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Dream Psychology by Sigmund Freud

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  • Dream Psychology by Sigmund Freud

    Dream Psychology


    Freud, Sigmund


    (Translator: M. D. Eder)


    Published: 1920


    Categories(s): Non-Fiction, Psychology


    Source: http://www.gutenberg.org


    1 About Freud:


    Sigmund Freud (born Sigismund Schlomo Freud) May 6, 1856 –


    September 23, 1939; was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who


    co-founded the psychoanalytic school of psychology. Freud is best


    known for his theories of the unconscious mind, especially involving the


    mechanism of repression; his redefinition of sexual desire as mobile and


    directed towards a wide variety of objects; and his therapeutic tech-


    niques, especially his understanding of transference in the therapeutic


    relationship and the presumed value of dreams as sources of insight into


    unconscious desires. He is commonly referred to as "the father of psy-


    choanalysis" and his work has been highly influential-—popularizing


    such notions as the unconscious, defense mechanisms, Freudian slips


    and dream symbolism — while also making a long-lasting impact on


    fields as diverse as literature (Kafka), film, Marxist and feminist theories,


    literary criticism, philosophy, and psychology. However, his theories re-


    main controversial and widely disputed. Source: Wikipedia


    Copyright: This work is available for countries where copyright is


    Life+70 and in the USA.


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    2 Introduction


    The medical profession is justly conservative. Human life should not be


    considered as the proper material for wild experiments.


    Conservatism, however, is too often a welcome excuse for lazy minds,


    loath to adapt themselves to fast changing conditions.


    Remember the scornful reception which first was accorded to Freud's


    discoveries in the domain of the unconscious.


    When after years of patient observations, he finally decided to appear


    before medical bodies to tell them modestly of some facts which always


    recurred in his dream and his patients' dreams, he was first laughed at


    and then avoided as a crank.


    The words "dream interpretation" were and still are indeed fraught


    with unpleasant, unscientific associations. They remind one of all sorts of


    childish, superstitious notions, which make up the thread and woof of


    dream books, read by none but the ignorant and the primitive.


    The wealth of detail, the infinite care never to let anything pass unex-


    plained, with which he presented to the public the result of his investiga-


    tions, are impressing more and more serious-minded scientists, but the


    examination of his evidential data demands arduous work and presup-


    poses an absolutely open mind.


    This is why we still encounter men, totally unfamiliar with Freud's


    writings, men who were not even interested enough in the subject to at-


    tempt an interpretation of their dreams or their patients' dreams, derid-


    ing Freud's theories and combatting them with the help of statements


    which he never made.


    Some of them, like Professor Boris Sidis, reach at times conclusions


    which are strangely similar to Freud's, but in their ignorance of psycho-


    analytic literature, they fail to credit Freud for observations antedating


    theirs.


    Besides those who sneer at dream study, because they have never


    looked into the subject, there are those who do not dare to face the facts


    revealed by dream study. Dreams tell us many an unpleasant biological


    truth about ourselves and only very free minds can thrive on such a diet.


    Self-deception is a plant which withers fast in the pellucid atmosphere of


    dream investigation.


    The weakling and the neurotic attached to his neurosis are not anxious


    to turn such a powerful searchlight upon the dark corners of their


    psychology.


    Freud's theories are anything but theoretical.


    3 He was moved by the fact that there always seemed to be a close con-


    nection between his patients' dreams and their mental abnormalities, to


    collect thousands of dreams and to compare them with the case histories


    in his possession.


    He did not start out with a preconceived bias, hoping to find evidence


    which might support his views. He looked at facts a thousand times


    "until they began to tell him something."


    His attitude toward dream study was, in other words, that of a statisti-


    cian who does not know, and has no means of foreseeing, what conclu-


    sions will be forced on him by the information he is gathering, but who


    is fully prepared to accept those unavoidable conclusions.


    This was indeed a novel way in psychology. Psychologists had always


    been wont to build, in what Bleuler calls "autistic ways," that is through


    methods in no wise supported by evidence, some attractive hypothesis,


    which sprung from their brain, like Minerva from Jove's brain, fully


    armed.


    After which, they would stretch upon that unyielding frame the hide


    of a reality which they had previously killed.


