Sigmund Freud (18561939). Dream Psychology: Psychoanalysis for Beginners. 1921.
Chapter VIII. The Primary and Secondary ProcessRegression
IN venturing to attempt to penetrate more deeply into the psychology of the dream processes, I have undertaken a difficult task, to which, indeed, my power of description is hardly equal. To reproduce in description by a succession of words the simultaneousness of so complex a chain of events, and in doing so to appear unbiassed throughout the exposition, goes fairly beyond my powers. I have now to atone for the fact that I have been unable in my description of the dream psychology to follow the historic development of my views. The view-points for my conception of the dream were reached through earlier investigations in the psychology of the neuroses, to which I am not supposed to refer here, but to which I am repeatedly forced to refer, whereas I should prefer to proceed in the opposite direction, and, starting from the dream, to establish a connection with the psychology of the neuroses. I am well aware of all the inconveniences arising for the reader from this difficulty, but I know of no way to avoid them.
As I am dissatisfied with this state of affairs, I am glad to dwell upon another view-point which seems to raise the value of my efforts. As has been shown in the introduction to the first chapter, I found myself confronted with a theme which had been marked by the sharpest contradictions on the part of the authorities. After our elaboration of the dream problems we found room for most of these contradictions. We have been forced, however, to take decided exception to two of the views pronounced, viz. that the dream is a senseless and that it is a somatic process; apart from these cases we have had to accept all the contradictory views in one place or another of the complicated argument, and we have been able to demonstrate that they had discovered something that was correct. That the dream continues the impulses and interests of the waking state has been quite generally confirmed through the discovery of the latent thoughts of the dream. These thoughts concern themselves only with things that seem important and of momentous interest to us. The dream never occupies itself with trifles. But we have also concurred with the contrary view, viz. that the dream gathers up the indifferent remnants from the day, and that not until it has in some measure withdrawn itself from the waking activity can an important event of the day be taken up by the dream. We found this holding true for the dream content, which gives the dream thought its changed expression by means of disfigurement. We have said that from the nature of the association mechanism the dream process more easily takes possession of recent or indifferent material which has not yet been seized by the waking mental activity; and by reason of the censor it transfers the psychic intensity from the important but also disagreeable to the indifferent material. The hypermnesia of the dream and the resort to infantile material have become main supports in our theory. In our theory of the dream we have attributed to the wish originating from the infantile the part of an indispensable motor for the formation of the dream. We naturally could not think of doubting the experimentally demonstrated significance of the objective sensory stimuli during sleep; but we have brought this material into the same relation to the dream-wish as the thought remnants from the waking activity. There was no need of disputing the fact that the dream interprets the objective sensory stimuli after the manner of an illusion; but we have supplied the motive for this interpretation which has been left undecided by the authorities. The interpretation follows in such a manner that the perceived object is rendered harmless as a sleep disturber and becomes available for the wish-fulfillment. Though we do not admit as special sources of the dream the subjective state of excitement of the sensory organs during sleep, which seems to have been demonstrated by Trumbull Ladd, we are nevertheless able to explain this excitement through the regressive revival of active memories behind the dream. A modest part in our conception has also been assigned to the inner organic sensations which are wont to be taken as the cardinal point in the explanation of the dream. Thesethe sensation of falling, flying, or inhibitionstand as an ever ready material to be used by the dream-work to express the dream thought as often as need arises.
