This is the manifest thesis sentence of the book, but neither the chapter nor the wish-fulfillment interpretations adduced throughout the book have proved fully convincing that dreams are always wish-fulfillments. Freud introduces the chapter with a metaphor of travel:
When, after passing through a narrow defile, we suddenly emerge upon a piece of high ground, where the path divides and the finest prospects open up on every side, we may pause for a moment and consider in which direction we shall first turn our steps. Such is the case with us, now that we have surmounted the first interpretation of a dream. We find ourselves in the full daylight of a sudden discovery. Dreams are not to be likened to the unregulated sounds that rise from a musical instrument struck by the blow of some external force instead of by a player's hand ...
Freud returns to the musical image later (p. 78), noting that, "dreaming has often been compared with 'the ten fingers of a man who knows nothing of music wandering over the keys of a piano." He had suggested to Fliess (8/5/1899) that the travel image would altert the reader to the importance of the preceding illustrative interpretation ("Irma") for the detailed presentation that followed.
The unconscious "No!": cf. Freud's dream (pb. 371-2) of the "examination room" finds him unable to leave because he can't find his hat (he doesn't allude here to the sexual symbolism of what caps the head!), and leads to the observation that when the "no" is implied by bodily immobility, as a "sensation" of movement inhibited, it "represents a conflict of will."
Anxiety is a libidinal impulse which has its origin in the unconscious and is inhibited by the preconscious. When, therefore, the sensation of inhibition is linked with anxiety in a dream, it must be a question of an act of volition which was at one time capable of generating libido-that is, it must be a question of a sexual impulse.
'There is nothing new,' I shall be told, 'in the idea that some dreams are to be regarded as wish-fulfillments' [cf. Plotinus et seq.] ... 'But to assert that there are no dreams other than wish-fulfulfillment dreams is only one more unjustifiable generalization, though fortunately one which it is easy to disprove.' (pb. 167)
Freud begins his argument in Chapter 4 with brief citation of a variety of writing on dreams calling attention to the frequently unpleasant or anxiety-related content of dreams, and notes
It does in fact look as though anxiety-dreams make it impossible to assert as a general proposition (based on the examples quoted in my last chapter) that dreams are wish-fulfillments; indeed they seem to stamp any such proposition as an absurdity.
Nevertheless, there is no great difficulty in meeting these apparently conclusive objections. It is only necessary to take notice of the fact that my theory is not based on a consideration of the manifest content of dreams but refers to the thougthts which are shown by the work of interpretation to lie behind dreams. We must make a contrast between the manifest and the latent content of dreams (SE4, 135).
Manifestly frightening and anxiety-laden dreams are in fact expressing unconscious wishes: this is Freud's argument, and he presses it with characteristic vigor in the chapter. A series of dreams are offered, each of which Freud is able to explain as only apparent contradictions of the wish-fulfillment postulate when the dream's latent, rather than its manifest, content is considered.
The dreams presented in Chapter 4 seem to me to have certain thematic redundancies involving Eriksonian "Generativity": frustrated male ambition and reproachful females coincide in several.
Freud prefaces the dream with a discussion of his reaction to the news in 1897 that two of his senior colleagues (Krafft-Ebing & Nothnagel, cf. Masson, 1985, pp. 229-230) had recommended him for professor extraodinarius. Subsequently he had been visited by a friend who had failed to be promoted after strenuous efforts and had forced an official at the Ministry of education to acknowledge that the reason was his Jewishness (SE4, pp. 136-137).
I ... My friend R. was my uncle.-I had a great feeling of affection for him.
II. I saw before me his face, somewhat changed. It was as though it had been drawn out lengthways. A yellow beard that surrounded it stood out especially clearly.
Freud notes his resistance to taking this dream seriously; his strong association of "my uncle" to Josef the counterfieter; the resultant calcuation that the dream is calling his friend R.-a man of "unblemished" character except for having run a boy down on his bicycle-a simpleton; the association of "crime" to his friend N., also recommended for professorship, who described having been [unjustly] sued by a woman:
My Uncle Josef represented my two colleagues who had not been appointed to professorships-the one as a simpleton and the other as a criminal. (pb. 173)
The dream thus touches both bringing harm to a child and being accused by a woman.
Das beste, was du wissen kannst,
Darfst du den Buben doch nicht sagen. (p. 142)
Freud presents a set of dreams and fragments from patients, who, he notes, "invariably contradict my assertion that all dreams are fulfillments of wishes" (p. 146).
I wanted to give a supper-party, but I had nothing in the house but a little smoked salmon. I thought I would go out and buy some, but remembered then that it was Sunday afternoon and all the shops would be shut. Next I tried to ring up some caterers, but the telephone was out of order. So I had to abandon my wish to give a supper-party pb. 180).
Inadequate reasons like this usually conceal unconfessed motives.
A hysterical woman identifies herself in her symptoms most readily-though not exclusively-with people with whom she has had sexual relations or with people who have had sexual relations with the same people as herself (pb. 184).
A contradiction to my theory of dreams produced by another of my women patients (the cleverest of all my dreamers) was resolved more simply, but upon the same pattern: namely, that non-fulfillment of one wish meant the fiulfillment of another. One day I had been explaining to her that dreams are fulfillments of wishes. Next day she brought me a dream in which she was travelling down with her mother-in-law to the place in the country where they were to spend their holidays together. Now I knew that she had recently rebelled against the idea of spending her summer near her mother-in-law and that a few days earlier she had successfully avoided the propinquity she dread by engaging room at a far distant resort (pb. 184).
The solution to the puzzle, according to Freud, is that the dream expresses the patient's wish that he might be wrong, in particular regarding some causal factor in her neurosis.
Freud attributes to a kind of inverted jealousy the dream of a "barrister" who challenges him after hearing him lecture on wish-fulfillment by dreaming that he has lost all his cases [cf. clinical cases?]. The latter was a classmate of Freud's (for eight years) in secondary school, "somewhere in the middle" in class rank-one who, Freud says, could "hardly have failed to nourish a wish, left over from his school-days, that some day I may come a complete cropper" (1900, 152).
