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Volume 5

Volume V:
The Interpretation of Dreams (II)
On Dreams (1900-1901)

1900A 5/339
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter VI: The dream-work.
(D) Considerations of representability.
The material of the dream thoughts, stripped to a large extent of its interrelations, is submitted to a process of compression, while at the same time displacements of intensity between its elements necessarily bring about a psychical transvaluation of the material. There are 2 sorts of displacements. One consists in the replacing of a particular idea by another in some way closely associated with it, and they are used to facilitate condensation in so far as, instead of 2 elements, a single common element intermediate between them finds its way into the dream. Another displacement exists and reveals itself in a change in verbal expression of the thoughts concerned. The direction taken by the displacement usually results in the exchange of a colorless and abstract expression in dream thought for a pictorial and concrete one. Of the various subsidiary thoughts attached to the essential dream thoughts, those which admit of visual representations will be preferred. The dream work does not shrink from the effort of recasting unadaptable thoughts into a new verbal form, provided that that process facilitates representation and so relieves the psychological pressure caused by constricted thinking.

1900A 5/350
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter VI: The dream-work.
(E) Representation by symbols in dreams-Some further typical dreams.
Since symbolism is used for representing sexual material in dreams, the question arises whether many of these symbols do not occur with a permanently fixed meaning. This symbolism is not peculiar to dreams, but is characteristic of unconscious ideation, in particular among the people (laymen). It is to be found in folklore, in popular myths, legends, linguistic idioms, proverbial wisdom and current jokes, to a more complete extent than in dreams. The following ideas or objects show dream representation by symbols: a hat as a symbol of a man or of male genitals; a little hat as the genital organ; being run over as a symbol of sexual intercourse; the genitals represented by buildings, stairs, and shafts; the male organ represented by persons and the female organ by a landscape. The more one is concerned with the solution of dreams, the more one is driven to recognize that the majority of the dreams of adults deal with sexual material and give expression to erotic wishes. Many dreams, if they are carefully interpreted, are bisexual, since they unquestionably admit of an over interpretation in which the dreamer’s homosexual impulses are realized, impulses which are contrary to his normal sexual activities. A large number of dreams, often accompanied by anxiety and having as their content such subjects as passing through narrow spaces or being in water, are based upon phantasies of intrauterine life, of existence in the womb, and of the act of birth.

1900A 5/405
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter VI: The dream-work.
(F) Some examples. Calculations and speeches in dreams.
A few instances of peculiar or unusual modes of representation in dreams are presented. For the purpose of representation in dreams, the spelling of words is far less important than their sound. The dream work makes use, for the purpose of giving a visual representation of the dream thoughts, of any methods within its reach, whether waking criticism regards them as legitimate or illegitimate. The dream work can often succeed in representing very refractory material, such as proper names, by a farfetched use of out-of4he-way associations. The dream work does not in fact carry out any calculations at all, whether correctly or incorrectly; it merely throws into the form of a calculation numbers which are present in the dream thoughts and can serve as allusions to matter that cannot be represented in any other way. The dream work treats numbers as a medium for the expression of its purpose in precisely the same way as it treats any other idea, including proper names and speeches that occur recognizably as verbal presentations. The dream work cannot actually create speeches. However much speeches and conversations, whether reasonable or unreasonable in themselves, may figure in dreams, analysis invariably proves that all that the dream has done is to extract from the dream thoughts fragments of speeches which have really been made or heard.

1900A 5/426
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter VI: The dream-work.
(G) Absurd dreams-Intellectual activity in dreams.
Absurdity in dreams is discussed. The frequency with which dead people appear in dreams and act and associate with us as though they were alive has produced some remarkable explanations which emphasize our lack of understanding of dreams. Often we think, what would that particular person do, think or say if he were alive. Dreams are unable to express an if of any kind except by representing the person concerned as present in some particular situation. Dreams of dead people whom the dreamer has loved raise problems in dream interpretation and these cannot always be satisfactorily solved due to the strongly marked emotional ambivalence which dominates the dreamer’s relation to the dead person. A dream is made absurd if a judgment that something is absurd is among the elements included in the dream thoughts. Absurdity is accordingly one of the methods by which the dream work represents a contradiction, besides such other methods as the reversal in the dream content of some material relation in the dream thoughts, or the exploitation of the sensation of motor inhibition. Everything that appears in dreams as the ostensible activity of the function of judgment is to be regarded, not as an intellectual achievement of the dream work, but as belonging to the material of the dream thought and as having been lifted from them into the manifest content of the dream as a readymade structure. Even the judgments, made after waking, upon a dream that has been remembered, and the feelings called up by the reproduction of such a dream form part of the latent content of the dream and are to be included in its interpretation. An act of judgment in a dream is only a repetition of some prototype in the dream thoughts.

