In these dreams the dreamer is beset by all kinds of difficulties in an effort to catch a train. There is a delay in leaving the house, in packing the grips, in finding the key of the trunk; there are obstacles in the road, a long line at the ticket window, unconcern or no answers from the ticket agent, inability to locate the train, etc.
1 Interpretation of Dreams, by Dr. Freud, 1913, pp. 230-32; Authorized English translation of 3rd edition by Dr. A. A. Brill. London, George Allen & Unwin, Ltd.; New York, The Macmillan Company.
These dreams, which are very common, are attributed to many sources. Headache, since railroad travel often causes it, is considered a cause. Or the entanglement of the feet in the bedclothes is regarded by some as sug- _ gesting difficulties in getting away; usually we are in a hurry when we have to catch a train. Rattling windows may bring to mind the rattle of a train, and thus instigate the dream.
Freud1 suggests that the dream is directed against the fear of dying. To depart and to die have a somewhat similar meaning, possibly a thought of dying has been in mind when awake. By the failure to catch the train, by reason of the difficulties in the way, the dream is supposed to say: "Compose yourself, you are not going to die (to depart)."
In connection with dreams of missing trains, looking in vain for the lost article, etc., one is often justified in interpreting these as implying an unconscious wish not to have the difficulty removed. In daily life we often put obstacles in the way, sometimes consciously, at other times unconsciously, so that we may not have to do something or other. Many people quickly contract a headache when called upon to perform a certain action; others find plenty to do when asked to go somewhere when they prefer not to go. Often we can see behind these things, and realize the true motive of the individual's conduct, which is to avoid something disagreeable. However, the motives are often hidden, even from the individual. For example, we forget to do many things in waking life because they are associated with something unpleasant, though, until an analysis had been made, we would deny the assertion, and be honest in the denial. So, in dreams we may be acting quite in accord with daily life, and the dream-difficulty may be the means of escape from a more intolerable situation.
1 Interpretation of Dreams, by Dr. Freud, 1913, p. 232; authorized English translation of 3rd edition by Dr. A. A. Brill. London, George Allen & Unwin, Ltd.; New York, The Macmillan Company.
In some dreams inability to catch a train, find an article, etc., stands for something besides itself. In other words it is a symbol which the dreamer may or may not recognize. Practically everything has a symbol connected with it. What the symbol stands for in any given case can be learned only by a study of the individual dreamer, since symbols vary with the individual. What we wish to call attention to here, is that in some dreams the train or the article is a symbol for something, and the inability to solve the difficulty is a purposeful act; if the difficulty were solved it would cause disturbance. The dreamer understands the symbolism, and realizing that the train or the article stands for something opposed to the individual's best interests, does not want to remove the obstacles, in fact, manufactures difficulties so that the object in question will not be obtained. As long as the object is not found, sleep is conserved.
Similarly it might be mentioned that dreams in which one sees plenty of tempting food or drink and neither eats nor drinks are often symbolic that it is not the usual hunger and thirst that one wishes to satisfy, What the hunger or thirst stands for can only be determined by ascertaining what the dreamer is striving for.