That the dream process is a rapid and momentary one seems to be true for the perception through consciousness of the already prepared dream content; the preceding parts of the dream process probably take a slow, fluctuating course. We have solved the riddle of the superabundant dream content compressed within the briefest moment by explaining that this is due to the appropriation of almost fully formed structures from the psychic life. That the dream is disfigured and distorted by memory we found to be correct, but not troublesome, as this is only the last manifest operation in the work of disfigurement which has been active from the beginning of the dream-work. In the bitter and seemingly irreconcilable controversy as to whether the psychic life sleeps at night or can make the same use of all its capabilities as during the day, we have been able to agree with both sides, though not fully with either. We have found proof that the dream thoughts represent a most complicated intellectual activity, employing almost every means furnished by the psychic apparatus; still it cannot be denied that these dream thoughts have originated during the day, and it is indispensable to assume that there is a sleeping state of the psychic life. Thus, even the theory of partial sleep has come into play; but the characteristics of the sleeping state have been found not in the dilapidation of the psychic connections but in the cessation of the psychic system dominating the day, arising from its desire to sleep. The withdrawal from the outer world retains its significance also for our conception; though not the only factor, it nevertheless helps the regression to make possible the representation of the dream. That we should reject the voluntary guidance of the presentation course is uncontestable; but the psychic life does not thereby become aimless, for we have seen that after the abandonment of the desired end-presentation undesired ones gain the mastery. The loose associative connection in the dream we have not only recognized, but we have placed under its control a far greater territory than could have been supposed; we have, however, found it merely the feigned substitute for another correct and senseful one. To be sure we, too, have called the dream absurd; but we have been able to learn from examples how wise the dream really is when it simulates absurdity. We do not deny any of the functions that have been attributed to the dream. That the dream relieves the mind like a valve, and that, according to Roberts assertion, all kinds of harmful material are rendered harmless through representation in the dream, not only exactly coincides with our theory of the twofold wish-fulfillment in the dream, but, in his own wording, becomes even more comprehensible for us than for Robert himself. The free indulgence of the psychic in the play of its faculties finds expression with us in the non-interference with the dream on the part of the foreconscious activity. The return to the embryonal state of psychic life in the dream and the observation of Havelock Ellis, an archaic world of vast emotions and imperfect thoughts, appear to us as happy anticipations of our deductions to the effect that primitive modes of work suppressed during the day participate in the formation of the dream; and with us, as with Delage, the suppressed material becomes the mainspring of the dreaming.
We have fully recognized the rôle which Scherner ascribes to the dream phantasy, and even his interpretation; but we have been obliged, so to speak, to conduct them to another department in the problem. It is not the dream that produces the phantasy but the unconscious phantasy that takes the greatest part in the formation of the dream thoughts. We are indebted to Scherner for his clew to the source of the dream thoughts, but almost everything that he ascribes to the dream-work is attributable to the activity of the unconscious, which is at work during the day, and which supplies incitements not only for dreams but for neurotic symptoms as well. We have had to separate the dream-work from this activity as being something entirely different and far more restricted. Finally, we have by no means abandoned the relation of the dream to mental disturbances, but, on the contrary, we have given it a more solid foundation on new ground.
Thus held together by the new material of our theory as by a superior unity, we find the most varied and most contradictory conclusions of the authorities fitting into our structure; some of them are differently disposed, only a few of them are entirely rejected. But our own structure is still unfinished. For, disregarding the many obscurities which we have necessarily encountered in our advance into the darkness of psychology, we are now apparently embarrassed by a new contradiction. On the one hand, we have allowed the dream thoughts to proceed from perfectly normal mental operations, while, on the other hand, we have found among the dream thoughts a number of entirely abnormal mental processes which extend likewise to the dream contents. These, consequently, we have repeated in the interpretation of the dream. All that we have termed the dream-work seems so remote from the psychic processes recognized by us as correct, that the severest judgments of the authors as to the low psychic activity of dreaming seem to us well founded.
