THE dream is not only of theoretical interest in elucidating certain problems of abnormal psychology and of the unconscious in particular, but it stands in the center of the psycho-analytic treatment of the neuroses. It is this psycho-analytic treatment which represents the latest and most logical advance ever made in medicine in the treatment of certain functional nervous disturbances. Psycho-analysis is not suggestion. Suggestion merely removes certain symptoms temporarily, psycho-analysis permanently, by eliminating the unconscious ideas or complexes which caused the psychoneurotic disturbance. The fundamental condition and therefore a complete understanding of the reason for a psychoneurosis can never be reached by suggestion.

The term psycho-analysis is applied to that particular form of treatment and investigation of the neuroses as first elaborated by Freud, whose object is to remove the unconscious sources of the individual's nervous disturbance. The treatment is generally applied to relieve that class of nervous sufferers presenting such symptoms as obsessions, morbid fears, and compulsive thoughts and acts, often out of harmony with the person's training and character. It is also helpful in clearing up many personal peculiarities in those who are not actually nervously diseased.

For instance, children quickly learn to repress certain sensuous and anti-social tendencies, and as adult life is reached, there is an inclination to preserve these inwardly but very actively, as a hidden source of certain pleasures and abnormal cravings. We all of us thus lead double lives, and without definitely passing into the realm of the pathologic, we are all more or less double personalities, i.e.: our veneer or false disguise of outward social conventions and our true inward, unconscious selves, with our repressions carried over from childhood, our abnormal cravings and savage instincts, our constant fight against temptation, and our occasional yielding to it, if not actually because of a strong moral sense, at least inwardly in our reveries during the day and in our dreams at night. Thus, a highly refined and cultured man once dreamed of killing his stepson, because the mother actually paid more attention to him than she did to her husband. Culture and refinement had repressed the wish which was fulfilled in the dream, a proof of the primitive instinct of jealous rage which the dreamer had carried over from his infantile thinking. It is these repressions, this unconscious personality, which often crops out in the dreams of the normal individual as well as those who are nervously sick. Well does Shakespeare, with the intuitive insight of a great poet, make the doctor say in Macbeth, referring to the sleep-walking of Lady Macbeth:

"Infected minds To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets."

Psycho-analysis is the only form of the investigation of the neuroses which explains why certain symptoms occur, as in the past physicians have been too prone to interpret nervous symptoms, particularly the peculiar and contradictory behavior of hysterical patients, as a form of inexplicable stubbornness. Furthermore, the analytic investigation of the symptoms not only gives both patient and physician an insight into the nervous disease, but this investigation also acts as the treatment itself, that is, the repressed feelings are set free, and with this liberation, the symptoms gradually disappear. In the individual, repression is a moral function; in the masses or in the race, it is a social function. When a mental conflict arises between our individual repressed impulses and our moral, ethical, or religious censorship, we have a neurosis in the form of an obsession, compulsive ideas, hysterical or anxiety or psychasthenic states or fluctuations in mood, either an abnormal exaltation or an abnormal depression. When the mental conflict takes place among the masses, we have the various types of social aggression, which tend to upset the equilibrium of civilization and lead to various grades of industrial revolutions or to such bloody cataclysms as the French Revolution.

These repressed thoughts lie in the unconscious, and since the dream represents the most direct road for the investigation and understanding of the unconscious, the dream becomes the most potent instrument in the removal of symptoms arising from the repressed emotions in the unconscious mental life. No one, however healthy minded or nervously unstrung, no one, no matter how frank or sincere, can know his unconscious thoughts. They only come to the surface in symptomatic actions, such as slips of the tongue or pen which are motivated by unconscious feelings, or in dreams. In the dream, fragments of the unconscious mental life, but disguised and symbolized and distorted out of all proportion to their natural semblance, come to the surface in the mind of the sleeper, and it is only by a knowledge of the science of psycho-analysis and of its technical methods that these fragments of the unconscious can be interpreted and understood. The dream then gives us the key to the unconscious thoughts which are persistently creating the patient's symptoms, which make and keep him nervously ill, and therefore dream-analysis becomes the most important method in that form of psychotherapy known as the psychoanalytic treatment.

Since the unconscious possesses only one function, - wishing or desiring, - both dreams and neurotic symptoms thus become symbolic or literal wish fulfillments. Paradoxical as it may seem, something is gained by the hysterical symptoms, as in the case of hysterical blindness which will be described and analyzed later in the course of this chapter. Of course, this feeling of gaining something is an unconscious mental process, of which the symptoms are merely the fulfillment in a disguised form. Hysterical symptoms are wish fulfillments symbolized, exactly like dreams.

Through a mental mechanism which cannot be discussed here, because it would involve too many technicalities, the repressed, unconscious thoughts are frequently converted into the symbolic, physical symptoms of the hysteric. For instance, in the case of a woman who had double vision due to hysteria (that is, all objects appeared double to her), it could be shown on analysis that this double vision was not an accidental occurrence, but actually bore a strong, causal relationship to her hysterical mental state.