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Volume 4


Volume IV:
The Interpretation of Dreams (I) (1900)

4/xi
The Interpretation of Dreams (1953).
Editor’s introduction.
The Interpretation of Dreams is regarded by Freud as his most important work. This translation is based on the eighth (1930) German edition, the last published during Freud’s life. Students of Freud’s theoretical writings have been aware that even in his profoundest psychological speculations little or no discussion is to be found upon some of the most fundamental of the concepts of which he makes use: such concepts, for instance, as mental energy, sums of excitation, cathexis, quantity, quality, intensity, etc. A principal part was played in Freud’s scheme by a hypothetical division of the neurons into 3 classes or systems, differentiated according to their modes of functioning. Of these the first 2 were concerned respectively with external stimuli and internal excitations. Both of these operated on a purely quantitative basis; with their actions wholly determined by the magnitude of the nervous excitations impinging on them. The third system was correlated with the qualitative differences which distinguish conscious sensations and feelings. Freud asserted that The Interpretation of Dreams was finished in all essentials at the beginning of 1896. Through the Fliess correspondence the progress of composition can be followed in detail.

1900A 4/xxi
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Preface to the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth editions and third (revised) English edition (1900-1931).
The prefaces to the editions 1 through 6, 8 and the third revised English edition are presented. The second edition was called for 10 years after the publication of the book. The third edition was published 1 year later. The theory of dream interpretation has been developed further in a direction in which insufficient stress has been laid in the first edition of this book. The importance of symbolism in dreams was increasingly stressed. Dr. Brill’s first translation of The Interpretation of Dreams appeared in 1913. This third revised English edition with the new contribution to psychology which surprised the world when it was published (1900), remains essentially unaltered. It contains, even according to Freud’s judgment, the most valuable of all his discoveries.

1900A 4/1
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter I: The scientific literature dealing with the problems of dreams.
(A) The relation of dreams to waking life
The scientific literature dealing with the problems of dreams is discussed. The prescientific view of dreams adopted by the peoples of antiquity was in complete harmony with their view of the universe in general, which led them to project into the external world as though they were realities, things which in fact enjoyed reality only within their own minds. The unsophisticated waking judgment of someone who has just awakened from sleep assumes that his dreams, even if they did not themselves come from another world, had carried him off into another world. Two views of the relation of dreams to waking life are discussed: 1) that the mind is cut off in dreams, almost without memory, from the ordinary content and affairs of waking life or 2) that dreams carry on waking life and attach themselves to the ideas previously residing in consciousness. Due to the contradiction between these 2 views, a discussion of the subject is presented by Hildebrandt who believes that it is impossible to describe the characteristics of dreams at all except by means of a series of (3) contrasts which seem to sharpen into contradictions. It is concluded that the dream experience appears as something alien inserted between 2 sections of life which are perfectly continuous and consistent with each other.

1900A 4/11
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter I: The scientific literature dealing with the problems of dreams.
(B) The material of dreams-Memory in dreams.
All the material making up the content of a dream is in some way derived from experience. Dreams have at their command memories which are inaccessible in waking life. It is a very common event for a dream to give evidence of knowledge and memories which the waking subject is unaware of possessing. One of the sources from which dreams derive materials for reproduction, material which is in part neither remembered nor used in the activities of waking thought, is childhood experience. A number of writers assert that elements are to be found in most dreams, which are derived from the last very few days before they were dreamt. The most striking and least comprehensible characteristic of memory in dreams is shown in the choice of material reproduced: what is found worth remembering is not, as in waking life, only what is most important, but what is most indifferent and insignificant. This preference for indifferent, and consequently unnoticed, elements in waking experience is bound to lead people to overlook the dependence of dreams upon waking life and to make it difficult in any particular instance to prove that dependence. The way memory behaves in dreams is of the greatest importance for any theory of memory in general.