A dream of a gloomier kind.... The patient, who was a young girl, began thus: 'As you will remember, my sister has only one boy left now-Karl. She lost his elder brother , Otto, while I was still living with her. Otto was my favorite; I more or less brought him up. I'm fond of the little one too, but not nearly so fond as I was of of the one who died. Last night, then, I dreamed that I saw Karl lying before me dead. He was lying in his little coffin with his hands folded and with candles all round-in fact just like little Otto, whose death was such a blow to me (pb. 186).
The explanation, according to Freud, was that the dream offered an occasion for seeing the professor on whom she doted, her love for whom had apparently been thwarted by her sister. He had appeared after Otto's death ('I saw him once more beside little Otto's coffin.'), and she expected to see him at a concert the following night.
In order to conceal her wish, she had evidently chosen a situation in which such wishes are usually supressed, a situation in which one is so filled with grief that one has no thought of love (pb. 187).
A similar dream of another woman patient had a different explanation. When she was young she had been remarkable for her ready wit and cheerful disposition; and these characteristics were still to be seen, at all events in the ideas that occurred to her during the treatment. In the course of a longish dream, this lady imagined that she saw her only, fifteen-year-old daughter lying dead 'in a case.' (pb. 187)
In the course of the analysis she recalled that at a party the evening before there had been some talk about the English word 'box' and the various ways it could be translated into German-such as Schachtel ['case'], Loge ['box at the theater'], Kasten ['chest'], Ohrfeige ['box on the ear'], and so on. Other portions of the dream enabled us to discover further that she had guessed that the English 'box' was related to the German Büchse ['receptacle'], and that she had then been plagued by a recollection that Büchse is used as a vulger term for the female genitals. ...
Like so many young married women, she had been far from pleased when she became pregnant; and more than once she had allowed herself to wish that the child in her womb might die. Indeed, in a fit of rage after a violent scene with her husband, she had beaten with her fists on her body so as to hit the child inside it. Thus the dead child was in fact the fulfillment of a wish, but of a wish that had been put aside fifteen years earlier. (pb. 187-188)
Then comes a detailed and fascinating dream (cf. Davis, 1990), of which Freud says, "I owe the following dream, not to a patient, but to an intelligent jurist of my acquaintance," who he claims has told it to him "in order to restrain me from rash generalizing in the theory of wishful dreams" (Freud, 1900, 155).
'I dreamt,' said my informant, 'that I came up to my house with a lady on my arm. A closed carriage was standing in front of it and a man came up to me, showed me his credentials as a police officer and requested me to follow him. I asked him to allow me a little time to put my affairs in order. Can you suppose that I have a wish to be arrested?' -Of course not, I could only agree. Do you happen to know the charge on which you were arrested? -'Yes, for infanticide, I believe.' -Infanticide? But surely you're aware that that's a crime that can only be committed by a mother on a new-born child? -'Quite true.' -And what were the circumstances in which you had the dream? What happened on the previous evening? 'I would prefer not to tell you. It's a delicate matter.' -Nevertheless, I shall have to hear it; otherwise we shall have to give up the idea of interpreting the dream. -'Very well, then, listen. I didn't spend last night at home but with a lady who means a great deal to me. When we woke up in the morning there was a further passage between us, after which I fell asleep again and had the dream I described to you.' -Is she a married woman? -'Yes.' -And you don't want to have a child by her? -'Oh, no; that might give us away.' -So you don't practice normal intercourse? -'I take the precaution of withdrawing before ejaculation.' -I think I may assume that you had used this device several times during the night, and that after using it in the morning you felt a little uncertain whether you had carried it out successfully. -'That's possible, no doubt.' -In that case your dream was the fulfilment of a wish. It gave you a reassurance that you had not procreated a child, or, what amounts to the same thing, that you had killed a child. (Freud, 1900, 155)
The tone of Freud's interlocutor here is similar to that in the well-known aliquis episode reported in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901), which also concerns guilt over aborting a fetus and in which Freud is also showing off his clever didactic style. The apparent addition of the interpretive comment concerning infanticide suggests that this was an issue for Freud himself (Davis, 1990b; Swales, 1982). Male guilt over arranging an abortion is associated by Freud with infanticide, which he not only brings to his patient's attention but footnotes as the "key to the dream's interpretation," whose significance is suggested by its having been forgotten at first.
You remember that a few days ago we were talking about marriage difficulties and how inconsistent it is that there should be no objection to carrying out intercourse in such a way that no fertilization takes place, whereas ony interference when once the ovum and sperm have come together and a foetus has been formed is punished as a crime. We went on to recall the mediaeval controversy over the exact point of time at which the soul enters the foetus, since it is not until after that that the concept of murder becomes applicable (pb. 189).
Freud goes on to call the dreamer's attention to a "gruesome" poem by Lenau "in which child murder and child prevention are equated," and the dreamer responds, "'Oddly enough, I happened to think of Lenau this morning'" (Freud, 1900, 147 ). Continuing in a pedagogical vein, Freud suggests as a further explanation of the dream:
Perhaps you have learned from my paper on the aetiology of anxiety neurosis that I regard coitus interruptus as one of the aetiological factors in the development of neurotic anxiety? It would tally with this if, after carrying out sexual intercourse in this way several times, you were left in an uneasy mood which afterwards became an element in the construction of your dream. Moreover, you made use of the moodiness to to help disguise the wish-fulfilment. Incidentally, your reference to infanticide has not been explained. How did you come to light on this specifically feminine crime?-'I must admit that some years ago I became involved in an occurrence of that kind. I was responsible for a girl's trying to avoid the consequences of an affair with me by means of an abortion. I had nothing to do with her carrying out her intention, but for a long time I naturally felt very nervous in case the business came out.' (pb. 190)
Since this same dream had been presented in correspondence with Fliess as part of a draft paper (Draft L.) enclosed with the letter of May 2, 1897, Freud had had over two years to reflect on it by the time he finished this account of its interpretation. Indeed, he had apparently used the dream pedagogically, since he notes that
a young physician who heard me describe this dream during a course of lectures must have been greatly struck by it, for he promptly re-dreamt it, applying the same pattern of thought to another theme. (pb. 190)
Anzieu (1975/1986, p. 278) puts the date of this dream as March 8, 9, or 10, 1898, when Freud was completing the "first version" of The Interpretation of Dreams. Freud (b. May, 1856) was therefore 42 years old, the father of six children. Anna, the youngest, who had been conceived along with this work in 1895, was three.