    It is only to minds suffering from the same distortions, to minds also


    autistically inclined, that those empty, artificial structures appear accept-


    able molds for philosophic thinking.


    The pragmatic view that "truth is what works" had not been as yet ex-


    pressed when Freud published his revolutionary views on the psycho-


    logy of dreams.


    Five facts of first magnitude were made obvious to the world by his in-


    terpretation of dreams.


    First of all, Freud pointed out a constant connection between some


    part of every dream and some detail of the dreamer's life during the pre-


    vious waking state. This positively establishes a relation between sleep-


    ing states and waking states and disposes of the widely prevalent view


    that dreams are purely nonsensical phenomena coming from nowhere


    and leading nowhere.


    Secondly, Freud, after studying the dreamer's life and modes of


    thought, after noting down all his mannerisms and the apparently insig-


    nificant details of his conduct which reveal his secret thoughts, came to


    the conclusion that there was in every dream the attempted or successful


    gratification of some wish, conscious or unconscious.


    Thirdly, he proved that many of our dream visions are symbolical,


    which causes us to consider them as absurd and unintelligible; the


    4 universality of those symbols, however, makes them very transparent to


    the trained observer.


    Fourthly, Freud showed that sexual desires play an enormous part in


    our unconscious, a part which puritanical hypocrisy has always tried to


    minimize, if not to ignore entirely.


    Finally, Freud established a direct connection between dreams and in-


    sanity, between the symbolic visions of our sleep and the symbolic ac-


    tions of the mentally deranged.


    There were, of course, many other observations which Freud made


    while dissecting the dreams of his patients, but not all of them present as


    much interest as the foregoing nor were they as revolutionary or likely to


    wield as much influence on modern psychiatry.


    Other explorers have struck the path blazed by Freud and leading into


    man's unconscious. Jung of Zurich, Adler of Vienna and Kempf of Wash-


    ington, D.C., have made to the study of the unconscious, contributions


    which have brought that study into fields which Freud himself never


    dreamt of invading.


    One fact which cannot be too emphatically stated, however, is that but


    for Freud's wishfulfillment theory of dreams, neither Jung's "energic the-


    ory," nor Adler's theory of "organ inferiority and compensation," nor


    Kempf's "dynamic mechanism" might have been formulated.


    Freud is the father of modern abnormal psychology and he established


    the psychoanalytical point of view. No one who is not well grounded in


    Freudian lore can hope to achieve any work of value in the field of


    psychoanalysis.


    On the other hand, let no one repeat the absurd assertion that


    Freudism is a sort of religion bounded with dogmas and requiring an act


    of faith. Freudism as such was merely a stage in the development of psy-


    choanalysis, a stage out of which all but a few bigoted camp followers,


    totally lacking in originality, have evolved. Thousands of stones have


    been added to the structure erected by the Viennese physician and many


    more will be added in the course of time.


    But the new additions to that structure would collapse like a house of


    cards but for the original foundations which are as indestructible as


    Harvey's statement as to the circulation of the blood.


    Regardless of whatever additions or changes have been made to the


    original structure, the analytic point of view remains unchanged.


    That point of view is not only revolutionising all the methods of dia-


    gnosis and treatment of mental derangements, but compelling the


    5 intelligent, up-to-date physician to revise entirely his attitude to almost


    every kind of disease.


    The insane are no longer absurd and pitiable people, to be herded in


    asylums till nature either cures them or relieves them, through death, of


    their misery. The insane who have not been made so by actual injury to


    their brain or nervous system, are the victims of unconscious forces


    which cause them to do abnormally things which they might be helped


    to do normally.


    Insight into one's psychology is replacing victoriously sedatives and


    rest cures.


    Physicians dealing with "purely" physical cases have begun to take in-


    to serious consideration the "mental" factors which have predisposed a


    patient to certain ailments.


    Freud's views have also made a revision of all ethical and social values


    unavoidable and have thrown an unexpected flood of light upon literary


    and artistic accomplishment.


    But the Freudian point of view, or more broadly speaking, the psycho-


    analytic point of view, shall ever remain a puzzle to those who, from


    laziness or indifference, refuse to survey with the great Viennese the


    field over which he carefully groped his way. We shall never be con-


    vinced until we repeat under his guidance all his laboratory experiments.


    We must follow him through the thickets of the unconscious, through


    the land which had never been charted because academic philosophers,


    following the line of least effort, had decided a priori that it could not be


    charted.


    Ancient geographers, when exhausting their store of information


    about distant lands, yielded to an unscientific craving for romance and,


    without any evidence to support their day dreams, filled the blank


    spaces left on their maps by unexplored tracts with amusing inserts such


    as "Here there are lions."


    Thanks to Freud's interpretation of dreams the "royal road" into the


    unconscious is now open to all explorers. They shall not find lions, they


    shall find man himself, and the record of all his life and of his struggle


    with reality.


    And it is only after seeing man as his unconscious, revealed by his


    dreams, presents him to us that we shall understand him fully. For as


    Freud said to Putnam: "We are what we are because we have been what


    we have been."


    Not a few serious-minded students, however, have been discouraged


    from attempting a study of Freud's dream psychology.


    6 The book in which he originally offered to the world his interpretation


    of dreams was as circumstantial as a legal record to be pondered over by


    scientists at their leisure, not to be assimilated in a few hours by the aver-


    age alert reader. In those days, Freud could not leave out any detail


    likely to make his extremely novel thesis evidentially acceptable to those


    willing to sift data.


    Freud himself, however, realized the magnitude of the task which the


    reading of his magnum opus imposed upon those who have not been


    prepared for it by long psychological and scientific training and he ab-


    stracted from that gigantic work the parts which constitute the essential


    of his discoveries.


    The publishers of the present book deserve credit for presenting to the


    reading public the gist of Freud's psychology in the master's own words,


    and in a form which shall neither discourage beginners, nor appear too


    elementary to those who are more advanced in psychoanalytic study.


    Dream psychology is the key to Freud's works and to all modern psy-


    chology. With a simple, compact manual such as Dream Psychology


    there shall be no longer any excuse for ignorance of the most revolution-


    ary psychological system of modern times.


    ANDRE TRIDON.


    121 Madison Avenue, New York.


    November, 1920.


    7 1


    Chapter


    Dreams have a meaning


    In what we may term "prescientific days" people were in no uncertainty


    about the interpretation of dreams. When they were recalled after


    awakening they were regarded as either the friendly or hostile manifest-


    ation of some higher powers, demoniacal and Divine. With the rise of


    scientific thought the whole of this expressive mythology was trans-


    ferred to psychology; to-day there is but a small minority among edu-


    cated persons who doubt that the dream is the dreamer's own psychical


    act.


    But since the downfall of the mythological hypothesis an interpreta-


    tion of the dream has been wanting. The conditions of its origin; its rela-


    tionship to our psychical life when we are awake; its independence of


    disturbances which, during the state of sleep, seem to compel notice; its


    many peculiarities repugnant to our waking thought; the incongruence


    between its images and the feelings they engender; then the dream's


    evanescence, the way in which, on awakening, our thoughts thrust it


    aside as something bizarre, and our reminiscences mutilating or rejecting


    it—all these and many other problems have for many hundred years de-


    manded answers which up till now could never have been satisfactory.


    Before all there is the question as to the meaning of the dream, a question


    which is in itself double-sided. There is, firstly, the psychical significance


    of the dream, its position with regard to the psychical processes, as to a


    possible biological function; secondly, has the dream a meaning—can


    sense be made of each single dream as of other mental syntheses?


    Three tendencies can be observed in the estimation of dreams. Many


    philosophers have given currency to one of these tendencies, one which


    at the same time preserves something of the dream's former over-valu-


    ation. The foundation of dream life is for them a peculiar state of psych-


    ical activity, which they even celebrate as elevation to some higher state.


    Schubert, for instance, claims: "The dream is the liberation of the spirit


    from the pressure of external nature, a detachment of the soul from the


    8 fetters of matter." Not all go so far as this, but many maintain that


    dreams have their origin in real spiritual excitations, and are the out-


    ward manifestations of spiritual powers whose free movements have


    been hampered during the day ("Dream Phantasies," Scherner, Volkelt).


    A large number of observers acknowledge that dream life is capable of


    extraordinary achievements—at any rate, in certain fields ("Memory").