1900A 4/22
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter I: The scientific literature dealing with the problems of dreams.
(C) The stimuli and sources of dreams.
There are 4 kinds of sources of dreams: external (objective) sensory excitations; internal (subjective) sensory excitations; internal (organic) somatic stimuli; and purely psychical sources of stimulation. There are a great number of sensory stimuli that reach us during sleep, ranging from unavoidable ones which the state of sleep itself necessarily involves or must tolerate, to the accidental, rousing stimuli which may or do put an end to sleep. As sources of dream images, subjective sensory excitations have the advantage of not being dependent, like objective ones, upon external chance. The body, when in a diseased state, becomes a source of stimuli for dreams. In most dreams, somatic stimuli and the psychical instigators work in cooperation.

1900A 4/43
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter I: The scientific literature dealing with the problems of dreams.
(D) Why dreams are forgotten after waking.
It is a proverbial fact that dreams melt away in the morning. All the causes that lead to forgetting in waking life are operative for dreams as well. Many dream images are forgotten because they are too weak, while stronger images adjacent to them are remembered. It is in general as difficult and unusual to retain what is nonsensical as it is to retain what is confused and disordered. Dreams, in most cases, are lacking in intelligibility and orderliness. The compositions which constitute dreams are barren of the qualities (strength intensity, nonunique experience, orderly groupings) which would make it possible to remember them, and they are forgotten because as a rule they fall to pieces a moment after awakening, and because most people take very little interest in their dreams.

1900A 4/48
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter I: The scientific literature dealing with the problems of dreams.
(E) The distinguishing psychological characteristics of dreams.
It is assumed that dreams are products of our own mental activity. One of the principal peculiarities of dream life makes its appearance during the very process of falling asleep and may be described as a phenomenon heralding sleep. Dreams think predominantly in visual images, but make use of auditory images as well. In dreams, the subjective activity of our minds appears in an objective form, for our perceptive faculties regard the products of our imagination as though they were sense impressions. Sleep signifies an end of the authority of the self, hence, falling asleep brings a certain degree of passivity along with it. The literature that involves the psychological characteristics of dreams shows a very wide range of variation in the value which it assigns to dreams as psychical products. This range extends from the deepest disparagement through hints at a yet undisclosed worth, to an overvaluation which ranks dreams far higher than any of the functions of waking life.

1900A 4/63
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter I: The scientific literature dealing with the problems of dreams.
(F) The moral sense in dreams.
The moral sense in dreams is discussed. Some assert that the dictates of morality have no place in dreams, while others maintain that the moral character of man persists in his dream life. Those who maintain that the moral personality of man ceases to operate in dreams should, in strict logic, lose all interest in immoral dreams. Those who believe that morality extends to dreams are careful to avoid assuming complete responsibility for their dreams. The emergence of impulses which are foreign to our moral consciousness is merely analogous to the fact that dreams have access to ideational material which is absent in our waking state or plays but a small part in it. Affects in dreams cannot be judged in the same way as the remainder of their content; and we are faced by the problem of what part of the psychical processes occurring in dreams is to be regarded as real (has a claim to be classed among the psychical processes of waking life).

The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter I: The scientific literature in dealing with the problems of dreams.
(G) Theories of dreaming and its function.
Theories of dreaming and its function are discussed. Some theories (i.e. Delboeuf) states that the whole of psychical activity continues in dream. The mind does not sleep and its apparatus remains intact; but, since it falls under the conditions of the state of sleep, its normal functioning necessarily produces different results during sleep. There are other theories which presuppose that dreams imply a lowering of psychical activity, a loosening of connections, and an impoverishment of the material accessible. These theories must imply the attribution to sleep of characteristics quite different from those suggested by Delboeuf. A third group of theories ascribe to the dreaming mind a capacity and inclination for carrying out special psychical activities of which it is largely or totally incapable in waking life. The putting of these faculties into force usually provides dreaming with a utilitarian function. The explanation of dreaming by Schemer as a special activity of the mind, capable of free expansion only during the state of sleep is presented. He states that the material with which dream imagination accomplishes its artistic work is principally provided by the organic somatic stimuli which are obscure during the daytime.