We have learned that the dream replaces a number of thoughts derived from daily life which are perfectly formed logically. We cannot therefore doubt that these thoughts originate from our normal mental life. All the qualities which we esteem in our mental operations, and which distinguish these as complicated activities of a high order, we find repeated in the dream thoughts. There is, however, no need of assuming that this mental work is performed during sleep, as this would materially impair the conception of the psychic state of sleep we have hitherto adhered to. These thoughts may just as well have originated from the day, and, unnoticed by our consciousness from their inception, they may have continued to develop until they stood complete at the onset of sleep. If we are to conclude anything from this state of affairs, it will at most prove that the most complex mental operations are possible without the coöperation of consciousness, which we have already learned independently from every psychoanalysis of persons suffering from hysteria or obsessions. These dream thoughts are in themselves surely not incapable of consciousness; if they have not become conscious to us during the day, this may have various reasons. The state of becoming conscious depends on the exercise of a certain psychic function, viz. attention, which seems to be extended only in a definite quantity, and which may have been withdrawn from the stream of thought in question by other aims. Another way in which such mental streams are kept from consciousness is the following:Our conscious reflection teaches us that when exercising attention we pursue a definite course. But if that course leads us to an idea which does not hold its own with the critic, we discontinue and cease to apply our attention. Now, apparently, the stream of thought thus started and abandoned may spin on without regaining attention unless it reaches a spot of especially marked intensity which forces the return of attention. An initial rejection, perhaps consciously brought about by the judgment on the ground of incorrectness or unfitness for the actual purpose of the mental act, may therefore account for the fact that a mental process continues until the onset of sleep unnoticed by consciousness.
Let us recapitulate by saying that we call such a stream of thought a foreconscious one, that we believe it to be perfectly correct, and that it may just as well be a more neglected one or an interrupted and suppressed one. Let us also state frankly in what manner we conceive this presentation course. We believe that a certain sum of excitement, which we call occupation energy, is displaced from an end-presentation along the association paths selected by that end-presentation. A neglected stream of thought has received no such occupation, and from a suppressed or rejected one this occupation has been withdrawn; both have thus been left to their own emotions. The end-stream of thought stocked with energy is under certain conditions able to draw to itself the attention of consciousness, through which means it then receives a surplus of energy. We shall be obliged somewhat later to elucidate our assumption concerning the nature and activity of consciousness.
A train of thought thus incited in the Forec. may either disappear spontaneously or continue. The former issue we conceive as follows: It diffuses its energy through all the association paths emanating from it, and throws the entire chain of ideas into a state of excitement which, after lasting for a while, subsides through the transformation of the excitement requiring an outlet into dormant energy.1 If this first issue is brought about the process has no further significance for the dream formation. But other end-presentations are lurking in our foreconscious that originate from the sources of our unconscious and from the ever active wishes. These may take possession of the excitations in the circle of thought thus left to itself, establish a connection between it and the unconscious wish, and transfer to it the energy inherent in the unconscious wish. Henceforth the neglected or suppressed train of thought is in a position to maintain itself, although this reinforcement does not help it to gain access to consciousness. We may say that the hitherto foreconscious train of thought has been drawn into the unconscious.
Other constellations for the dream formation would result if the foreconscious train of thought had from the beginning been connected with the unconscious wish, and for that reason met with rejection by the dominating end-occupation; or if an unconscious wish were made active for otherpossibly somaticreasons and of its own accord sought a transference to the psychic remnants not occupied by the Forec. All three cases finally combine in one issue, so that there is established in the foreconscious a stream of thought which, having been abandoned by the foreconscious occupation, receives occupation from the unconscious wish.
The stream of thought is henceforth subjected to a series of transformations which we no longer recognize as normal psychic processes and which give us a surprising result, viz. a psychopathological formation. Let us emphasize and group the same.
1. The intensities of the individual ideas become capable of discharge in their entirety, and, proceeding from one conception to the other, they thus form single presentations endowed with marked intensity. Through the repeated recurrence of this process the intensity of an entire train of ideas may ultimately be gathered in a single presentation element. This is the principle of compression or condensation. It is condensation that is mainly responsible for the strange impression of the dream, for we know of nothing analogous to it in the normal psychic life accessible to consciousness. We find here, also, presentations which possess great psychic significance as junctions or as end-results of whole chains of thought; but this validity does not manifest itself in any character conspicuous enough for internal perception; hence, what has been presented in it does not become in any way more intensive. In the process of condensation the entire psychic connection becomes transformed into the intensity of the presentation content. It is the same as in a book where we space or print in heavy type any word upon which particular stress is laid for the understanding of the text. In speech the same word would be pronounced loudly and deliberately and with emphasis. The first comparison leads us at once to an example taken from the chapter on The Dream-Work (trimethylamine in the dream of Irmas injection). Historians of art call our attention to the fact that the most ancient historical sculptures follow a similar principle in expressing the rank of the persons represented by the size of the statue. The king is made two or three times as large as his retinue or the vanquished enemy. A piece of art, however, from the Roman period makes use of more subtle means to accomplish the same purpose. The figure of the emperor is placed in the center in a firmly erect posture; special care is bestowed on the proper modelling of his figure; his enemies are seen cowering at his feet; but he is no longer represented a giant among dwarfs. However, the bowing of the subordinate to his superior in our own days is only an echo of that ancient principle of representation.
