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The dream process, Freud
samedi 19 décembre 2009, par
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE DREAM PROCESSES AMONG the dreams which have been communicated to me by others, there is one which is at this point especially worthy of our attention. It was told me by a female patient who had heard it related in a lecture on dreams. Its original source is unknown to me. This dream evidently made a deep impression upon the lady, since she went so far as to imitate it, i.e., to repeat the elements of this dream in a dream of her own ; in order, by this transference, to express her agreement with a certain point in the dream.
The preliminary conditions of this typical dream were as follows : A father had been watching day and night beside the sick-bed of his child. After the child died, he retired to rest in an adjoining room, but left the door ajar so that he could look from his room into the next, where the child’s body lay surrounded by tall candles. An old man, who had been installed as a watcher, sat beside the body, murmuring prayers. After sleeping for a few hours the father dreamed that the child was standing by his bed, clasping his arm and crying reproachfully : "Father, don’t you see that I am burning ?" The father woke up and noticed a bright light coming from the adjoining room. Rushing in, he found that the old man had fallen asleep, and the sheets and one arm of the beloved body were burnt by a fallen candle.
The meaning of this affecting dream is simple enough, and the explanation given by the lecturer, as my patient reported it, was correct. The bright light shining through the open door on to the sleeper’s eyes gave him the impression which he would have received had he been awake : namely, that a fire had been started near the corpse by a falling candle. It is quite possible that he had taken into his sleep his anxiety lest the aged watcher should not be equal to his task.
We can find nothing to change in this interpretation ; we can only add that the content of the dream must be overdetermined, and that the speech of the child must have consisted of phrases which it had uttered while still alive, and which were associated with important events for the father. Perhaps the complaint, "I am burning," was associated with the fever from which the child died, and "Father, don’t you see ?" to some other affective occurrence unknown to us.
Now, when we have come to recognize that the dream has meaning, and can be fitted into the context of psychic events, it may be surprising that a dream should have occurred in circumstances which called for such an immediate waking. We shall then note that even this dream is not lacking in a wish-fulfilment. The dead child behaves as though alive ; he warns his father himself ; he comes to his father’s bed and clasps his arm, as he probably did in the recollection from which the dream obtained the first part of the child’s speech. It was for the sake of this wish- fulfilment that the father slept a moment longer. The dream was given precedence over waking reflection because it was able to show the child still living. If the father had waked first, and had then drawn the conclusion which led him into the adjoining room, he would have shortened the child’s life by this one moment.
There can be no doubt about the peculiar features in this brief dream which engage our particular interest. So far, we have endeavoured mainly to ascertain wherein the secret meaning of the dream consists, how it is to be discovered, and what means the dream-work uses to conceal it. In other words, our greatest interest has hitherto been centered on the problems of interpretation. Now, however, we encounter a dream which is easily explained, and the meaning of which is without disguise ; we note that nevertheless this dream preserves the essential characteristics which conspicuously differentiate a dream from our waking thoughts, and this difference demands an explanation. It is only when we have disposed of all the problems of interpretation that we feel how incomplete is our psychology of dreams.
But before we turn our attention to this new path of investigation, let us stop and look back, and consider whether we have not overlooked something important on our way hither. For we must understand that the easy and comfortable part of our journey lies behind us. Hitherto, all the paths that we have followed have led, if I mistake not, to light, to explanation, and to full understanding ; but from the moment when we seek to penetrate more deeply into the psychic processes in dreaming, all paths lead into darkness. It is quite impossible to explain the dream as a psychic process, for to explain means to trace back to the known, and as yet we have no psychological knowledge to which we can refer such explanatory fundamentals as may be inferred from the psychological investigation of dreams. On the contrary, we shall be compelled to advance a number of new assumptions, which do little more than conjecture the structure of the psychic apparatus and the play of the energies active in it ; and we shall have to be careful not to go too far beyond the simplest logical construction, since otherwise its value will be doubtful. And even if we should be unerring in our inferences, and take cognizance of all the logical possibilities, we should still be in danger of arriving at a completely mistaken result, owing to the probable incompleteness of the preliminary statement of our elementary data. We shall not he able to arrive at any conclusions as to the structure and function of the psychic instrument from even the most careful investigation of dreams, or of any other isolated activity ; or, at all events, we shall not be able to confirm our conclusions. To do this we shall have to collate such phenomena as the comparative study of a whole series of psychic activities proves to be reliably constant. So that the psychological assumptions which we base on the analysis of the dream-processes will have to mark time, as it were, until they can join up with the results of other investigations which, proceeding from another starting-point, will seek to penetrate to the heart of the same problem.
A. The Forgetting of Dreams
I propose, then, that we shall first of all turn our attention to a subject which brings us to a hitherto disregarded objection, which threatens to undermine the very foundation of our efforts at dream-interpretation. The objection has been made from more than one quarter that the dream which we wish to interpret is really unknown to us, or, to be more precise, that we have no guarantee that we know it as it really occurred.
What we recollect of the dream, and what we subject to our methods of interpretation, is, in the first place, mutilated by the unfaithfulness of our memory, which seems quite peculiarly incapable of retaining dreams, and which may have omitted precisely the most significant parts of their content. For when we try to consider our dreams attentively, we often have reason to complain that we have dreamed much than we remember ; that unfortunately we know nothing more than this one fragment, and that our recollection of even this fragment seems to us strangely uncertain. Moreover, everything goes to prove that our memory reproduces the dream not only incompletely but also untruthfully, in a falsifying manner. As, on the one hand, we may doubt whether what we dreamed was really as disconnected as it is in our recollections, so on the other hand we may doubt whether a dream was really as coherent as our account of it ; whether in our attempted reproduction we have not filled in the gaps which really existed, or those which are due to forgetfulness, with new and arbitrarily chosen material ; whether we have not embellished the dream, rounded it off and corrected it, so that any conclusion as to its real content becomes impossible. Indeed, one writer (Spitta) * surmises that all that is orderly and coherent is really first put into the dream during the attempt to recall it. Thus we are in danger of being deprived of the very object whose value we have undertaken to determine.
* Similar views are expressed by Foucault and Tannery.
In all our dream-interpretations we have hitherto ignored these warnings. On the contrary, indeed, we have found that the smallest, most insignificant, and most uncertain components of the dream-content invited interpretations no less emphatically than those which were distinctly and certainly contained in the dream. In the dream of Irma’s injection we read : "I quickly called in Dr. M," and we assumed that even this small addendum would not have got into the dream if it had not been susceptible of a special derivation. In this way we arrived at the history of that unfortunate patient to whose bedside I quickly called my older colleague. In the seemingly absurd dream which treated the difference between fifty-one and fifty-six as a quantity negligible the number fifty-one was mentioned repeatedly. Instead of regarding this as a matter of course, or a detail of indifferent value, we proceeded from this to a second train of thought in the latent dream-content, which led to the number fifty-one, and by following up this clue we arrived at the fears which proposed fifty-one years as the term of life in the sharpest opposition to a dominant train of thought which was boastfully lavish of the years. In the dream Non vixit I found, as an insignificant interpolation, that I had at first overlooked the sentence : As P does not understand him, Fl asks me, etc. The interpretation then coming to a standstill, I went back to these words, and I found through them the way to the infantile phantasy which appeared in the dream-thoughts as an intermediate point of junction. This came about by means of the poet’s verses :
Selten habt ihr mich verstanden,
Selten auch verstand ich Euch,
Nur wenn wir im Kot uns fanden
So verstanden wir uns gleich ! *
* Seldom have you understood me,
Seldom have I understood you,
But when we found ourselves in the mire,
We at once understood each other ! Every analysis will afford evidence of the fact that the most insignificant features of the dream are indispensable to interpretation, and will show how the completion of the task is delayed if we postpone our examination of them. We have given equal attention, in the interpretation of dreams, to every nuance of verbal expression found in them ; indeed, whenever we are confronted by a senseless or insufficient wording, as though we had failed to translate the dream into the proper version, we have respected even these defects of expression. In brief, what other writers have regarded as arbitrary improvisations, concocted hastily to avoid confusion, we have treated like a sacred text. This contradiction calls for explanation. It would appear, without doing any injustice to the writers in question, that the explanation is in our favour. From the standpoint of our newly-acquired insight into the origin of dreams, all contradictions are completely reconciled. It is true that we distort the dream in our attempt to reproduce it ; we once more find therein what we have called the secondary and often misunderstanding elaboration of the dream by the agency of normal thinking. But this distortion is itself no more than a part of the elaboration to which the dream-thoughts are constantly subjected as a result of the dream-censorship. Other writers have here suspected or observed that part of the dream-distortion whose work is manifest ; but for us this is of little consequence, as we know that a far more extensive work of distortion, not so easily apprehended, has already taken the dream for its object from among the hidden dream-thoughts. The only mistake of these writers consists in believing the modification effected in the dream by its recollection and verbal expression to be arbitrary, incapable of further solution, and consequently liable to lead us astray in our cognition of the dream. They underestimate the determination of the dream in the psyche. Here there is nothing arbitrary. It can be shown that in all cases a second train of thought immediately takes over the determination of the elements which have been left undetermined by the first. For example, I wish quite arbitrarily to think of a number ; but this is not possible ; the number that occurs to me is definitely and necessarily determined by thoughts within me which may be quite foreign to my momentary purpose. * The modifications which the dream undergoes in its revision by the waking mind are just as little arbitrary. They preserve an associative connection with the content, whose place they take, and serve to show us the way to this content, which may itself be a substitute for yet another content. * Cf. The Psycho-pathology of Everday Life. In analysing the dreams of patients I impose the following test of this assertion, and never without success. If the first report of a dream seems not very comprehensible, I request the dreamer to repeat it. This he rarely does in the same words. But the passages in which the expression is modified are thereby made known to me as the weak points of the dream’s disguise ; they are what the embroidered emblem on Siegfried’s raiment was to Hagen. These are the points from which the analysis may start. The narrator has been admonished by my announcement that I intend to take special pains to solve the dream, and immediately, obedient to the urge of resistance, he protects the weak points of the dream’s disguise, replacing a treacherous expression by a less relevant one. He thus calls my attention to the expressions which he has discarded. From the efforts made to guard against the solution of the dream, I can also draw conclusions about the care with which the raiment of the dream has been woven. The writers whom I have mentioned are, however, less justified when they attribute so much importance to the doubt with which our judgment approaches the relation of the dream. For this doubt is not intellectually warranted ; our memory can give no guarantees, but nevertheless we are compelled to credit its statements far more frequently than is objectively justifiable. Doubt concerning