Freud's dream redundantly and recursively portrays writing, books, and bibliophilism. He receives a letter in which Fliess "sees himself turning the pages" of the yet-to-be-written Interpretation of Dreams, envies Fliess his prescience, dreams this "botanical" monograph, writes the real one.
Words, since they are the nodal points of numerous ideas, may be regarded as predestined to ambiguity; and the neuroses (e.g. in framing obsessions and phobias), no less than dreams, make unashamed use of the advantages thus offered by words for purposes of condensation and disguise (pp. 340-1 [pb. 376-7]).
Perhaps Freud's handling of the "Dream of the Botanical Monograph" as tendentiously leads us into his theory of creativity (and hence of the future), as the "Irma" dream evokes his theories of the past (cf. D.M. Thomas, The White Hotel).
Freud's many associations to the dream are explicated in Grinstein (1980), Ch. 2. The dream also receives a paricularly full discussion in Chapter 12 ("Freud's 'Botanical Monograph': A Specimen Dream Analysis") of Foulkes (1978).
The dream makes highly condensed (and therefore richly overdetermined) use of "the language of flowers," as a means of alluding to ambivalent male-female relations:
I had written a monograph on a certain plant. The book lay before me and I was at the moment turning over a folded coloured plate. Bound up in each copy there was a dried specimen of the plant, as thought it had been taken from a herbarium. (p. 169)
Manifest elements, lines of association (SE 4, p. 191): (a) bookstore monograph: Cyclamen -- Martha's favorite flower -- giving [& forgetting] flowers -- Frau L.
(b) botanical monograph: Freud's Coca monograph-father's glaucoma operation-Koller/Konigstein/Freud [& Fliess] -- Festschrift -- Brücke -- Konigstein -- Gartner -- "blooming" wife -- Flora
(c) favorite flower/favorite food-artichokes pulling to pieces like an artichoke, leaf by leaf-herbarium-bookworms-hobbies-bibliophilia
It had once amused my father to hand over a book with colored plates (an account of a journey through Persia) for me and my eldest sister to destroy. Not easy to justify from the educational point of view! I had been five years old at the time, and the picture of the two of us blissfully pulling the book to pieces (leaf by leaf, like an artichoke, I found myself saying) was almost the only plastic memory that I retained from that period of my life. Then, when I became a student, I had developed a passion for collecting and owning books, which was analogous to my likeing for learing out of monographs: a favorite hobby. (The idea of 'favorite' had already appeared in connection with cyclamens and artichokes.) I had become a book-worm. I had always, from the time I first began to think about myself, referred this first passion of mine back to the childhood memory I have mentioned. Or rather, I had recognized that the childhood scene was a 'screen memory' for my later bibliophile propensities.*
"... Moreover I can assure my readers that the ultimate meaning of the dream, which I have not disclosed, is intimately related to the subject of the childhood scene."
Freud was fascinated by the history of Rome as a schoolboy, when he identified himself with the Carthaginian general Hannibal who attempted to cross the Alps to conquer it. during the period of composing The Interpretation of Dreams he had several dreams expressing his "infantile" wish the visit Rome, and hinting at the unconscious reasons he found it so hard to do so. The "Rome Series" includes four dreams reported by Freud as a set:
1. I dreamt that I was looking out of a railway-carriage window at the Tiber and the Pont Sant' Angelo. The train began to move off, and it occurred to me that I had not so much as set foot in the city. The view that I had seen in my dream was taken from a well-known engraving which I had caught sight of for a moment the day before in the sitting-room of one of my patients [?]. Another time someone led me to the top of a hill and showed me Rome half-shrouded in mist; it was so far away that I was surprised at my view of it being so clear. There was more in the content of the dream than I feel prepared to detail; but the theme of 'the promised land seen from afar' was obvious in it. The town which I saw in this way for the first time, shrouded in mist, was-L_beck, and the prototype of the hill was-at Gleichenberg. In a third dream I had at last got to Rome, as the dream itself informed me; but I was disappointed to discover that the scenery was far from being of an urban character. There was a narrow stream of dark water; on one side of it were black cliffs and on the other meadows with big white flowers. I noticed a Herr Zucker (whom I knew slightly) and determined to ask him the way to the city. I was clearly making a vain attempt to see in my dream a city which I had never seen in my waking life. Breaking up the landscape in the dream into its elements, I found that the white flowers took me to Ravenna, which I have visited and which, for a time at least, superceded Rome as the capital of Italy (SE4, p. 194).
Rome is to be avoided for "reasons of health," led to the downfall of Hannibal and the murder of Winckelmann. This is a medical representation of fear for his family [the tearful parting from his children], a fear which is associated by Freud with the consequences of his attaining fame and recognition.
Hannibal and Rome have been associated in Freud's "youthful mind" with "the conflict between the tenacity of Jewry ['To Karlsbad, if my constitution can stand it.'] and the organization of the Catholic church" (pb. 229).
Thus the wish to go to Rome had become in my dream-life a cloak and symbol for a number of other passionate wishes (pb. 229).
Freud repeatedly refers to Fliess's knowing his secret feelings about Rome (Masson, 1985, pp. 285ff.). From Freud's later use of Rank's work on the Oedipal significance of Rome (pb. 433-434) we get the explicitly Oedipal associations to Rome ('who first shall kiss his [the] mother'osculum matri tulerit). Freud seems to have been of two minds about that tenacity, as he distances himself from religion in his youth. He developes a conception of himself as a young man who is not afraid to have the highest aspirations for himself. But he is afraid, as a look at his dreams during the period of his candicacy for a professorship makes clear: afraid he'll die without intellectual issue, that he'll come to nothing.
Hannibal and Hamilcar/Hasdrubal, Mass»na/Mannasseh, Freud and his father's hat, John and Sigmund.
