Chapter VI – The Wish in Dreams

This persistent wish to sleep on the part of the foreconscious in general facilitates the formation of the dream. Let us refer to the dream of the father who, by the gleam of light from the death chamber, was brought to the conclusion that the body has been set on fire. We have shown that one of the psychic forces decisive in causing the father to form this conclusion, instead of being 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 proceeding from the repression probably escape us, because we are unable to analyze this dream. But as a second motive power of the dream we may mention the father’s desire to sleep, for, like the life of the child, the sleep of the father is prolonged for a moment by the dream. The underlying motive is: “Let the dream go on, otherwise I must wake up.” As in this dream so also in all other dreams, the wish to sleep lends its support to the unconscious wish. We reported dreams which were apparently dreams of convenience. But, properly speaking, all dreams may claim this designation. The efficacy of the wish to continue to sleep is the most easily recognized in the waking dreams, which so transform the objective sensory stimulus as to render it compatible with the continuance of sleep; they interweave this stimulus with the dream in order to rob it of any claims it might make as a warning to the outer world. But this wish to continue to sleep must also participate in the formation of all other dreams which may disturb the sleeping state from within only. “Now, then, sleep on; why, it’s but a dream”; this is in many cases the suggestion of the Forec. to consciousness when the dream goes too far; and this also describes in a general way the attitude of our dominating psychic activity toward dreaming, though the thought remains tacit. I must draw the conclusion that throughout our entire sleeping state we are just as certain that we are dreaming as we are certain that we are sleeping. We are compelled to disregard the objection urged against this conclusion that our consciousness is never directed to a knowledge of the former, and that it is directed to a knowledge of the latter only on special occasions when the censor is unexpectedly surprised. Against this objection we may say that there are persons who are entirely conscious of their sleeping and dreaming, and who are apparently endowed with the conscious faculty of guiding their dream life. Such a dreamer, when dissatisfied with the course taken by the dream, breaks it off without awakening, and begins it anew in order to continue it with a different turn, like the popular author who, on request, gives a happier ending to his play. Or, at another time, if placed by the dream in a sexually exciting situation, he thinks in his sleep: “I do not care to continue this dream and exhaust myself by a pollution; I prefer to defer it in favor of a real situation.”

Footnote 1: They share this character of indestructibility with all psychic acts that are really unconscious—that is, with psychic acts belonging to the system of the unconscious only. These paths are constantly open and never fall into disuse; they conduct the discharge of the exciting process as often as it becomes endowed with unconscious excitement To speak metaphorically they suffer the same form of annihilation as the shades of the lower region in the Odyssey, who awoke to new life the moment they drank blood. The processes depending on the foreconscious system are destructible in a different way. The psychotherapy of the neuroses is based on this difference.

Footnote 2: Le Lorrain justly extols the wish-fulfilment of the dream: “Sans fatigue sérieuse, sans être obligé de recourir à cette lutte opinâtre et longue qui use et corrode les jouissances poursuivies.”

Footnote 3: This idea has been borrowed from The Theory of Sleep by Liébault, who revived hypnotic investigation in our days. (Du Sommeil provoqué, etc.; Paris, 1889.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *