C. The Wish-Fulfilment
The dream of the burning child (cited above) affords us a welcome opportunity for appreciating the difficulties confronting the theory of wish-fulfilment. That a dream should be nothing but a wish-fulfilment must undoubtedly seem strange to us all- and not only because of the contradiction offered by the anxiety-dream. Once our first analyses had given us the enlightenment that meaning and psychic value are concealed behind our dreams, we could hardly have expected so unitary a determination of this meaning. According to the correct but summary definition of Aristotle, the dream is a continuation of thinking in sleep. Now if, during the day, our thoughts perform such a diversity of psychic acts- judgments, conclusions, the answering of objections, expectations, intentions, etc.- why should they be forced at night to confine themselves to the production of wishes only? Are there not, on the contrary, many dreams that present an altogether different psychic act in dream-form- for example, anxious care- and is not the father's unusually transparent dream of the burning child such a dream? From the gleam of light that falls upon his eyes while he is asleep the father draws the apprehensive conclusion that a candle has fallen over and may be burning the body; he transforms this conclusion into a dream by embodying it in an obvious situation enacted in the present tense. What part is played in this dream by the wish-fulfilment? And how can we possibly mistake the predominance of the thought continued from the waking state or evoked by the new sensory impression?
All these considerations are justified, and force us to look more closely into the role of the wish-fulfilment in dreams, and the significance of the waking thoughts continued in sleep.
It is precisely the wish-fulfilment that has already caused us to divide all dreams into two groups. We have found dreams which were plainly wish-fulfilments; and others in which the wish- fulfilment was unrecognizable and was often concealed by every available means. In this latter class of dreams we recognized the influence of the dream-censorship. The undisguised wish-dreams were found chiefly in children; short, frank wish-dreams seemed (I purposely emphasize this word) to occur also in adults.
We may now ask whence in each case does the wish that is realized in the dream originate? But to what opposition or to what diversity do we relate this whence? I think to the opposition between conscious daily life and an unconscious psychic activity which is able to make itself perceptible only at night. I thus, find a threefold possibility for the origin of a wish. Firstly, it may have been excited during the day, and owing to external circumstances may have remained unsatisfied; there is thus left for the night an acknowledged and unsatisfied wish. Secondly, it may have emerged during the day, only to be rejected; there is thus left for the night an unsatisfied but suppressed wish. Thirdly, it may have no relation to daily life, but may belong to those wishes which awake only at night out of the suppressed material in us. If we turn to our scheme of the psychic apparatus, we can localize a wish of the first order in the system Pcs. We may assume that a wish of the second order has been forced back from the Pcs system into the Ucs system, where alone, if anywhere, can it maintain itself; as for the wish- impulse of the third order, we believe that it is wholly incapable of leaving the Ucs system. Now, have the wishes arising from these different sources the same value for the dream, the same power to incite a dream?
On surveying the dreams at our disposal with a view to answering this question, we are at once moved to add as a fourth source of the dream-wish the actual wish-impetus which arises during the night (for example, the stimulus of thirst, and sexual desire). It then seems to us probable that the source of the dream-wish does not affect its capacity to incite a dream. I have in mind the dream of the child who continued the voyage that had been interrupted during the day, and the other children's dreams cited in the same chapter; they are explained by an unfulfilled but unsuppressed wish of the daytime. That wishes suppressed during the day assert themselves in dreams is shown by a great many examples. I will mention a very simple dream of this kind. A rather sarcastic lady, whose younger friend has become engaged to be married, is asked in the daytime by her acquaintances whether she knows her friend's fiance, and what she thinks of him. She replies with unqualified praise, imposing silence on her own judgment, although she would have liked to tell the truth, namely, that he is a commonplace fellow- one meets such by the dozen (Dutzendmensch). The following night she dreams that the same question is put to her, and that she replies with the formula: "In case of subsequent orders, it will suffice to mention the reference number." Finally, as the result of numerous analyses, we learn that the wish in all dreams that have been subject to distortion has its origin in the unconscious, and could not become perceptible by day. At first sight, then, it seems that in respect of dream-formation all wishes are of equal value and equal power.
I cannot prove here that this is not really the true state of affairs, but I am strongly inclined to assume a stricter determination of the dream-wish. Children's dreams leave us in no doubt that a wish unfulfilled during the day may instigate a dream. But we must not forget that this is, after all, the wish of a child; that it is a wish-impulse of the strength peculiar to childhood. I very much doubt whether a wish unfulfilled in the daytime would suffice to create a dream in an adult. It would rather seem that, as we learn to control our instinctual life by intellection, we more and more renounce as unprofitable the formation or retention of such intense wishes as are natural to childhood. In this, indeed, there may be individual variations; some retain the infantile type of the psychic processes longer than others; just as we find such differences in the gradual decline of the originally vivid visual imagination. In general, however, I am of the opinion that unfulfilled wishes of the day are insufficient to produce a dream in adults. I will readily admit that the wish-impulses originating in consciousness contribute to the instigation of dreams, but they probably do no more. The dream would not occur if the preconscious wish were not reinforced from another source.
That source is the unconscious. I believe that the conscious wish becomes effective in exciting a dream only when it succeeds in arousing a similar unconscious wish which reinforces it. From the indications obtained in the psychoanalysis of the neuroses, I believe that these unconscious wishes are always active and ready to express themselves whenever they find an opportunity of allying themselves with an impulse from consciousness, and transferring their own greater intensity to the lesser intensity of the latter. * It must, therefore, seem that the conscious wish alone has been realized in the dream; but a slight peculiarity in the form of the dream will put us on the track of the powerful ally from the unconscious. These ever-active and, as it were, immortal wishes of our unconscious recall the legendary Titans who, from time immemorial, have been buried under the mountains which were once hurled upon them by the victorious gods, and even now quiver from time to time at the convulsions of their mighty limbs. These wishes, existing in repression, are themselves of infantile origin, as we learn from the psychological investigation of the neuroses. Let me, therefore, set aside the view previously expressed, that it matters little whence the dream-wish originates, and replace it by another, namely: the wish manifested in the dream must be an infantile wish. In the adult it originates in the Ucs, while in the child, in whom no division and censorship exist as yet between the Pcs and Ucs, or in whom these are only in process of formation, it is an unfulfilled and unrepressed wish from the waking state. I am aware that this conception cannot be generally demonstrated, but I maintain that it can often be demonstrated even where one would not have suspected it, and that it cannot be generally refuted. -
* They share this character of indestructibility with all other psychic acts that are really unconscious- that is, with psychic acts belonging solely to the system Ucs. These paths are opened once and for all; they never fall into disease; they conduct the excitation process to discharge as often as they are charged again with unconscious excitation. To speak metaphorically, they suffer no other form of annihilation than did the shades of the lower regions in the Odyssey, who awoke to new life the moment they drank blood. The processes depending on the preconscious system are destructible in quite another sense. The psychotherapy of the neuroses is based on this difference.
In dream-formation, the wish-impulses which are left over from the conscious waking life are, therefore, to be relegated to the background. I cannot admit that they play any part except that attributed to the material of actual sensations during sleep in relation to the dream-content. If I now take into account those other psychic instigations left over from the waking life of the day, which are not wishes, I shall merely be adhering to the course mapped out for me by this line of thought. We may succeed in provisionally disposing of the energetic cathexis of our waking thoughts by deciding to go to sleep. He is a good sleeper who can do this; Napoleon I is reputed to have been a model of this kind. But we do not always succeed in doing it, or in doing it completely. Unsolved problems, harassing cares, overwhelming impressions, continue the activity of our thought even during sleep, maintaining psychic processes in the system which we have termed the preconscious. The thought-impulses continued into sleep may be divided into the following groups:
1. Those which have not been completed during the day, owing to some accidental cause.
2. Those which have been left uncompleted because our mental powers have failed us, i.e., unsolved problems.
3. Those which have been turned back and suppressed during the day. This is reinforced by a powerful fourth group:
4. Those which have been excited in our Ucs during the day by the workings of the Pcs; and finally we may add a fifth, consisting of:
5. The indifferent impressions of the day, which have therefore been left unsettled.
We need not underrate the psychic intensities introduced into sleep by these residues of the day's waking life, especially those emanating from the group of the unsolved issues. It is certain that these excitations continue to strive for expression during the night, and we may assume with equal certainty that the state of sleep renders impossible the usual continuance of the process of excitation in the preconscious and its termination in becoming conscious. In so far as we can become conscious of our mental processes in the ordinary way, even during the night, to that extent we are simply not asleep. I cannot say what change is produced in the Pcs system by the state of sleep, * but there is no doubt that the psychological characteristics of sleep are to be sought mainly in the cathectic changes occurring just in this system, which dominates, moreover, the approach to motility, paralysed during sleep. On the other hand, I have found nothing in the psychology of dreams to warrant the assumption that sleep produces any but secondary changes in the conditions of the Ucs system. Hence, for the nocturnal excitations in the Pcs there remains no other path than that taken by the wish-excitations from the Ucs; they must seek reinforcement from the Ucs, and follow the detours of the unconscious excitations. But what is the relation of the preconscious day-residues to the dream? There is no doubt that they penetrate abundantly into the dream; that they utilize the dream-content to obtrude themselves upon consciousness even during the night; indeed, they sometimes even dominate the dream-content, and impel it to continue the work of the day; it is also certain that the day-residues may just as well have any other character as that of wishes. But it is highly instructive, and for the theory of wish-fulfilment of quite decisive importance, to see what conditions they must comply with in order to be received into the dream.
* I have endeavoured to penetrate farther into the relations of the sleeping state and the conditions of hallucination in my essay, "Metapsychological Supplement to the Theory of Dreams," Collected Papers, IV, p. 137.
Let us pick out one of the dreams cited above, e.g., the dream in which my friend Otto seems to show the symptoms of Basedow's disease (chapter V., D). Otto's appearance gave me some concern during the day, and this worry, like everything else relating to him, greatly affected me. I may assume that this concern followed me into sleep. I was probably bent on finding out what was the matter with him. During the night my concern found expression in the dream which I have recorded. Not only was its content senseless, but it failed to show any wish-fulfilment. But I began to search for the source of this incongruous expression of the solicitude felt during the day, and analysis revealed a connection. I identified my friend Otto with a certain Baron L and myself with a Professor R. There was only one explanation of my being impelled to select just this substitute for the day- thought. I must always have been ready in the Ucs to identify myself with Professor R, as this meant the realization of one of the immortal infantile wishes, viz., the wish to become great. Repulsive ideas respecting my friend, ideas that would certainly have been repudiated in a waking state, took advantage of the opportunity to creep into the dream; but the worry of the day had likewise found some sort of expression by means of a substitute in the dream-content. The day-thought, which was in itself not a wish, but on the contrary a worry, had in some way to find a connection with some infantile wish, now unconscious and suppressed, which then allowed it- duly dressed up- to arise for consciousness. The more domineering the worry the more forced could be the connection to be established; between the content of the wish and that of the worry there need be no connection, nor was there one in our example.
It would perhaps be appropriate, in dealing with this problem, to inquire how a dream behaves when material is offered to it in the dream-thoughts which flatly opposes a wish-fulfilment; such as justified worries, painful reflections and distressing realizations. The many possible results may be classified as follows: (a) The dream-work succeeds in replacing all painful ideas by contrary ideas. and suppressing the painful affect belonging to them. This, then, results in a pure and simple satisfaction-dream, a palpable wish-fulfilment, concerning which there is nothing more to be said. (b) The painful ideas find their way into the manifest dream-content, more or less modified, but nevertheless quite recognizable. This is the case which raises doughts about the wish-theory of dreams, and thus calls for further investigation. Such dreams with a painful content may either be indifferent in feeling, or they may convey the whole painful affect, which the ideas contained in them seem to justify, or they may even lead to the development of anxiety to the point of waking.
Analysis then shows that even these painful dreams are wish- fulfilments. An unconscious and repressed wish, whose fulfilment could only be felt as painful by the dreamer's ego, has seized the opportunity offered by the continued cathexis of painful day- residues, has lent them its support, and has thus made them capable of being dreamed. But whereas in case (a) the unconscious wish coincided with the conscious one, in case (b) the discord between the unconscious and the conscious- the repressed material and the ego- is revealed, and the situation in the fairy-tale, of the three wishes which the fairy offers to the married couple, is realized (see p. 534 below). The gratification in respect of the fulfilment of the repressed wish may prove to be so great that it balances the painful affects adhering to the day-residues; the dream is then indifferent in its affective tone, although it is on the one hand the fulfilment of a wish, and on the other the fulfilment of a fear. Or it may happen that the sleeper's ego plays an even more extensive part in the dream-formation, that it reacts with violent resentment to the accomplished satisfaction of the repressed wish, and even goes so far as to make an end of the dream by means of anxiety. It is thus not difficult to recognize that dreams of pain and anxiety are, in accordance with our theory, just as much wish-fulfilments as are the straightforward dreams of gratification.
Painful dreams may also be punishment dreams. It must be admitted that the recognition of these dreams adds something that is, in a certain sense, new to the theory of dreams. What is fulfilled by them is once more an unconscious wish- the wish for the punishment of the dreamer for a repressed, prohibited wish- impulse. To this extent, these dreams comply with the requirement here laid down: that the motive-power behind the dream-formation must be furnished by a wish belonging to the unconscious. But a finer psychological dissection allows us to recognize the difference between this and the other wish-dreams. In the dreams of group (b) the unconscious dream-forming wish belonged to the repressed material. In the punishment-dreams it is likewise an unconscious wish, but one which we must attribute not to the repressed material but to the ego.
Punishment-dreams point, therefore, to the possibility of a still more extensive participation of the ego in dream-formation. The mechanism of dream-formation becomes indeed in every way more transparent if in place of the antithesis conscious and unconscious, we put the antithesis: ego and repressed. This, however, cannot be done without taking into account what happens in the psychoneuroses, and for this reason it has not been done in this book. Here I need only remark that the occurrence of punishment-dreams is not generally subject to the presence of painful day-residues. They originate, indeed, most readily if the contrary is true, if the thoughts which are day-residues are of a gratifying nature, but express illicit gratifications. Of these thoughts nothing, then, finds its way into the manifest dream except their contrary, just as was the case in the dreams of group (a). Thus it would be the essential characteristic of punishment-dreams that in them it is not the unconscious wish from the repressed material (from the system Ucs) that is responsible for dream-formation but the punitive wish reacting against it, a wish pertaining to the ego, even though it is unconscious (i.e., preconscious). *
* Here one may consider the idea of the super-ego which was later recognized by psycho-analysis.
