Study Guide

The Interpretation of Dreams Chapter 6, Section F

By Sigmund Freud

Chapter 6, Section F

Some Examples.—Calculation and Speeches in Dreams

  • Freud begins this section by providing further examples of how dream-condensation, dream-displacement, and considerations of representability function in dreams.
  • The first examples Freud provides are of "instances of peculiar or unusual modes of representation in dreams" (6.7.2).
  • These examples include a dream in which animals stand in for "invectives" (insults) (6.7.2-3), a dream in which "the abstract concept of 'impressions on children'" is represented by a child with a compressed skull (6.7.4), and a dream in which the abstract concept of "restriction" is represented by a man being inside a box or cupboard (6.7.7).
  • Other examples include a dream in which "auto-erotic" activity is represented by a kiss in an automobile (6.7.15), a dream in which adultery (a "broken marriage") is represented by a broken bone (6.7.18), and a dream in which two different moments in the dreamer's childhood are represented by two different little girls (6.7.20).
  • Still more examples include a dream in which Freud himself appears as an elephant in one of his patient's dreams (6.7.30).
  • One of the special topics that Freud treats here is the issue of "numbers" in dreams. He notes that "numbers in dreams are regarded superstitiously as being especially significant in regard to the future" (6.6.33), but he shows through a number of examples that they emerge from the same kinds of dream-condensation, dream-displacement, and considerations of representability as all other dream-elements do.
  • Next, Freud reiterates his position that spoken words and "speeches" in dreams "can be traced back to real speeches which have been spoken or heard by the dreamer" (6.7.45).
  • One of the examples that Freud offers to support his point is one of his most distinctive personal dreams—the Non Vixit Dream. It begins like this:
  • "My friend Fl. had come to Vienna unobtrusively in July. I met him in the street in conversation with my (deceased) friend P., and went with them to some place where they sat opposite each other as though they were at a small table. I sat in front at its narrow end. Fl. spoke about his sister and said that in three-quarters of an hour she was dead, and added some such words as 'that was the threshold'. As P. failed to understand him, Fl. turned to me and asked me how much I had told P. about his affairs" (6.7.50).
  • "Whereupon, overcome by strange emotions, I tried to explain to Fl. that P. (could not understand anything at all, of course, because he) was not alive. But what I actually said—and I myself noticed the mistake—was, 'NON VIXIT.' I then gave P. a piercing look. Under my gaze he turned pale; his form grew indistinct and his eyes a sickly blue—and finally he melted away. I was highly delighted at this and I now realized that Ernst Fleischl, too, had been no more than an apparition, a 'revenant'; and it seemed to me quite possible that people of that kind only existed as long as one liked and could be got rid of if someone else wished it" (6.7.50).
  • Freud returns to this dream later in the book, so he makes just a few observations here. One is that the experience of "annihilating" P. with "a piercing look" emerged from a memory in which Freud himself had been scolded by one of his superiors at the Physiological Institute where he trained (6.7.52). In that instance, the "terrible blue eyes" of his superior, Ernst Wilhelm von Brücke, made Freud feel as though he had been "reduced to nothing" (6.7.52).
  • Freud also notes that the phrase "Non vixit" had come from a visual memory of an inscription on the Kaiser Josef Memorial in Vienna. As he realizes during his interpretation of the dream, the dream-elements contain a number of associations to other memorials that Freud had seen recently (6.7.53-54).
  • Freud's associations also bring Shakespeare's Julius Caesar to mind, and he realizes that he "had been playing the part of Brutus in the dream" by "slaying" a man he admired (6.7.54).
  • Freud promises to return to this dream later.

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