"...who first shall kiss his mother."
Grinstein's suggestion that Freud avoids the disasters visiting Winckelmann, Hannibal, and Mass»na by identifying with his father's passivity (G, p. 89) is helpful, but the secondary gain from this move is facilitation of the general Oedipal insight which in turn frees both his theoretical and actual travels.
Freud's associations to L_beck and Gleichenberg tie the second dream to his honeymoon with Martha and his relationship to Minna's fiance, Ignaz Schonberg, respectively.
Freud is finally able to visit Rome only after his book is done and, I believe, after his professorship. He has turned back enroute once after learning of being passed over, writes to Fliess after they have cease to correspond about personal matters that he has made it at last-through the intercession of a female patient.
Grinstein devotes a chapter (1980, pp. 69-91) to these dreams.
I went into a kitchen in search of some pudding. Three women were standing in it; one of them was the hostess of the inn and was twisting someting about in her hand, as though she was making Knodel [dumpling]. She answered that I must wait until she was ready. (These were not definite spoken words.) I felt impatient and went off with a sense of injury. I put on an overcoat. But the first I tried on was too long for me. I took it off, rather surprised to find it was trimmed with fur. A second one that I put on had a long strip with a Turkish design let into it. A stranger with a long face and a short pointed beard came up and tried to prevent my putting it on, saying it was his. I showed him then that it was embroidered all over with a Turkish pattern. He asked 'What have the Turkish (desings, stripes ...) to do with you?' But we then became quite friendly with each other. (SE 4, p. 204)
A crowd of people, a meeting of students.-A count (Thun or Taaffe) was speaking. He was challenged to say something about the Germans, and declared with a contemptuous gesture that their favourite flower was colt's foot, and put some sort of dilapidated leaf-or rather the crumpled skeleton of a leaf-into his buttonhole. I fired up-so I fired up, though I was surprised at my taking such an attitude.
(Then, less distinctly:) It was as though I was in the Aula, the entrances were cordoned off and we had to escape. I made my way through a series of beautifully furnished rooms, evidently ministerial or public apartments, with furniture upholstered in a colour between brown and violet; at last I came to a corridor, in which a housekeeper was sitting, an elderly stout woman. I avoided speaking to her, but she evidently thought I had a right to pass, for she asked whether she should accompany me with the lamp. I indicated to her, by word or gesture, that she was to stop on the staircase; and I felt I was being very cunning in thus avoiding inspection at the exit. I got downstairs and found a narrow and steep ascending path, along which I went.
(Becoming indistinct again)...It was as though the second problem was to get out of the town, just as the first one had been to get out of the house. I was driving in a cab and ordered the driver to drive me to a station. 'I can't drive with you along the railway-line itself,' I said, after he had raised some objection, as though I had overtired him. It was as if I had already driven with him for some of the distance one normally travels by train. The stations were cordoned off. I wondered whether to go to Krems or Znaim, but reflected that the Court would be in residence there, so I decided in favour of Graz, or some such place. I was now sitting in the compartment, which was like a carriage on the Stadtbahn [the suburban railway]; and in my buttonhole I had a peculiar plated, long-shaped object and beside it some violet-brown violets made of a stiff material. This greatly struck people. (At this point the scene broke off.)
Once more I was in front of the station, but this time in the company of an elderly gentleman. I thought of a plan for remaining unrecognized; and then saw that this plan had already put into effect. It was as though thinking and experiencing were one and the same thing. He appeared to be blind, at all events with one eye, and I handed him a male glass urinal (which we had to buy or had bought in town). So I was a sick-nurse and had to give him the urinal because he was blind. If the ticket-collector were to see us like that, he would be certain to let us get away without noticing us. Here the man's attitude and his macturating penis appeared in plastic form. (This was the point at which I awoke, feeling a need to micturate.) (pb. 243-244)
Freud takes up the question how depth of sleep and bodily stimuli interact to affect dream content. He notes that
since I am an excellent sleeper and obstinately refuse to let anything disturb my sleep, it very rarely happens that external causes of excitation find their way into my dreams; whereas psychcal motives obviously cause me to dream very easily. In fact I have noted only a single dream in which an objective and painful stimulus is recognizable (SE 4, p. 229).
He then reports and discusses the long and remarkably detailed dream of riding a grey horse (pp. 229-232).
My friend P. liked to ride the high horse over me ever since he had taken over one of my women patients [Anna von Leiden?, or perhaps the old injectee of Freud's staricase dream?] on whom I had pulled off [?] some remarkable feats. ... But in fact, like the horse in the anecdote of the Sunday horseman, this patient had taken me anywhere that she felt inclined. Thus the horse acquired the symbolic meaning of a woman patient. (It was highly intelligent in the dream). 'I felt quite at home up there' referred to the position I had occupied in this patient's house before I was replaced by P. Not long before, one of my few patrons among the leading physicians of the city [Breuer?] had remarked to me..., 'You struck me as being firmly in the saddle there.'
In discussing this dream Freud refers to an early memory of quarreling with his nephew John:
In the course of further interpretation I saw that the dream-work had succeeded in finding a path from the wishful situation of riding to some scenes of quarreling from my very early childhood which must have occurred between me and a nephew of mine, a year my senior, who was at present living in England. [Cf. p. 424f.]
Finally, the dream is associated to the significant theme of Italian travel, since "the street on the dream was composed of impressions of Verona and Siena" (p. 231).
A still deeper interpretation led to sexual dream thoughts, and I recalled the meaning which references to Italy seem to have had in the dreams of a woman patient who had never visited that lovely country:' gen Italien-'Genitalien'; and this was connected, too, with the house in which I had preceded my friend P. as physician, as well as with the situation of my boil (Freud, 1900, 231-232).
