Page:Freud - The interpretation of dreams.djvu/432

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414
THE INTERPRETATION OF DREAMS

hysterical attack of anxiety which the patient, a woman over forty years of age, had experienced in her fifteenth year.[1]

I may now proceed in an informal way to some further observations on the interpretation of dreams, which will perhaps be of service to the reader who wishes to test my assertion by the analysis of his own dreams.

No one must expect that the interpretations of his dreams will come to him overnight without any exertion. Practice is required even for the perception of endoptic phenomena and other sensations usually withdrawn from attention, although this group of perceptions is not opposed by any psychic motive. It is considerably more difficult to become master of the "undesirable presentations." He who wishes to do this will have to fulfil the requirements laid down in this treatise. Obeying the rules here given, he will strive during the work to curb in himself every critique, every prejudice, and every affective or intellectual one-sidedness. We will always be mindful of the precept of Claude Bernard for the experimenter in the physiological laboratory—"Travailler comme une bête"—meaning he should be just as persistent, but also just as unconcerned about the results. He who will follow these counsels will surely no longer find the task difficult. The interpretation of a dream cannot always be accomplished in one session; you often feel, after following up a concatenation of thoughts, that your working capacity is exhausted; the dream will not tell you anything more on that day; it is then best to break off, and return to the work the following day. Another portion of the dream content then solicits your attention, and you thus find an opening to a new stratum of the dream thoughts. We may call this the "fractionary" interpretation of dreams.

It is most difficult to induce the beginner in the interpretation of dreams to recognise the fact that his task is not finished though he is in possession of a complete interpretation of the dream which is ingenious and connected, and which explains all the elements of the dream. Besides this another superimposed interpretation of the same dream may be possible which has escaped him. It is really not simple to form

  1. Translated by A. A. Brill, appearing under the title Selected Papers on Hysteria.