Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/371

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FREUD'S THEORIES OF THE UNCONSCIOUS

concern during the day; what gave the motive force to the dream was the old childhood complex, which in this case has, by the help of the new energy, succeeded in breaking through into consciousness. For Freud, the motive force behind a dream is always that of some old complex in the depths of the soul; the dream is a deeply significant revelation of the true nature of our unconscious life, to him who knows how to read it.

This last qualification is important, for it usually happens that the inhibiting force, though not able to completely prevent the emergence of the buried complex, distorts it almost beyond recognition, so that the dream seems to us absurd, disconnected, void of all meaning. This distortion is sometimes so complete that there is only here and there a hint of the true meaning of the dream; it seems to be made up from trivial events of the day alone; but in such cases close examination will show that rational association of such events has been carried on through the complex, which has served as the connecting link and given new energy which permits the trivial events to recur in the dream, though openly the complex does not appear at all. Such was the dream of the woman who saw her nephew lying dead, and yet felt no grief. Now it chanced that on the day before, she had bought a ticket to see her lover, from whom she had parted, in a public performance, and was looking forward eagerly to the event. Some of the details of the dream seemed to suggest that there was some association with this fact; and, indeed, it was found on analysis that the last time she had seen her lover was at the funeral of another nephew. It was as though she had said to herself, "If my other nephew dies, I shall see him again." Do we not perhaps see here the activity of the old childish way of thinking that would sacrifice anything for a moment's happiness for the individual? And yet that complex had not appeared at all in the dream as such. It is thus Freud's thesis that the dream never says what it means, that it is the product of a compromise between the two systems of energy. The complex is distorted in getting around the censor, and thus there arise all sorts of symbolic and indirect ways of expression; the complex is only alluded to in the dream in allegorical ways, or under cover of the trivial events of the day that stand in connection with it; it is not expressed directly. Blood and fire in dreams may appear as sexual symbols; the symbolism may be very complex, as in the case of some of the symbols of primitive man; associations may be determined in the most superficial ways; for example, one person may stand for another in a dream on no more basis of identification than that both wear eyeglasses. The complex makes use of any possible associative connections in order to utilize a little energy to strengthen itself. And it is of course also true that the more indirect and symbolic the associations, the less likely we are to suspect the complexes which are manifesting themselves through them, and so much