THE analysis and correct interpretation of a dream presupposes a certain degree of knowledge and technical skill. A dream cannot be interpreted, however, unless the dreamer conscientiously and without resistance furnishes us with the instigators and the complex latent thoughts which lie behind the dream, and from this mass of material the real meaning of the dream can be constructed. There are certain dreams, though, which nearly every one has dreamed in much the same manner, which are clearly defined and need no elaborate interpretation. In fact, the dream really interprets itself, and a knowledge of certain dream symbolisms enables one to penetrate the inner meaning of such a dream. Because these dreams occur to us all and arise from emotions common to the human race, they have been termed typical dreams. The subject of typical dreams is very wide and complex. Only the general outlines can be considered here, since such dreams are markedly symbolic and require for their correct understanding an accurate knowledge of dream symbolism. .
A typical dream frequently deals with an unpleasant or painful situation without any unpleasant emotion in the dream itself; in fact, the dreamer may remain totally indifferent to the situation. This is particularly well seen in those dreams in which the dreamer appears only partially clothed in the presence of strangers or friends. The dreamer in such situations is totally unembarrassed, and the spectators completely indifferent to the negligee attire of the subject. For instance, one subject dreamed that he was in his bedroom only partially dressed, and two women friends seemed to be in the room. He was totally unabashed, while the women did not seem to notice his condition. The meaning of this and of other typical dreams, as, for instance, the dream of the death of a beloved relative, usually father or mother, opens up interesting vistas in an unconscious mental life, particularly the repressed emotions of our childhood.
In the above dream of being partially clothed, it will be noticed that the sense of modesty referable to our bodies, which occurs in all civilized and adult individuals, is totally lacking. It is only in the child or in the very primitive savage that such a sense of modesty has not yet developed, and it is this fact, as will be shown later, which not only enters the make-up of the dream, but provides the explanation for the meaning of the dream. The real emotion of the dream in these cases lies in the dream thoughts or latent content of the dream and not in the manifest content or the dream as remembered.
Superficially, such dreams seem to contradict the theory that all dreams represent the imaginary fulfillment of wishes, for, one will ask, who wishes to appear naked or partially clothed in public, or who, however depraved in morals, wishes for the death of the father or mother. Such desires belong to a very primitive state of society, or to the age of earliest childhood, when the egotistic child still possesses many of the instincts of the savage and will desist from nothing to gain its own ends. Such desires, if they existed in childhood, seem to have disappeared in our adult life, but in reality they are only repressed into the unconscious. Thus such types of dreams revert to our childhood, when jealousy of one of the parents existed, or when the child had so little modesty that insufficient clothing failed to cause the slightest embarrassment. No one can doubt that such emotions take place in children, particularly when the child, as occurs in so many cases, has a stronger emotional attachment for one parent than for another. Therefore, the wish concealed within such a type of dream does not actually exist in adult life, but did at one time exist in the childhood of the individual and became subsequently repressed. The repressed feelings are so successfully kept down by our moral censorship that they appear only in dreams. The typical dream therefore, does not contradict the wish theory, but actually confirms it.
The dream of the death of a parent, either the father or the mother, according to whether the dreamer is a son or daughter, represents a family conflict arising in early childhood. The son, for instance, becomes jealous of the attention of the mother for the father and wishes to replace the latter in her affections. Thus a mental conflict arises, and the only manner in which, according to the childish idea, such a replacement can be accomplished, is for the father to be out of the way, or absent, which to the mind of the child is synonymous with death. The child struggles against this idea, as such a conception is opposed to its innate moral attitude, and as a result of the struggle, the wish is strongly repressed in the unconscious. It appears later in adult life in the form of a dream of the death of the father, whose meaning is that although the dreamer does not now wish his father dead, yet the desire once existed at some early period of the individual's life. In the daughter the opposite process takes place; it is the dream of the death of the mother, because in very early childhood the girl wished to replace her mother in her father's affections.
Such types of dreams represent the struggles and perplexities of our infantile mental life, and like all typical dreams are repressed wishes from our infantile reminiscences. The typical dream, then, contains wishes which we will not admit in our waking life, but secret wishes, dating from our earliest infancy, there find expression. This applies to all typical dreams, although the acknowledgment of this fact will be found very difficult by the uninitiated. In this type of dream of the death of a dear relative, there is usually deep grief, although the death of such a relative may have been most remote from the mind of the dreamer. The dream means that the dreamer wished the relative, no matter how near or dear, really dead. Of course, this will excite an indignant denial in every one, but the matter becomes clear when it is emphasized that such a wish does not exist now, but did exist at some remote period of childhood. Sometimes the dream is literal, sometimes in a veiled and disguised form.