The construction of the manifest content out of the multiple dream thoughts is due to the process of what is termed the work of the dream or the dream making. Because most dreams are visual pictures, the action may become very complex and in constant movement, resembling a cinematograph. This mechanism is termed dramatization.
4. Elaboration of Dreams. This usually arises from the more conscious mental processes. In other words, the dream is disposed of as a dream, it is criticized by the sleeper as different from reality, because of the thought which so often arises: "Why, it is only a dream!" This thought either reinforces the primary wish of the dream or neutralizes it and thus offsets its primary motive. In dreams of horror, this secondary elaboration, as a concession to the sleeper, may be a protective mechanism. For instance, a nightmare may take place, and instead of awakening the sleeper, it may be recognized as only a dream, and the sleep go on undisturbed. Thus it is but a step from this to the mechanism of reinforcement, in which the prominent or primary wish of the dream is reinforced, expressed anew for the purpose of emphasis by means of a second dream following the first, really a dream within a dream.
5. Dreams within Dreams. This brings us to the interesting subject of dreams within dreams, which is really a variation of secondary elaboration, a type of the mechanism of reinforcement for the purpose of emphasizing the dream wish or expressing it anew. In a way, a dream within a dream is a mirror picture seen in a mirror. Sometiines it takes the form of the realization that the process is only a dream; on other and more rare occasions, the dream may be a self-interpreted one.
As an example of the former process, a young man dreamed that he received a telegram announcing, to his profound shock and surprise, that his mother was dead. In the dream, he jotted this fact down, saying to himself that he was told by his physician to keep a record of his dreams. The second portion of the dream, in which he realized that the first part was merely a dream to be recorded and analyzed, is a type of a negative wish: in other words, the censor has informed him that he merely dreamed the receipt of the telegram, and the news was not true at all. Thus the first part of the dream is neutralized and rendered invalid by the second portion.
On other occasions, the second part of the dream appears under the guise or form of an actual analysis of the first part of the dream, and in the few instances in which this process has been encountered by me, the analysis used in the dream was the very analysis which the subject desired to be made of the dream. In other words, the analysis reinforced the wish concealed within the first part of the dream.
An example is the following:1
Dream. The dreamer appeared to be in a cemetery. Many open caskets were visible, and in these caskets were mouldering bodies. Then the scene seemed to shift to my office, and he related the dream to me in all its details. After he had finished, I laughed and remarked that such a dream was not difficult to analyze and then analyzed the entire dream, according to the technical methods used in dream analysis.
1 Only the outlines of this extremely interesting and complex dream are given, as the details would lead into psychological discussions beyond the scope of this book.
Under these conditions the question arises: is the self-analysis in the dream a true analysis, such as would be made by the physician, or a wished-for analysis of the dreamer from his own conscious thoughts and projected on to the personality of the physician? It developed that the latter was the true interpretation; that is: the analysis in the dream was the analysis desired and not the interpretation that would be given under analysis in the waking condition. In other words, the unconscious wishes of the subject were reinforced by the second portion of the dream in which the analysis appeared.
Another pretty example of a dream within a dream is the following one of a young woman:
Dream. It appeared that she had sent a letter of congratulation to a woman, whose son's betrothal had been recently-announced. Then she felt that the letter had been incorrectly addressed and that it would never reach her. At this point she became conscious of the fact that she was only dreaming.
Analysis. At one time in the past a love affair had developed between the subject and the friend who figured in the dream. She had not seen him for a year or two, as business affairs had compelled him to reside in another city, and yet during all this time the feeling of affection remained. On the day of the dream, she had read in the newspaper of his betrothal, much to her painful surprise and disappointment. A congratulation was what would have naturally followed, as she felt that in the event of his betrothal, she had become persona non grata with him. In the dream, such a letter of congratulation was written, but the wrong address placed on the envelope, this being a symptomatic action to express her disapproval of the whole affair and therefore an unconscious desire to withhold rather than offer her congratulations. The wrong address had thus betrayed and laid bare her true feelings. The idea that it was "only a dream" showed that she was still hoping against hope, that she was jealous of the other woman and fortified the wish that the news of the betrothal was merely a dream and not the reality. Thus the feeling that she was only dreaming robs the dream of its reality; it expresses a wish that what has occurred in the dream should not have actually occurred.
6. Symbolism of Dreams. Dreams frequently contain disguised erotic wishes and many phallic symbols. This is particularly true of many so-called typical dreams,1 such as the dream of nakedness, of the death of a parent, or of dental irritation.
1 These will be fully discussed in Chapter viii (Typical Dreams) and hence need only be briefly referred to here.