The direction taken by the condensations of the dream is prescribed on the one hand by the true foreconscious relations of the dream thoughts, on the other hand by the attraction of the visual reminiscences in the unconscious. The success of the condensation work produces those intensities which are required for penetration into the perception systems.
2. Through this free transferability of the intensities, moreover, and in the service of condensation, intermediary presentationscompromises, as it wereare formed (cf. the numerous examples). This, likewise, is something unheard of in the normal presentation course, where it is above all a question of selection and retention of the proper presentation element. On the other hand, composite and compromise formations occur with extraordinary frequency when we are trying to find the linguistic expression for foreconscious thoughts; these are considered slips of the tongue.
3. The presentations which transfer their intensities to one another are very loosely connected, and are joined together by such forms of association as are spurned in our serious thought and are utilized in the production of the effect of wit only. Among these we particularly find associations of the sound and consonance types.
4. Contradictory thoughts do not strive to eliminate one another, but remain side by side. They often unite to produce condensation as if no contradiction existed, or they form compromises for which we should never forgive our thoughts, but which we frequently approve of in our actions.
These are some of the most conspicuous abnormal processes to which the thoughts which have previously been rationally formed are subjected in the course of the dream-work. As the main feature of these processes we recognize the high importance attached to the fact of rendering the occupation energy mobile and capable of discharge; the content and the actual significance of the psychic elements, to which these energies adhere, become a matter of secondary importance. One might possibly think that the condensation and compromise formation is effected only in the service of regression, when occasion arises for changing thoughts into pictures. But the analysis andstill more distinctlythe synthesis of dreams which lack regression toward pictures, e.g., the dream AutodidaskerConversation with Court-Councilor N., present the same processes of displacement and condensation as the others.
Hence we cannot refuse to acknowledge that the two kinds of essentially different psychic processes participate in the formation of the dream; one forms perfectly correct dream thoughts which are equivalent to normal thoughts, while the other treats these ideas in a highly surprising and incorrect manner. The latter process we have already set apart as the dream-work proper. What have we now to advance concerning this latter psychic process?
We should be unable to answer this question here if we had not penetrated considerably into the psychology of the neuroses and especially of hysteria. From this we learn that the same incorrect psychic processesas well as others that have not been enumeratedcontrol the formation of hysterical symptoms. In hysteria, too, we at once find a series of perfectly correct thoughts equivalent to our conscious thoughts, of whose existence, however, in this form we can learn nothing and which we can only subsequently reconstruct. If they have forced their way anywhere to our perception, we discover from the analysis of the symptom formed that these normal thoughts have been subjected to abnormal treatment and have been transformed into the symptom by means of condensation and compromise formation, through superficial associations, under cover of contradictions, and eventually over the road of regression. In view of the complete identity found between the peculiarities of the dream-work and of the psychic activity forming the psychoneurotic symptoms, we shall feel justified in transferring to the dream the conclusions urged upon us by hysteria.
From the theory of hysteria we borrow the proposition that such an abnormal psychic elaboration of a normal train of thought takes place only when the latter has been used for the transference of an unconscious wish which dates from the infantile life and is in a state of repression. In accordance with this proposition we have construed the theory of the dream on the assumption that the actuating dream-wish invariably originates in the unconscious, which, as we ourselves have admitted, cannot be universally demonstrated though it cannot be refuted. But in order to explain the real meaning of the term repression, which we have employed so freely, we shall be obliged to make some further addition to our psychological construction.
