Page:Freud - The interpretation of dreams.djvu/333

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315
THE DREAM-WORK

tions than conceptual ones. It may be imagined that in dream formation a good part of the intermediary activity, which tries to reduce the separate dream-thoughts to the tersest and simplest possible expression in the dream, takes place in the manner above described—that is to say, in providing suitable paraphrase for the individual thoughts. One thought whose expression has already been determined on other grounds will thus exert a separating and selective influence upon the means available for expressing the other, and perhaps it will do this constantly throughout, somewhat after the manner of the poet. If a poem in rhyme is to be composed, the second rhyming line is bound by two conditions; it must express the proper meaning, and it must express it in such a way as to secure the rhyme. The best poems are probably those in which the poet's effort to find a rhyme is unconscious, and in which both thoughts have from the beginning exercised a mutual influence in the selection of their verbal expressions, which can then be made to rhyme by a means of slight remodification.

In some cases change of expression serves the purposes of dream condensation more directly, in making possible the invention of a verbal construction which is ambiguous and therefore suited to the expression of more than one dream-thought. The whole range of word-play is thus put at the service of the dream activity. The part played by words in the formation of dreams ought not to surprise us. A word being a point of junction for a number of conceptions, it possesses, so to speak, a predestined ambiguity, and neuroses (obsessions, phobias) take advantage of the conveniences which words offer for the purposes of condensation and disguise quite as readily as the dream.[1] That dream conception also profits by this displacement of expression is easily demonstrated. It is naturally confusing if an ambiguous word is put in the place of two ambiguous ones; and the employment of a figurative expression instead of the sober everyday one thwarts our understanding, especially since the dream never tells us whether the elements which it shows are to be interpreted literally or figuratively, or whether they refer to the

  1. Cf. Der Witz und seine Beziehung zum Unbeioussten, 2nd edit. 1912, and "word-bridges," in the solutions of neurotic symptoms.