AFTER having analyzed the dream given in the second chapter and shown how an apparently meaningless jumble can be reduced to law and order, we are now prepared to discuss the various dream mechanisms of which hints have already been given. In a psychoanalysis we find that the dream thoughts have undergone a series of different distortions, to disguise the dream for the purpose of protecting the sleeper. These different distortions by means of which the manifest dream-content is formed from the underlying dream thoughts, are known as dream mechanisms.

A dream-analysis, as shown in the previous chapter, gives us a method of penetration and a deep insight into the unconscious mental life. The dream work is a kind of shorthand, a chemical formula, by means of which the dream material is compressed or condensed. The formation of the dream from the latent dream thoughts is due to several mechanisms, each of which will be discussed in turn. These mechanisms are condensation, displacement, dramatization, secondary elaboration, and reinforcement.

1. The Content of Dreams. The content of dreams consists of many complicated ideas, and there is a constant tendency in the minds of the uninitiated to confuse the matter of the dream itself and the thoughts out of which the dream is woven. It has already been amply demonstrated that the dream is not an isolated, chance phenomenon which takes place during sleep; but behind it, hidden in the same way that the movements of marionettes are hidden, lies the motive power of the unconscious. It is this motive power which distorts the dream, makes it unrecognizable, and hides the wish. Now what is it that lies behind the dream; what is the material out of which the dream is woven? When this is once deciphered, what relation do these hidden thoughts bear to the dream itself? The unconscious thoughts which are hidden from the dreamer and make the dream are termed the latent content. This latent content can only be revealed through a psycho-analysis. The dream itself is the result of a long and complicated unconscious mental process, which compresses, displaces, and disguises the latent content. This changed latent content is the dream as it is remembered on awaken-ing, and to this remembered dream the term manifest content is applied. The manifest content is produced directly by the dream thoughts. These dream thoughts, for the specific purpose of fulfilling the wish of the dream, may undergo all sorts of new combinations and arrangements. The manifest dream is a conscious process, but the dream itself is made in the unconscious and enters as a finished product into consciousness.

2. Condensation of Dreams. In the process of condensation, the manifest content of the dream represents a number of dream thoughts or instigators, because the dream material is compressed or condensed. It is for this reason, when a particular dream or dream element is analyzed, we find that the dream material (both unconscious thoughts and instigators) is far more extensive and of more intricate construction than the dream itself. Thus the purpose of condensation, which is really a kind of fusion, is to express similarity or identity between several elements of the dream thoughts, and from this it follows that the special dream thoughts which enter into the condensation become disguised by this condensing process. Furthermore, this compression also protects the sleeper from being awakened by the multiplicity of dream thoughts and instigators which pour into consciousness. Thus the dream thoughts, by being condensed, create something new, because the dream elements represent a series of dream thoughts.

The dream is a highly visualized product like the cinematograph, and like it too, it is constantly in motion. Just as, behind the limited area of the motion picture as projected on the screen, there may be many feet of film, of which the moving picture as seen is merely the condensed product, so the dream picture is the condensed product of a long series of dream thoughts which he behind it. Each dream element is therefore over-determined by a multiplicity of dream thoughts; that is: one dream thought represents a whole series of dream elements. This is well seen in the following fragmentary dream: He seemed to be walking in the street with a girl whom he did not recognize.

This dream is very short and condensed (over-determined), but note how complex when analyzed. The face of the girl in the dream was a condensation of several male and female friends, viz.:

A. A girl with whom he is in love.

B. A recent female acquaintance.

C. One of his boy pupils in the school where he taught.

D. A portrait of an actress.

Thus these multiple dream elements, A - B - C - D, have been condensed into one face as follows:

Figure I.   Diagram Illustrating the Process of Condensation in a Dream

Figure I. - Diagram Illustrating the Process of Condensation in a Dream.

The unconscious has probably no conception of time, because repressed experiences and wishes of the past and present may be fused and condensed into a single dream picture.

3. Displacement in Dreams. The most important element of the dream may stand in the foreground and yet possess the least value of all the dream elements; and conversely, an apparently trivial element may represent the most vital and important part of the dream. This process is termed displacement, and it is this mechanism which more than all others explains the bizarre character of dreams. Thus the dream thoughts and also the emotional quality of the dream become transposed. Sometimes displacement is for the definite purpose of expressing a concealed wish, whose real meaning can be ascertained only through analysis. For instance, a young woman dreamed that she was in a strange room, and two pretty blond children, whom she did not recognize, referred to her as "Bella," whereas her real name was "Delia." An analysis of this dream gave the following free associations: Bella - beautiful - Bella Donna - beautiful woman." Therefore this dream displacement of the letter "B" for "D", changing Delia to Bella, expressed the usual feminine wish to be prettier than she really was.