5. A stairway dream.
(Reported and interpreted by Otto Rank.)
For the following transparent pollution dream, I am indebted to the same colleague who furnished us with the dental-irritation dream.
“I am running down the stairway in the stair-house after a little girl, whom I wish to punish because she has done something to me. At the bottom of the stairs some one held the child for me. (A grown-up woman?) I grasp it, but do not know whether I have hit it, for I suddenly find myself in the middle of the stairway where I practice coitus with the child (in the air as it were). It is really no coitus, I only rub my genital on her external genital, and in doing this I see it very distinctly, as distinctly as I see her head which is lying sideways. During the sexual act I see hanging to the left and above me (also as if in the air) two small pictures, landscapes, representing a house on a green. On the smaller one my surname stood in the place where the painter’s signature should be; it seemed to be intended for my birthday present. A small sign hung in front of the pictures to the effect that cheaper pictures could also be obtained. I then see myself very indistinctly lying in bed, just as I had seen myself at the foot of the stairs, and I am awakened by a feeling of dampness which came from the pollution.”
Interpretation. The dreamer had been in a book-store on the evening of the day of the dream, where, while he was waiting, he examined some pictures which were exhibited, which represented motives similar to the dream pictures. He stepped nearer to a small picture which particularly took his fancy in order to see the name of the artist, which, however, was quite unknown to him.
Later in the same evening, in company, he heard about a Bohemian servant-girl who boasted that her illegitimate child “was made on the stairs.” The dreamer inquired about the details of this unusual occurrence, and learned that the servant-girl went with her lover to the home of her parents, where there was no opportunity for sexual relations, and that the excited man performed the act on the stairs. In witty allusion to the mischievous expression used about wine-adulterers, the dreamer remarked, “The child really grew on the cellar steps.”
These experiences of the day, which are quite prominent in the dream content, were readily reproduced by the dreamer. But he just as readily reproduced an old fragment of infantile recollection which was also utilized by the dream. The stair-house was the house in which he had spent the greatest part of his childhood, and in which he had first become acquainted with sexual problems. In this house he used, among other things, to slide down the banister astride which caused him to become sexually excited. In the dream he also comes down the stairs very rapidly—so rapidly that, according to his own distinct assertions, he hardly touched the individual stairs, but rather “flew” or “slid down,” as we used to say. Upon reference to this infantile experience, the beginning of the dream seems to represent the factor of sexual excitement. In the same house and in the adjacent residence the dreamer used to play pugnacious games with the neighboring children, in which he satisfied himself just as he did in the dream.