I was very incompletely dressed and was going upstairs from a flat on the ground floor to a higher storey. I was going up three steps at a time and was delighted at my agility. Suddenly I saw a maid-servant coming down the stairs -- coming towards me, that is. I felt ashamed and tried to hurry, and at this point the feeling of being inhibited set in: I was glued to the steps and unable to budge from the spot. (SE 4, p. 238)
Is Freud's dream (pb. 272-273) of ascending the stairs (of the old lady he's to inject with morphine, cf. Irma), toward the grumpy servant lying in wait for his spitting, a preface to the discussion of nakedness in the next section in some interesting way? He refers to the indeterminate level of undress in dreams like this one, then elaborates in the next section that such sensations betray an infantile antecedent-in Freud's case his relations with his nurse in Freiberg (pb. 280-281).
Freud restates his mother's description of the nurse [in response to his self-analysis-prompted inquiry] as "old and ugly, but very sharp and efficient," and concludes that "it is reasonable to suppose that the child loved the old woman who taught him these lessons, in spite of her rough treatment of him" (pb. 281).
The contrasting version of this dream sent to Fliess (31 May, 1897) suggests that shame and sexual arousal, approaching and being approached, are exchanged.
Freud returns to the themes of these pages-without specifically mentioning this dream-at the end of Ch. 6.H. (pb. 525).
Freud's opening assertion that we can't interpret someone's dream unless they'll provide associations is partly contradicted by a 1925 footnote noting the usefulness of standard symbols, discussed in Ch 6.E.
Its essence [in its typical form] lies in a distressing feeling in the nature of shame and in the fact that one wishes to hide one's nakedness, as a rule by locomotion, but finds one is unable to do so. I believe the great majority of my readers will have found themselves in this situation in dreams (pb. 275).
& childish (cf. Adamic) shamelessness, the (somewhat later) almost intoxicating effect of getting undressed, The Emporer's New Clothes (SE 4, 243-4, "the imposter is the dream and the Emporer is the dreamer himself").
One of my patients has a conscious memory of a scene in his eighth year, when at bedtime he wanted to dance into the next room where his little sister slept, dressed in his nightshirt, but was prevented by his nurse (pb. 277-278).
Note that the emotional content, or lack thereof, is the key to whether we take the manifest image to be less, or more, displaced. Freud anticipates at this point rebellious feelings in "all my readers and any others who have experienced similar dreams":
...the wishes which are represented in dreams as fulfilled are not always present-day wishes. They may also be wishes of the past which have been abandoned, overlaid and repressed, and to which we have to attribute some kind of continued existence only because of their emergence in a dream. They are not dead in our sense of the word but only like the shades of the Odyssey, which awoke to some sort of life as soon as they had tasted blood. (SE 4, 249 [pb. 282]: cf. VII.B: Regression re memories "eager for revival," pb. 585)
Immediately following this powerful and disturbing phrase Freud refers back to the mother's dream of the death of her 15-year-old daughter (reported p. 152 [pb. 187]), whom she had wished away during pregnancy, and this in turn reminds the dreamer of hearing as a child that she had been the occasion for her mother's depression during pregnancy.
Hostile feelings toward brothers and sisters must be far more frequent in childhood than the unseeing eye of the adult observer can perceive. (SE 4, 252)
The following 20 pages summarize Freud's views on intra-family tensions, including his prototypical discussions of Oedipus and Hamlet. Freud quotes more fully (pb. 296) the last chorus from Oedipus Rex, in which the tragic/ambivalent sense of his own egigram-"Who resolved the dark enigma, noblest champion and most wise"-is apparent.
Each manifest dream element is shown by interpretation to be a condensed, metaphorical expression of several unconscious dream thoughts. Freud assumes that by condensing several meanings into one image the dream-work is able to overcome censorship, as if several physical force vectors were added.
Each manifest dream element is a represents each of of its associated unconscious/repressed dream thoughts in an indirect, displaced (metonymic) fashion. If the dream thought were directly or clearly represented, it would arouse resistence, even in the sleep-weakened ego. Each displaced link is too weak to arouse censorship, but when several of these are condensed into the same image they are strong enough to find expression in the dream. Hence:
In order to be expressed in a dream, unconscious thoughts must be represented as sensory images. These are primarily visual.
Freud's sets up an argument about the pictorial and the verbal interplay in the dream-work.
A dream-thought is unusable as long as it is expressed in an abstract form; but when once it has been transformed into pictorial language, contrasts and identifications of the kind which the dream-work requires, and which it creates if they are not already present, can be established more easily than before between the new form of expression and the remainder of the material underlying the dream. This is so because in every language concrete terms, in consequence of the history of their development, are richer in associations than conceptual ones (p. 340).
Words, since they are the nodal points of numerous ideas, may be regarded as predestined to ambiguity; and the neuroses (e.g. in framing obsessions and phobias), no less than dreams, make unashamed use of the advantages thus offered by words for purposes of condensation and disguise (pp. 340-1).
The image formed as the result of such representation "jumps to the eyes."
The only plausibly universal dream-symbols are those linked to inevitable human expreiences: birth, hunger, sexual arousal, rage. Other symbols, such as stair-cases, may be widely shared among those who have grown up in cultures where, e.g., the stairway connects the more public space of the household (living room, jitchen) with the more private (bath room, bed rooms).
Perhaps the best documented of Freud's childhood personality traits, on the evidence of The Interpretation of Dreams, was his jealous rivalry with early perceived competitors for his parents' love. The richly over-determined character of this material is illustrated in his interpretation of his "Non Vixet" dream (Freud, 1900, pp. 421-425). This dream has been explicated by Grinstein (1980, pp. 282-316), who concludes that the dream connects the key theme of sibling rivalry in early childhood to Freud's depression as a middle-aged man, after Jacob's death. Of Freud's stance towards the ghostly images in the dream, Grinstein suggests:
The delight which Freud felt in the dream at being able to control the revenants and make them disappear appears to indicate his anxiety that these figures might indeed come back and punish him for his aggressive thoughts (p. 316).
Freud, then, alludes by means of the dream of his father's bill to his own preoccupation with the etiology and treatment of the anxiety neuroses (railway phobia), his Oedipal guilt (parricide/incest), jealousy (via "Non vixit"), and his ambivalent homoeroticism (fear of his feelings toward other males -- the murder of Julius, the rape of his mother, and the pagan rage at Jacob.