I will elucidate some of the foregoing observations by means of a dream of my own, and above all I will try to show how the dream- work deals with a day-residue involving painful expectation:
Indistinct beginning. I tell my wife I have some news for her, something very special. She becomes frightened, and does not wish to hear it. I assure her that on the contrary it is something which will please her greatly, and I begin to tell her that our son's Officers' Corps has sent a sum of money (5,000 k.?)... something about honourable mention... distribution... at the same time I have gone with her into a sitting room, like a store-room, in order to fetch something from it. Suddenly I see my son appear; he is not in uniform but rather in a tight-fitting sports suit (like a seal?) with a small cap. He climbs on to a basket which stands to one side near a chest, in order to put something on this chest. I address him; no answer. It seems to me that his face or forehead is bandaged, he arranges something in his mouth, pushing something into it. Also his hair shows a glint of grey. I reflect: Can he be so exhausted? And has he false teeth? Before I can address him again I awake without anxiety, but with palpitations. My clock points to 2.30 a.m.
To give a full analysis is once more impossible. I shall therefore confine myself to emphasizing some decisive points. Painful expectations of the day had given occasion for this dream; once again there had been no news for over a week from my son, who was fighting at the Front. It is easy to see that in the dream-content the conviction that he has been killed or wounded finds expression. At the beginning of the dream one can observe an energetic effort to replace the painful thoughts by their contrary. I have to impart something very pleasing, something about sending money, honourable mention, and distribution. (The sum of money originates in a gratifying incident of my medical practice; it is therefore trying to lead the dream away altogether from its theme.) But this effort fails. The boy's mother has a presentiment of something terrible and does not wish to listen. The disguises are too thin; the reference to the material to be suppressed shows through everywhere. If my son is killed, then his comrades will send back his property; I shall have to distribute whatever he has left among his sisters, brothers and other people. Honourable mention is frequently awarded to an officer after he has died the "hero's death." The dream thus strives to give direct expression to what it at first wished to deny, whilst at the same time the wish-fulfilling tendency reveals itself by distortion. (The change of locality in the dream is no doubt to be understood as threshold symbolism, in line with Silberer's view.) We have indeed no idea what lends it the requisite motive-power. But my son does not appear as failing (on the field of battle) but climbing.- He was, in fact, a daring mountaineer.- He is not in uniform, but in a sports suit; that is, the place of the fatality now dreaded has been taken by an accident which happened to him at one time when he was ski- running, when he fell and fractured his thigh. But the nature of his costume, which makes him look like a seal, recalls immediately a younger person, our comical little grandson; the grey hair recalls his father, our son-in-law, who has had a bad time in the War. What does this signify? But let us leave this: the locality, a pantry, the chest, from which he wants to take something (in the dream, to put something on it), are unmistakable allusions to an accident of my own, brought upon myself when I was between two and three years of age. I climbed on a foot-stool in the pantry, in order to get something nice which was on a chest or table. The footstool tumbled over and its edge struck me behind the lower jaw. I might very well have knocked all my teeth out. At this point, an admonition presents itself: it serves you right- like a hostile impulse against the valiant warrior. A profounder analysis enables me to detect the hidden impulse, which would be able to find satisfaction in the dreaded mishap to my son. It is the envy of youth which the elderly man believes that he has thoroughly stifled in actual life. There is no mistaking the fact that it was the very intensity of the painful apprehension lest such a misfortune should really happen that searched out for its alleviation such a repressed wish-fulfilment.
I can now clearly define what the unconscious wish means for the dream. I will admit that there is a whole class of dreams in which the incitement originates mainly or even exclusively from the residues of the day; and returning to the dream about my friend Otto, I believe that even my desire to become at last a professor extraordinarius would have allowed me to sleep in peace that night, had not the day's concern for my friend's health continued active. But this worry alone would not have produced a dream; the motive-power needed by the dream had to be contributed by a wish, and it was the business of my concern to find such a wish for itself, as the motive power of the dream. To put it figuratively, it is quite possible that a day-thought plays the part of the entrepreneur in the dream; but the entrepreneur, who, as we say, has the idea, and feels impelled to realize it, can do nothing without capital; he needs a capitalist who will defray the expense, and this capitalist, who contributes the psychic expenditure for the dream, is invariably and indisputably, whatever the nature of the waking thoughts, a wish from the unconscious.