the accurate reproduction of the dream, or of individual data of the dream, is only another offshoot of the dream-censorship, that is, of resistance to the emergence of the dream-thoughts into consciousness. This resistance has not yet exhausted itself by the displacements and substitutions which it has effected, so that it still clings, in the form of doubt, to what has been allowed to emerge. We can recognize this doubt all the more readily in that it is careful never to attack the intensive elements of the dream, but only the weak and indistinct ones. But we already know that a transvaluation of all the psychic values has taken place between the dream-thoughts and the dream. The distortion has been made possible only by devaluation ; it constantly manifests itself in this way and sometimes contents itself therewith. If doubt is added to the indistinctness of an element of the dream-content, we may, following this indication, recognize in this element a direct offshoot of one of the outlawed dream-thoughts. The state of affairs is like that obtaining after a great revolution in one of the republics of antiquity or the Renaissance. The once powerful, ruling families of the nobility are now banished ; all high posts are filled by upstarts ; in the city itself only the poorer and most powerless citizens, or the remoter followers of the vanquished party, are tolerated. Even the latter do not enjoy the full rights of citizenship. They are watched with suspicion. In our case, instead of suspicion we have doubt. I must insist, therefore, that in the analysis of a dream one must emancipate oneself from the whole scale of standards of reliability ; and if there is the slightest possibility that this or that may have occurred in the dream, it should be treated as an absolute certainty. Until one has decided to reject all respect for appearances in tracing the dream-elements, the analysis will remain at a standstill. Disregard of the element concerned has the psychic effect, in the person analysed, that nothing in connection with the unwished ideas behind this element will occur to him. This effect is really not self-evident ; it would be quite reasonable to say, "Whether this or that was contained in the dream I do not know for certain ; but the following ideas happen to occur to me." But no one ever does say so ; it is precisely the disturbing effect of doubt in the analysis that permits it to be unmasked as an offshoot and instrument of the psychic resistance. Psycho- analysis is justifiably suspicions. One of its rules runs : Whatever disturbs the progress of the work is a resistance. * - * This peremptory statement : "Whatever disturbs the progress of the work is a resistance" might easily be misunderstood. It has, of course, the significance merely of a technical rule, a warning for the analyst. It is not denied that during an analysis events may occur which cannot be ascribed to the intention of the person analysed. The patient’s father may die in other ways than by being murdered by the patient, or a war may break out and interrupt the analysis. But despite the obvious exaggeration of the above statement there is still something new and useful in it. Even if the disturbing event is real and independent of the patient, the extent of the disturbing influence does often depend only on him, and the resistance reveals itself unmistakably in the ready and immoderate exploitation of such an opportunity. - The forgetting of dreams, too, remains inexplicible until we seek to explain it by the power of the psychic censorship. The feeling that one has dreamed a great deal during the night and has retained only a little of it may have yet another meaning in a number of cases : it may perhaps mean that the dream-work has continued in a perceptible manner throughout the night, but has left behind it only one brief dream. There is, however, no possible doubt that a dream is progressively forgotten on waking. One often forgets it in spite of a painful effort to recover it. I believe, however, that just as one generally overestimates the extent of this forgetting, so also one overestimates the lacunae in our knowledge of the dream due to the gaps occurring in it. All the dream-content that has been lost by forgetting can often be recovered by analysis ; in a number of cases, at all events, it is possible to discover from a single remaining fragment, not the dream, of course- which, after all, is of no importance- but the whole of the dream-thoughts. It requires a greater expenditure of attention and self-suppression in the analysis ; that is all ; but it shows that the forgetting of the dream is not innocent of hostile intention. * * As an example of the significance of doubt and uncertainty in a dream with a simultaneous shrinking of the dream-content to a single element, see my General Introduction to Psycho-Analysis the dream of the sceptical lady patient, p. 492 below, the analysis of which was successful, despite a short postponement. - A convincing proof of the tendencious nature of dream-forgetting- of the fact that it serves the resistance- is obtained on analysis by investigating a preliminary stage of forgetting. * It often happens that, in the midst of an interpretation, an omitted fragment of the dream suddenly emerges which is described as having been previously forgotten. This part of the dream that has been wrested from forgetfulness is always the most important part. It lies on the shortest path to the solution of the dream, and for that every reason it was most exposed to the resistance. Among the examples of dreams that I have included in the text of this treatise, it once happened that I had subsequently to interpolate a fragment of dream-content. The dream is a dream of travel, which revenges itself on two unamiable traveling companions ; I have left it almost entirely uninterpreted, as part of its content is obscene. The part omitted reads : "I said, referring to a book of Schiller’s : ’It is from...’ but corrected myself, as I realized my mistake : ’It is by...’ Whereupon the man remarked to his sister, ’Yes, he said it correctly.’" *(2) * Concerning the intention of forgetting in general, see my The Psycho-pathology of Everyday Life. *(2) Such corrections in the use of foreign languages are not rare in dreams, but they are usually attributed to foreigners. Maury (p. 143), while he was studying English, once dreamed that he informed someone that he had called on him the day before in the following words : "I called for you yesterday." The other answered correctly : "You mean : I called on you yesterday." Self-correction in dreams, which to some writers seems so wonderful, does not really call for consideration. But I will draw from my own memory an instance typical of verbal errors in dreams. I was nineteen years of age when I visited England for the first time, and I spent a day on the shore of the Irish Sea. Naturally enough, I amused myself by picking up the marine animals left on the beach by the tide, and I was just examining a starfish (the dream begins with Hollthurn- Holothurian) when a pretty little girl came up to me and asked me : "Is it a starfish ? Is it alive ?" I replied, "Yes, he is alive," but then felt ashamed of my mistake, and repeated the sentence correctly. For the grammatical mistake which I then made, the dream substitutes another which is quite common among German people. "Das Buch ist von Schiller" is not to be translated by "the book is from," but by "the book is by." That the dream-work accomplishes this substitution, because the word from, owing to its consonance with the German adjective fromm (pious, devout) makes a remarkable condensation possible, should no longer surprise us after all that we have heard of the intentions of the dream-work and its unscrupulous selection of means. But what relation has this harmless recollection of the seashore to my dream ? It explains, by means of a very innocent example, that I have used the word- the word denoting gender, or sex or the sexual (he)- in the wrong place. This is surely one of the keys to the solution of the dream. Those who have heard of the derivation of the book-title Matter and Motion (Moliere in Le Malade Imaginaire : La Matiere est-elle laudable ?- A Motion of the bowels) will readily be able to supply the missing parts. Moreover, I can prove conclusively, by a demonstratio ad oculos, that the forgetting of the dream is in a large measure the work of the resistance. A patient tells me that he has dreamed, but that the dream has vanished without leaving a trace, as if nothing had happened. We set to work, however ; I come upon a resistance which I explain to the patient ; encouraging and urging him, I help him to become reconciled to some disagreeable thought ; and I have hardly succeeded in doing so when he exclaims : "Now I can recall what I dreamed !" The same resistance which that day disturbed him in the work of interpretation caused him also to forget the dream. By overcoming this resistance I have brought back the dream to his memory. In the same way the patient, having reached a certain part of the work, may recall a dream which occurred three, four, or more days ago, and which has hitherto remained in oblivion. * * Ernest Jones describes an analogous case of frequent occurrence ; during the analysis of one dream another dream of the same night is often recalled which until then was not merely forgotten, but was not even suspected. Psycho-analytical experience has furnished us with yet another proof of the fact that the forgetting of dreams depends far more on the resistance than on the mutually alien character of the waking and sleeping states, as some writers have believed it to depend. It often happens to me, as well as to other analysts, and to patients under treatment, that we are waked from sleep by a dream, as we say, and that immediately thereafter, while in full possession of our mental faculties, we begin to interpret the dream. Often in such cases I have not rested until I have achieved a full understanding of the dream, and yet it has happened that after waking I have forgotten the interpretation- work as completely as I have forgotten the dream-content itself, though I have been aware that I have dreamed and that I had interpreted the dream. The dream has far more frequently taken the result of the interpretation with it into forgetfulness than the intellectual faculty has succeeded in retaining the dream in the memory. But between this work of interpretation and the waking thoughts there is not that psychic abyss by which other writers have sought to explain the forgetting of dreams. When Morton Prince objects to my explanation of the forgetting of dreams on the ground that it is only a special case of the amnesia of dissociated psychic states, and that the impossibility of applying my explanation of this special amnesia to other types of amnesia makes it valueless even for its immediate purpose, he reminds the reader that in all his descriptions of such dissociated states he has never attempted to discover the dynamic explanation underlying these phenomena. For had he done so, he would surely have discovered that repression (and the resistance produced thereby) is the cause not of these dissociations merely, but also of the amnesia of their psychic content. That dreams are as little forgotten as other psychic acts, that even in their power of impressing themselves on the memory they may fairly be compared with the other psychic performances, was proved to me by an experiment which I was able to make while preparing the manuscript of this book. I had preserved in my notes a great many dreams of my own which, for one reason or another, I could not interpret, or, at the time of dreaming them, could interpret only very imperfectly. In order to obtain material to illustrate my assertion, I attempted to interpret some of them a year or two later. In this attempt I was invariably successful ; indeed, I may say that the interpretation was effected more easily after all this time than when the dreams were of recent occurrence. As a possible explanation of this fact, I would suggest that I had overcome many of the internal resistances which had disturbed me at the time of dreaming. In such subsequent interpretations I have compared the old yield of dream-thoughts with the present result, which has usually been more abundant, and I have invariably found the old dream-thoughts unaltered among the present ones. However, I soon recovered from my surprise when I reflected that I had long been accustomed to interpret dreams of former years that had occasionally been related to me by my patients as though they had been dreams of the night before ; by the same method, and with the same success. In the section on anxiety-dreams I shall include two examples of such delayed dream-interpretations. When I made this experiment for the first time I expected, not unreasonably, that dreams would behave in this connection merely like neurotic symptoms. For when I treat a psychoneurotic for instance, an hysterical patient, by psychoanalysis, I am compelled to find explanations for the first symptoms of the malady, which have long since disappeared, as well as for those still existing symptoms which have brought the patient to me ; and I find the former problem easier to solve than the more exigent one of today. In the Studies in Hysteria, * published as early as 1895, I was able to give the explanation of a first hysterical attack which the patient, a woman over forty years of age, had experienced in her fifteenth year. *(2) * Studien uber Hysterie, Case II. *(2) Dreams which have occurred during the first years of childhood, and which have sometimes been retained in the memory for decades with perfect sensorial freshness, are almost always of great importance for the understanding of the development and the neurosis of the dreamer. The analysis of them protects the physician from errors and uncertainties which might confuse him even theoretically. I will now make a few rather unsystematic remarks relating to the interpretations of dreams, which will perhaps serve as a guide to the reader who wishes to test my assertions by the analysis of his own dreams.