1900A 5/460
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter VI: The dream-work.
(H) Affects in dreams.
In dreams, the ideational content is not accompanied by the affective consequences that should be regarded as inevitable in waking thought. In the case of a psychical complex which has come under the influence of the censorship imposed by resistance, the affects are least influenced and can indicate how we should derive the missing thoughts. In some dreams the affect remains in contact with the ideational material which has replaced that to which the affect was originally attached, in others, the dissolution of the complex has proceeded further. The affect makes its appearance completely detached from the idea which belongs to it and is introduced at some other point in the dream, where it fits in with the new arrangement of the dream elements. If an important conclusion is drawn in the dream thoughts, the dream also contains a conclusion, but this latter conclusion may be displaced on to quite different material. Such a displacement not infrequently follows the principle of antithesis. The dream work can also turn the affects in the dream thoughts into their opposite. A dominating element in a sleeper’s mind may be constituted by a tendency to some affect and this may then have a determining influence upon his dreams. A mood of this kind may arise from his experiences or thoughts during the preceding day, or its sources may be somatic. In either case it will be accompanied by trains of thought appropriate to it.

1900A 5/488
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter VI: The dream-work.
(1) Secondary revision.
A majority of the critical feelings in dreams are not in fact directed against the content of the dream, but are portions of the dream thoughts which have been taken over and used to an appropriate end. The censoring agency is responsible for interpolations and additions (secondary revisions) in the dream content. The interpolations are less easily retained in the memory than genuine derivatives of the material of the dream thoughts; if the dream is to be forgotten they are the first part of it to disappear. Daytime phantasies share a large number of their properties with night dreams. Like dreams, they are wish fulfillments; like dreams, they are based to a great extent on impressions of infantile experiences; like dreams, they benefit by a certain degree of relaxation of censorship. Dream work makes use of a ready made phantasy instead of putting one together out of the material of the dream thoughts. The psychical function which carries out what is described as the secondary revision of the content of dreams is identified with the activity of our waking thought. Our waking (preconscious) thinking behaves towards any perceptual material with which it meets in just the same way as secondary revision behaves towards the content of dreams. Secondary revision is the one significant factor in the dream work which has been observed by the majority of writers on the subject.

1900A 5/509
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter VII: The psychology of the dream-processes.
(A) The forgetting of dreams.
The psychology of forgetting dreams is discussed. What we remember of a dream and what we exercise our interpretative arts upon has been mutilated by the untrustworthiness of our memory, which seems incapable of retaining a dream and may well have lost precisely the most important parts of its content. Our memory of dreams is not only fragmentary but positively inaccurate and falsified. The most trivial elements of a dream are indispensable to its interpretation and the work in hand is held up if attention is not paid to these elements until too late. The forgetting of dreams remains inexplicable unless the power of the psychical censorship is taken into account. The forgetting of dreams is tendentious and serves the purpose of resistance. Waking life shows an unmistakable inclination to forget any dream that has been formed in the course of the night, whether as a whole, directly after waking, or bit by bit in the course of the day. The agent chiefly responsible for this forgetting is the mental resistance to the dream which has already done what it could against it during the night. We need not suppose that every association that occurs during the work of interpretation has a place in the dream work during the night.

