From: Sigmund Freud, „The Claims of Psycho-Analysis
To Scientific Interests“ (1913).
In SE. XIII: 164-190.
I shall no doubt be overstepping common linguistic usage
in postulating an interest in psycho-analysis on the part of philologists,
that is of experts in speech.
For in what follows ’speech‘ must be understood not merely to mean the
expression of thought in words but to include the speech of gesture and
method, such, for instance, as writing, by which mental activity can
be expressed. That being so, it may be pointed out that the interpretations
made by psycho-analysis are first and foremost translations from an alien
method of expression into the one which is familiar to us. When we interpret
a dream we are simply translating a particular thought-content (the latent
dream-thoughts) from the
‚language of dreams‘ into our waking speech.
In the course of doing so we learn the peculiarities of
this dream language and it is borne in upon us that it forms part of a
highly archaic system of expression. Thus, to take an instance, there is
no special indication for the negative in the
language of dreams. Contraries may stand for each other in the
dream’s content and may be represented by the same element. Or we may
put it like this: concepts are still ambivalent in dream-language, and
unite within themselves contrary
meanings-as is the case, according to the hypotheses of philologists,
in the oldest roots of historical languages.
Another striking feature of our dream-language
is its extremely frequent use of symbols, which make us able to some extent
to translate the content of dreams without reference to the associations
of the individual dreamer. Our researches have not yet sufficiently elucidated
the essential nature of these symbols. they are in part substitutes and
analogies based upon obvious similarities; but in some of these symbols
the tertium comparationis which is presumably present escapes our conscious
knowledge. It is precisely this latter
class of symbols which must probably originate from the earliest phases
of linguistic development and
conceptual construction. In dreams it is above all the sexual organs
and sexual activities which are represented symbolically instead of directly.
Hans Sperber, of Uppsala, has only recently (1912) attempted to prove that
words which originally represented sexual activities have, on the basis
of analogies of this kind, undergone an extraordinarily far-reaching change
in their meaning.
If we reflect that the means of representation
in dreams are principally visual images and not words, we shall see that
it is even more appropriate to compare dreams with a system of ancient
pictographic script such as Egyptian
hieroglyphs. In both cases, there are certain elements which are not
intended to be interpreted (or read, as the case may be) but are only designed
to serve as ‚determinatives‚,
that is to establish the meaning of some other element.
The ambiguity of various elements of dreams finds a parallel in these ancient
systems of writing; and so too dies the omission of various relations,
which have in both cases to be supplied from the context. If this conception
of the method of representation
in dreams has not yet been followed up, this, as will be readily understood,
must be ascribed to the fact that psycho-analysts are entirely ignorant
of the attitude and knowledge with which a philologist would approach such
a problem as that presented by dreams. (XIII: 177). The language
of dreams may be looked upon as the method by which unconscious mental
activity expressed itself. But the unconscious
speaks more than one dialect. From: „The Claims of Psycho-Analysis
To Scientific Interests“ (1913). In SE. XIII: 164-190.