1900A 4/88
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter I: The scientific literature dealing with the problems of dreams.
(H) The relations between dreams and mental diseases.
When we speak of the relation of dreams to mental disorders we may have 3 things in mind: 1) etiological and clinical connections, as when a dream represents a psychotic state, or introduces it, or is left over from it; 2) modifications to which dream life is subject in cases of mental disease; and 3) intrinsic connections between dreams and psychoses, analogies pointing to their being essentially akin. In addition to the psychology of dreams physicians will some day turn their attention to psychopathology of dreams. In cases of recovery from mental diseases it can often be observed that while functioning is normal during the day, dream life is still under the influence of the psychosis. The indisputable analogy between dreams and insanity is one of the most powerful factors of the medical theory of dream life which regards dreaming as a useless and disturbing process and as the expression of a reduced activity of the mind.

1900A 4/96
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter II: The method of interpreting dreams: An analysis of a specimen dream.
The method of interpreting dreams is presented. The aim that Freud sets is to show that dreams are capable of being interpreted. The lay world has hitherto made use of 2 essentially different methods: 1) It considers the content of the dream as a whole and seeks to replace it by another content which is intelligible and in certain respects analogous to the original one, this is (symbolic dream interpreting). 2) The decoding method, which treats dreams as a kind of cryptography in which each sign can be translated into another sign having a known meaning, in accordance with a fixed key. Neither of the 2 popular procedures for interpreting dreams can be employed for a scientific treatment of the subject. The object of the attention is not the dream as a whole but the separate portions of its content.

1900A 4/106
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter II: The method of interpreting dreams: An analysis of a specimen dream (preamble and dream).
An analysis of one of Freud’s dreams, the dream of July twenty 4hird to the twenty-fourth, 1895, is presented. During the summer of 1895, Freud had been giving psychoanalytic treatment to a woman who was on very friendly terms with him and his family. This woman was involved in the dream as a central figure (Irma). The dream was analyzed, one line or thought at a time. The dream fulfilled certain wishes which were initiated by the events of the previous evening. The conclusion of the dream was that Freud was not responsible for the persistence of Irma’s pains, but that Otto (a junior colleague) was. Otto had annoyed Freud by his remarks about Irma’s incomplete cure, and the dream gave Freud his revenge by throwing the reproach back. Certain other themes played a part in the dream, which were not so obviously connected with his exculpation from Irma’s illness: his daughter’s illness and that of his patient who bore the same name, the injurious effect of cocaine, the disorder of his patient who was traveling in Egypt, his concern about his wife’s health and about that of his brother and of Dr. M., his own physical ailments, and his anxiety about his absent friend who suffered from suppurative rhinitis. Freud concluded that when the work of interpretation is completed, it is perceived that a dream is the fulfillment of a wish.

1900A 4/122
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter III: A dream is the fulfillment of a wish.
It is easy to prove that dreams often reveal themselves as fulfillments of wishes. In a dream of convenience, dreaming has taken the place of action, as it often does elsewhere in life. Dreams which can only be understood as fulfillments of wishes and which bear their meaning upon their faces without disguise are found under the most frequent and various conditions. They are mostly short and simple dreams, which afford a pleasant contrast to the confused and exuberant compositions that have in the main attracted the attention of the authorities. The dreams of young children are frequently pure wish fulfillments and are subsequently quite uninteresting compared with the dreams of adults. A number of cases of dreams of children are presented and interpreted.

