Chapter II – The Dream Mechanism

It is, perhaps, not superfluous to support these assertions by examples:

1. A seemingly inoffensive, well-made dream of a patient. She was going to market with her cook, who carried the basket. The butcher said to her when she asked him for something: “That is all gone,” and wished to give her something else, remarking; “That’s very good.” She declines, and goes to the greengrocer, who wants to sell her a peculiar vegetable which is bound up in bundles and of a black color. She says: “I don’t know that; I won’t take it.”

The remark “That is all gone” arose from the treatment. A few days before I said myself to the patient that the earliest reminiscences of childhood are all gone as such, but are replaced by transferences and dreams. Thus I am the butcher.

The second remark, “I don’t know that” arose in a very different connection. The day before she had herself called out in rebuke to the cook (who, moreover, also appears in the dream): “Behave yourself properly; I don’t know that“—that is, “I don’t know this kind of behavior; I won’t have it.” The more harmless portion of this speech was arrived at by a displacement of the dream content; in the dream thoughts only the other portion of the speech played a part, because the dream work changed an imaginary situation into utter irrecognizability and complete inoffensiveness (while in a certain sense I behave in an unseemly way to the lady). The situation resulting in this phantasy is, however, nothing but a new edition of one that actually took place.

2. A dream apparently meaningless relates to figures. “She wants to pay something; her daughter takes three florins sixty-five kreuzers out of her purse; but she says: ‘What are you doing? It only cost twenty-one kreuzers.'”

The dreamer was a stranger who had placed her child at school in Vienna, and who was able to continue under my treatment so long as her daughter remained at Vienna. The day before the dream the directress of the school had recommended her to keep the child another year at school. In this case she would have been able to prolong her treatment by one year. The figures in the dream become important if it be remembered that time is money. One year equals 365 days, or, expressed in kreuzers, 365 kreuzers, which is three florins sixty-five kreuzers. The twenty-one kreuzers correspond with the three weeks which remained from the day of the dream to the end of the school term, and thus to the end of the treatment. It was obviously financial considerations which had moved the lady to refuse the proposal of the directress, and which were answerable for the triviality of the amount in the dream.

1 thought on “Chapter II – The Dream Mechanism

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