We have above elaborated the fiction of a primitive psychic apparatus, whose work is regulated by the efforts to avoid accumulation of excitement and as far as possible to maintain itself free from excitement. For this reason it was constructed after the plan of a reflex apparatus; the motility, originally the path for the inner bodily change, formed a discharging path standing at its disposal. We subsequently discussed the psychic results of a feeling of gratification, and we might at the same time have introduced the second assumption, viz. that accumulation of excitementfollowing certain modalities that do not concern usis perceived as pain and sets the apparatus in motion in order to reproduce a feeling of gratification in which the diminution of the excitement is perceived as pleasure. Such a current in the apparatus which emanates from pain and strives for pleasure we call a wish. We have said that nothing but a wish is capable of setting the apparatus in motion, and that the discharge of excitement in the apparatus is regulated automatically by the perception of pleasure and pain. The first wish must have been an hallucinatory occupation of the memory for gratification. But this hallucination, unless it were maintained to the point of exhaustion, proved incapable of bringing about a cessation of the desire and consequently of securing the pleasure connected with gratification.
Thus there was required a second activityin our terminology the activity of a second systemwhich should not permit the memory occupation to advance to perception and therefrom to restrict the psychic forces, but should lead the excitement emanating from the craving stimulus by a devious path over the spontaneous motility which ultimately should so change the outer world as to allow the real perception of the object of gratification to take place. Thus far we have elaborated the plan of the psychic apparatus; these two systems are the germ of the Unc. and Forec. which we include in the fully developed apparatus.
In order to be in a position successfully to change the outer world through the motility, there is required the accumulation of a large sum of experiences in the memory systems as well as a manifold fixation of the relations which are evoked in this memory material by different end-presentations. We now proceed further with our assumption. The manifold activity of the second system, tentatively sending forth and retracting energy, must on the one hand have full command over all memory material, but on the other hand it would be a superfluous expenditure for it to send to the individual mental paths large quantities of energy which would thus flow off to no purpose, diminishing the quantity available for the transformation of the outer world. In the interests of expediency I therefore postulate that the second system succeeds in maintaining the greater part of the occupation energy in a dormant state and in using but a small portion for the purposes of displacement. The mechanism of these processes is entirely unknown to me; any one who wishes to follow up these ideas must try to find the physical analogies and prepare the way for a demonstration of the process of motion in the stimulation of the neuron. I merely hold to the idea that the activity of the first Psi-system is directed to the free outflow of the quantities of excitement, and that the second system brings about an inhibition of this outflow through the energies emanating from it, i.e. it produces a transformation into dormant energy, probably by raising the level. I therefore assume that under the control of the second system as compared with the first, the course of the excitement is bound to entirely different mechanical conditions. After the second system has finished its tentative mental work, it removes the inhibition and congestion of the excitements and allows these excitements to flow off to the motility.
An interesting train of thought now presents itself if we consider the relations of this inhibition of discharge by the second system to the regulation through the principle of pain. Let us now seek the counterpart of the primary feeling of gratification, namely, the objective feeling of fear. A perceptive stimulus acts on the primitive apparatus, becoming the source of a painful emotion. This will then be followed by irregular motor manifestations until one of these withdraws the apparatus from perception and at the same time from pain, but on the reappearance of the perception this manifestation will immediately repeat itself (perhaps as a movement of flight) until the perception has again disappeared. But there will here remain no tendency again to occupy the perception of the source of pain in the form of an hallucination or in any other form. On the contrary, there will be a tendency in the primary apparatus to abandon the painful memory picture as soon as it is in any way awakened, as the overflow of its excitement would surely produce (more precisely, begin to produce) pain. The deviation from memory, which is but a repetition of the former flight from perception, is facilitated also by the fact that, unlike perception, memory does not possess sufficient quality to excite consciousness and thereby to attract to itself new energy. This easy and regularly occurring deviation of the psychic process from the former painful memory presents to us the model and the first example of psychic repression. As is generally known, much of this deviation from the painful, much of the behavior of the ostrich, can be readily demonstrated even in the normal psychic life of adults.