He must not expect that it will be a simple and easy matter to interpret his own dreams. Even the observation of endoptic phenomena, and other sensations which are commonly immune from attention, calls for practice, although this group of observations is not opposed by any psychic motive. It is very much more difficult to get hold of the unwished ideas. He who seeks to do so must fulfil the requirements laid down in this treatise, and while following the rules here given, he must endeavour to restrain all criticism, all preconceptions, and all affective or intellectual bias in himself during the work of analysis. He must be ever mindful of the precept which Claude Bernard held up to the experimenter in the physiological laboratory : "Travailler comme une bete"- that is, he must be as enduring as an animal, and also as disinterested in the results of his work. He who will follow this advice will no longer find the task a difficult one. The interpretation of a dream cannot always be accomplished in one session ; after following up a chain of associations you will often feel that your working capacity is exhausted ; the dream will not tell you anything more that day ; it is then best to break off, and to resume the work the following day. Another portion of the dream-content then solicits your attention, and you thus obtain access to a fresh stratum of the dream-thoughts. One might call this the fractional interpretation of dreams. It is most difficult to induce the beginner in dream- interpretation to recognize the fact that his task is not finished when he is in possession of a complete interpretation of the dream which is both ingenious and coherent, and which gives particulars of all the elements of the dream-content. Besides this, another interpretation, an over-interpretation of the same dream, one which has escaped him, may be possible. It is really not easy to form an idea of the wealth of trains of unconscious thought striving for expression in our minds, or to credit the adroitness displayed by the dream-work in killing- so to speak- seven flies at one stroke, like the journeyman tailor in the fairy-tale, by means of its ambiguous modes of expression. The reader will constantly be inclined to reproach the author for a superfluous display of ingenuity, but anyone who has had personal experience of dream-interpretation will know better than to do so. On the other hand, I cannot accept the opinion, first expressed by H. Silberer, that every dream- or even that many dreams, and certain groups of dreams- calls for two different interpretations, between which there is even supposed to be a fixed relation. One of these, which Silberer calls the psycho- analytic interpretation, attributes to the dream any meaning you please, but in the main an infantile sexual one. The other, the more important interpretation, which he calls the anagogic interpretation, reveals the more serious and often profound thoughts which the dream-work has used as its material. Silberer does not prove this assertion by citing a number of dreams which he has analysed in these two directions. I am obliged to object to this opinion on the ground that it is contrary to facts. The majority of dreams require no over-interpretation, and are especially insusceptible of an anagogic interpretation. The influence of a tendency which seeks to veil the fundamental conditions of dream-formation and divert our interest from its instinctual roots is as evident in Silberer’s theory as in other theoretical efforts of the last few years. In a number of cases I can confirm Silberer’s assertions ; but in these the analysis shows me that the dream-work was confronted with the task of transforming a series of highly abstract thoughts, incapable of direct representation, from waking life into a dream. The dream- work attempted to accomplish this task by seizing upon another thought-material which stood in loose and often allegorical relation to the abstract thoughts, and thereby diminished the difficulty of representing them. The abstract interpretation of a dream originating in this manner will be given by the dreamer immediately, but the correct interpretation of the substituted material can be obtained only by means of the familiar technique.
The question whether every dream can be interpreted is to be answered in the negative. One should not forget that in the work of interpretation one is opposed by the psychic forces that are responsible for the distortion of the dream. Whether one can master the inner resistances by one’s intellectual interest, one’s capacity for self-control, one’s psychological knowledge, and one’s experience in dream-interpretation depends on the relative strength of the opposing forces. It is always possible to make some progress ; one can at all events go far enough to become convinced that a dream has meaning, and generally far enough to gain some idea of its meaning. It very often happens that a second dream enables us to confirm and continue the interpretation assumed for the first. A whole series of dreams, continuing for weeks or months, may have a common basis, and should therefore be interpreted as a continuity. In dreams that follow one another, we often observe that one dream takes as its central point something that is only alluded to in the periphery of the next dream, and conversely, so that even in their interpretations the two supplement each other. That different dreams of the same night are always to be treated, in the work of interpretation, as a whole, I have already shown by examples.
In the best interpreted dreams we often have to leave one passage in obscurity because we observe during the interpretation that we have here a tangle of dream-thoughts which cannot be unravelled, and which furnishes no fresh contribution to the dream-content. This, then, is the keystone of the dream, the point at which it ascends into the unknown. For the dream-thoughts which we encounter during the interpretation commonly have no termination, but run in all directions into the net-like entanglement of our intellectual world. It is from some denser part of this fabric that the dream-wish then arises, like the mushroom from its mycelium. Let us now return to the facts of dream-forgetting. So far, of course, we have failed to draw any important conclusion from them. When our waking life shows an unmistakable intention to forget the dream which has been formed during the night, either as a whole, immediately after waking, or little by little in the course of the day, and when we recognize as the chief factor in this process of forgetting the psychic resistance against the dream which has already done its best to oppose the dream at night, the question then arises : What actually has made the dream- formation possible against this resistance ? Let us consider the most striking case, in which the waking life has thrust the dream aside as though it had never happened. If we take into consideration the play of the psychic forces, we are compelled to assert that the dream would never have come into existence had the resistance prevailed at night as it did by day. We conclude, then, that the resistance loses some part of its force during the night ; we know that it has not been discontinued, as we have demonstrated its share in the formation of dreams- namely, the work of distortion. We have therefore to consider the possibility that at night the resistance is merely diminished, and that dream- formation becomes possible because of this slackening of the resistance ; and we shall readily understand that as it regains its full power on waking it immediately thrusts aside what it was forced to admit while it was feeble. Descriptive psychology teaches us that the chief determinant of dream-formation is the dormant state of the psyche ; and we may now add the following explanation : The state of sleep makes dream-formation possible by reducing the endopsychic censorship.
We are certainly tempted to look upon this as the only possible conclusion to be drawn from the facts of dream-forgetting, and to develop from this conclusion further deductions as to the comparative energy operative in the sleeping and waking states. But we shall stop here for the present. When we have penetrated a little farther into the psychology of dreams we shall find that the origin of dream-formation may be differently conceived. The resistance which tends to prevent the dream-thoughts from becoming conscious may perhaps be evaded without suffering reduction. It is also plausible that both the factors which favour dream-formation, the reduction as well as the evasion of the resistance, may be simultaneously made possible by the sleeping state. But we shall pause here, and resume the subject a little later.
We must now consider another series of objections against our procedure in dream-interpretation. For we proceed by dropping all the directing ideas which at other times control reflection, directing our attention to a single element of the dream, noting the involuntary thoughts that associate themselves with this element. We then take up the next component of the dream-content, and repeat the operation with this ; and, regardless of the direction taken by the thoughts, we allow ourselves to be led onwards by them, rambling from one subject to another. At the same time, we harbour the confident hope that we may in the end, and without intervention on our part, come upon the dream- thoughts from which the dream originated. To this the critic may make the following objection : That we arrive somewhere if we start from a single element of the dream is not remarkable. Something can be associatively connected with every idea. The only thing that is remarkable is that one should succeed in hitting upon the dream-thoughts in this arbitrary and aimless excursion. It is probably a self-deception ; the investigator follows the chain of associations from the one element which is taken up until he finds the chain breaking off, whereupon he takes up a second element ; it is thus only natural that the originally unconfined associations should now become narrowed down. He has the former chain of associations still in mind, and will therefore in the analysis of the second dream-idea hit all the more readily upon single associations which have something in common with the associations of the first chain. He then imagines that he has found a thought which represents a point of junction between two of the dream-elements. As he allows himself all possible freedom of thought-connection, excepting only the transitions from one idea to another which occur in normal thinking, it is not difficult for him finally to concoct out of a series of intermediary thoughts, something which he calls the dream-thoughts ; and without any guarantee, since they are otherwise unknown, he palms these off as the psychic equivalent of the dream. But all this is a purely arbitrary procedure, an ingenious-looking exploitation of chance, and anyone who will go to this useless trouble can in this way work out any desired interpretation for any dream whatever.
If such objections are really advanced against us, we may in defence refer to the impression produced by our dream- interpretations, the surprising connections with other dream- elements which appear while we are following up the individual ideas, and the improbability that anything which so perfectly covers and explains the dream as do our dream-interpretations could be achieved otherwise than by following previously established psychic connections. We might also point to the fact that the procedure in dream-interpretation is identical with the procedure followed in the resolution of hysterical symptoms, where the correctness of the method is attested by the emergence and disappearance of the symptoms- that is, where the interpretation of the text is confirmed by the interpolated illustrations. But we have no reason to avoid this problem- namely, how one can arrive at a pre-existent aim by following an arbitrarily and aimlessly maundering chain of thoughts- since we shall be able not to solve the problem, it is true, but to get rid of it entirely.
For it is demonstrably incorrect to state that we abandon ourselves to an aimless excursion of thought when, as in the interpretation of dreams, we renounce reflection and allow the involuntary ideas to come to the surface. It can be shown that we are able to reject only those directing ideas which are known to us, and that with the cessation of these the unknown- or, as we inexactly say, unconscious- directing ideas immediately exert their influence, and henceforth determine the flow of the involuntary ideas. Thinking without directing ideas cannot be ensured by any influence we ourselves exert on our own psychic life ; neither do I know of any state of psychic derangement in which such a mode of thought establishes itself. * The psychiatrists have here far too prematurely relinquished the idea of the solidity of the psychic structure. I know that an unregulated stream of thoughts, devoid of directing ideas, can occur as little in the realm of hysteria and paranoia as in the formation or solution of dreams. Perhaps it does not occur at all in the endogenous psychic affections, and, according to the ingenious hypothesis of Lauret, even the deliria observed in confused psychic states have meaning and are incomprehensible to us only because of omissions. I have had the same conviction whenever I have had an opportunity of observing such states. The deliria are the work of a censorship which no longer makes any effort to conceal its sway, which, instead of lending its support to a revision that is no longer obnoxious to it, cancels regardlessly anything to which it objects, thus causing the remnant to appear disconnected. This censorship proceeds like the Russian censorship on the frontier, which allows only those foreign journals which have had certain passages blacked out to fall into the bands of the readers to be protected.
* Only recently has my attention been called to the fact that Ed. von Hartmann took the same view with regard to this psychologically important point : Incidental to the discussion of the role of the unconscious in artistic creation (Philos. d. Unbew., Vol. i, Sect. B., Chap. V) Eduard von Hartmann clearly enunciated the law of association of ideas which is directed by unconscious directing ideas, without however realizing the scope of this law. With him it was a question of demonstrating that "every combination of a sensuous idea when it is not left entirely to chance, but is directed to a definite end, is in need of help from the unconscious," and that the conscious interest in any particular thought-association is a stimulus for the unconscious to discover from among the numberless possible ideas the one which corresponds to the directing idea. "It is the unconscious that selects, and appropriately, in accordance with the aims of the interest : and this holds true for the associations in abstract thinking (as sensible representations and artistic combinations as well as for flashes of wit)." Hence, a limiting of the association of ideas to ideas that evoke and are evoked in the sense of pure association-psychology is untenable. Such a restriction "would be justified only if there were states in human life in which man was free not only from any conscious purpose, but also from the domination or cooperation of any unconscious interest, any passing mood. But such a state hardly ever comes to pass, for even if one leaves one’s train of thought seemingly altogether to chance, or if one surrenders oneself entirely to the involuntary dreams of phantasy, yet always other leading interests, dominant feelings and moods prevail at one time rather than another, and these will always exert an influence on the association of ideas." (Philos. d. Unbew., IIe, Aufl. i. 246). In semi-conscious dreams there always appear only such ideas as correspond to the (unconscious) momentary main interest. By rendering prominent the feelings and moods over the free thought-series, the methodical procedure of psycho-analysis is thoroughly justified even from the standpoint of Hartmann’s Psychology (N. E. Pohorilles, Internat. Zeitschrift. f. Ps. A., I, , p. 605). Du Prel concludes from the fact that a name which we vainly try to recall suddenly occurs to the mind that there is an unconscious but none the less purposeful thinking, whose result then appears in consciousness (Philos. d. Mystik, p. 107).
The free play of ideas following any chain of associations may perhaps occur in cases of destructive organic affections of the brain. What, however, is taken to be such in the psychoneuroses may always be explained as the influence of the censorship on a series of thoughts which have been pushed into the foreground by the concealed directing ideas. * It has been considered an unmistakable sign of free association unencumbered by directing ideas if the emerging ideas (or images) appear to be connected by means of the so-called superficial associations- that is, by assonance, verbal ambiguity, and temporal coincidence, without inner relationship of meaning ; in other words, if they are connected by all those associations which we allow ourselves to exploit in wit and playing upon words. This distinguishing mark holds good with associations which lead us from the elements of the dream-content to the intermediary thoughts, and from these to the dream-thoughts proper ; in many analyses of dreams we have found surprising examples of this. In these no connection was too loose and no witticism too objectionable to serve as a bridge from one thought to another. But the correct understanding of such surprising tolerance is not far to seek. Whenever one psychic element is connected with another by an obnoxious and superficial association, there exists also a correct and more profound connection between the two, which succumbs to the resistance of the censorship.