In other cases the capitalist himself is the entrepreneur; this, indeed, seems to be the more usual case. An unconscious wish is excited by the day's work, and this now creates the dream. And the dream-processes provide a parallel for all the other possibilities of the economic relationship here used as an illustration. Thus the entrepreneur may himself contribute a little of the capital, or several entrepreneurs may seek the aid of the same capitalist, or several capitalists may jointly supply the capital required by the entrepreneurs. Thus there are dreams sustained by more than one dream-wish, and many similar variations, which may be readily imagined, and which are of no further interest to us. What is still lacking to our discussion of the dream-wish we shall only be able to complete later on.
The tertium comparationis in the analogies here employed, the quantitative element of which an allotted amount is placed at the free disposal of the dream, admits of a still closer application to the elucidation of the dream-structure. As shown in chapter VI., B., we can recognize in most dreams a centre supplied with a special sensory intensity. This is, as a rule, the direct representation of the wish-fulfilment; for, if we reverse the displacements of the dream-work, we find that the psychic intensity of the elements in the dream-thoughts is replaced by the sensory intensity of the elements in the dream-content. The elements in the neighbourhood of the wish-fulfilment have often nothing to do with its meaning, but prove to be the offshoots of painful thoughts which are opposed to the wish. But owing to their connection with the central element, often artificially established, they secure so large a share of its intensity as to become capable of representation. Thus, the representative energy of the wish-fulfilment diffuses itself over a certain sphere of association, within which all elements are raised to representation, including even those that are in themselves without resources. In dreams containing several dynamic wishes we can easily separate and delimit the spheres of the individual wish-fulfilments, and we shall find that the gaps in the dream are often of the nature of boundary-zones.
Although the foregoing remarks have restricted the significance of the day-residues for the dream, they are none the less deserving of some further attention. For they must be a necessary ingredient in dream-formation, inasmuch as experience reveals the surprising fact that every dream shows in its content a connection with a recent waking impression, often of the most indifferent kind. So far we have failed to understand the necessity for this addition to the dream-mixture (chapter V., A.). This necessity becomes apparent only when we bear in mind the part played by the unconscious wish, and seek further information in the psychology of the neuroses. We shall then learn that an unconscious idea, as such, is quite incapable of entering into the preconscious, and that it can exert an influence there only by establishing touch with a harmless idea already belonging to the preconscious, to which it transfers its intensity, and by which it allows itself to be screened. This is the fact of transference, which furnishes the explanation of so many surprising occurrences in the psychic life of neurotics. The transference may leave the idea from the preconscious unaltered, though the latter will thus acquire an unmerited intensity, or it may force upon this some modification derived from the content of the transferred idea. I trust the reader will pardon my fondness for comparisons with daily life, but I feel tempted to say that the situation for the repressed idea is like that of the American dentist in Austria, who may not carry on his practice unless he can get a duly installed doctor of medicine to serve him as a signboard and legal "cover." Further, just as it is not exactly the busiest physicians who form such alliances with dental practitioners, so in the psychic life the choice as regards covers for repressed ideas does not fall upon such preconscious or conscious ideas as have themselves attracted enough of the attention active in the preconscious. The unconscious prefers to entangle with its connections either those impressions and ideas of the preconscious which have remained unnoticed as being indifferent or those which have immediately had attention withdrawn from them again (by rejection). it is a well-known proposition of the theory of associations, confirmed by all experience, that ideas which have formed a very intimate connection in one direction assume a negative type of attitude towards whole groups of new connections. I have even attempted at one time to base a theory of hysterical paralysis on this principle.
If we assume that the same need of transference on the part of the repressed ideas, of which we have become aware through the analysis of the neurosis, makes itself felt in dreams also, we can at once explain two of the problems of the dream: namely, that every dream-analysis reveals an interweaving of a recent impression, and that this recent element is often of the most indifferent character. We may add what we have already learned elsewhere, that the reason why these recent and indifferent elements so frequently find their way into the dream-content as substitutes for the very oldest elements of the dream-thoughts is that they have the least to fear from the resisting censorship. But while this freedom from censorship explains only the preference shown to the trivial elements, the constant presence of recent elements points to the necessity for transference. Both groups of impressions satisfy the demand of the repressed ideas for material still free from associations, the indifferent ones because they have offered no occasion for extensive associations, and the recent ones because they have not had sufficient time to form such associations.
We thus see that the day-residues, among which we may now include the indifferent impressions, not only borrow something from the Ucs when they secure a share in dream-formation- namely, the motive-power at the disposal of the repressed wish- but they also offer to the unconscious something that is indispensable to it, namely, the points of attachment necessary for transference. If we wished to penetrate more deeply into the psychic processes, we should have to throw a clearer light on the play of excitations between the preconscious and the unconscious, and indeed the study of the psychoneuroses would impel us to do so; but dreams, as it happens, give us no help in this respect.