By virtue of the principle of pain the first system is therefore altogether incapable of introducing anything unpleasant into the mental associations. The system cannot do anything but wish. If this remained so the mental activity of the second system, which should have at its disposal all the memories stored up by experiences, would be hindered. But two ways are now opened: the work of the second system either frees itself completely from the principle of pain and continues its course, paying no heed to the painful reminiscence, or it contrives to occupy the painful memory in such a manner as to preclude the liberation of pain. We may reject the first possibility, as the principle of pain also manifests itself as a regulator for the emotional discharge of the second system; we are, therefore, directed to the second possibility, namely, that this system occupies a reminiscence in such a manner as to inhibit its discharge and hence, also, to inhibit the discharge comparable to a motor innervation for the development of pain. Thus from two starting points we are led to the hypothesis that occupation through the second system is at the same time an inhibition for the emotional discharge, viz. from a consideration of the principle of pain and from the principle of the smallest expenditure of innervation. Let us, however, keep to the factthis is the key to the theory of repressionthat the second system is capable of occupying an idea only when it is in position to check the development of pain emanating from it. Whatever withdraws itself from this inhibition also remains inaccessible for the second system and would soon be abandoned by virtue of the principle of pain. The inhibition of pain, however, need not be complete; it must be permitted to begin, as it indicates to the second system the nature of the memory and possibly its defective adaptation for the purpose sought by the mind.
The psychic process which is admitted by the first system only I shall now call the primary process; and the one resulting from the inhibition of the second system I shall call the secondary process. I show by another point for what purpose the second system is obliged to correct the primary process. The primary process strives for a discharge of the excitement in order to establish a perception identity with the sum of excitement thus gathered; the secondary process has abandoned this intention and undertaken instead the task of bringing about a thought identity. All thinking is only a circuitous path from the memory of gratification taken as an end-presentation to the identical occupation of the same memory, which is again to be attained on the track of the motor experiences. The state of thinking must take an interest in the connecting paths between the presentations without allowing itself to be misled by their intensities. But it is obvious that condensations and intermediate or compromise formations occurring in the presentations impede the attainment of this end-identity; by substituting one idea for the other they deviate from the path which otherwise would have been continued from the original idea. Such processes are therefore carefully avoided in the secondary thinking. Nor is it difficult to understand that the principle of pain also impedes the progress of the mental stream in its pursuit of the thought identity, though, indeed, it offers to the mental stream the most important points of departure. Hence the tendency of the thinking process must be to free itself more and more from exclusive adjustment by the principle of pain, and through the working of the mind to restrict the affective development to that minimum which is necessary as a signal. This refinement of the activity must have been attained through a recent over-occupation of energy brought about by consciousness. But we are aware that this refinement is seldom completely successful even in the most normal psychic life and that our thoughts ever remain accessible to falsification through the interference of the principle of pain.
This, however, is not the breach in the functional efficiency of our psychic apparatus through which the thoughts forming the material of the secondary mental work are enabled to make their way into the primary psychic processwith which formula we may now describe the work leading to the dream and to the hysterical symptoms. This case of insufficiency results from the union of the two factors from the history of our evolution; one of which belongs solely to the psychic apparatus and has exerted a determining influence on the relation of the two systems, while the other operates fluctuatingly and introduces motive forces of organic origin into the psychic life. Both originate in the infantile life and result from the transformation which our psychic and somatic organism has undergone since the infantile period.
When I termed one of the psychic processes in the psychic apparatus the primary process, I did so not only in consideration of the order of precedence and capability, but also as admitting the temporal relations to a share in the nomenclature. As far as our knowledge goes there is no psychic apparatus possessing only the primary process, and in so far it is a theoretic fiction; but so much is based on fact that the primary processes are present in the apparatus from the beginning, while the secondary processes develop gradually in the course of life, inhibiting and covering the primary ones, and gaining complete mastery over them perhaps only at the height of life. Owing to this retarded appearance of the secondary processes, the essence of our being, consisting in unconscious wish feelings, can neither be seized nor inhibited by the foreconscious, whose part is once for all restricted to the indication of the most suitable paths for the wish feelings originating in the unconscious. These unconscious wishes establish for all subsequent psychic efforts a compulsion to which they have to submit and which they must strive if possible to divert from its course and direct to higher aims. In consequence of this retardation of the foreconscious occupation a large sphere of the memory material remains inaccessible.