1900A 4/134
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter IV: Distortion in dreams.
The fact that the phenomena of censorship and of dream distortion correspond to their smallest details justifies assumption that they are similarly determined, therefore, it is supposed that dreams are given their shape in individual human beings by the operation of 2 psychical forces; and that one of these forces constructs the wish which is expressed by the dream, while the other exercises a censorship upon this dream wish and, by the use of that censorship, forcibly brings about a distortion in the expression of the wish. The very frequent dreams, which appear to stand in contradiction to Freud’s theory because their subject matter is the frustration of a wish or the occurrence of something clearly unwished for, may be brought together under the heading of counter wish dreams. If these dreams are considered as a whole, it seems possible to trace them back to 2 principles. One of the 2 motive forces is the wish that Freud may be wrong, the second motive involves the masochistic component in the sexual constitution of many people. Those who find their pleasure, not in having physical pain inflicted on them, but in humiliation and mental torture, may be described as mental masochists. People of this kind can have counter wish dreams and unpleasurable dreams, which are none the less wish fulfillments since they satisfy their masochistic inclinations. Anxiety dreams (a special subspecies of dreams with a distressing content) do not present a new aspect of the dream problem but present the question of neurotic anxiety. The anxiety that is felt in a dream is only apparently explained by the dream’s content. In cases of both phobias and anxiety dreams the anxiety is only superficially attached to the idea that accompanies it; it originates from another source. Since neurotic anxiety is derived from sexual life and corresponds to libido which has been diverted from its purpose and has found no employment, it can be inferred that anxiety dreams are dreams with a sexual content, the libido belonging to that which has been transformed into anxiety.

1900A 4/163
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter V: The material and sources of dreams.
(A) Recent and indifferent material in dreams.
Recent and indifferent material and sources of dreams are discussed. Dreams show a clear preference for the impressions of the immediately preceding days and make their selection upon different principles from our waking memory, since they do not recall what is essential and important but what is subsidiary and unnoticed. Dreams have at their disposal the earliest impressions of childhood and details from that period of life which is trivial and which in the waking state are believed to have been long forgotten. In each of Freud’s dreams, it is possible to find a point of contact with the experiences of the previous day. The instigating agent of every dream is to be found among the experiences which one has not yet slept on. Dreams can select their material from any part of the dreamer’s life, provided that there is a train of thought linking the experience of the dream day with the earlier ones. The analysis of a dream will regularly reveal its true, psychically significant source in waking life, though the emphasis has been displaced from the recollection of that source on to that of an indifferent one. The source of a dream may be either: 1) a recent and psychically significant experience, 2) several recent and significant experiences combined into 1 unit by the dream, 3) 1 or more recent and significant experiences represented in the dream content by a mention of a contemporary but indifferent experience or 4) an internal significant experience which is invariably represented in the dream by mention of a contemporary but indifferent impression. Considering these 4 cases, a psychical element which is significant but not recent can be replaced by an element which is recent but indifferent provided 1) the dream content is connected with a recent experience, and 2) the dream instigator remains a psychically significant process. Freud concludes that there are no indifferent dream instigators, therefore, no innocent dreams.

1900A 4/189
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter V: The material and sources of dreams.
(B) Infantile material as a source of dreams.
Infantile material is discussed as a source of dreams. Experiences from childhood play a part in dreams whose content would never have led one to suppose it. In the case of another group of dreams, analysis shows that the actual wish which instigated the dream, and the fulfillment of which is represented by the dream, is derived from childhood, so that we find the child and the child’s impulses still living on in the dream. The deeper one carries the analysis of a dream, the more often one comes upon the track of experiences in childhood which have played a part among the sources of that dream’s latent content. Trains of thought reaching back to earliest childhood lead off even from dreams which seem at first sight to have been completely interpreted, since their sources and instigating wish have been discovered without difficulty. Dreams frequently seem to have more than one meaning. Not ouly may they include several wish fulfillments, one alongside the other, but a succession of meanings or wish fulfillments may be superimposed on one another, the bottom one being the fulfillment of a wish dating from earliest childhood.