* Jung has brilliantly corroborated this statement by analyses of dementia praecox. (Cf. The Psychology of Dementia Praecox, translated by A. A. Brill. Monograph Series, [Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases Publishing Co., New York].)
The correct explanation for the predominance of the superficial associations is the pressure of the censorship, and not the suppression of the directing ideas. Whenever the censorship renders the normal connective paths impassable, the superficial associations will replace the deeper ones in the representation. It is as though in a mountainous region a general interruption of traffic, for example an inundation, should render the broad highways impassable : traffic would then have to be maintained by steep and inconvenient tracks used at other times only by the hunter.
We can here distinguish two cases which, however, are essentially one. In the first case, the censorship is directed only against the connection of two thoughts which, being detached from one another, escape its opposition. The two thoughts then enter successively into consciousness ; their connection remains concealed ; but in its place there occurs to us a superficial connection between the two which would not otherwise have occurred to us, and which as a rule connects with another angle of the conceptual complex instead of that from which the suppressed but essential connection proceeds. Or, in the second case, both thoughts, owing to their content, succumb to the censorship ; both then appear not in their correct form but in a modified, substituted form ; and both substituted thoughts are so selected as to represent, by a superficial association, the essential relation which existed between those that they have replaced. Under the pressure of the censorship, the displacement of a normal and vital association by one superficial and apparently absurd has thus occurred in both cases.
Because we know of these displacements, we unhesitatingly rely upon even the superficial associations which occur in the course of dream-interpretation. *
* The same considerations naturally hold good of the case in which superficial associations are exposed in the dream-content, as, for example, in both the dreams reported by Maury (p. 50, pelerinage- pelletier- pelle, kilometer- kilograms- gilolo, Lobelia- Lopez- Lotto). I know from my work with neurotics what kind of reminiscence is prone to represent itself in this manner. It is the consultation of encyclopedias by which most people have satisfied their need of an explanation of the sexual mystery when obsessed by the curiosity of puberty.
The psycho-analysis of neurotics makes abundant use of the two principles : that with the abandonment of the conscious directing ideas the control over the flow of ideas is transferred to the concealed directing ideas ; and that superficial associations are only a displacement-substitute for suppressed and more profound ones. Indeed, psycho-analysis makes these two principles the foundation-stones of its technique. When I request a patient to dismiss all reflection, and to report to me whatever comes into his mind, I firmly cling to the assumption that he will not be able to drop the directing idea of the treatment, and I feel justified in concluding that what he reports, even though it may seem to be quite ingenuous and arbitrary, has some connection with his morbid state. Another directing idea of which the patient has no suspicion is my own personality. The full appreciation, as well as the detailed proof of both these explanations, belongs to the description of the psycho-analytic technique as a therapeutic method. We have here reached one of the junctions, so to speak, at which we purposely drop the subject of dream-interpretation. *
* The above statements, which when written sounded very improbable, have since been corroborated and applied experimentally by Jung and his pupils in the Diagnostiche Assoziationsstudien.
Of all the objections raised, only one is justified and still remains to be met ; namely, that we ought not to ascribe all the associations of the interpretation-work to the nocturnal dream- work. By interpretation in the waking state we are actually opening a path running back from the dream-elements to the dream- thoughts. The dream-work has followed the contrary direction, and it is not at all probable that these paths are equally passable in opposite directions. On the contrary, it appears that during the day, by means of new thought-connections, we sink shafts that strike the intermediary thoughts and the dream-thoughts now in this place, now in that. We can see how the recent thought- material of the day forces its way into the interpretation- series, and how the additional resistance which has appeared since the night probably compels it to make new and further detours. But the number and form of the collaterals which we thus contrive during the day are, psychologically speaking, indifferent, so long as they point the way to the dream-thoughts which we are seeking.
The Primary and Secondary Processes. Repression
In attempting to penetrate more profoundly into the psychology of the dream-processes, I have undertaken a difficult task, to which, indeed, my powers of exposition are hardly adequate. To reproduce the simultaneity of so complicated a scheme in terms of a successive description, and at the same time to make each part appear free from all assumptions, goes fairly beyond my powers. I have now to atone for the fact that in my exposition of the psychology of dreams I have been unable to follow the historic development of my own insight. The lines of approach to the comprehension of the dream were laid down for me by previous investigations into the psychology of the neuroses, to which I should not refer here, although I am constantly obliged to do so ; whereas I should like to work in the opposite direction, starting from the dream, and then proceeding to establish its junction with the psychology of the neuroses. I am conscious of all the difficulties which this involves for the reader, but I know of no way to avoid them.
Since I am dissatisfied with this state of affairs, I am glad to dwell upon another point of view, which would seem to enhance the value of my efforts. As was shown in the introductory section, I found myself confronted with a theme which had been marked by the sharpest contradictions on the part of those who had written on it. In the course of our treatment of the problems of the dream, room has been found for most of these contradictory views. We have been compelled to take decided exception to two only of the views expressed : namely, that the dream is a meaningless process, and that it is a somatic process. Apart from these, we have been able to find a place for the truth of all the contradictory opinions at one point or another of the complicated tissue of the facts, and we have been able to show that each expressed something genuine and correct. That our dreams continue the impulses and interests of waking life has been generally confirmed by the discovery of the hidden dream-thoughts. These concern themselves only with things that seem to us important and of great interest. Dreams never occupy themselves with trifles. But we have accepted also the opposite view, namely, that the dream gathers up the indifferent residues of the day, and cannot seize upon any important interest of the day until it has in some measure withdrawn itself from waking activity. We have found that this holds true of the dream-content, which by means of distortion gives the dream-thought an altered expression. We have said that the dream-process, owing to the nature of the mechanism of association, finds it easier to obtain possession of recent or indifferent material, which has not yet been put under an embargo by our waking mental activity ; and that, on account of the censorship, it transfers the psychic intensity of the significant but also objectionable material to the indifferent. The hypermnesia of the dream and its ability to dispose of infantile material have become the main foundations of our doctrine ; in our theory of dreams we have assigned to a wish of infantile origin the part of the indispensable motive-power of dream-formation. It has not, of course, occurred to us to doubt the experimentally demonstrated significance of external sensory stimuli during sleep ; but we have placed this material in the same relation to the dream-wish as the thought-residues left over from our waking activity. We need not dispute the fact that the dream interprets objective sensory stimuli after the manner of an illusion ; but we have supplied the motive for this interpretation, which has been left indeterminate by other writers. The interpretation proceeds in such a way that the perceived object is rendered harmless as a source of disturbance of sleep, whilst it is made usable for the wish-fulfilment. Though we do not admit as a special source of dreams the subjective state of excitation of the sensory organs during sleep (which seems to have been demonstrated by Trumbull Ladd), we are, nevertheless, able to explain this state of excitation by the regressive revival of the memories active behind the dream. As to the internal organic sensations, which are wont to be taken as the cardinal point of the explanation of dreams, these, too, find a place in our conception, though indeed a more modest one. These sensations- the sensations of falling, of soaring, or of being inhibited- represent an ever-ready material, which the dream-work can employ to express the dream- thought as often as need arises.
That the dream-process is a rapid and momentary one is, we believe, true as regards the perception by consciousness of the preformed dream-content ; but we have found that the preceding portions of the dream-process probably follow a slow, fluctuating course. As for the riddle of the superabundant dream-content compressed into the briefest moment of time, we have been able to contribute the explanation that the dream seizes upon ready-made formations of the psychic life. We have found that it is true that dreams are distorted and mutilated by the memory, but that this fact presents no difficulties, as it is only the last manifest portion of a process of distortion which has been going on from the very beginning of the dream-work. In the embittered controversy, which has seemed irreconcilable, whether the psychic life is asleep at night, or can make the same use of all its faculties as during the day, we have been able to conclude that both sides are right, but that neither is entirely so. In the dream-thoughts we found evidence of a highly complicated intellectual activity, operating with almost all the resources of the psychic apparatus ; yet it cannot be denied that these dream- thoughts have originated during the day, and it is indispensable to assume that there is a sleeping state of the psychic life. Thus, even the doctrine of partial sleep received its due, but we have found the characteristic feature of the sleeping state not in the disintegration of the psychic system of connections, but in the special attitude adopted by the psychic system which is dominant during the day- the attitude of the wish to sleep. The deflection from the outer world retains its significance for our view, too ; though not the only factor at work, it helps to make possible the regressive course of the dream-representation. The abandonment of voluntary guidance of the flow of ideas is incontestable ; but psychic life does not thereby become aimless, for we have seen that upon relinquishment of the voluntary directing ideas, involuntary ones take charge. On the other hand, we have not only recognized the loose associative connection of the dream, but have brought a far greater area within the scope of this kind of connection than could have been suspected ; we have, however, found it merely an enforced substitute for another, a correct and significant type of association. To be sure, we too have called the dream absurd, but examples have shown us how wise the dream is when it simulates absurdity. As regards the functions that have been attributed to the dream, we are able to accept them all. That the dream relieves the mind, like a safety-valve, and that, as Robert has put it, all kinds of harmful material are rendered harmless by representation in the dream, not only coincides exactly with our own theory of the twofold wish-fulfilment in the dream, but in its very wording becomes more intelligible for us than it is for Robert himself. The free indulgence of the psyche in the play of its faculties is reproduced in our theory as the non-interference of the preconscious activity with the dream. The return of the embryonal standpoint of psychic life in the dream, and Havelock Ellis’s remark that the dream is "an archaic world of vast emotions and imperfect thoughts," appear to us as happy anticipations of our own exposition, which asserts that primitive modes of operations that are suppressed during the day play a part in the formation of dreams. We can fully identify ourselves with Sully’s statement, that "our dreams bring back again our earlier and successively developed personalities, our old ways of regarding things, with impulses and modes of reaction which ruled us long ago" ; and for us, as for Delage, the suppressed material becomes the mainspring of the dream.
We have fully accepted the role that Scherner ascribes to the dream-phantasy, and his own interpretations, but we have been obliged to transpose them, as it were, to another part of the problem. It is not the dream that creates the phantasy, but the activity of unconscious phantasy that plays the leading part in the formation of the dream-thoughts. We remain indebted to Scherner for directing us to the source of the dream-thoughts, but almost everything that he ascribes to the dream-work is attributable to the activity of the unconscious during the day, which instigates dreams no less than neurotic symptoms. The dream- work we had to separate from this activity as something quite different and far more closely controlled. Finally, we have by no means renounced the relation of the dream to psychic disturbances, but have given it, on new ground, a more solid foundation.
Held together by the new features in our theory as by a superior unity, we find the most varied and most contradictory conclusions of other writers fitting into our structure ; many of them are given a different turn, but only a few of them are wholly rejected. But our own structure is still unfinished. For apart from the many obscure questions in which we have involved ourselves by our advance into the dark regions of psychology, we are now, it would seem, embarrassed by a new contradiction. On the one hand, we have made it appear that the dream-thoughts proceed from perfectly normal psychic activities, but on the other hand we have found among the dream-thoughts a number of entirely abnormal mental processes, which extend also to the dream-content, and which we reproduce in the interpretation of the dream. All that we have termed the dream-work seems to depart so completely from the psychic processes which we recognize as correct and appropriate that the severest judgments expressed by the writers mentioned as to the low level of psychic achievement of dreams must appear well founded.