Just one further remark as to the day-residues. There is no doubt that it is really these that disturb our sleep, and not our dreams which, on the contrary, strive to guard our sleep. But we shall return to this point later.
So far we have discussed the dream-wish; we have traced it back to the sphere of the Ucs, and have analysed its relation to the day-residues, which, in their turn, may be either wishes, or psychic impulses of any other kind, or simply recent impressions. We have thus found room for the claims that can be made for the dream-forming significance of our waking mental activity in all its multifariousness. It might even prove possible to explain, on the basis of our train of thought, those extreme cases in which the dream, continuing the work of the day, brings to a happy issue an unsolved problem of waking life. We merely lack a suitable example to analyse, in order to uncover the infantile or repressed source of wishes, the tapping of which has so successfully reinforced the efforts of the preconscious activity. But we are not a step nearer to answering the question: Why is it that the unconscious can furnish in sleep nothing more than the motive-power for a wish-fulfilment ? The answer to this question must elucidate the psychic nature of the state of wishing: and it will be given with the aid of the notion of the psychic apparatus.
We do not doubt that this apparatus, too, has only arrived at its present perfection by a long process of evolution. Let us attempt to restore it as it existed in an earlier stage of capacity. From postulates to be confirmed in other ways, we know that at first the apparatus strove to keep itself as free from stimulation as possible, and therefore, in its early structure, adopted the arrangement of a reflex apparatus, which enabled it promptly to discharge by the motor paths any sensory excitation reaching it from without. But this simple function was disturbed by the exigencies of life, to which the apparatus owes the impetus toward further development. The exigencies of life first confronted it in the form of the great physical needs. The excitation aroused by the inner need seeks an outlet in motility, which we may describe as internal change or expression of the emotions. The hungry child cries or struggles helplessly. But its situation remains unchanged; for the excitation proceeding from the inner need has not the character of a momentary impact, but of a continuing pressure. A change can occur only if, in some way (in the case of the child by external assistance), there is an experience of satisfaction, which puts an end to the internal excitation. An essential constituent of this experience is the appearance of a certain percept (of food in our example), the memory-image of which is henceforth associated with the memory- trace of the excitation arising from the need. Thanks to the established connection, there results, at the next occurrence of this need, a psychic impulse which seeks to revive the memory- image of the former percept, and to re-evoke the former percept itself; that is, it actually seeks to re-establish the situation of the first satisfaction. Such an impulse is what we call a wish; the reappearance of the perception constitutes the wish- fulfilment, and the full cathexis of the perception, by the excitation springing from the need, constitutes the shortest path to the wish-fulfilment. We may assume a primitive state of the psychic apparatus in which this path is actually followed, i.e., in which the wish ends in hallucination. This first psychic activity therefore aims at an identity of perception: that is, at a repetition of that perception which is connected with the satisfaction of the need.
This primitive mental activity must have been modified by bitter practical experience into a secondary and more appropriate activity. The establishment of identity of perception by the short regressive path within the apparatus does not produce the same result in another respect as follows upon cathexis of the same perception coming from without. The satisfaction does not occur, and the need continues. In order to make the internal cathexis equivalent to the external one, the former would have to be continuously sustained, just as actually happens in the hallucinatory psychoses and in hunger-phantasies, which exhaust their performance in maintaining their hold on the object desired. In order to attain to more appropriate use of the psychic energy, it becomes necessary to suspend the full regression, so that it does not proceed beyond the memory-image, and thence can seek other paths, leading ultimately to the production of the desired identity from the side of the outer world. * This inhibition, as well as the subsequent deflection of the excitation, becomes the task of a second system, which controls voluntary motility, i.e., a system whose activity first leads on to the use of motility for purposes remembered in advance. But all this complicated mental activity, which works its way from the memory-image to the production of identity of perception via the outer world, merely represents a roundabout way to wish-fulfilment made necessary by experience. *(2) Thinking is indeed nothing but a substitute for the hallucinatory wish; and if the dream is called a wish-fulfilment, this becomes something self-evident, since nothing but a wish can impel our psychic apparatus to activity. The dream, which fulfils its wishes by following the short regressive path, has thereby simply preserved for us a specimen of the primary method of operation of the psychic apparatus, which has been abandoned as inappropriate. What once prevailed in the waking state, when our psychic life was still young and inefficient, seems to have been banished into our nocturnal life; just as we still find in the nursery those discarded primitive weapons of adult humanity, the bow and arrow. Dreaming is a fragment of the superseded psychic life of the child. In the psychoses, those modes of operation of the psychic apparatus which are normally suppressed in the waking state reassert themselves, and thereupon betray their inability to satisfy our demands in the outer world. *(3)
* In other words: the introduction of a test of reality is recognized as necessary.
