A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis

By Sigmund Freud | Go to book overview

NINTH LECTURE

THE DREAM

The Dream Censor

WE have learned to know the origin, nature and function of the dream from the study of children's dreams. Dreams are the removal of sleep-disturbing psychic stimuli by way of hallucinated satisfaction. Of adults' dreams, to be sure, we could explain only one group, what we characterized as dreams of an infantile type. As to the others we know nothing as yet, nor do we understand them. For the present, however, we have obtained a result whose significance we do not wish to under-estimate. Every time a dream is completely comprehensible to us, it proves to be an hallucinated wish-fulfillment. This coincidence cannot be accidental, nor is it an unimportant matter.

We conclude, on the basis of various considerations and by analogy to the conception of mistakes, that another type of dream is a distorted substitute for an unknown content and that it must first be led back to that content. Our next task is the investigation and the understanding of this dream distortion.

Dream distortion is the thing which makes the dream seem strange and incomprehensible to us. We want to know several things about it; firstly, whence it comes, its dynamics; secondly, what it does; and finally, how it does it. We can say at this point that dream distortion is the product of the dream work, that is, of the mental functioning of which the dream itself is the conscious symptom. Let us describe the dream work and trace it back to the forces which work upon it.

And now I shall ask you to listen to the following dream. It was recorded by a lady of our profession, and according to her, originated with a highly cultivated and respected lady of advanced age. No analysis of this dream was made. Our in

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