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©1998-2018 Maria Helena Rowell

from Dr. Sigmund Freud


12)"It is impractible, however, to keep our sleep free from stimuli; they impinge upon the sleeper from all sides - like the germs of life which Mephistopheles complained - from without and from within and even from parts of his body which are quite unoticed in waking life. Thus sleep is disturbed; first one corner of the mind is shaken into wakefulness and then another; the mind functions for a brief moment with its awakened portion and is then glad to fall asleep once more. Dreams are a reaction to the disturbance of sleep brought about by a stimulus - a reaction, incidentally, which is quite superfluous.

But the description of dreaming - which, after all is said and done, remains a function of the mind - as a somatic process implies another meaning as well. It is intended to show that dreams are unworthy to rank as psychical processes. Dreaming has often been compared with 'the ten fingers of a man who knows nothing of music wondering over the keys of a piano' [StrŁmpell, 1877, 84;cf.p.222 below]; and this simile shows as well as anything the sort of opinion that is usually held of dreaming by representatives of the exact sciences. On this view a dream is something wholly and completely incapable of interpretation; for how could the ten fingers of an unmusical player produce a piece of music?"

From "The Interpretation of Dreams" (1900) [SE, IV, 78-9]

13)"You will remember how I have said [p.145 f.] that the day-dreamer carefully conceals his phantasies from other people because he feels he has reasons for being ashamed of them. I should now add that even if he were to communicate them to us he could give us no pleasure by his disclosures. Such phantasies, when we learn them, repel us or at least leave us cold. But when a creative writer presents his plays to us or tells us what we are inclined to take to be his personal day-dreams, we experience a great pleasure, and one which probably arises from the confluence of many sources. How the writer accomplishes this is his innermost secret; the essential ars poetica lies in the techique of overcoming the feeling of repulsion in us which is undoubtedly connected with the barriers that rise between each single ego and the others. We can guess two of the methods used by this technique. The writer softens the character of his egoistic day-dreams by altering and disguising it, and he bribes us by the purely formal - that is, aesthetic - yield of pleasure which he offers us in the presentation of his phantasies. We give the name of an incentive bonus, or a fore-pleasure, to a yield of pleasure such as this, which is offered to us so as to make possible the release of still greater pleasure arising from deeper psychical sources. In my opinion, all the aesthetic pleasure which a creative writer affords us has the character of a fore-pleasure of this kind, and our actual enjoyment of an imaginative work proceeds from a liberation of tensions in our minds. It may even be that not a little of this effect is due to the writer's enabling us thenceforward to enjoy our own day-dreams without self-reproach or shame."

From "Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming" (1908 [1907]) [SE, IX, 152-53]

14)"Even when I have moved away from observation, I have carefully avoided any contact with philosophy proper. This avoidance has been greatly facilitated by constitutional incapacity. I was always open to the ideas of G.T.Fechner and have followed that thinker upon many important points. The large extent to which psycho-analysis coincides with the philosophy of Schopenhauer - not only did he assert the dominance of the emotions and the supreme importance of sexuality but he was even aware of the mechanism of repression - is not to be traced to my acquaintance with his teaching. I read Schopenhauer very late in my life. Nietzsche, another philosopher whose guesses and intuitions often agree in the most astonishing way with the laborious findings of psycho-analysis, was for a long time avoided by me on that very account; I was less concerned with the question of priority than with keeping my mind unembarassed."

From "An Autobiographical Study" (1925 [1924]) [SE, XX, 59-60]

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