1900A 5/533
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter VII: The psychology of the dream processes.
(B) Regression.
The path leading through the preconscious to consciousness is barred to the dream thoughts during the daytime by the censorship imposed by resistance, but during the night they are able to obtain access to consciousness. In hallucinatory dreams, the excitation moves in a backward direction, instead of being transmitted towards the motor system it moves towards the sensory system and finally reaches the perceptual system. If we describe as ‘progressive’ the direction taken by psychical processes arising from the unconscious during waking life, then dreams are spoken of as having a regressive character. We call it regression when in a dream an idea is turned back into the sensory image from which it was originally derived. Regression is an effect of a resistance opposing the progress of a thought into consciousness along the normal path, and of a simultaneous attraction exercised upon the thought by the presence of memories possessing great sensory force. In the case of dreams, regression may perhaps be further facilitated by the cessation of the progressive current which streams in during the daytime from the sense organs; in other forms of regression, the absence of this accessory factor must be made up for by a greater intensity of other motives for regression. There are 3 kinds of regression: topographical regression, temporal regression, and formal regression.

1900A 5/550
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter VII: The psychology of the dream processes.
(C) Wish-fulfillment.
Dreams are fulfillments of wishes. There are some dreams which appear openly as wish fulfillments, and others in which the wish fulfillment is unrecognizable and often disguised. Undistorted wishful dreams are found principally in children; however, short, frankly wishful dreams seem to occur in adults as well. There are 3 possible origins for the wish. 1) It may have been aroused during the day and for external reasons may not have been satisfied. 2) It may have arisen during the day but been repudiated. 3) It may have no connection with daytime life and be one of those wishes which only emerge from the suppressed part of the mind and become active at night. Children’s dreams show that a wish that has not been dealt with during the day can act as a dream instigator. A conscious wish can only become a dream instigator if it succeeds in awakening an unconscious wish with the same tenor and in obtaining reinforcement from it. Dreaming is a piece of infantile mental life that has been superseded. Wishful impulses left over from conscious waking life must be relegated to a secondary position in respect to the formation of dreams. The unconscious wishful impulses try to make themselves effective in daytime as well, and the fact of transference, as well as the psychoses, show us that they endeavor to force their way by way of the preconscious system into consciousness and to obtain control of the power of movement. It can be asserted that a hysterical symptom develops only where the fulfilments of 2 opposing wishes, arising each from a different psychical system, are able to converge in a single expression.

1900A 5/573
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter VII: The psychology of the dream processes.
(D) Arousal by dreams-The function of dreams-Anxiety-dreams.
The function of dreams is discussed. The state of sleep makes the sensory surface of consciousness which is directed toward the preconscious far more insusceptible to excitation than the surface directed towards the perceptual systems. Interest on the thought processes during sleep is abandoned while unconscious wishes always remain active. There are 2 possible outcomes for any particular unconscious excitatory process: Either it may be left to itself, in which case it eventually forces its way through consciousness and finds discharge for its excitation in movement; or it may come under the influence of the preconscious, and its excitation, instead of being discharged, may be bound by the preconscious. This second alternative occurs in the process of dreaming. The cathexis from the preconscious which goes halfway to meet the dream after it has become perceptual binds the dream’s unconscious excitation and makes it powerless to act as a disturbance. The theory of anxiety dreams forms part of the psychology of the neuroses. Since neurotic anxiety arises from sexual sources Freud analyses a number of anxiety dreams in order to indicate the sexual material present in their dream thoughts.

1900A 5/588
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter VII: The psychology of the dream processes.
(E) The primary and secondary processes-Repression.
The view that dreams carry on the occupations and interest of waking life has been confirmed by the discovery of concealed dream thoughts. The theory of dreams regards wishes originating in infancy as the indispensable motive force for the formation of dreams. A dream takes the place of a number of thoughts which are derived from our daily life and which form a completely logical sequence. Two fundamentally different kinds of psychical processes are concerned in the formation of dreams: One of these produces perfectly rational dream thoughts, of no less validity than normal thinking; while the other treats these thoughts in a manner which is bewildering and irrational. A normal train of thought is only submitted to abnormal psychical treatment if an unconscious wish, derived from infancy and in a state of repression, has been transferred on to it. As a result of the unpleasure principle, the first psychical system is totally incapable of bringing anything disagreeable into the context of its thoughts. It is unable to do anything but wish. The second system can only cathect an idea if it is in a position to inhibit any development of unpleasure that may proceed from it. Anything that could evade that inhibition would be inaccessible to the second system as well as to the first; for it would promptly be dropped in obedience to the unpleasure principle. Described is the psychical process of which the first system alone admits as the primary process, and the process which results from the inhibition imposed by the second system as the secondary process. The second system is obliged to correct the primary process. Among the wishful impulses derived from infancy there are some whose fulfillment would be a contradiction of the purposive ideas of secondary thinking. The fulfillment of these wishes would no longer generate an affect of pleasure but of unpleasure; and it is this transformation of affect which constitutes the essence of ‘repression.’ It is concluded that what is suppressed continues to exist in normal people as well as abnormal, and remains capable of psychical functioning.