It should be recalled that the Freud of the middle '90s was an explicitly epigenetic theorist. This is nowhere more clear than in the Fliess letters for 1896 [cf. esp. 30 May 96], in which Freud plots the critical ages for various traumatic events against the resultant neuroses. He is here, it seems to me, developing a cognitive-maturational theory which underlies his subsequent clinical work (Freud, 1905 [Dora], 1909 [RatMan]), and which remains important in his later metapsychological papers (Freud, 1915a, 1915b, 1917). Freud's later excitement about tracing his patient "E"'s critical childhood events back to the first 24 months of life shows that the "abandonment" of the seduction theory three years previously had not lessoned his interest in the anamnesis (Davis, 1990). More importantly, the material concerning "E." ties the theorizing of the period immediately following The Interpretation of Dreams to that of the etiological papers. Freud's ambivalent emotions concerning both Jacob's death and E.'s childhood material, and the transferential dynamics of each, help to explain the realignment of thinking which made possible a coherent psychoanalytic theory.
Freud's 1899 dream of being billed for hospital expenses someone has incurred in 1851 in his birthplace (Freud, 1900, SE 5, 435-438) is the fourth of six "Absurd Dreams" presented. These dreams form a set with strongly overlapping associations (see Grinstein, 1980). Freud himself draws attention to the most striking similarity among the dreams, the fact that they deal "by chance, as it may seem at first sight" with deceased fathers of the dreamer (p. 426). Freud suggests that he will be offering "two or three" such dreams, and when he reaches the fourth example he notes, "Here is another dream about a dead father" (p. 435). Like other topical collections of dreams presented by Freud, these examples of absurdity constitute a set of related wishes and ambivalent unconscious thoughts; in this case having to do with filial relations, paternal death, and railway travel.
The first of the dreams is that of a male patient whose father has died six years earlier, in which the dreamer sees his father lying in bed gravely injured following a train accident and is aware of the absurdity of this since the father is in fact already dead. The second dream, which Freud suggests is "almost exactly similar" (1900, p. 427), concerns his own father and contains a thought of Jacob's having-after his death-"played a political part among the Magyars and brought them together politically" (p. 427). Freud sees an indistinct picture of someone standing on chairs addressing the Reichstag, states that he remembered in the dream "how like Garibaldi [Jacob] had looked on his death-bed, and felt glad that that promise had come true" (p. 428). The third dream is really a reference to a fragment of the "Count Thun" dream Freud has discussed previously, in which a cab driver protests that he cannot drive Freud along a railway line (p. 428). Freud's associations at this point focus on his own train travels and his frustrated plans to go to Italy, and he suggests that the "purpose" of the dream's introduction of an absurdity about train travel is to allude-via a pun on "Vorfahren" ("drive up" and "ancestry")-to the value of progeny.
Freud then generalizes about the role of absurdity in dreams:
A dream is made absurd, then, if a judgment that something 'is absurd' is among the dream-thoughts-that is to say, if any one of the dreamer's unconscious trains of thought has criticism or ridicule as its motive. Absurdity is accordingly one of the methods by which the dream-work represents a contradiction-alongside such other methods as the reversal in the dream-content of some material relation in the dream-thoughts [p. 326 f.], or the exploitation of the sensation of motor inhibition [p. 337 f.]. Absurdity in a dream, however, is not to be translated by a simple 'no'; it is intended to reproduce the mood of the dream-thoughts, which combines derision or laughter with the contradiction. It is only with such an aim in view that the dream-work produces anything ridiculous. Here once again it is giving a manifest form to a portion of the latent content. (pp. 434-435)
The fourth dream is then presented with the prefatory comment linking it to the theme of dead fathers. Freud seems to express in this dream both his ambivalent emotions following Jacob's death and repressed material from his early Freiberg years (see Schur, 1972, pp. 184-191; Anzieu, 1975/1986, pp. 521-525).
The reported content of the dream is as follows:
I received a communication from the town council of my birthplace concerning the fees due for someone's maintenance in the hospital in the year 1851, which had been necessitated by an attack he had had in my house. I was amused by this since, in the first place, I was not yet alive in 1851 and, in the second place, my father, to whom it might have related, was already dead. I went to him in the next room, where he was lying in his bed, and told him about it. To my surprise, he recollected that in 1851 he had once got drunk and had had to be locked up or detained. It was at a time at which he had been working for the firm of T____. 'So you used to drink as well?' I asked; 'did you get married soon after that?' I calculated that, of course, I was born in 1856, which seemed to be the year which immediately followed the year in question. (Freud, 1900, SE 5, 436).
Freud offers here a dream in which a ghost speaks, a type of dream he cites repeatedly. These dreams-all concerned with murderous sibling rivalry and/or the father's downfall-share unconscious contents which make their interpretations mutually relevant and place them at the center of the self-analytic issues Freud worked through in order to complete The Interpretation of Dreams. Schur has suggested that this dream may have been presented partly as a substitute for the 1898 "big dream" Fliess had persuaded Freud not to include, apparently on the basis of its political and/or marital references (Schur, 1972, p. 189). Indeed, the famous "Irma" dream seems to have been chosen by Freud as a less-satisfactory substitute for this suppressed and subsequently lost dream, requiring him to spread his argument among several dream-interpretations (see Masson, 1985, pp. 10, 315-316, 363).
The manifest content of the dream-Freud's legal respnsibility for something that occurred in the House of Freud before his birth, his consultation with his father about it, the surprise of learning that his father had a vice. The firm of "T____" has not been identified, but Jacob Freud hailed from Tysmenitz, in Galicia
Number play. To this dream of being billed for something his father did before he was born, and recognizing the absurdity of that as he dreamt it, Freud curiously associates the number five, that being the difference (obscured by his suspicion it might really be four years) between 1851 and 1856. Freud was neurotically preoccupied with death during these years, as most biographers have noted, and he was haunted by the belief that he would die by the age of 51. The number is significant as (a) the year 1851 (the relatively superficial referent), (b) a dangerous age for men, since he imagines several friends and teachers of his to have died around that age, and (c) the sum of 23 and 28, the Fliessian bisexual period (see Sulloway, 1979; Harris & Harris, 1984). The significance of these interlocked death fears and wishes underlies many of Freud's dreams during this period, and these in turn form the basic data of The Interpretation of Dreams.
