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.
Perhaps only through still further advance can enlightenment and improvement be brought about. I shall pick out one of the constellations leading to the formation of dreams.
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.