1900A 5/610
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Chapter VII: The psychology of the dream processes.
(F) The unconscious and consciousness-Reality.
The unconscious is the true psychical reality; in its innermost nature it is as much unknown to us as the reality of the external world, and it is as incompletely presented by the data of consciousness as is the external world by the communications of our sense organs. A dream is recognized as a form of expression of impulses which are under the pressure of resistance during the day but which have been able to find reinforcement during the night from deep-lying sources of excitation. The theoretical value of the study of dreams is looked for in the contributions it makes to psychological knowledge and in the light it throws on the problems of psycho-neuroses.

1941C 5/623
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).
Appendix A: A premonitory dream fulfilled.
Appendix B: List of writings by Freud dealing predominantly or largely with dreams.
A case of a premonitory dream fulfilled is discussed. Frau B. told Freud that she dreamt that she had met Dr. K., a friend and former family doctor of hers, in front of Hiess’s shop. The next morning, while she was walking along the same street, she in fact met the person in question at the very spot she had dreamt of. There was no evidence of her having had any recollection at all of the dream on the morning after she dreamt it, until after her walk. The dream was interpreted in terms of Frau B.’s previous life. It was concluded that she did not actually dream this dream the preceding night but that the dream was created after the event. The creation of a dream after the event, which alone makes prophetic dreams possible, is nothing other than a form of censoring, thanks to which the dream is able to make its way through into consciousness. An appendix is included which lists (in chronological order) the writings by Freud dealing predominantly with dreams.

1901A 5/631
On Dreams (1901). Parts I and II.
During the prescientific epoch, men had no difficulty in finding an explanation of dreams. When they remembered a dream after waking up, they regarded it as either a favorable or a hostile manifestation by higher powers, demonic and divine. Since the rejection of the mythological hypothesis, however, dreams have needed explanation. The majority of medical writers adopt a view according to which dreams scarcely reach the level of being psychical phenomena at all, stating that the sole instigators of dreams are the sensory and somatic stimuli which either impinge upon the sleeper from outside or become accidentally active in his internal organs. Freud believes that we obtain material that enables us to resolve any pathological idea if we turn our attention to those associations which are involuntary, which interfere with our reflection, and which are normally dismissed by our critical faculty as worthiess rubbish. If we make use of this procedure upon ourselves, we can best assist the investigation of the dream by at once writing down what are at first unintelligible associations. The dream is regarded as a sort of substitute for the thought processes, full of meaning and emotion. The content of the dream is very much shorter than the thoughts for which it is regarded as a substitute.

1901A 5/642
On Dreams (1901). Parts III and IV.
The transformation of the latent dream thoughts into the manifest dream content is the first instance of psychical material being changed from a mode of expression which is immediately intelligible to another which we can only come to understand with the help of guidance and effort, though it must be recognized as a function of our mental activity. Dreams can be divided into 3 categories in respect to the relation between their latent and manifest content. We may distinguish those dreams which make sense, are intelligible, and can be inserted without further difficulty into the context of our mental life. A second group is formed by those dreams which, though connected in themselves have a bewildering effect because we cannot see how to fit that sense into our mental life. Group 3 contains those dreams which are without either sense or intelligibility, which seem disconnected, confused, and meaningless. There is an intimate and regular relation between the unintelligible and confused nature of dreams and the difficulty of reporting the thoughts behind them. It is supposed that a transformation of some kind occurs even in confused dreams. The material in the dream thoughts which is packed together for the purpose of constructing a dream situation must in itself be adaptable for the purpose of condensation. There must be one or more common elements in all the components. It is thought that condensation, together with the transformation of thoughts into situations, is the most important and peculiar characteristic of the dream work. A formula is given for condensation in dreams.