1900A 4/221
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter V: The material and sources of dreams.
(C) The somatic sources of dreams.
The somatic sources of dreams are discussed. There are 3 different kinds of somatic sources of stimulation: objective sensory stimuli arising from external objects, internal states of excitation of the sense organs having only a subjective basis, and somatic stimuli derived from the interior of the body. The significance of objective excitations of the sense organs is established from numerous observations and has been experimentally confirmed. The part played by subjective sensory excitations is demonstrated by the recurrence in dreams of hypnagogic sensory images. Though it is impossible to prove that the images and ideas occurring in dreams can be traced to internal somatic stimuli, this origin finds support in the universally recognized influence exercised upon dreams by states of excitation in digestive, urinary, and sexual organs. When external nervous stimuli and internal somatic stimuli are intense enough to force psychical attention to themselves, they then serve as a fixed point for the formation of a dream, a nucleus in its material; a wish fulfillment is then desired that shall correspond to this nucleus. Somatic sources of stimulation during sleep, unless they are of unusual intensity, play a similar part in the formation of dreams to that played by recent but indifferent impressions remaining from the previous day.

1900A 4/242
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter V: The material and sources of dreams.
(D) Typical dreams: (a) Embarassing dreams of being naked.
There are a certain number of typical dreams which almost everyone has dreamt and which we assume must have the same meaning for everyone. Dreams of being naked or insufficiently dressed in the presence of strangers sometimes occur with the additional feature of their being a complete absence of any such feeling of shame on the dreamer’s part. Freud is concerned only with those dreams of being naked in which one does feel shame and embarassment and tries to escape or hide, and is then overcome by a strange inhibition which prevents one from moving and makes one feel incapable of altering the distressing situation. The nature of the undress involved is customarily far from clear. The people in whose presence one feels ashamed are almost always strangers, with their features left indeterminate. The core of a dream of exhibiting lies in the figure of the dreamer himself (not as he was as a child but as he appears at the present time) and his inadequate clothing (which emerges indistinctly, whether owing to superimposed layers of innumerable later memories of being in undress or as a result of the censorship). Repression plays a part in dreams of exhibiting; for the distress felt in such dreams is a reaction against the content of the scene of exhibiting having found expression in spite of the ban upon it.

1900A 4/248
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter V: The material and sources of dreams.
(D) Typical dreams: (b) Dreams of the death of persons of whom the dreamer is fond.
There is a group of dreams which contains the death of some loved relative; for instance, of a parent, of a brother or sister, or of a child. Two classes of such dreams are distinguished: those in which the dreamer is unaffected by grief, so that on awakening he is astonished at his lack of feeling, and those in which the dreamer feels deeply pained by the death and may even weep bitterly in his sleep. Analyses of the dreams of class 1 show that they have some meaning other than the apparent one, and that they are intended to conceal some other wish. The meaning of the second class of dreams, as their content indicates, is a wish that the person in question may die. A child’s death wishes against his brothers and sisters are explained by the childish egoism which makes him regard them as his rivals. Dreams of the death of parents apply with preponderant frequency to the parent who is of the same sex as the dreamer. It is as though a sexual preference were making itself felt at an early age: as though boys regarded their fathers and girls their mothers as their rivals in love, whose elimination could not fail to be to their advantage.

1900A 4/271
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter V: The material and sources of dreams.
(D) Typical dreams: (c) Other typical dreams.
Since Freud has no experience of his own regarding other typical dreams in which the dreamer finds himself flying through the air to the accompaniment of agreeable feelings or falling with feelings of anxiety, he uses information provided by psychoanalysis to conclude that these dreams reproduce impressions of childhood and they relate to games involving movement, which are extraordinarily attractive to children. What provokes dreams of flying and falling is not the state of the tactile feelings during sleep or sensations of the movement of lungs: These sensations are themselves reproduced as part of the memory to which the dream goes back: rather, they are part of the content of the dream and not its source. All the tactile and motor sensations which occur in these typical dreams are called up immediately when there is any psychical reason for making use of them and they can be disregarded when no such need arises. The relation of these dreams to infantile experiences has been established due to indications from the analyses of psychoneurotics.

