Since the purpose of the censor is to prevent certain registered memories from becoming conscious, it follows that in the number dream analyzed this censor was at work as a kind of unconscious resistance. There was a constant repression of the real number into the unconscious, because for selfish motives the subject did not actually care to remember the number. In every way the numbers thirty-three were disguised, first by placing another figure before and after each number, and secondly by grouping the numbers. It will be noticed, however, that the other figures, when added, formed each a group of threes, giving rise to the number thirty-three, and secondly, the grouping of the figures themselves was in threes, again giving the number thirty-three. In the dream the disguise was so successful, due to the repression, that the subject failed to penetrate this disguise or in any way to guess at the symbolism of the numbers. Thus this dream becomes a wish fulfilled; the censor has triumphed; the wish to forget the number has been successful.
But sometimes the censor is weak; certain latent dream thoughts or emotions succeed in escaping its vigilance, and the dream may then be accompanied by distressing emotions, giving rise to the so-called nightmares or anxiety dreams. The subject then will suddenly awaken with a sense of terror and anxiety, the mental state having the usually physiological accompaniments of cold sweating and rapid heart-beat. The dreams of suffocation, of being nailed down in a 'coffin and struggling to get out, are instances in question. In other cases, just as the subject is falling asleep, he will awaken each time with a momentary vivid dream of being pursued, of choking, inability to breathe, etc. Of course these types of dreams are continual disturbers of sleep and lead to insomnia, because the unconscious, repressed emotions are continually escaping the censor, without disguise or fusion, and so lead to a state of constant morbid anxiety in the mind of the sleeper. A marked example from a case of anxiety hysteria is the following dramatic dream.
Dream. It seemed as though a man who was angry with the dreamer had thrown her into a large tank of water and held her head under the water until she drowned. During all this time, he was laughing and jesting and seemed to enjoy her struggles in her endeavor to save herself and escape from the tank. There was a constant, horrible, suffocating feeling as though she were bound down. It appeared as though she were upright in the water, and the man held his hand over her head, forcing it to remain beneath the surface of the water, so that she could not breathe. She kept one arm elevated above the surface of the water, and the man kept pressing her head downward until her arm dropped limp. There was an intense sensation of drowning, an unpleasant suffocation and struggling with great fear, breathlessness, eyes shut, fighting, finally absolute inability to breathe. Then she saw herself dead and floating beneath the surface of the water and awoke in terror.
Analysis. This is a typical anxiety dream due to the same repressed emotions which caused the subject's hysteria, and an analysis of such dreams, of which the subject had many, finally led to an uncovering of these repressed emotions. During the day, the repressed emotions in trying to escape produced the hysterical symptoms; and during the night, similar repressions led to the anxiety dreams. Of course, such a dream is full of other symbols which it is unnecessary to relate here. The instigators of the dream which set the unconscious anxiety into activity, but which in themselves could not produce such a dream unless the unconscious anxiety were present, were two, namely:
(1) Several nights previously the subject had seen a dramatic representation of the Arabian Nights, in one scene of which a man was thrown into a tank and his head held under the water until he was drowned, the hand of the drowning man meanwhile holding on to the edge of the tank until the grasp slowly relaxed.
(2) A few days previously she had read Maupassant's "Le Horla," in which an attack of nocturnal anxiety (nightmare) is vividly described.
It was these two instigators which entered into the intense and vivid dramatization of the dream, and which set the unconscious machinery of the dream, in the form of repressed feelings, into motion. The dream was not a literal repetition of the instigators, but there was a rearranged emotional process. The latent content of the dream was the repressed emotions; the manifest content was a dramatization of the dream instigators. The night terrors of children, while they may be instigated by digestive disturbances, are due to the same mechanism of a psychical repression of certain emotions into the unconscious, attempting to find an escape. This was clearly seen in some analyses of hysteria in children.1
Sometimes a wish repressed into the unconscious may cause dreams in which symptomatic acts occur - such as in the previously analyzed dream of placing the wrong address on an envelope - in much the same way as in every-day life. Superficially such acts seem to be done accidentally or by chance, but an analysis of such acts shows that they represent the expression of a concealed and repressed wish,-in other words they are motivated by desires of which the person is unaware. A young woman for instance had the following dream:
1 Isador H. Coriat, " Some Hysterical Mechanisms in Children," Journal Abnormal Psychology, 1914, vol. IX, nos. 2-3.
Dream. She seemed to be walking in the street with her sister and was idly playing with a ring on her finger, moving it thoughtlessly back and forth, apparently "just to keep my hands busy." Finally she came to a pile of shavings, and the ring accidentally fell in this pile, so that she could not find it.
Analysis. This dream represented a wish of the subject. She actually possessed such a ring, which she had not really lost. This ring was a graduation gift, and engraved on the inside was the date of her graduation from college. She had often feared that if this date were known to others, it would betray her age, which, for family reasons and because she contemplated marriage, she was anxious to conceal. She had often felt that she would like to lose the ring or "accidentally" misplace it, thus more effectively preventing an attempt to discover her age. For certain reasons, she could neither afford to lose the ring, nor carry out her wish of misplacing it. So in the dream, the wish to lose the ring is actually fulfilled. Under such conditions, the symptomatic action of misplacing or losing an object, which is partially beloved and partially hated, is completed, not in actuality, where for social reasons it was impossible, but in a dream. See Figure II, which illustrates the mechanism of dreaming and the making of a dream.
In the unconscious (B) are contained the mass of repressed memories and wishes (E, H, F). These repressed mental processes in the unconscious are kept from entering consciousness (A) through the resistance exerted by the censor (C). This censor is active during sleep and guards the portal going from the unconscious to the conscious, thus preventing the emerging of painful complexes from the former. Experiences of the day may act as dream instigators (D) only if these experiences are able to form associations and set into activity the repressed wishes which have become accumulated in the unconscious. These repressed wishes (or dream thoughts) thus instigated become disguised and condensed before they are allowed to enter consciousness as the dream itself (G). The dream as related is the manifest content; the repressed memories or wishes which lie in the unconscious are the dream thoughts or the latent content of the dream. The latent content is the real and logical mental life, the manifest content is the incongruous and absurd dream. The instigator which sets into activity the unconscious wishes and the manner in which these large groups of wishes become condensed into a dream, is shown by the direction of the arrows. This simple diagram illustrates, in a general way, the complex mechanism of dreams.