishes the reinforcement is to be found in my childhood. I have already said that my warm friendships as well as my enmities with persons of my own age go back to my childish relations to my nephew, who was a year older than I. In these he had the upper hand, and I early learned how to defend myself; we lived together, were inseparable, and loved one another, but at times, as the statements of older persons testify, we used to squabble and accuse one another. In a certain sense, all my friends are incarnations of this first figure; they are all revenants. My nephew himself returned when a young man, and then we were like Caesar and Brutus. An intimate friend and a hated enemy have always been indispensable to my emotional life; I have always been able to create them anew, and not infrequently my childish ideal has been so closely approached that friend and enemy have coincided in the same person; but not simultaneously, of course, nor in constant alternation, as was the case in my early childhood.
How, when such associations exist, a recent occasion of emotion may cast back to the infantile occasion and substitute this as a cause of affect, I shall not consider now. Such an investigation would properly belong to the psychology of unconscious thought, or a psychological explanation of the neuroses. Let us assume, for the purposes of dream-interpretation, that a childish recollection presents itself, or is created by the fantasy with, more or less, the following content: We two children quarrel on account of some object -- just what we shall leave undecided, although the memory, or illusion of memory, has a very definite object in view -- and each claims that he got there first, and therefore has the first right to it. We come to blows; Might comes before Right; and, according to the indications of the dream, I must have known that I was in the wrong (noticing the error myself); but this time I am the stronger, and take possession of the battlefield; the defeated combatant hurries to my father, his grandfather, and accuses me, and I defend myself with the words, which I have heard from my father: 'I hit him because he hit me.' Thus, this recollection, or more probably fantasy, which forces itself upon my attention in the course of the analysis -- without further evidence I myself do not know how -- becomes a central item of the dream-thoughts, which collects the affective impulses prevailing in the dream-thoughts, as the bowl of a fountain collects the water that flows into it. From this point the dream-thoughts flow along the following channels: 'It serves you right that you have had to make way for me; why did you try to push me off? I don't need you; I'll soon find someone else to play with,' etc. Then the channels are opened through which these thoughts flow back again into the dream-representation. For such an 'ote-toi que je m'y mette' I once had to reproach my deceased friend Josef. He was next to me in the line of promotion in Brücke's laboratory, but advancement there was very slow. Neither of the two assistants budged from his place, and youth became impatient. My friend, who knew that his days were numbered, and was bound by no intimate relation to his superior, sometimes gave free expression to his impatience. As this superior was a man seriously ill, the wish to see him removed by promotion was susceptible of an obnoxious secondary interpretation. Several years earlier, to be sure, I myself had cherished, even more intensely, the same wish -- to obtain a post which had fallen vacant; wherever there are gradations of rank and promotion the way is opened for the suppression of covetous wishes. Shakespeare's Prince Hal cannot rid himself of the temptation to see how the crown fits, even at the bedside of his sick father. But, as may readily be understood, the dream inflicts this inconsiderate wish not upon me, but upon my friend.
'As he was ambitious, I slew him.' As he could not expect that the other man would make way for him, the man himself has been put out of the way. I harbour these thoughts immediately after attending the unveiling of the memorial to the other man at the University. Part of the satisfaction which I feel in the dream may therefore be interpreted: A just punishment; it serves you right.
At the funeral of this friend a young man made the following remark, which seemed rather out of place: 'The preacher talked as though the world could no longer exist without this one human being.' Here was a stirring of revolt in the heart of a sincere man, whose grief had been disturbed by exaggeration. But with this speech are connected the dream-thoughts: 'No one is really irreplaceable; how many men have I already escorted to the grave! But I am still alive; I have survived them all; I claim the field.' Such a thought, at the moment when I fear that if I make a journey to see him I shall find my friend no longer among the living, permits only of the further development that I am glad once more to have survived someone; that it is not I who have died but he; that I am master of the field, as once I was in the imagined scene of my childhood. This satisfaction, infantile in origin, at the fact that I am master of the field, covers the greater part of the affect which appears in the dream. I am glad that I am the survivor; I express this sentiment with the naive egoism of the husband who says to his wife: 'If one of us dies, I shall move to Paris.' My expectation takes it as a matter of course that I am not the one to die.
It cannot be denied that great self-control is needed to interpret one's dreams and to report them. One has to reveal oneself as the sole villain among all the noble souls with whom one shares the breath of life. Thus, I find it quite comprehensible that revenants should exist only as long as one wants them, and that they can be obliterated by a wish. It was for this reason that my friend Josef was punished. But the revenants are the successive incarnations of the friend of my childhood; I am also gratified at having replaced this person for myself over and over again, and a substitute will doubtless soon be found even for the friend whom I am now on the point of losing. No one is irreplaceable.