Freud returns to the dream's number-play a few pages later (in discussing "intellectual activity in dreams") and draws attention to the dream's pseudo-syllogistic character:
I asked: 'Did you get married soon after that?' I calculated that, of course, I was born in 1856, which seemed to be the year which immediately followed the year in question. All of this was clothed in the form of a set of logical conclusions. My father had married in 1851, immediately after his attack; I, of course, was the eldest of the family and had been born in 1856; Q.E.D. (Freud, 1900, 449-459)
"Q.E.D."? Freud points out that of course each step of this "logical" conclusion can in fact be explained by latent dream thoughts. Five years is not long, either for "E." to have awaited a cure or the marriage he has promised himself at conclusion of treatment. Five years was not enough for Freud to finish his medical studies, and he had to reassure himself that, "Even though you won't believe it because I've taken my time, I shall get through; I shall bring my medical training to a conclusion" (1900, 451).
The other train of latent thought Freud ascribes to his dream's play with birth dates concerns enrollment at university when, Freud recalls, one had to give one's father's first name and, "we students assumed that the Hofrat drew conclusions from the first name of the father which could not always be drawn from that of the student himself" (p. 450). Such conclusions of course included ethnicity and the possible fame of the father, and Freud acknowledges that he has speculated how much better his academic career would have gone had he been the son of someone like Meynert. Two of the paternal figures on whom Freud has vented a great deal of his Oedipal ambivalence, Josef Breuer and Theodor Meynert, are strongly associated to the dream, and through them a network of links is constructed to themes of "father"-"son" responsibility and criticism in matters of intoxication, courtship, and professional advancement.
The very silliness of pursuing so many conclusions from sums and differences of dates is also a determinant of the dream. Freud's mention of this is brief and back-handed: he consoles himself that although his speculations about the retention and later neurotic expression of traumatic influences from the very earliest period of a child's life seem absurd (and are even parodied by patients to whom he has mentioned them), they are really correct (p. 451). To which Schur asks, "But who used formulas of this kind?" (Schur, 1972, p. 186). Wilhelm Fliess, of course, whose biorhythmic speculations are thereby questioned even as Freud defends his own psychosexual ones. The attack that Freud imagines is, he reports at the end of his discussion of the dream, that
My discovery of the unexpected part played by their father in the earliest sexual impulses of female [sic] patients might well be expected to meet with a similar [critical] reception (1900, p. 452).
Hence the dream points to criticism of both Wilhelm Fliess and Jacob Freud, the flawed intimate friend and the flawed paternal model.
Freud's discussion of the billing dream also alludes to a major piece of his own family's drama: Jacob's marriage to "Rebecca" in 1852. The dream affirms a marriage for Jacob in 1851, and assigns Freud's own birth to the year after "the year n question." This mysterious second marriage of Jacob Freud marriage was recorded in the town records of Freiberg, was witnessed by Jacob's sons Emmanuel and Philipp, but was never mentioned by Freud himself (see Gicklhorn, 1969). Like all the female figures in Freud's infancy, Rebecca's significance for him remains obscure. He apparently never named her in his correspondence and used the name on only one, highly significant occasion, when he announced to Fliess (on September 21, 1897) that he no longer believed the seduction theory and suddenly recalled a Yiddish saying:
Rebecca, take off your gown, you are a bride no longer. (Masson, 1985, p. 266)
After summarizing Freud's network of associations connecting this dream to Jacob's apparent marriage to the mysterious "Rebekka" and to the son's worry about his own death, Schur quoted Freud's puzzling use of this Yiddish anecdote to illustrate his feelings about having abandoned the seduction theory and asked:
Why just this joke at this time? Why a joke in which Freud identifies himself with a disgraced woman? And a joke, the punch-line of which contains the name of this mysterious second wife of his father? (Schur, 1972, p. 191)
A plausible answer to these related questions is that Freud puzzled in early childhood about where he fit into his complex and probably quite troubled family-Jacob was barely able to put food on the table some years, travelled a great deal when Freud was an infant, and apparently left Freiberg in disgrace in 1859. Freud may have imagined himself somehow the outgrowth of this mysterious and guilty union between his father and Rebecca. As a child he seems to have sought enlightenment concerning this and other mysteries in the Bible stories, where Rebecca appears as the Caananite bride of Isaac, unjustly accused of fornication and destined to beget Jacob. His self-analysis had confronted Freud again with these infantile emotions. Freud felt a mixture of love, anger, and embarrassment when he thought of his dead father, and the image of Rebecca served these multiple purposes (see Balmary, 1979/1982; Krüll, 1979/1986; McGrath, 1986; Schur, 1972). That the mature Freud remained haunted by these questions helps to explain why his theorizing in the aftermath of the seduction theory focussed on early childhood dynamics.
Old Brücke must have set me some task; STRANGELY ENOUGH it related to a dissection of the lower part of my own body, my pelvis and legs, which I saw before me as though in the dissecting room, but without noticing their absence in myself and also without any trace of any gruesome feeling.
Anzieu (1975/1986, p. 419) guesses the date of this dream as May, 1899, when Freud was completing the "second version" of The Interpretation of Dreams.
Note the sexual progression of the dream from (1) self-castration (with the help of a woman), to (2) confrontation with powerful symbols of female sexual structures, to (3) fearful challenges to the potentials of his own physical progeny, i.e. those who will "carry on" his identity, provide a bridge (Brücke) to the next world. The dream suggests that no man can confront the self-transformation Freud is attempting, with the 'eternal feminine', and survive (remain potent, produce children), unless perhaps by becoming a woman sustained by a man, an anxious/stimulating prospect for Freud in the Fliess years.