1901A 5/654
On Dreams (1901). Parts V and VI.
In the case of the complicated and confused dreams, condensation and dramatization are not enough to account for the dissimilarity between the content of the dream and the dream thoughts. Through analysis, we have arrived at a knowledge of the dream thoughts, thus observing that the manifest dream content deals with quite different material from the latent thoughts. In the course of the dream-work, the psychical intensity passes over from the thoughts and ideas to which it properly belongs on to others which have no claim to any such emphasis. If what make their way into the content of dreams are impressions and material which are indifferent and trivial rather than justifiably stirring and interesting, that is only the effect of the process of displacement. Keeping in mind insights gained from replacing the manifest by the latent content of dreams it can be concluded that dreams are never concerned with things which we should not think it worth while to be concerned with during the day, and trivialities which do not affect us during the day are unable to pursue us in our sleep. The process of displacement is chiefly responsible for our being unable to discover or recognize the dream thoughts in the dream content, unless we understand the reason for their distortion. The manifest content of dreams consists mostly in pictorial situations; and the dream thoughts must accordingly be submitted to a treatment which will make them suitable for a representation of this kind. The psychical material of the dream thoughts habitually includes recollections of impressive experiences which are thus themselves perceived as situations having a visual subject matter. Dream content, however, does not consist entirely of situations, but also includes disconnected fragments of visual images, speeches and even bits of unmodified thoughts. Dreams take into account the connection which exists between all the portions of the dream thoughts by combining the whole material into a single situation. They reproduce logical connection by approximation in time and space.

1901A 5/666
On Dreams (1901). Parts VII, VIII, IX and X.
Considerations of intelligibility lead to the final revision of a dream and this reveals the origin of the activity. It behaves towards the dream content lying before it just as our normal psychical activity behaves in general towards any perceptual content that may be presented to it. Dreams which have undergone a revision at the hands of a psychical activity completely analogous to waking thought may be described as well constructed. Dream work is not creative. It develops no phantasies of its own; it makes no judgments and dreams no conclusions. A conclusion drawn in a dream is nothing other than the repetition of a conclusion in the dream thoughts. If the conclusion is taken over into the dream unmodified, it will appear impeccable; if the dream work has displaced it on to some other material, it will appear nonsensical. Displacement is the most striking of the special achievements of the dream work. The essential determining condition of displacement is a purely psychological one: something in the nature of a motive. Dreams which are intelligible and have a meaning are undisguised wish fulfillments. In the case of obscure and confused dreams, the dream situation represents a wish as fulfilled; however, the wish in such cases is either itself a repressed one and alien to consciousness, or it is intimately connected with repressed thoughts and is based upon them. The fundamental pattern for the generation of dreams is: repression, relaxation of the censorship, and the formation of a compromise.

1901A 5/678
On Dreams (1901). Parts XI, XII and XIII.
Dreams are regarded as the guardians of sleep. A psychical agency exists which exercises a dominating and inhibiting influence upon mental impulses and maintains that influence with severity, and which, owing to its relation to consciousness and to voluntary movement, contains the strongest instruments of psychical power. A portion of the impulses of childhood has been suppressed by this agency as being useless to life, and any thought material derived from those impulses is in a state of repression. While this agency, in which we recognize our normal ego, is concentrated on the wish to sleep, it it compelled by the psychophysiological conditions of sleep to relax the energy which it uses to repress material during the day. The dream provides a kind of psychical consummation for the wish that has been suppressed by representing it as fulfilled; while it also allows sleep to continue. The function of the dream as a guardian of sleep becomes particularly evident when an external stimulus impinges upon the senses of a sleeper. Most dreams of adults are traced back by analysis to erotic wishes. The majority of dream symbols serve to represent persons, parts of the body and activities invested with erotic interest; in particular the genitals are represented by a number of often very surprising symbols and the greatest variety of objects are employed to denote them symbolically. It is the task of dream interpretation to replace the dream by the latent dream thoughts, thus to unravel what the dream work has woven.

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

Carrie Lee Rothgeb, Editor


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