Among these indestructible and unincumbered wish feelings originating from the infantile life, there are also some, the fulfillments of which have entered into a relation of contradiction to the end-presentation of the secondary thinking. The fulfillment of these wishes would no longer produce an affect of pleasure but one of pain; and it is just this transformation of affect that constitutes the nature of what we designate as repression, in which we recognize the infantile first step of passing adverse sentence or of rejecting through reason. To investigate in what way and through what motive forces such a transformation can be produced constitutes the problem of repression, which we need here only skim over. It will suffice to remark that such a transformation of affect occurs in the course of development (one may think of the appearance in infantile life of disgust which was originally absent), and that it is connected with the activity of the secondary system. The memories from which the unconscious wish brings about the emotional discharge have never been accessible to the Forec., and for that reason their emotional discharge cannot be inhibited. It is just on account of this affective development that these ideas are not even now accessible to the foreconscious thoughts to which they have transferred their wishing power. On the contrary, the principle of pain comes into play, and causes the Forec. to deviate from these thoughts of transference. The latter, left to themselves, are repressed, and thus the existence of a store of infantile memories, from the very beginning withdrawn from the Forec., becomes the preliminary condition of repression.
In the most favorable case the development of pain terminates as soon as the energy has been withdrawn from the thoughts of transference in the Forec., and this effect characterizes the intervention of the principle of pain as expedient. It is different, however, if the repressed unconscious wish receives an organic enforcement which it can lend to its thoughts of transference and through which it can enable them to make an effort towards penetration with their excitement, even after they have been abandoned by the occupation of the Forec. A defensive struggle then ensues, inasmuch as the Forec. reinforces the antagonism against the repressed ideas, and subsequently this leads to a penetration by the thoughts of transference (the carriers of the unconscious wish) in some form of compromise through symptom formation. But from the moment that the suppressed thoughts are powerfully occupied by the unconscious wish-feeling and abandoned by the foreconscious occupation, they succumb to the primary psychic process and strive only for motor discharge; or, if the path be free, for hallucinatory revival of the desired perception identity. We have previously found, empirically, that the incorrect processes described are enacted only with thoughts that exist in the repression. We now grasp another part of the connection. These incorrect processes are those that are primary in the psychic apparatus; they appear wherever thoughts abandoned by the foreconscious occupation are left to themselves, and can fill themselves with the uninhibited energy, striving for discharge from the unconscious. We may add a few further observations to support the view that these processes designated incorrect are really not falsifications of the normal defective thinking, but the modes of activity of the psychic apparatus when freed from inhibition. Thus we see that the transference of the foreconscious excitement to the motility takes place according to the same processes, and that the connection of the foreconscious presentations with words readily manifest the same displacements and mixtures which are ascribed to inattention. Finally, I should like to adduce proof that an increase of work necessarily results from the inhibition of these primary courses from the fact that we gain a comical effect, a surplus to be discharged through laughter, if we allow these streams of thought to come to consciousness.
