I HOPE you will not be disappointed if I again lay before you excerpts from dream analyses instead of inviting you to participate in the interpretation of a beautiful long dream. You will say that after so much preparation you ought to have this right, and that after the successful interpretation of so many thousands of dreams it should long ago have become possible to assemble a collection of excellent dream samples with which we could demonstrate all our assertions concerning dream-work and dream thoughts. Yes, but the difficulties which stand in the way of the fulfillment of your wish are too many.
First of all, I must confess to you that no one practices dream interpretation as his main occupation. When does one interpret dreams? Occasionally one can occupy himself with the dream of some friend, without any special purpose, or else he may work with his own dreams for a time in order to school himself in psychoanalytic method; most often, however, one deals with the dreams of nervous individuals who are undergoing analytic treatment. These latter dreams are excellent material, and in no way inferior to those of normal persons, but one is forced by the technique of the treatment to subordinate dream analysis to therapeutic aims and to pass over a large number of dreams after having derived something from them that is of use in the treatment. Many dreams we meet with during the treatment are, as a matter of fact, impossible of complete analysis. Since they spring from the total mass of psychic material which is still unknown to us, their understanding becomes possible only after the completion of the cure. Besides, to tell you such dreams would necessitate the disclosure of all the secrets concerning a neurosis. That will not do for us, since we have taken the dream as preparation for the study of the neuroses.