The "crossing" (pb. 490): cf. (pb. 542-543, in Chap. 6.I [Secondary Revision]) on "threshold symbolism" (cf. Silberer, 1911): "The 'functional' phenomenon, 'the representation of a state instead of an object,' was observed by Silberer principally in the two conditions of falling asleep and waking up. ...[I]n many dreams the last pieces of the manifest content, which are immediately followed by waking, represent nothing more nor less than an intention to wake or the process of waking. ... It is by no means inconceivable or improbable that this threshold symbolism might throw light upon some elements in the middle of the texture of dreams--in places, for instance, where there is a question of oscillation in the depth of sleep and of an inclination to break off the dream." The threshold here is bridged by boards (cf. pb. 447 on doubling of phallic symbols as anti-castration wish).
cf. 14 April, 1898, letter to Fliess re trip to Aquilea on the Adriatic with Alexander.
Afflavit et dissipati sunt (cf. p. 214)
Freud, 1900, [SE5] p. 547:
Among the dreams which have been told to me by other people, there is one which has special claims on our attention at this point [i.e. at the first paragraph of the final chapter]. It was told me by a woman patient who had herself heard it in a lecture on dreams: its actual source is still unknown to me. Its content made an impression on the lady, however, and she proceeded to 're-dream' it, that is, to repeat some of its elements in a dream of her own, so that, by taking it over in this way, she might express her agreement with it on one particular point.
This is a marvelously revealing passage: Freud has argued (in Chapter 6 [SE5 pp. 498-499]), against the apparent implications of his model, that "secondary revision" must in some sense be ubiqui-potent in the formation of the dream; and he now presents as the stage-setting for his "meta"psychology the example of a woman who injects a lectured-about dream into her own in order to "express her agreement with it on one particular point."
What we have described ... as 'regard for representability' might be brought into connection with the selective attention excercised by the visually recollected scenes touched upon by the dream-thoughts.
[added 1914] It is further to be remarked that regression plays a no less important part in the theory of the formation of neurotic symptoms than it does in that of dreams. Three kinds of regression are thus to be distinguished: (a) topographical regression, in the sense of the schematic picture of the psy-systems which we have explained above; (b) temporal regression, in so far as what is in question is a harking back to older psychical structures; and (c) formal regression, where primitive methods of expression and representation take the place of the usual ones. All these three kinds of regression are, however, one at bottom and occur together as a rule; for what is older in time is more primitive in form and in psychical topography lies nearer to the perceptual end. [cf, Freud, 1917d: A metapsychological supplement to the theory of dreams]
Nor [added 1919] can we leave the subject of regression in dreams without setting down in words a notion by which we have already repeatedly been struck and which will recur with fresh intensity when we have entered more deeply into the psychology of the psycho-neuroses: namely that dreaming is on the whole an example of regression to the dreamer's earliest condition, a revival of his childhood, of the instinctual impulses which dominated it and of the methods which were then available to him. Behind this childhood of the individual we are promised a picture of a phylogenetic childhood--a picture of the development of the human race, of which the individual's development is in fact an abbreviated recapitulation influenced by the chance circumstances of life. (SE7, 548)
Fascinating last pair of sentences on getting used to the dark of the ucs.: "It may be well...more at home in it" (588).
The major addition to this array, at the hands of Kris (19__: Psychoanalytic explorations in art) and Rapaport (1953: Some metapsychological considerations concerning activity and passivity, IV), has been "Regression in the Service of the Ego."
Freud again takes up again difficulties with the insistence on wish-fulfillment as involved in all dreams, divides dream into two groups depending on whether the w-f is open or disguised. The sources of the wish the dream atempts to fulfill are (1) left over day wishes unsatisfied for "external reasons," (2) repudiated day wishes, and (3) supressed [unconscious] wishes emerging only active at night. The first of these is Pcs., the second Pcs. driven into the Ucs., and the third Ucs. incapable of passing into the Pcs (pb. 589-590). Asking rhetorically whether these three classes of wish are equally important for dream-formation, Freud offers the generalization that "a conscious wish can only become a dream-instigator if it succeeds in awakening an unconscious wish with the same tenor and in obtaining reinforcement from it" (pb. 591). Such unconscious wishes are indestructible, and always on the alert for possible expression by allying themselves with [pre-] conscious impulses. These immortal unconscious wishes-Freud compares them to the Titans weighed down by the mountains hurled on them by the victorious gods of Greek mythology-are infatile in origin, hence the corollary proposition that "a wish which is represented in a dream must be an infantile one". The daytime wish as entrepreneur receives the support of the "unconscious" one as "capitalist." Freud illustrates these epigenetic interactions with his anxious dream [added as footnote in 1919, and to main text in 1930] of his son returing from the front with bandaged face and putting something into his mouth. His discussion includes a summary of his own jaw injury as a child, to which he has alluded via the one-eyed doctor mentioned in Ch. 1 (SE 4, 17; see Harris & Harris, 1984, Ch 3, "Reconstructing the Anal Origins of Freud's Creativity").
The latter Freud credits with teaching him the vulgar term (vàgeln) for copulation.
Freud's discussion on the following pages is of boys fighting and of the consequences of pubertal masturbation.
Freud reiterates the relationship between contemporary and archaic wishes in dream-formation, using the concept of "cathexis" (Besetzung).
Freud suggests replaces the topographic metaphors with "dynamic" ones:
[L]et us say instead that some particular mental grouping has had a cathexis of energy attached to it or withdrawn from it, so that the structure in question has come under the sway of a particular agency or been withdrawn from it.
The unconscious is the true psychical reality; in its innermost nature it is as much unknown to us as the reality of the external world, and it is as incompletely represented by the data of consciousness as is the external world by the communications of our sense organs.
Consciousness is now "only a sense-organ for the perception of psychical qualities" (resembling the Pcpt.), and the interaction of thought and perception is illustrated by a 14-year-old boy who has described seeing a dagger on the board as he plays checkers with his uncle.
And the value of dreams for giving us knowlege of the future? There is of course no question of that. It would be truer to say instead that they give us knowledge of the past. Nevertheless the ancient belief that dreams foretell the future is not wholly devoid of truth. By picturing our wishes as fulfilled, dreams are after all leading us into the future. But this future, which the dreamer pictures as the present, has been moulded by his indestructible wish into a perfect likeness of the past (pb. 660).
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