The theory of the psychoneuroses asserts with complete certainty that only sexual wish-feelings from the infantile life experience repression (emotional transformation) during the developmental period of childhood. These are capable of returning to activity at a later period of development, and then have the faculty of being revived, either as a consequence of the sexual constitution, which is really formed from the original bisexuality, or in consequence of unfavorable influences of the sexual life; and they thus supply the motive power for all psychoneurotic symptom formations. It is only by the introduction of these sexual forces that the gaps still demonstrable in the theory of repression can be filled. I will leave it undecided whether the postulate of the sexual and infantile may also be asserted for the theory of the dream; I leave this here unfinished because I have already passed a step beyond the demonstrable in assuming that the dream-wish invariably originates from the unconscious.2 Nor will I further investigate the difference in the play of the psychic forces in the dream formation and in the formation of the hysterical symptoms, for to do this we ought to possess a more explicit knowledge of one of the members to be compared. But I regard another point as important, and will here confess that it was on account of this very point that I have just undertaken this entire discussion concerning the two psychic systems, their modes of operation, and the repression. For it is now immaterial whether I have conceived the psychological relations in question with approximate correctness, or, as is easily possible in such a difficult matter, in an erroneous and fragmentary manner. Whatever changes may be made in the interpretation of the psychic censor and of the correct and of the abnormal elaboration of the dream content, the fact nevertheless remains that such processes are active in dream formation, and that essentially they show the closest analogy to the processes observed in the formation of the hysterical symptoms. The dream is not a pathological phenomenon, and it does not leave behind an enfeeblement of the mental faculties. The objection that no deduction can be drawn regarding the dreams of healthy persons from my own dreams and from those of neurotic patients may be rejected without comment. Hence, when we draw conclusions from the phenomena as to their motive forces, we recognize that the psychic mechanism made use of by the neuroses is not created by a morbid disturbance of the psychic life, but is found ready in the normal structure of the psychic apparatus. The two psychic systems, the censor crossing between them, the inhibition and the covering of the one activity by the other, the relations of both to consciousnessor whatever may offer a more correct interpretation of the actual conditions in their steadall these belong to the normal structure of our psychic instrument, and the dream points out for us one of the roads leading to a knowledge of this structure. If, in addition to our knowledge, we wish to be contented with a minimum perfectly established, we shall say that the dream gives us proof that the suppressed material continues to exist even in the normal person and remains capable of psychic activity. The dream itself is one of the manifestations of this suppressed material; theoretically, this is true in all cases; according to substantial experience it is true in at least a great number of such as most conspicuously display the prominent characteristics of dream life. The suppressed psychic material, which in the waking state has been prevented from expression and cut off from internal perception by the antagonistic adjustment of the contradictions, finds ways and means of obtruding itself on consciousness during the night under the domination of the compromise formations.
In following the analysis of the dream we have made some progress toward an understanding of the composition of this most marvelous and most mysterious of instruments; to be sure, we have not gone very far, but enough of a beginning has been made to allow us to advance from other so-called pathological formations further into the analysis of the unconscious. Diseaseat least that which is justly termed functionalis not due to the destruction of this apparatus, and the establishment of new splittings in its interior; it is rather to be explained dynamically through the strengthening and weakening of the components in the play of forces by which so many activities are concealed during the normal function. We have been able to show in another place how the composition of the apparatus from the two systems permits a subtilization even of the normal activity which would be impossible for a single system.
Note 1. Cf. the significant observations by J. Bueuer in our Studies on Hysteria, 1895, and 2nd ed. 1909. [back]
Note 2. Here, as in other places, there are gaps in the treatment of the subject, which I have left intentionally, because to fill them up would require on the one hand too great effort, and on the other hand an extensive reference to material that is foreign to the dream. Thus I have avoided stating whether I connect with the word suppressed another sense than with the word repressed. It has been made clear only that the latter emphasizes more than the former the relation to the unconscious. I have not entered into the cognate problem why the dream thoughts also experience distortion by the censor when they abandon the progressive continuation to consciousness and choose the path of regression. I have been above all anxious to awaken an interest in the problems to which the further analysis of the dream-work leads and to indicate the other themes which meet these on the way. It was not always easy to decide just where the pursuit should be discontinued. That I have not treated exhaustively the part played in the dream by the psychosexual life and have avoided the interpretation of dreams of an obvious sexual content is due to a special reason which may not come up to the readers expectation. To be sure, it is very far from my ideas and the principles expressed by me in neuropathology to regard the sexual life as a pudendum which should be left unconsidered by the physician and the scientific investigator. I also consider ludicrous the moral indignation which prompted the translator of Artemidoros of Daldis to keep from the readers knowledge the chapter on sexual dreams contained in the Symbolism of the Dreams. As for myself, I have been actuated solely by the conviction that in the explanation of sexual dreams I should be bound to entangle myself deeply in the still unexplained problems of perversion and bisexuality; and for that reason I have reserved this material for another connection. [back]