*(2) Le Lorrain justly extols the wish-fulfilments of dreams: "Sans fatigue serieuse, sans etre oblige de recourir a cette lutte opiniatre et longue qui use et corrode les jouissances poursuivies." [Without serious fatigue, without being obliged to have recourse to that long and stubborn struggle which exhausts and wears away pleasures sought.]
*(3) I have further elaborated this train of thought elsewhere, where I have distinguished the two principles involved as the pleasure-principle and the reality-principle. Formulations regarding the Two Principles in Mental Functioning, in Collected Papers, Vol. iv. p. 13.
The unconscious wish-impulses evidently strive to assert themselves even during the day, and the fact of transference, as well as the psychoses, tells us that they endeavour to force their way through the preconscious system to consciousness and the command of motility. Thus, in the censorship between Ucs and Pcs, which the dream forces us to assume, we must recognize and respect the guardian of our psychic health. But is it not carelessness on the part of this guardian to diminish his vigilance at night, and to allow the suppressed impulses of the Ucs to achieve expression, thus again making possible the process of hallucinatory regression? I think not, for when the critical guardian goes to rest- and we have proof that his slumber is not profound- he takes care to close the gate to motility. No matter what impulses from the usually inhibited Ucs may bustle about the stage, there is no need to interfere with them; they remain harmless, because they are not in a position to set in motion the motor apparatus which alone can operate to produce any change in the outer world. Sleep guarantees the security of the fortress which has to be guarded. The state of affairs is less harmless when a displacement of energies is produced, not by the decline at night in the energy put forth by the critical censorship, but by the pathological enfeeblement of the latter, or the pathological reinforcement of the unconscious excitations, and this while the preconscious is cathected and the gates of motility are open. The guardian is then overpowered; the unconscious excitations subdue the Pcs, and from the Pcs they dominate our speech and action, or they enforce hallucinatory regressions, thus directing an apparatus not designed for them by virtue of the attraction exerted by perceptions on the distribution of our psychic energy. We call this condition psychosis.
We now find ourselves in the most favourable position for continuing the construction of our psychological scaffolding, which we left after inserting the two systems, Ucs and Pcs. However, we still have reason to give further consideration to the wish as the sole psychic motive-power in the dream. We have accepted the explanation that the reason why the dream is in every case a wish-fulfilment is that it is a function of the system Ucs, which knows no other aim than wish-fulfilment, and which has at its disposal no forces other than the wish-impulses. Now if we want to continue for a single moment longer to maintain our right to develop such far-reaching psychological speculations from the facts of dream-interpretation, we are in duty bound to show that they insert the dream into a context which can also embrace other psychic structures. If there exists a system of the Ucs- or something sufficiently analogous for the purposes of our discussion- the dream cannot be its sole manifestation; every dream may be a wish-fulfilment, but there must be other forms of abnormal wish-fulfilment as well as dreams. And in fact the theory of all psychoneurotic symptoms culminates in the one proposition that they, too, must be conceived as wish-fulfilments of the unconscious. * Our explanation makes the dream only the first member of a series of the greatest importance for the psychiatrist, the understanding of which means the solution of the purely psychological part of the psychiatric problem. *(2) But in other members of this group of wish-fulfilments- for example, in the hysterical symptoms- I know of one essential characteristic which I have so far failed to find in the dream. Thus, from the investigations often alluded to in this treatise, I know that the formation of an hysterical symptom needs a junction of both the currents of our psychic life. The symptom is not merely the expression of a realized unconscious wish; the latter must be joined by another wish from the preconscious, which is fulfilled by the same symptom; so that the symptom is at least doubly determined, once by each of the conflicting systems. Just as in dreams, there is no limit to further over- determination. The determination which does not derive from the Ucs is, as far as I can see, invariably a thought-stream of reaction against the unconscious wish; for example, a self- punishment. Hence I can say, quite generally, that an hysterical symptom originates only where two contrary wish-fulfilments, having their source in different psychic systems, are able to meet in a single expression. *(3) Examples would help us but little here, as nothing but a complete unveiling of the complications in question can carry conviction. I will therefore content myself with the bare assertion, and will cite one example, not because it proves anything, but simply as an illustration. The hysterical vomiting of a female patient proved, on the one hand, to be the fulfilment of an unconscious phantasy from the years of puberty- namely, the wish that she might be continually pregnant, and have a multitude of children; and this was subsequently supplemented by the wish that she might have them by as many fathers as possible. Against this immoderate wish there arose a powerful defensive reaction. But as by the vomiting the patient might have spoilt her figure and her beauty, so that she would no longer find favour in any man's eyes, the symptom was also in keeping with the punitive trend of thought, and so, being admissible on both sides, it was allowed to become a reality. This is the same way of acceding to a wish-fulfilment as the queen of the Parthians was pleased to adopt in the case of the triumvir Crassus. Believing that he had undertaken his campaign out of greed for gold, she caused molten gold to be poured into the throat of the corpse. "Here thou hast what thou hast longed for!"