Here, perhaps, only further investigations can provide an explanation and set us on the right path. Let me pick out for renewed attention one of the constellations which lead to dream- formation.
We have learned that the dream serves as a substitute for a number of thoughts derived from our daily life, and which fit together with perfect logic. We cannot, therefore, doubt that these thoughts have their own origin in our normal mental life. All the qualities which we value in our thought-processes, and which mark them out as complicated performances of a high order, we shall find repeated in the dream-thoughts. There is, however, no need to assume that this mental work is performed during sleep ; such an assumption would badly confuse the conception of the psychic state of sleep to which we have hitherto adhered. On the contrary, these thoughts may very well have their origin in the daytime, and, unremarked by our consciousness, may have gone on from their first stimulus until, at the onset of sleep, they have reached completion. If we are to conclude anything from this state of affairs, it can only be that it proves that the most complex mental operations are possible without the cooperation of consciousness- a truth which we have had to learn anyhow from every psycho-analysis of a patient suffering from hysteria or obsessions. These dream-thoughts are certainly not in themselves incapable of consciousness ; if we have not become conscious of them during the day, this may have been due to various reasons. The act of becoming conscious depends upon a definite psychic function- attention- being brought to bear. This seems to be available only in a determinate quantity, which may have been diverted from the train of thought in question by other aims. Another way in which such trains of thought may be withheld from consciousness is the following : From our conscious reflection we know that, when applying our attention, we follow a particular course. But if that course leads us to an idea which cannot withstand criticism, we break off and allow the cathexis of attention to drop. Now, it would seem that the train of thought thus started and abandoned may continue to develop without our attention returning to it, unless at some point it attains a specially high intensity which compels attention. An initial conscious rejection by our judgment, on the ground of incorrectness or uselessness for the immediate purpose of the act of thought, may, therefore, be the cause of a thought-process going on unnoticed by consciousness until the onset of sleep.
Let us now recapitulate : We call such a train of thought a preconscious train, and we believe it to be perfectly correct, and that it may equally well be a merely neglected train or one that has been interrupted and suppressed. Let us also state in plain terms how we visualize the movement of our thought. We believe that a certain quantity of excitation, which we call cathectic energy, is displaced from a purposive idea along the association paths selected by this directing idea. A neglected train of thought has received no such cathexis, and the cathexis has been withdrawn from one that was suppressed or rejected ; both have thus been left to their own excitations. The train of thought cathected by some aim becomes able under certain conditions to attract the attention of consciousness, and by the mediation of consciousness it then receives hyper-cathexis. We shall be obliged presently to elucidate our assumptions as to the nature and function of consciousness.
A train of thought thus incited in the Pcs may either disappear spontaneously, or it may continue. The former eventuality we conceive as follows : it diffuses its energy through all the association paths emanating from it, and throws the entire chain of thoughts into a state of excitation, which continues for a while, and then subsides, through the excitation which had called for discharge being transformed into dormant cathexis. If this first eventuality occurs, the process has no further significance for dream-formation. But other directing ideas are lurking in our preconscious, which have their source in our unconscious and ever- active wishes. These may gain control of the excitation in the circle of thoughts thus left to itself, establish a connection between it and the unconscious wish, and transfer to it the energy inherent in the unconscious wish. Henceforth the neglected or suppressed train of thought is in a position to maintain itself, although this reinforcement gives it no claim to access to consciousness. We may say, then, that the hitherto preconscious train of thought has been drawn into the unconscious.
Other constellations leading to dream-formation might be as follows : The preconscious train of thought might have been connected from the beginning with the unconscious wish, and for that reason might have met with rejection by the dominating aim- cathexis. Or an unconscious wish might become active for other (possibly somatic) reasons, and of its own accord seek a transference to the psychic residues not cathected by the Pcs. All three cases have the same result : there is established in the preconscious a train of thought which, having been abandoned by the preconscious cathexis, has acquired cathexis from the unconscious wish.
From this point onward the train of thought is subjected to a series of transformations which we no longer recognize as normal psychic processes, and which give a result that we find strange, a psychopathological formation. Let us now emphasize and bring together these transformations :
1. The intensities of the individual ideas become capable of discharge in their entirety, and pass from one idea to another, so that individual ideas are formed which are endowed with great intensity. Through the repeated occurrence of this process, the intensity of an entire train of thought may ultimately be concentrated in a single conceptual unit. This is the fact of compression or condensation with which we become acquainted when investigating the dream-work. It is condensation that is mainly responsible for the strange impression produced by dreams, for we know of nothing analogous to it in the normal psychic life that is accessible to consciousness. We get here, too, ideas which are of great psychic significance as nodal points or as end-results of whole chains of thought, but this value is not expressed by any character actually manifest for our internal perception ; what is represented in it is not in any way made more intensive. In the process of condensation the whole set of psychic connections becomes transformed into the intensity of the idea-content. The situation is the same as when, in the case of a book, I italicize or print in heavy type any word to which I attach outstanding value for the understanding of the text. In speech, I should pronounce the same word loudly, and deliberately, and with emphasis. The first simile points immediately to one of the examples which were given of the dream-work (trimethylamine in the dream of Irma’s injection). Historians of art call our attention to the fact that the most ancient sculptures known to history follow a similar principle, in expressing the rank of the persons represented by the size of the statues. The king is made two or three times as tall as his retinue or his vanquished enemies. But a work of art of the Roman period makes use of more subtle means to accomplish the same end. The figure of the Emperor is placed in the centre, erect and in his full height, and special care is bestowed on the modelling of this figure ; his enemies are seen cowering at his feet ; but he is no longer made to seem a giant among dwarfs. At the same time, in the bowing of the subordinate to his superior, even in our own day, we have an echo of this ancient principle of representation.
The direction followed by the condensations of the dream is prescribed on the one hand by the true preconscious relations of the dream-thoughts, and, on the other hand, by the attraction of the visual memories in the unconscious. The success of the condensation-work produces those intensities which are required for penetration to the perception-system.
2. By the free transference of intensities, and in the service of the condensation, intermediary ideas- compromises, as it were- are formed (cf. the numerous examples). This, also, is something unheard of in the normal movement of our ideas, where what is of most importance is the selection and the retention of the right conceptual material. On the other hand, composite and compromise formations occur with extraordinary frequency when we are trying to find verbal expression for preconscious thoughts ; these are considered slips of the tongue.
3. The ideas which transfer their intensities to one another are very loosely connected, and are joined together by such forms of association as are disdained by our serious thinking, and left to be exploited solely by wit. In particular, assonances and punning associations are treated as equal in value to any other associations.
4. Contradictory thoughts do not try to eliminate one another, but continue side by side, and often combine to form condensation- products, as though no contradiction existed ; or they form compromises for which we should never forgive our thought, but which we frequently sanction in our action.
These are some of the most conspicuous abnormal processes to which the dream-thoughts which have previously been rationally formed are subjected in the course of the dream-work. As the main feature of these processes, we may see that the greatest importance is attached to rendering the cathecting energy mobile and capable of discharge ; the content and the intrinsic significance of the psychic elements to which these cathexes adhere become matters of secondary importance. One might perhaps assume that condensation and compromise-formation are effected only in the service of regression, when the occasion arises for changing thoughts into images. But the analysis- and still more plainly the synthesis- of such dreams as show no regression towards images, e.g., the dream Autodidasker : Conversation with Professor N, reveals the same processes of displacement and condensation as do the rest.
We cannot, therefore, avoid the conclusion that two kinds of essentially different psychic processes participate in dream- formation ; one forms perfectly correct and fitting dream- thoughts, equivalent to the results of normal thinking, while the other deals with these thoughts in a most astonishing and, as it seems, incorrect way. The latter process we have already set apart in chapter VI as the dream-work proper. What can we say now as to the derivation of this psychic process ?
It would be impossible to answer this question here if we had not penetrated a considerable way into the psychology of the neuroses, and especially of hysteria. From this, however, we learn that the same "incorrect" psychic processes- as well as others not enumerated- control the production of hysterical symptoms. In hysteria, too, we find at first a series of perfectly correct and fitting thoughts, equivalent to our conscious ones, of whose existence in this form we can, however, learn nothing, i.e., which we can only subsequently reconstruct. If they have forced their way anywhere to perception, we discover from the analysis of the symptom formed that these normal thoughts have been subjected to abnormal treatment, and that by means of condensation and compromise-formation, through superficial associations which cover up contradictions, and eventually along the path of regression, they have been conveyed into the symptom. In view of the complete identity between the peculiarities of the dream-work and those of the psychic activity which issues in psychoneurotic symptoms, we shall feel justified in transferring to the dream the conclusions urged upon us by hysteria.
From the theory of hysteria we borrow the proposition that such an abnormal psychic elaboration of a normal train of thought takes place only when the latter has been used for the transference of an unconscious wish which dares from the infantile life and is in a state of repression. Complying with this proposition, we have built up the theory of the dream on the assumption that the actuating dream-wish invariably originates in the unconscious ; which, as we have ourselves admitted, cannot be universally demonstrated, even though it cannot be refuted. But in order to enable us to say just what repression is, after employing this term so freely, we shall be obliged to make a further addition to our psychological scaffolding.
We had elaborated the fiction of a primitive psychic apparatus, the work of which is regulated by the effort to avoid accumulation of excitation, and as far as possible to maintain itself free from excitation. For this reason it was constructed after the plan of a reflex apparatus ; motility, in the first place as the path to changes within the body, was the channel of discharge at its disposal. We then discussed the psychic results of experiences of gratification, and were able at this point to introduce a second assumption, namely, that the accumulation of excitation- by processes that do not concern us here- is felt as pain, and sets the apparatus in operation in order to bring about again a state of gratification, in which the diminution of excitation is perceived as pleasure. Such a current in the apparatus, issuing from pain and striving for pleasure, we call a wish. We have said that nothing but a wish is capable of setting the apparatus in motion and that the course of any excitation in the apparatus is regulated automatically by the perception of pleasure and pain. The first occurrence of wishing may well have taken the form of a hallucinatory cathexis of the memory of gratification. But this hallucination, unless it could be maintained to the point of exhaustion, proved incapable of bringing about a cessation of the need, and consequently of securing the pleasure connected with gratification.
Thus, there was required a second activity- in our terminology the activity of a second system- which would not allow the memory- cathexis to force its way to perception and thence to bind the psychic forces, but would lead the excitation emanating from the need-stimulus by a detour, which by means of voluntary motility would ultimately so change the outer world as to permit the real perception of the gratifying object. Thus far we have already elaborated the scheme of the psychic apparatus ; these two systems are the germ of what we set up in the fully developed apparatus as the Ucs and Pcs.