1900A 4/273
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter V: The material and sources of dreams.
(D) Typical dreams: (d) Examination dreams.
Everyone who has passed the matriculation examination at the end of his school studies complains of the obstinacy with which he is pursued by anxiety dreams of having failed, or of being obliged to take the examination again, etc. In the case of those who have obtained a University degree this typical dream is replaced by another one which represents them as having failed in the University finals; and it is in vain that they object, even while still asleep, that for a year they have been practicing medicine or working as University lecturers or heads of offices. The examination anxiety of neurotics owes its intensification to childhood fears. Anxious examination dreams search for some occasion in the past in which great anxiety has turned out to be unjustified and has been contradicted by the event. This situation would be a striking instance of the content of a dream being misunderstood by the waking agency (the dreamer).

1900A 4/279
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter VI: The dream-work:
(A) The work of condensation.
Every attempt that has hitherto been made to solve the problem of dreams has dealt directly with their manifest content as it is presented in memory. The dream thoughts and the dream content are presented like 2 versions of the same subject matter in 2 different languages. The dream content seems like a transcript of dream thoughts into another mode of expression, whose characters are syntactic laws are discovered by comparing the original and the translation. The dream thoughts are immediately comprehensible, as soon as we have learned them. The dream content is expressed as it were in a pictographic script, the characters of which have to be transposed individually into the language of the dream thoughts. The first thing that becomes clear to anyone who compares the dream content with the dream thoughts is that a work of condensation on a large scale has been carried out. Dreams are brief, meager, and laconic in comparison with the range and wealth of the dream thoughts. The work of condensation in dreams is seen at its clearest when it handles words and names. The verbal malformations in dreams greatly resemble those which are familiar in paranoia but which are also present in hysteria and obsessions. When spoken sentences occur in dreams and are expressly distinguished as such from thoughts, it is an invariable rule that the words spoken in the dream are derived from spoken words remembered in the dream material.

1900A 4/305
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter VI: The dream-work. (B) The work of displacement.
The dream is differently centered from the dream thoughts; its content has different elements as its central point. It seems plausible to suppose that in dream work a psychical force is operating which strips the elements which have a high psychical value of their intensity and, by means of overdetermination, creates from elements of low psychical value new values, which afterwards find their way into the dream content. If that is so, a transference and displacement of psychical intensities occurs in the process of dream formation, and it is as a result of these that the difference between the test of the dream content and that of the dream thoughts come about. We may assume that dream displacement comes about through the influence of the censorship of endopsychic defense. Those elements of the dream thoughts which make their way into the dream must escape the censorship imposed by resistance.

1900A 4/310
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter VI: The dream-work. (C) The means of representation in dreams.
The means of representation in dreams are discussed. In the process of transforming the latent thoughts into the manifest content of a dream, 2 factors are at work: dream condensation and dream displacement. The logical relation between the dream thoughts are not given any separate representation in dreams. If a contradiction occurs in a dream, it is either a contradiction of the dream itself or a contradiction derived from the subject matter of one of the dream thoughts. Dreams take into account the connection which undeniably exists between all the portions of the dream thoughts by combining the whole material into a single situation or event. Similarity, consonance, and the possession of common attributes are all represented in dreams by unification which may either by already present in the material of the dream thoughts or may be freshly constructed. Identification or the construction of composite figures serves various purposes in dreams: firstly to represent an element common to 2 persons, secondly to represent a displaced common element, and thirdly, to express a merely wishful common element. The content of all dreams that occur during the same night forms part of the same whole; the fact of their being divided into several sections, as well as the groupings and number of those sections has a meaning and may be regarded as a piece of information arising from the latent dream thoughts.

Abstracts of the Standard Edition of 
the Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud

Carrie Lee Rothgeb, Editor

 

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