My friend seemed to be in the dining-room at the home of Doctor and Mrs. X. From the room the entrance-hall could be seen. Mrs. X. was there and looked perfectly natural, while Doctor X. appeared to be sitting on the edge of a leather-covered chair. Doctor X. appeared changed, however. In place of a short moustache, it seemed that he had grown a beard resembling the beard of the dreamer; he appeared rather thinner than usual, while his hair was silky and of light tow color. The three appeared to be talking earnestly and intimately about some subject which the dreamer was unable to remember. In the midst of the conversation, the front doorbell rang. Doctor X. went to the door, and as he was leaving the room, Mrs. X. remarked: "That is a rabbi; we don't want any more rabbis in here."
Then she dived suddenly under the table as if to hide, crouching low in a most undignified manner, entirely out of keeping with her usual dignified behavior, and motioned to the dreamer to hide in a closet. Doctor X. came back and with a smile said: "It wasn't a rabbi; it was a package." Then all resumed easy conversation. Doctor X. then remarked that he was not going to Europe this year on account of the war and added: "Have you read Wells's 'The World Set Free'?" My friend replied that he had read it shortly after publication and added that it was remarkable how Wells had so clearly predicted in the book many of the events of the present European war. Then Doctor X. replied: "Yes and the Holland dikes or dams - and they are going to erect a monument to the Prince of Lumbago."
Now what does this nonsensical, apparently meaningless dream signify, and how did this conglomeration of ideas come into the dreamer's head? What was the mental process that produced the change in the personal appearance of an intimate friend, and made a dignified young woman act and talk in such a curious manner? What was the meaning of the ridiculous phrase "the Prince of Lumbago?" What was behind the dreamer's thought that prompted him to put the remark about rabbis in the mouth of the young woman? At this point a brief preliminary statement, even at the risk of later repetition, becomes necessary.
The success of a psycho-analysis of a dream depends upon the subject whose dream is analyzed. He must tell everything that comes into the mind concerning each element of the dream and not suppress or brush aside an idea because it appears unimportant or of no significance. No association that arises is too trivial for the analysis; everything is essential. In other words, the attitude of the subject towards his dream must be purely objective; he must, in cold blood, as it were, dissect the dream into its component parts. This is best done in a quiet, restful position and with the concentrated attention on each dream-element. This is merely a brief outline of the procedure of dream-analysis. The finer technical points and the interpretation of the symbolism of dreams, for reasons of space and because of the special difficulties involved, cannot be discussed here. It is important, however, to point out that dreams make abundant use of symbolisms to disguise the latent thoughts producing the dream, and these symbols have the same general meaning in all dreams because they belong to the unconscious thinking of the human race.
Toward this procedure there will arise the natural criticism that then a dream can be made to say almost anything; it can be twisted and distorted at random. This, however, is not so, for the free associations employed in dream-analysis are really not free. They are no more due to chance than the falling of a stone is due to chance. In the physical world both speed and direction of falling objects are brought about by the inexorable law of gravitation. So in the mental world, ideas apparently chosen at random are subject to a definite law. The thoughts do not come haphazard. The free associations brought forth in the analysis of a given element of a dream are produced by the same mass of unconscious thoughts as create the particular dream-element under examination.
When one thinks voluntarily of a number, for instance, we find on analysis that the number which occurs is not a voluntary product, but determined by thoughts of which the subject is not aware, i.e. unconscious thoughts. Thus the number, like the apparently free association, is motivated by unconscious thoughts. An example of this apparently random or "chance" choosing of numbers occurred in the following dream: A woman dreamed that she was counting nickels used for telephoning and found that she had nine, counting them in three's, as, three - six -nine. How is this all to be explained? Were the numbers in the dream of accidental occurrence, chance figures, an arbitrary choice, or were they caused by ideas unknown to the consciousness of the dreamer? An analysis of this dream revealed the concealed mental feelings of the woman and demonstrated that repressed memories, pushed out by consciousness because painful, revealed themselves in these apparently chance numbers. Thus she had been married twelve years (nine plus three equals twelve, the end numbers of the counting process) and at the end of nine years certain domestic difficulties with her husband entered into her life, rendering her very unhappy. This difficulty occurred three years ago. Furthermore, she wondered if her husband would give her the annual birthday gift, as her birthday was approaching on the twenty-seventh day of the month (nine times three equals twenty-seven) in which the dream occurred.
In a like manner, if attention be focussed on any particular element of a dream, and everything that comes into the mind be related without criticism, it will be found that the incoming thoughts brought to the surface are directly or indirectly related to the specific dream-element. There is no free choice in the ideas which appear; there is a rigorous relation of one idea to another. This relationship is called deter-minism.
On this theory of determinism the psycho-analytic procedure is based. Furthermore, there is a remarkable similarity in the dream-interpretation of the dreams of different individuals. In fact, certain so-called "typical dreams" in various individuals, - which nearly every one has dreamed, - such as the dream of being clothed in insufficient clothing, or the dream of the death of a near and dear relative, can all be traced to the same unconscious thoughts. This could only take place if there were a psychical connection between the apparently random thoughts. The collateral thoughts, too, in dreams of the same type, lead to the same inevitable conclusion. Furthermore, in the similar technical method of the association tests,1 the reply given to a certain test word is only superficially at random. There exists here, as in the free association procedures of dream-analysis, a deep connection between the test word and the reply. Our conscious motives and our conscious thoughts, whether these latter occur during our waking life or in dreams, are motivated or caused by the unconscious.
Of course every dream cannot be fully interpreted, because the resistance which produced the distortion of the dream may likewise be at work in the analysis. One form of resistance is the unwillingness of the subject to give free associations, as in the frequent remark: "I can't think of anything else." In discussing the psychology of dream activities, Freud states as follows:2
"It is in fact demonstrably incorrect to
1 For an account of the association tests see my "Abnormal Psychology" chapters iii and iv, 2nd edition New York, 1914.
2 "The Interpretation of Dreams," p. 418. (In this and subsequent passages from Freud, Brill's translation is used.) state that we abandon ourselves to an aimless course of thought when, as in the interpretation of dreams, we relinquish our reflection and allow the unwished-for idea to come to the surface. It can be shown that we can reject only those end-presentations that are familiar to us, and that as soon as these stop, the unknown, or as we may say more precisely, the unconscious end-presentations immediately come into play, which now determine the course of the unwished-for presentations. A mode of thinking without end-idea can surely not be brought about through any influence we can exert in our mental life; nor do I know, either, of any state of psychic derangement in which such mode of thought establishes itself."
With these preliminary statements, which are absolutely essential to a clear understanding of dream-analysis, we will now proceed to the analysis of the dream itself.1
1 The dream-elements, as they appear in the analysis, are given in italics.