I am, therefore, of the opinion that the stimulus for every dream is to be found among those experiences "upon which one has not yet slept" for a night.
Thus the impressions of the immediate past (with the exception of the day before the night of the dream) stand in no different relation to the dream content from those of times which are as far removed in the past as you please. The dream may select its material from all times of life, provided only,
in dreams. There would be no material change in dream interpretation if this could be proven, but it would result in a new source for the origin of the dream material. I have recently undertaken some examination of my own dreams in order to test the applicability of the "Period Theory" to the dream material, and I have selected for this purpose especially striking elements of the dream content, whose origin could be definitely ascertained:—
I.—Dream from October 1–2, 1910
(Fragment)...Somewhere in Italy. Three daughters show me small costly objects, as if in an antiquity shop. At the same time they sit down on my lap. Of one of the pieces I remark : "Why, you got this from me." I also see distinctly a small profile mask with the angular features of Savonarola.
When have I last seen a picture of Savonarola? According to my travelling diary, I was in Florence on the fourth and fifth of September, and while there thought of showing my travelling companion the plaster medallion of the features of the fanatical monk in the Piazza Signoria, the same place where he met his death by burning. I believe that I called his attention to it at 3a.m. To be sure, from this impression, until its return in the dream, there was an interval of twenty-seven and one days—a "feminine period," according to Fliess. But, unfortunately for the demonstrative force of this example, I must add that on the very day of the dream I was visited (the first time after my return) by the able but melancholy-looking colleague whom I had already years before nicknamed "Rabbi Savonarola." He brought me a patient who had met with an accident on the Pottebba railroad, on which I had myself travelled eight days before, and my thoughts were thus turned to my last Italian journey. The appearance in the dream content of the striking element of Savonarola is explained by the visit of my colleague on the day of the dream; the twenty-eight day interval had no significance in its origin.
II.—Dream from October 10–11
I am again studying chemistry in the University laboratory. Court Councillor L. invites me to come to another place, and walks before me in the corridor carrying in front of him in his uplifted hand a lamp or some other instrument, and assuming a peculiar attitude, his head stretched forward. We then come to an open space... (rest forgotten).
In this dream content, the most striking part is the manner in which Court Councillor L. carries the lamp (or lupe) in front of him, his gaze directed into the distance. I have not seen L. for many years, but I now know that he is only a substitute for another greater person—for Archimedes near the Arethusa fountain in Syracuse, who stands there exactly like L. in the dream, holding the burning mirror and gazing at the besieging army