To change the outer world appropriately by means of motility requires the accumulation of a large total of experiences in the memory-systems, as well as a manifold consolidation of the relations which are evoked in this memory-material by various directing ideas. We will now proceed further with our assumptions. The activity of the second system, groping in many directions, tentatively sending forth cathexes and retracting them, needs on the one hand full command over all memory- material, but on the other hand it would be a superfluous expenditure of energy were it to send along the individual thought-paths large quantities of cathexis, which would then flow away to no purpose and thus diminish the quantity needed for changing the outer world. Out of a regard for purposiveness, therefore, I postulate that the second system succeeds in maintaining the greater part of the energic cathexes in a state of rest, and in using only a small portion for its operations of displacement. The mechanics of these processes is entirely unknown to me ; anyone who seriously wishes to follow up these ideas must address himself to the physical analogies, and find some way of getting a picture of the sequence of motions which ensues on the excitation of the neurones. Here I do no more than hold fast to the idea that the activity of the first Psi-system aims at the free outflow of the quantities of excitation, and that the second system, by means of the cathexes emanating from it, effects an inhibition of this outflow, a transformation into dormant cathexis, probably with a rise of potential. I therefore assume that the course taken by any excitation under the control of the second system is bound to quite different mechanical conditions from those which obtain under the control of the first system. After the second system has completed its work of experimental thought, it removes the inhibition and damming up of the excitations and allows them to flow off into motility.
An interesting train of thought now presents itself if we consider the relations of this inhibition of discharge by the second system to the process of regulation by the pain-principle. Let us now seek out the counterpart of the primary experience of gratification, namely, the objective experience of fear. Let a perception-stimulus act on the primitive apparatus and be the source of a pain-excitation. There will then ensue uncoordinated motor manifestations, which will go on until one of these withdraws the apparatus from perception, and at the same time from the pain. On the reappearance of the percept this manifestation will immediately be repeated (perhaps as a movement of flight), until the percept has again disappeared. But in this case no tendency will remain to recathect the perception of the source of pain by hallucination or otherwise. On the contrary, there will be a tendency in the primary apparatus to turn away again from this painful memory-image immediately if it is in any way awakened, since the overflow of its excitation into perception would, of course, evoke (or more precisely, begin to evoke) pain. This turning away from a recollection, which is merely a repetition of the former flight from perception, is also facilitated by the fact that, unlike the perception, the recollection has not enough quality to arouse consciousness, and thereby to attract fresh cathexis. This effortless and regular turning away of the psychic process from the memory of anything that had once been painful gives us the prototype and the first example of psychic repression. We all know how much of this turning away from the painful, the tactics of the ostrich, may still be shown as present even in the normal psychic life of adults.
In obedience to the pain-principle, therefore, the first Psi- system is quite incapable of introducing anything unpleasant into the thought-nexus. The system cannot do anything but wish. If this were to remain so, the activity of thought of the second system, which needs to have at its disposal all the memories stored up by experience, would be obstructed. But two paths are now open : either the work of the second system frees itself completely from the pain-principle, and continues its course, paying no heed to the pain attached to given memories, or it contrives to cathect the memory of the pain in such a manner as to preclude the liberation of pain. We can reject the first possibility, as the pain-principle also proves to act as a regulator of the cycle of excitation in the second system ; we are therefore thrown back upon the second possibility, namely, that this system cathects a memory in such a manner as to inhibit any outflow of excitation from it, and hence, also, the outflow, comparable to a motor-innervation, needed for the development of pain. And thus, setting out from two different starting-points, i.e., from regard for the pain-principle, and from the principle of the least expenditure of innervation, we are led to the hypothesis that cathexis through the second system is at the same time an inhibition of the discharge of excitation. Let us, however, keep a close hold on the fact- for this is the key to the theory of repression- that the second system can only cathect an idea when it is in a position to inhibit any pain emanating from this idea. Anything that withdrew itself from this inhibition would also remain inaccessible for the second system, i.e., would immediately be given up by virtue of the pain- principle. The inhibition of pain, however, need not be complete ; it must be permitted to begin, since this indicates to the second system the nature of the memory, and possibly its lack of fitness for the purpose sought by the process of thought.
The psychic process which is alone tolerated by the first system I shall now call the primary process ; and that which results under the inhibiting action of the second system I shall call the secondary process. I can also show at another point for what purpose the second system is obliged to correct the primary process. The primary process strives for discharge of the excitation in order to establish with the quantity of excitation thus collected an identity of perception ; the secondary process has abandoned this intention, and has adopted instead the aim of an identity of thought. All thinking is merely a detour from the memory of gratification (taken as a purposive idea) to the identical cathexis of the same memory, which is to be reached once more by the path of motor experiences. Thought must concern itself with the connecting-paths between ideas without allowing itself to be misled by their intensities. But it is obvious that condensations of ideas and intermediate or compromise-formations are obstacles to the attainment of the identity which is aimed at ; by substituting one idea for another they swerve away from the path which would have led onward from the first idea. Such procedures are, therefore, carefully avoided in our secondary thinking. It will readily be seen, moreover, that the pain- principle, although at other times it provides the thought- process with its most important clues, may also put difficulties in its way in the pursuit of identity of thought. Hence, the tendency of the thinking process must always be to free itself more and more from exclusive regulation by the pain-principle, and to restrict the development of affect through the work of thought to the very minimum which remains effective as a signal. This refinement in functioning is to be achieved by a fresh hyper- cathexis, effected with the help of consciousness. But we are aware that this refinement is seldom successful, even in normal psychic life, and that our thinking always remains liable to falsification by the intervention of the pain-principle.
This, however, is not the breach in the functional efficiency of our psychic apparatus which makes it possible for thoughts representing the result of the secondary thought-work to fall into the power of the primary psychic process ; by which formula we may now describe the operations resulting in dreams and the symptoms of hysteria. This inadequacy results from the converging of two factors in our development, one of which pertains solely to the psychic apparatus, and has exercised a determining influence on the relation of the two systems, while the other operates fluctuatingly, and introduces motive forces of organic origin into the psychic life. Both originate in the infantile life, and are a precipitate of the alteration which our psychic and somatic organism has undergone since our infantile years.
When I termed one of the psychic processes in the psychic apparatus the primary process, I did so not only in consideration of its status and function, but was also able to take account of the temporal relationship actually involved. So far as we know, a psychic apparatus possessing only the primary process does not exist, and is to that extent a theoretical fiction but this at least is a fact : that the primary processes are present in the apparatus from the beginning, while the secondary processes only take shape gradually during the course of life, inhibiting and overlaying the primary, whilst gaining complete control over them perhaps only in the prime of life. Owing to this belated arrival of the secondary processes, the essence of our being, consisting of unconscious wish-impulses, remains something which cannot be grasped or inhibited by the preconscious ; and its part is once and for all restricted to indicating the most appropriate paths for the wish-impulses originating in the unconscious. These unconscious wishes represent for all subsequent psychic strivings a compulsion to which they Must submit themselves, although they may perhaps endeavour to divert them and to guide them to superior aims. In consequence of this retardation, an extensive region of the memory-material remains in fact inaccessible to preconscious cathexis.
Now among these wish-impulses originating in the infantile life. indestructible and incapable of inhibition, there are some the fulfilments of which have come to be in contradiction with the purposive ideas of our secondary thinking. The fulfilment of these wishes would no longer produce an affect of pleasure, but one of pain ; and it is just this conversion of affect that constitutes the essence of what we call repression. In what manner and by what motive forces such a conversion can take place constitutes the problem of repression, which we need here only to touch upon in passing. It will suffice to note the fact that such a conversion of affect occurs in the course of development (one need only think of the emergence of disgust, originally absent in infantile life), and that it is connected with the activity of the secondary system. The memories from which the unconscious wish evokes a liberation of affect have never been accessible to the Pcs, and for that reason this liberation cannot be inhibited. It is precisely on account of this generation of affect that these ideas are not now accessible even by way of the preconscious thoughts to which they have transferred the energy of the wishes connected with them. On the contrary, the pain- principle comes into play, and causes the Pcs to turn away from these transference-thoughts. These latter are left to themselves, are repressed, and thus, the existence of a store of infantile memories, withdrawn from the beginning from the Pcs, becomes the preliminary condition of repression.
In the most favourable case, the generation of pain terminates so soon as the cathexis is withdrawn from the transference-thoughts in the Pcs, and this result shows that the intervention of the pain-principle is appropriate. It is otherwise, however, if the repressed unconscious wish receives an organic reinforcement which it can put at the service of its transference-thoughts, and by which it can enable them to attempt to break through with their excitation, even if the cathexis of the Pcs has been taken away from them. A defensive struggle then ensues, inasmuch as the Pcs reinforces the opposite to the repressed thoughts (counter- cathexis), and the eventual outcome is that the transference- thoughts (the carriers of the unconscious wish) break through in some form of compromise through symptom-formation. But from the moment that the repressed thoughts are powerfully cathected by the unconscious wish-impulse, but forsaken by the preconscious cathexis, they succumb to the primary psychic process, and aim only at motor discharge ; or, if the way is clear, at hallucinatory revival of the desired identity of perception. We have already found, empirically, that the incorrect processes described are enacted only with thoughts which are in a state of repression. We are now in a position to grasp yet another part of the total scheme of the facts. These incorrect Processes are the primary processes of the psychic apparatus ; they occur wherever ideas abandoned by the preconscious cathexis are left to themselves and can become filled with the uninhibited energy which flows from the unconscious and strives for discharge. There are further facts which go to show that the processes described as incorrect are not really falsifications of our normal procedure, or defective thinking. but the modes of operation of the psychic apparatus when freed from inhibition. Thus we see that the process of the conveyance of the preconscious excitation to motility occurs in accordance with the same procedure, and that in the linkage of preconscious ideas with words we may easily find manifested the same displacements and confusions (which we ascribe to inattention). Finally, a proof of the increased work made necessary by the inhibition of these primary modes of procedure might be found in the fact that we achieve a comical effect, a surplus to be discharged through laughter, if we allow these modes of thought to come to consciousness.
The theory of the psychoneuroses asserts with absolute certainty that it can only be sexual wish-impulses from the infantile life, which have undergone repression (affect-conversion) during the developmental period of childhood, which are capable of renewal at later periods of development (whether as a result of our sexual constitution, which has, of course, grown out of an original bi-sexuality, or in consequence of unfavourable influences in our sexual life) ; and which therefore supply the motive-power for all psychoneurotic symptom-formation. It is only by the introduction of these sexual forces that the gaps still demonstrable in the theory of repression can be filled. Here, I will leave it undecided whether the postulate of the sexual and infantile holds good for the theory of dreams as well ; I am not completing the latter, because in assuming that the dream-wish invariably originates in the unconscious I have already gone a step beyond the demonstrable. * Nor will I inquire further into the nature of the difference between the play of psychic forces in dream-formation and in the formation of hysterical symptoms, since there is missing here the needed fuller knowledge of one of the two things to be compared. But there is another point which I regard as important, and I will confess at once that it was only on account of this point that I entered upon all the discussions concerning the two psychic systems, their modes of operation, and the fact of repression. It does not greatly matter whether I have conceived the psychological relations at issue with approximate correctness, or, as is easily possible in such a difficult matter, wrongly and imperfectly. However our views may change about the interpretation of the psychic censorship or the correct and the abnormal elaboration of the dream-content. it remains certain that such processes are active in dream-formation, and that in their essentials they reveal the closest analogy with the processes observed in the formation of hysterical symptoms. Now the dream is not a pathological phenomenon ; it does not presuppose any disturbance of our psychic equilibrium ; and it does not leave behind it any weakening of our efficiency or capacities. The objection that no conclusions can be drawn about the dreams of healthy persons from my own dreams and from those of my neurotic patients may be rejected without comment. If, then, from the nature of the given phenomena we infer the nature of their motive forces, we find that the psychic mechanism utilized by the neuroses is not newly-created by a morbid disturbance that lays hold of the psychic life, but lies in readiness in the normal structure of our psychic apparatus. The two psychic systems, the frontier-censorship between them, the inhibition and overlaying of the one activity by the other, the relations of both to consciousness- or whatever may take place of these concepts on a juster interpretation of the actual relations- all these belong to the normal structure of our psychic instrument, and the dream shows us one of the paths which lead to a knowledge of this structure. If we wish to be content with a minimum of perfectly assured additions to our knowledge, we shall say that the dream affords proof that the suppressed material continues to exist even in the normal person and remains capable of psychic activity. Dreams are one of the manifestations of this suppressed material ; theoretically, this is true in all cases ; and in tangible experience, it has been found true in at least a great number of cases, which happen to display most plainly the more striking features of the dream-life. The suppressed psychic material, which in the waking state has been prevented from expression and cut off from internal perception by the mutual neutralization of contradictory attitudes, finds ways and means, under the sway of compromise-formations, of obtruding itself on consciousness during the night.
Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo. *(2)
At any rate, the interpretation of dreams is the via regia to a knowledge of the unconscious element in our psychic life.
* Here, as elsewhere, there are gaps in the treatment of the subject, which I have deliberately left, because to fill them up would, on the one hand, require excessive labour, and, on the other hand, I should have to depend on material which is foreign to the dream. Thus, for example, I have avoided stating whether I give the word suppressed a different meaning from that of the word repressed. No doubt, however, it will have become clear that the latter emphasizes more than the former the relation to the unconscious. I have not gone into the problem, which obviously arises, of why the dream-thoughts undergo distortion by the censorship even when they abandon the progressive path to consciousness, and choose the path of regression. And so with other similar omissions. I have, above all, sought to give some idea of the problems to which the further dissection of the dream- work leads, and to indicate the other themes with which these are connected. It was, however, not always easy to decide just where the pursuit should be discontinued. That I have not treated exhaustively the part which the psycho-sexual life plays in the dream, and have avoided the interpretation of dreams of an obviously sexual content, is due to a special reason- which may not perhaps be that which the reader would expect. It is absolutely alien to my views and my neuropathological doctrines to regard the sexual life as a pudendum with which neither the physician nor the scientific investigator should concern himself. To me, the moral indignation which prompted the translator of Artemidorus of Daldis to keep from the reader’s knowledge the chapter on sexual dreams contained in the Symbolism of Dreams is merely ludicrous. For my own part, what decided my procedure was solely the knowledge that in the explanation of sexual dreams I should be bound to get deeply involved in the still unexplained problems of perversion and bisexuality ; it was for this reason that I reserved this material for treatment elsewhere.
*(2) If I cannot influence the gods, I will stir up Acheron.
By the analysis of dreams we obtain some insight into the composition of this most marvellous and most mysterious of instruments ; it is true that this only takes us a little way, but it gives us a start which enables us, setting out from the angle of other (properly pathological) formations, to penetrate further in our disjoining of the instrument. For disease- at all events that which is rightly called functional- does not necessarily presuppose the destruction of this apparatus, or the establishment of new cleavages in its interior : it can be explained dynamically by the strengthening and weakening of the components of the play of forces, so many of the activities of which are covered up in normal functioning. It might be shown elsewhere how the fact that the apparatus is a combination of two instances also permits of a refinement of its normal functioning which would have been impossible to a single system. *
* The dream is not the only phenomenon that permits us to base our psycho-pathology on psychology. In a short unfinished series of articles in the Monatsschrift fur Psychiatrie und Neurologie ("uber den psychischen Mechanismus der Vergesslichkeit," 1898, and "uber Deckerinnerungen," 1899) I attempted to interpret a number of psychic manifestations from everyday life in support of the same conception. (These and other articles on "Forgetting," "Lapses of Speech," etc., have now been published in the Psycho- pathology of Everyday Life.)
F. The Unconscious and Consciousness. Reality. If we look more closely, we may observe that the psychological considerations examined in the foregoing chapter require us to assume, not the existence of two systems near the motor end of the psychic apparatus, but two kinds of processes or courses taken by excitation. But this does not disturb us ; for we must always be ready to drop our auxiliary ideas, when we think we are in a position to replace them by something which comes closer to the unknown reality. Let us now try to correct certain views which may have taken a misconceived form as long as we regarded the two systems, in the crudest and most obvious sense, as two localities within the psychic apparatus- views which have left a precipitate in the terms repression and penetration. Thus, when we say that an unconscious thought strives for translation into the preconscious in order subsequently to penetrate through to consciousness, we do not mean that a second idea has to be formed, in a new locality, like a paraphrase, as it were, whilst the original persists by its side ; and similarly, when we speak of penetration into consciousness, we wish carefully to detach from this notion any idea of a change of locality. When we say that a preconscious idea is repressed and subsequently absorbed by the unconscious, we might be tempted by these images, borrowed from the idea of a struggle for a particular territory, to assume that an arrangement is really broken up in the one psychic locality and replaced by a new one in the other locality. For these comparisons we will substitute a description which would seem to correspond more closely to the real state of affairs ; we will say that an energic cathexis is shifted to or withdrawn from a certain arrangement, so that the psychic formation falls under the domination of a given instance or is withdrawn from it. Here again we replace a topographical mode of representation by a dynamic one ; it is not the psychic formation that appears to us as the mobile element, but its innervation. *
* This conception underwent elaboration and modification when it was recognized that the essential character of a preconscious idea was its connection with the residues of verbal ideas. See The Unconscious, p. 428 below.
Nevertheless, I think it expedient and justifiable to continue to use the illustrative idea of the two systems. We shall avoid any abuse of this mode of representation if we remember that ideas, thoughts, and psychic formations in general must not in any case be localized in organic elements of the nervous system but, so to speak, between them, where resistances and association-tracks form the correlate corresponding to them. Everything that can become an object of internal perception is virtual, like the image in the telescope produced by the crossing of light-rays. But we are justified in thinking of the systems- which have nothing psychic in themselves, and which never become accessible to our psychic perception- as something similar to the lenses of the telescope, which project the image. If we continue this comparison, we might say that the censorship between the two systems corresponds to the refraction of rays on passing into a new medium.
Thus far, we have developed our psychology on our own responsibility ; it is now time to turn and look at the doctrines prevailing in modern psychology, and to examine the relation of these to our theories. The problem of the unconscious in psychology is, according to the forcible statement of Lipps, * less a psychological problem than the problem of psychology. As long as psychology disposed of this problem by the verbal explanation that the psychic is the conscious, and that unconscious psychic occurrences are an obvious contradiction, there was no possibility of a physician’s observations of abnormal mental states being turned to any psychological account. The physician and the philosopher can meet only when both acknowledge that unconscious psychic processes is the appropriate and justified expression for all established fact. The physician cannot but reject, with a shrug of his shoulders, the assertion that consciousness is the indispensable quality of the psychic ; if his respect for the utterances of the philosophers is still great enough, he may perhaps assume that he and they do not deal with the same thing and do not pursue the same science. For a single intelligent observation of the psychic life of a neurotic, a single analysis of a dream, must force upon him the unshakable conviction that the most complicated and the most accurate operations of thought, to which the name of psychic occurrences can surely not be refused, may take place without arousing consciousness. *(2) The physician, it is true, does not learn of these unconscious processes until they have produced an effect on consciousness which admits of communication or observation. But this effect on consciousness may show a psychic character which differs completely from the unconscious process, so that internal perception cannot possibly recognize in the first a substitute for the second. The physician must reserve himself the right to penetrate, by a Process of deduction, from the effect on consciousness to the unconscious psychic process ; he learns in this way that the effect on consciousness is only a remote psychic product of the unconscious process, and that the latter has not become conscious as such, and has, moreover, existed and operated without in any way betraying itself to consciousness. -
* Der Begriff des Unbewussten in der Psychologie. Lecture delivered at the Third International Psychological Congress at Munich, 1897.
*(2) I am happy to be able to point to an author who has drawn from the study of dreams the same conclusion as regards the relation between consciousness and the unconscious.
Du Prel says : "The problem : what is the psyche, manifestly requires a preliminary examination as to whether consciousness and psyche are identical. But it is just this preliminary question which is answered in the negative by the dream, which shows that the concept of the psyche extends beyond that of consciousness, much as the gravitational force of a star extends beyond its sphere of luminosity" (Philos. d. Mystik, p. 47).
"It is a truth which cannot be sufficiently emphasized that the concepts of consciousness and of the psyche are not co-extensive" (p. 306).
A return from the over-estimation of the property of consciousness is the indispensable preliminary to any genuine insight into the course of psychic events. As Lipps has said, the unconscious must be accepted as the general basis of the psychic life. The unconscious is the larger circle which includes the smaller circle of the conscious ; everything conscious has a preliminary unconscious stage, whereas the unconscious can stop at this stage, and yet claim to be considered a full psychic function. The unconscious is the true psychic reality ; in its inner nature it is just as much unknown to us as the reality of the external world, and it is just as imperfectly communicated to us by the data of consciousness as is the external world by the reports of our sense-organs.
We get rid of a series of dream-problems which have claimed much attention from earlier writers on the subject when the old antithesis between conscious life and dream-life is discarded, and the unconscious psychic assigned to its proper place. Thus, many of the achievements which are a matter for wonder in a dream are now no longer to be attributed to dreaming, but to unconscious thinking, which is active also during the day. If the dream seems to make play with a symbolical representation of the body, as Scherner has said, we know that this is the work of certain unconscious phantasies, which are probably under the sway of sexual impulses and find expression not only in dreams, but also in hysterical phobias and other symptoms. If the dream continues and completes mental work begun during the day, and even brings valuable new ideas to light, we have only to strip off the dream-disguise from this, as the contribution of the dream-work, and a mark of the assistance of dark powers in the depths of the psyche (cf. the devil in Tartini’s sonata-dream). The intellectual achievement as such belongs to the same psychic forces as are responsible for all such achievements during the day. We are probably much too inclined to over-estimate the conscious character even of intellectual and artistic production. From the reports of certain writers who have been highly productive, such as Goethe and Helmholtz, we learn, rather, that the most essential and original part of their creations came to them in the form of inspirations, and offered itself to their awareness in an almost completed state. In other cases, where there is a concerted effort of all the psychic forces, there is nothing strange in the fact that conscious activity, too, lends its aid. But it is the much-abused privilege of conscious activity to hide from us all other activities wherever it participates.
It hardly seems worth while to take up the historical significance of dreams as a separate theme. Where, for instance, a leader has been impelled by a dream to engage in a bold undertaking, the success of which has had the effect of changing history, a new problem arises only so long as the dream is regarded as a mysterious power and contrasted with other more familiar psychic forces. The problem disappears as soon as we regard the dream as a form of expression for impulses to which a resistance was attached during the day, whilst at night they were able to draw reinforcement from deep-lying sources of excitation. * But the great respect with which the ancient peoples regarded dreams is based on a just piece of psychological divination. It is a homage paid to the unsubdued and indestructible element in the human soul, to the demonic power which furnishes the dream- wish, and which we have found again in our unconscious.
* Cf. (chapter II.), the dream (Sa-Turos) of Alexander the Great at the siege of Tyre.