But what has the dream-censorship been doing in the meantime? Why does it not raise the most emphatic objection to a train of thoughts characterised by such brutal selfishness, and transform the satisfaction inherent therein into extreme discomfort? I think it is because other unobjectionable trains of thought referring to the same persons result also in satisfaction, and with their affect cover that proceeding from the forbidden infantile sources. In another stratum of thought I said to myself, at the ceremony of unveiling the memorial: 'I have lost so many dear friends, some through death, some through the dissolution of friendship; is it not good that substitutes have presented themselves, that I have gained a friend who means more to me than the others could, and whom I shall now always retain, at an age when it is not easy to form new friendships?' The gratification of having found this substitute for my lost friend can be taken over into the dream without interference, but behind it there sneaks in the hostile feeling of malicious gratification from the infantile source. Childish affection undoubtedly helps to reinforce the rational affection of today; but childish hatred also has found its way into the representation.
But besides this, there is in the dream a distinct reference to another train of thoughts which may result in gratification. Some time before this, after long waiting, a little daughter was born to my friend. I knew how he had grieved for the sister whom he had lost at an early age, and I wrote to him that I felt that he would transfer to this child the love he had felt for her, that this little girl would at last make him forget his irreparable loss.
Thus this train also connects up with the intermediary thoughts of the latent dream-content, from which paths radiate in the most contrary directions: 'No one is irreplaceable. See, here are only revenants; all those whom one has lost return.' And now the bonds of association between the contradictory components of the dream-thoughts are more tightly drawn by the accidental circumstance that my friend's little daughter bears the same name as the girl playmate of my own youth, who was just my own age, and the sister of my oldest friend and antagonist. I heard the name 'Pauline' with satisfaction, and in order to allude to this coincidence I replaced one Josef in the dream by another Josef, and found it impossible to suppress the identical initials in the name Fleischl and Fl. From this point a train of thought runs to the naming of my own children. I insisted that the names should not be chosen according to the fashion of the day, but should be determined by regard for the memory of those dear to us. The children's names make them 'revenants'. And, finally, is not the procreation of children for all men the only way of access to immortality?
I shall add only a few observations as to the affects of dreams considered from another point of view. In the psyche of the sleeper an affective tendency -- what we call a mood -- may be contained as its dominating element, and may induce a corresponding mood in the dream. This mood may be the result of the experiences and thoughts of the day, or it may be of somatic origin; in either case it will be accompanied by the corresponding trains of thought. That this ideational content of the dream-thoughts should at one time determine the affective tendency primarily, while at another time it is awakened in a secondary manner by the somatically determined emotional disposition, is indifferent for the purposes of dream-formation. This is always subject to the restriction that it can represent only a wish-fulfilment, and that it may lend its psychic energy to the wish alone. The mood actually present will receive the same treatment as the sensation which actually emerges during sleep (cf. p. 133), which is either neglected or reinterpreted in the sense of a wish-fulfilment. Painful moods during sleep become the motive force of the dream, inasmuch as they awake energetic wishes which the dream has to fulfil. The material in which they inhere is elaborated until it is serviceable for the expression of the wish-fulfilment. The more intense and the more dominating the element of the painful mood in the dream-thoughts, the more surely will the most strongly suppressed wish-impulses take advantage of the opportunity to secure representation; for thanks to the actual existence of discomfort, which otherwise they would have to create spontaneously, they find that the more difficult part of the work necessary to ensure representation has already been accomplished; and with these observations we touch once more upon the problem of anxiety-dreams, which will prove to be the boundary-case of dream-activity.
If I am not greatly mistaken, the first dream which I was able to elicit from my grandson (aged 20 months) points to the fact that the dream-work had succeeded in transforming its material into a wish-fulfilment, while the affect which belonged to it remained unchanged even in the sleeping state The night before its father was to return to the front the child cried out, sobbing violently: 'Papa, Papa -- Baby.' That may mean: Let Papa and Baby still be together; while the weeping takes cognisance of the imminent departure. The child was at the time very well able to express the concept of separation. 'Fort' (= away, replaced by a peculiarly accented, long-drawn out ooooh) had been his first word, and for many months before this first dream he had played at 'away' with all his toys; which went back to his early self-conquest in allowing his mother to go away.
cf. the dream about Count Thun, last scene.
Internat. Zeitschr. f. Psychoanalyse, iv, 1916.
Ever since psychoanalysis has dissected the personality into an ego and a super-ego (Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, trans. by James Strachey, Intern. Psychoanalytic Press, London) it has been easy to recognise in these punishment-dreams wish-fulfilments of the super-ego.
I have since explained the extraordinary effect of pleasure produced by tendency wit on analogous lines.
It is this fancy from the unconscious dream-thoughts which pre-emptorily demands non vivit instead of non vixit. 'You have come too late, he is no longer alive.' The fact that the manifest situation of the dream aims at the non vivit has been mentioned on p. 277.
It will have been obvious that the name Josef plays a great part in my dreams (see the dream about my uncle). It is particularly easy for me to hide my ego in my dreams behind persons of this name, since Joseph was the name of the dream-interpreter in the Bible.