A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis

By Sigmund Freud | Go to book overview

EIGHTH LECTURE

THE DREAM

Dreams of Childhood

WE think we have advanced too rapidly. Let us go back a little. Before our last attempt to overcome the difficulties of dream distortion through our technique, we had decided that it would be best to avoid them by limiting ourselves only to those dreams in which distortion is either entirely absent or of trifling importance, if there are such. But here again we digress from the history of the evolution of our knowledge, for as a matter of fact we become aware of dreams entirely free of distortion only after the consistent application of our method of interpretation and after complete analysis of the distorted dream.

The dreams we are looking for are found in children. They are short, clear, coherent, easy to understand, unambiguous, and yet unquestionable dreams. But do not think that all children's dreams are like this. Dream distortion makes its appearance very early in childhood, and dreams of children from five to eight years of age have been recorded that showed all the characteristics of later dreams. But if you will limit yourselves to the age beginning with conscious psychic activity, up to the fourth or fifth year, you will discover a series of dreams that are of a so-called infantile character. In a later period of childhood you will be able to find some dreams of this nature occasionally. Even among adults, dreams that closely resemble the typically infantile ones occur under certain conditions.

From these children's dreams we gain information concerning the nature of dreams with great ease and certainty, and we hope it will prove decisive and of universal application.

1. For the understanding of these dreams we need no analysis, no technical methods. We need not question the child that is giving an account of his dream. But one must add to this a

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