Page:Freud - The interpretation of dreams.djvu/104

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86
THE INTERPRETATION OF DREAMS

closely the ideas already pouring in, as it were, at the gates. Regarded by itself, an idea may be very trifling and very adventurous, but it perhaps becomes important on account of one which follows it; perhaps in a certain connection with others, which may seem equally absurd, it is capable of forming a very useful construction. The intelligence cannot judge all these things if it does not hold them steadily long enough to see them in connection with the others. In the case of a creative mind, however, the intelligence has withdrawn its watchers from the gates, the ideas rush in pell-mell, and it is only then that the great heap is looked over and critically examined. Messrs. Critics, or whatever else you may call yourselves, you are ashamed or afraid of the momentary and transitory madness which is found in all creators, and whose longer or shorter duration distinguishes the thinking artist from the dreamer. Hence your complaints about barrenness, for you reject too soon and discriminate too severely" (Letter of December 1, 1788).

And yet, "such a withdrawal of the watchers from the gates of intelligence," as Schiller calls it, such a shifting into the condition of uncritical self-observation, is in no way difficult.

Most of my patients accomplish it after the first instructions; I myself can do it very perfectly, if I assist the operation by writing down my notions. The amount, in terms of psychic energy, by which the critical activity is in this manner reduced, and by which the intensity of the self-observation may be increased, varies widely according to the subject matter upon which the attention is to be fixed.

The first step in the application of this procedure now teaches us that not the dream as a whole, but only the parts of its contents separately, may be made the object of our attention. If I ask a patient who is as yet unpractised: "What occurs to you in connection with this dream?" as a rule he is unable to fix upon anything in his psychic field of vision. I must present the dream to him piece by piece, then for every fragment he gives me a series of notions, which may be designated as the "background thoughts" of this part of the dream. In this first and important condition, then, the method of dream interpretation which I employ avoids