With the advance of adult culture and of the ethical and moral interpretation of life, such a wish, because it is incompatible with our personality, is repressed into the unconscious. In all of us this strongly repressed emotion exists, but is under control. Because it bears so strong a resemblance to the myth of OEdipus, such a group of repressed ideas is termed the OEdipus-complex. Normal individuals successfully repress it however, and it only appears in their dreams. An unsuccessful repression of the complex may give rise to various psychoneurotic disturbances, and these psychoneurotics, therefore, show in their symptoms many residuals of their childhood mental and emotional make-up.1 Thus the symbolism of these typical dreams does not belong to the dream itself or to the dreamer, but to the unconscious thinking of the human race. The dream merely takes advantage of this unconscious symbolism for the purpose of disguising the dream. Since the emotion which produces the dream is a common emotion of mankind, it can, when it occurs in a social group, either give rise to a myth, as shown in the OEdipus story, or, if in the individual, to the typical dream.
1 For the discussion of the relation of the OEdipus-complex to nervous diseases, see my paper, "The OEdipus-Complex in the Psychoneuroses," Journal of Abnormal Psychology, vol. VII, no. 3, 1912.
An example of such an OEdipus dream is the following:
Dream. He seemed to be in a store, and his father was there, like a shadow and acting in the capacity of a clerk.
Analysis. The subject in his early childhood had developed a feeling of resentment towards his father and an over-exuberant love for his mother. Consciously, he had never wished his father dead, but in the dream he has placed his father in the background; in fact, he has become a mere shadow. Note, too, how he further humiliates his father. He makes him a clerk in the dream, whereas in reality his father was the proprietor of the store in which he appeared.
The following dream of a young man offers an excellent illustration of the non-embarrassment dream of nakedness. It will be noted that the dream is a more intense form of the episode of being insufficiently clothed, yet both types of dreams represent the same repressed desire carried over from childhood:
Dream. An elderly woman took the dreamer to a pond of water which had muddy banks. It appeared as though he were to bathe in this pool. She had with her a little girl, and it seemed as if it were planned that the child bathe with him. No bathing suits were visible. Apparently he was expected to bathe naked, and he hinted to the woman that such a procedure would not be exactly proper. The woman replied that everything would be all right. Then he went into the water naked in front of the child and the woman. There was not the slightest sense of embarrassment; in fact, there was a feeling of pleasure in the nakedness and splashing in the water. After he had finished bathing, he clambered up the bank, and neither he nor the two spectators seemed embarrassed.
Analysis. This dream is typical. The child was unknown to the dreamer, while the woman was partially recognized as a neighbor with whom he had only a slight acquaintance. So far as could be determined by the analysis, there were no dream instigators, neither did the subject know the origin of the dream. The dream, therefore, must have been the symbolization of some repressed thoughts from the unconscious mental life. It will be noticed that in this dream the subject is not ashamed of his nakedness, although the spectators in the dream were strangers to him and both of the opposite sex. In fact, he was not only indifferent, but experienced a keen sense of pleasure in the nakedness and splashing in the pool. This dream cannot express the fulfillment of an adult wish, since social conventionalities and the restraints imposed by culture and adult modesty would be decidedly against such a wish being fulfilled, even in a dream. The dream must, therefore, like the OEdipus-complex dreams, have had its origin in the past life of the individual, when such a desire existed. This desire, with its abandonment of all social restraint, could only have existed in childhood; in fact, all these dreams of being naked or appearing in company with insufficient clothing can be traced back to a period in childhood when such wishes existed and were not repressed. Such a dream, therefore, represents a wish to be younger, to be a child again, with all the wild abandon of a child. Other typical dreams which very frequently occur are those of tooth pulling, flying, falling, fire, dreams of burglars, etc. It is impossible to enter into the meaning and analysis of all these types of dreams. One dream will be given however, a typical flying dream. Like all flying dreams, this signifies in part a wish to do as one pleases, to be free from social restraint, and not bound down by the conventionalities of culture and civilization. This desire existed in childhood, but it is impossible of fulfillment in our complex civilization, and consequently the childhood desire is fulfilled only in a dream. These dreams are characterized by a keen sense of delight and freedom. An example of such a fantastic and imaginative flying dream is as follows: 1
Dream. "I dreamed we were living in a town on a hill-slope which was skirted by a steep ravine. On the further side of the ravine a winding road went through the woods. My mother asked me to go to the other end of the town on an errand. I started but concluded first to take a walk, so I went to the road in the woods and walked a long distance. Suddenly I saw some clothes hanging on a bush as if to dry. I knew some one was near and became frightened; I turned to go back. A man stepped into the road in front of me. He was dressed in a rough negligee shirt and dark trousers with a leather belt. His face was fine, almost delicate, and he had extremely curly yellow hair and closely cut board. It was so yellow that it looked almost like metal. I remember thinking the man out of keeping with his clothes. He simply stood there and looked at me intently. I felt that I could not go deeper into the woods and it was impossible to get past him into the town.