It is not without purpose that I use the expression in our unconscious, for what we so call does not coincide with the unconscious of the philosophers, nor with the unconscious of Lipps. As they use the term, it merely means the opposite of the conscious. That there exist not only conscious but also unconscious psychic processes is the opinion at issue, which is so hotly contested and so energetically defended. Lipps enunciates the more comprehensive doctrine that everything psychic exists as unconscious, but that some of it may exist also as conscious. But it is not to prove this doctrine that we have adduced the phenomena of dreams and hysterical symptom-formation ; the observation of normal life alone suffices to establish its correctness beyond a doubt. The novel fact that we have learned from the analysis of psycho-pathological formations, and indeed from the first member of the group, from dreams, is that the unconscious- and hence all that is psychic- occurs as a function of two separate systems, and that as such it occurs even in normal psychic life. There are consequently two kinds of unconscious, which have not as yet been distinguished by psychologists. Both are unconscious in the psychological sense ; but in our sense the first, which we call Ucs, is likewise incapable of consciousness ; whereas the second we call Pcs because its excitations, after the observance of certain rules, are capable of reaching consciousness ; perhaps not before they have again undergone censorship, but nevertheless regardless of the Ucs system. The fact that in order to attain consciousness the excitations must pass through an unalterable series, a succession of instances, as is betrayed by the changes produced in them by the censorship, has enabled us to describe them by analogy in spatial terms. We described the relations of the two systems to each other and to consciousness by saying that the system Pcs is like a screen between the system Ucs and consciousness. The system Pcs not only bars access to consciousness, but also controls the access to voluntary motility, and has control of the emission of a mobile cathectic energy, a portion of which is familiar to us as attention. *
* Cf. here my remarks in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, vol. xxvi, in which the descriptive, dynamic and systematic meanings of the ambiguous word Unconscious are distinguished from one another.
We must also steer clear of the distinction between the super- conscious and the subconscious, which has found such favour in the more recent literature on the psychoneuroses, for just such a distinction seems to emphasize the equivalence of what is psychic and what is conscious.
What role is now left, in our representation of things, to the phenomenon of consciousness, once so all-powerful and over- shadowing all else ? None other than that of a sense-organ for the perception of psychic qualities. According to the fundamental idea of our schematic attempt we can regard conscious perception only as the function proper to a special system for which the abbreviated designation Cs commends itself. This system we conceive to be similar in its mechanical characteristics to the perception-system P, and hence excitable by qualities, and incapable of retaining the trace of changes : i.e., devoid of memory. The psychic apparatus which, with the sense-organ of the P-systems, is turned to the outer world, is itself the outer world for the sense-organ of Cs, whose teleological justification depends on this relationship. We are here once more confronted with the principle of the succession of instances which seems to dominate the structure of the apparatus. The material of excitation flows to the sense-organ Cs from two sides : first from the P-system, whose excitation, qualitatively conditioned, probably undergoes a new elaboration until it attains conscious perception ; and, secondly, from the interior of the apparatus itself, whose quantitative processes are perceived as a qualitative series of pleasures and pains once they have reached consciousness after undergoing certain changes.
The philosophers, who became aware that accurate and highly complicated thought-structures are possible even without the co- operation of consciousness, thus found it difficult to ascribe any function to consciousness ; it appeared to them a superfluous mirroring of the completed psychic process. The analogy of our Cs system with the perception-systems relieves us of this embarrassment. We see that perception through our sense-organs results in directing an attention-cathexis to the paths along which the incoming sensory excitation diffuses itself ; the qualitative excitation of the P-system serves the mobile quantity in the psychic apparatus as a regulator of its discharge. We may claim the same function for the overlying sense-organ of the Cs system. By perceiving new qualities, it furnishes a new contribution for the guidance and suitable distribution of the mobile cathexis-quantities. By means of perceptions of pleasure and pain, it influences the course of the cathexes within the psychic apparatus, which otherwise operates unconsciously and by the displacement of quantities. It is probable that the pain- principle first of all regulates the displacements of cathexis automatically, but it is quite possible that consciousness contributes a second and more subtle regulation of these qualities, which may even oppose the first, and perfect the functional capacity of the apparatus, by placing it in a position contrary to its original design, subjecting even that which induces pain to cathexis and to elaboration. We learn from neuro- psychology that an important part in the functional activity of the apparatus is ascribed to these regulations by the qualitative excitations of the sense-organs. The automatic rule of the primary pain-principle, together with the limitation of functional capacity bound up with it, is broken by the sensory regulations, which are themselves again automatisms. We find that repression, which, though originally expedient, nevertheless finally brings about a harmful lack of inhibition and of psychic control, overtakes memories much more easily than it does perceptions, because in the former there is no additional cathexis from the excitation of the psychic sense-organs. Whilst an idea which is to be warded off may fail to become conscious because it has succumbed to repression, it may on other occasions come to be repressed simply because it has been withdrawn from conscious perception on other grounds. These are clues which we make use of in therapy in order to undo accomplished repressions.
The value of the hyper-cathexis which is produced by the regulating influence of the Cs sense-organs on the mobile quantity is demonstrated in a teleological context by nothing more clearly than by the creation of a new series of qualities, and consequently a new regulation, which constitutes the prerogative of man over animals. For the mental processes are in themselves unqualitative except for the excitations of pleasure and pain which accompany them : which, as we know, must be kept within limits as possible disturbers of thought. In order to endow them with quality, they are associated in man with verbal memories, the qualitative residues of which suffice to draw upon them the attention of consciousness, which in turn endows thought with a new mobile cathexis.
It is only on a dissection of hysterical mental processes that the manifold nature of the problems of consciousness becomes apparent. One then receives the impression that the transition from the preconscious to the conscious cathexis is associated with a censorship similar to that between Ucs and Pcs. This censorship, too, begins to act only when a certain quantitative limit is reached, so that thought-formations which are not very intense escape it. All possible cases of detention from consciousness and of penetration into consciousness under certain restrictions are included within the range of psychoneurotic phenomena ; all point to the intimate and twofold connection between the censorship and consciousness. I shall conclude these psychological considerations with the record of two such occurrences.
On the occasion of a consultation a few years ago, the patient was an intelligent-looking girl with a simple, unaffected manner. She was strangely attired ; for whereas a woman’s dress is usually carefully thought out to the last pleat, one of her stockings was hanging down and two of the buttons of her blouse were undone. She complained of pains in one of her legs, and exposed her calf without being asked to do so. Her chief complaint, however, was as follows : She had a feeling in her body as though something were sticking into it which moved to and fro and shook her through and through. This sometimes seemed to make her whole body stiff. On hearing this, my colleague in consultation looked at me : the trouble was quite obvious to him. To both of us it seemed peculiar that this suggested nothing to the patient’s mother, though she herself must repeatedly have been in the situation described by her child. As for the girl, she had no idea of the import of her words, or she would never have allowed them to pass her lips. Here the censorship had been hoodwinked so successfully that under the mask of an innocent complaint a phantasy was admitted to consciousness which otherwise would have remained in the preconscious.
Another example : I began the psycho-analytic treatment of a boy fourteen who was suffering from tic convulsif, hysterical vomiting, headache, etc., by assuring him that after closing his eyes he would see pictures or that ideas would occur to him, which he was to communicate to me. He replied by describing pictures. The last impression he had received before coming to me was revived visually in his memory. He had been playing a game of checkers with his uncle, and now he saw the checkerboard before him. He commented on various positions that were favourable or unfavourable, on moves that were not safe to make. He then saw a dagger lying on the checker-board- an object belonging to his father, but which his phantasy laid on the checker-board. Then a sickle was lying on the board ; a scythe was added ; and finally, he saw the image of an old peasant mowing the grass in front of his father’s house far away. A few days later I discovered the meaning of this series of pictures. Disagreeable family circumstances had made the boy excited and nervous. Here was a case of a harsh, irascible father, who had lived unhappily with the boy’s mother, and whose educational methods consisted of threats ; he had divorced his gentle and delicate wife, and remarried ; one day he brought home a young woman as the boy’s new mother. The illness of the fourteen-year-old boy developed a few days later. It was the suppressed rage against his father that had combined these images into intelligible allusions. The material was furnished by a mythological reminiscence. The sickle was that with which Zeus castrated his father ; the scythe and the image of the peasant represented Kronos, the violent old man who devours his children, and upon whom Zeus wreaks his vengeance in so unfilial a manner. The father’s marriage gave the boy an opportunity of returning the reproaches and threats which the child had once heard his father utter because he played with his genitals (the draught-board ; the prohibited moves ; the dagger with which one could kill). We have here long-impressed memories and their unconscious derivatives which, under the guise of meaningless pictures, have slipped into consciousness by the devious paths opened to them.
If I were asked what is the theoretical value of the study of dreams, I should reply that it lies in the additions to psychological knowledge and the beginnings of an understanding of the neuroses which we thereby obtain. Who can foresee the importance a thorough knowledge of the structure and functions of the psychic apparatus may attain, when even our present state of knowledge permits of successful therapeutic intervention in the curable forms of psychoneuroses ? But, it may be asked, what of the practical value of this study in regard to a knowledge of the psyche and discovery of the hidden peculiarities of individual character ? Have not the unconscious impulses revealed by dreams the value of real forces in the psychic life ? Is the ethical significance of the suppressed wishes to be lightly disregarded, since, just as they now create dreams, they may some day create other things ?
I do not feel justified in answering these questions. I have not followed up this aspect of the problem of dreams. In any case, however, I believe that the Roman Emperor was in the wrong in ordering one of his subjects to be executed because the latter had dreamt that he had killed the Emperor. He should first of all have endeavoured to discover the significance of the man’s dreams ; most probably it was not what it seemed to be. And even if a dream of a different content had actually had this treasonable meaning, it would still have been well to recall the words of Plato- that the virtuous man contents himself with dreaming of that which the wicked man does in actual life. I am therefore of the opinion that dreams should be acquitted of evil. Whether any reality is to be attributed to the unconscious wishes, I cannot say. Reality must, of course, be denied to all transitory and intermediate thoughts. If we had before us the unconscious wishes, brought to their final and truest expression, we should still do well to remember that psychic reality is a special form of existence which must not be confounded with material reality. It seems, therefore, unnecessary that people should refuse to accept the responsibility for the immorality of their dreams. With an appreciation of the mode of functioning of the psychic apparatus, and an insight into the relations between conscious and unconscious, all that is ethically offensive in our dream-life and the life of phantasy for the most part disappears.
"What a dream has told us of our relations to the present (reality) we will then seek also in our consciousness and we must not be surprised if we discover that the monster we saw under the magnifying-glass of the analysis is a tiny little infusorian" (H. Sachs).
For all practical purposes in judging human character, a man’s actions and conscious expressions of thought are in most cases sufficient. Actions, above all, deserve to be placed in the front rank ; for many impulses which penetrate into consciousness are neutralized by real forces in the psychic life before they find issue in action ; indeed, the reason why they frequently do not encounter any psychic obstacle on their path is because the unconscious is certain of their meeting with resistances later. In any case, it is highly instructive to learn something of the intensively tilled soil from which our virtues proudly emerge. For the complexity of human character, dynamically moved in all directions, very rarely accommodates itself to the arbitrament of a simple alternative, as our antiquated moral philosophy would have it.
And what of the value of dreams in regard to our knowledge of the future ? That, of course, is quite out of the question. One would like to substitute the words : in regard to our knowledge of the past. For in every sense a dream has its origin in the past. The ancient belief that dreams reveal the future is not indeed entirely devoid of the truth. By representing a wish as fulfilled the dream certainly leads us into the future ; but this future, which the dreamer accepts as his present, has been shaped in the likeness of the past by the indestructible wish.