    In striking contradiction with this the majority of medical writers


    hardly admit that the dream is a psychical phenomenon at all. According


    to them dreams are provoked and initiated exclusively by stimuli pro-


    ceeding from the senses or the body, which either reach the sleeper from


    without or are accidental disturbances of his internal organs. The dream


    has no greater claim to meaning and importance than the sound called


    forth by the ten fingers of a person quite unacquainted with music run-


    ning his fingers over the keys of an instrument. The dream is to be re-


    garded, says Binz, "as a physical process always useless, frequently mor-


    bid." All the peculiarities of dream life are explicable as the incoherent ef-


    fort, due to some physiological stimulus, of certain organs, or of the cor-


    tical elements of a brain otherwise asleep.


    But slightly affected by scientific opinion and untroubled as to the ori-


    gin of dreams, the popular view holds firmly to the belief that dreams


    really have got a meaning, in some way they do foretell the future,


    whilst the meaning can be unravelled in some way or other from its oft


    bizarre and enigmatical content. The reading of dreams consists in repla-


    cing the events of the dream, so far as remembered, by other events. This


    is done either scene by scene, according to some rigid key, or the dream


    as a whole is replaced by something else of which it was a symbol.


    Serious-minded persons laugh at these efforts—"Dreams are but sea-


    foam!"


    One day I discovered to my amazement that the popular view groun-


    ded in superstition, and not the medical one, comes nearer to the truth


    about dreams. I arrived at new conclusions about dreams by the use of a


    new method of psychological investigation, one which had rendered me


    good service in the investigation of phobias, obsessions, illusions, and


    the like, and which, under the name "psycho-analysis," had found ac-


    ceptance by a whole school of investigators. The manifold analogies of


    dream life with the most diverse conditions of psychical disease in the


    waking state have been rightly insisted upon by a number of medical ob-


    servers. It seemed, therefore, a priori, hopeful to apply to the interpreta-


    tion of dreams methods of investigation which had been tested in psy-


    chopathological processes. Obsessions and those peculiar sensations of


    9 haunting dread remain as strange to normal consciousness as do dreams


    to our waking consciousness; their origin is as unknown to conscious-


    ness as is that of dreams. It was practical ends that impelled us, in these


    diseases, to fathom their origin and formation. Experience had shown us


    that a cure and a consequent mastery of the obsessing ideas did result


    when once those thoughts, the connecting links between the morbid


    ideas and the rest of the psychical content, were revealed which were


    heretofore veiled from consciousness. The procedure I employed for the


    interpretation of dreams thus arose from psychotherapy.


    This procedure is readily described, although its practice demands in-


    struction and experience. Suppose the patient is suffering from intense


    morbid dread. He is requested to direct his attention to the idea in ques-


    tion, without, however, as he has so frequently done, meditating upon it.


    Every impression about it, without any exception, which occurs to him


    should be imparted to the doctor. The statement which will be perhaps


    then made, that he cannot concentrate his attention upon anything at all,


    is to be countered by assuring him most positively that such a blank state


    of mind is utterly impossible. As a matter of fact, a great number of im-


    pressions will soon occur, with which others will associate themselves.


    These will be invariably accompanied by the expression of the observer's


    opinion that they have no meaning or are unimportant. It will be at once


    noticed that it is this self-criticism which prevented the patient from im-


    parting the ideas, which had indeed already excluded them from con-


    sciousness. If the patient can be induced to abandon this self-criticism


    and to pursue the trains of thought which are yielded by concentrating


    the attention, most significant matter will be obtained, matter which will


    be presently seen to be clearly linked to the morbid idea in question. Its


    connection with other ideas will be manifest, and later on will permit the


    replacement of the morbid idea by a fresh one, which is perfectly adap-


    ted to psychical continuity.


    This is not the place to examine thoroughly the hypothesis upon which


    this experiment rests, or the deductions which follow from its invariable


    success. It must suffice to state that we obtain matter enough for the res-


    olution of every morbid idea if we especially direct our attention to the


    unbidden associations which disturb our thoughts—those which are oth-


    erwise put aside by the critic as worthless refuse. If the procedure is exer-


    cised on oneself, the best plan of helping the experiment is to write down


    at once all one's first indistinct fancies.


    I will now point out where this method leads when I apply it to the ex-


    amination of dreams. Any dream could be made use of in this way. From


    10


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