* Expressed more exactly: One portion of the symptom corresponds to the unconscious wish-fulfilment, while the other corresponds to the reaction-formation opposed to it.
*(2) Hughlings Jackson has expressed himself as follows: "Find out all about dreams, and you will have found out all about insanity."
*(3) Cf. my latest formulation (in Zeitschrift fur Sexual- wissenschaft, Bd. I) of the origin of hysterical symptoms in the treatise on "Hysterical Phantasies and their Relation to Bisexuality," Collected Papers, II, p. 51. This forms chapter X of Selected Papers on Hysteria, p. 115 above.
Of the dream we know as yet only that it expresses a wish- fulfilment of the unconscious ; and apparently the dominant preconscious system permits this fulfilment when it has compelled the wish to undergo certain distortions. We are, moreover, not in fact in a position to demonstrate regularly the presence of a train of thought opposed to the dream-wish, which is realized in the dream as well as its antagonist. Only now and then have we found in dream-analyses signs of reaction-products as, for instance, my affection for my friend R in the dream of my uncle (chapter IV.). But the contribution from the preconscious which is missing here may be found in another place. The dream can provide expression for a wish from the Ucs by means of all sorts of distortions, once the dominant system has withdrawn itself into the wish to sleep, and has realized this wish by producing the changes of cathexis within the psychic apparatus which are within its power; thereupon holding on to the wish in question for the whole duration of sleep. *
* This idea has been borrowed from the theory of sleep of Liebault, who revived hypnotic research in modern times (Du Sommeil provoque, etc., Paris ).
Now this persistent wish to sleep on the part of the preconscious has a quite general facilitating effect on the formation of dreams. Let us recall the dream of the father who, by the gleam of light from the death-chamber, was led to conclude that his child's body might have caught fire. We have shown that one of the psychic forces decisive in causing the father to draw this conclusion in the dream instead of allowing himself to be awakened by the gleam of light was the wish to prolong the life of the child seen in the dream by one moment. Other wishes originating in the repressed have probably escaped us, for we are unable to analyse this dream. But as a second source of motive- power in this dream we may add the father's desire to sleep, for, like the life of the child, the father's sleep is prolonged for a moment by the dream. The underlying motive is: "Let the dream go on, or I must wake up." As in this dream, so in all others, the wish to sleep lends its support to the unconscious wish. In chapter III. we cited dreams which were manifestly dreams of convenience. But in truth all dreams may claim this designation. The efficacy of the wish to go on sleeping is most easily recognized in the awakening dreams, which so elaborate the external sensory stimulus that it becomes compatible with the continuance of sleep; they weave it into a dream in order to rob it of any claims it might make as a reminder of the outer world. But this wish to go on sleeping must also play its part in permitting all other dreams, which can only act as disturbers of the state of sleep from within. "Don't worry; sleep on; it's only a dream," is in many cases the suggestion of the Pcs to consciousness when the dream gets too bad; and this describes in a quite general way the attitude of our dominant psychic activity towards dreaming, even though the thought remains unuttered. I must draw the conclusion that throughout the whole of our sleep we are just as certain that we are dreaming as we are certain that we are sleeping. It is imperative to disregard the objection that our consciousness is never directed to the latter knowledge, and that it is directed to the former knowledge only on special occasions, when the censorship feels, as it were, taken by surprise. On the contrary, there are persons in whom the retention at night of the knowledge that they are sleeping and dreaming becomes quite manifest, and who are thus apparently endowed with the conscious faculty of guiding their dream-life. Such a dreamer, for example, is dissatisfied with the turn taken by a dream; he breaks it off without waking, and begins it afresh, in order to continue it along different lines, just like a popular author who, upon request, gives a happier ending to his play. Or on another occasion, when the dream places him in a sexually exciting situation, he thinks in his sleep: "I don't want to continue this dream and exhaust myself by an emission; I would rather save it for a real situation."
The Marquis Hervey (Vaschide) declared that he had gained such power over his dreams that he could accelerate their course at will, and turn them in any direction he wished. It seems that in him the wish to sleep had accorded a place to another, a preconscious wish, the wish to observe his dreams and to derive pleasure from them. Sleep is just as compatible with such a wish- resolve as it is with some proviso as a condition of waking up (wet-nurse's sleep), We know, too, that in all persons an interest in dreams greatly increases the number of dreams remembered after waking.
Concerning other observations as to the guidance
of dreams, Ferenczi states: "The dream takes the thought that happens to
occupy our psychic life at the moment, and elaborates it from all sides.
It lets any given dream-picture drop when there is a danger that the wish-fulfilment
will miscarry, and attempts a new kind of solution, until it finally succeeds
in creating a wish- fulfilment that satisfies in one compromise both instances
of the psychic life."