Though Freud asserts the dream is a wish-fulfilment, there are still some seemingly controversy over this argument, since not all people can perceive the wish hidden inside it. So Freud initially introduces the topic: “The anxiety-dream does really seem to preclude a generalization of the thesis … that dreams are wish-fulfilments, and even to condemn it as an absurdity.” (Chapter 4, P33) This sentence, though seems debunk Freud’s previous ideas, actually probes his innovative thought that there are some latent content of the dream remained undiscovered, disproving potential objections.
To further his opinion, he gives out his own dream as an example. In this dream, he describes his friend R., who is unable to upgrade his job because of his religious belief, as his intimate uncle and his appearance is featured with distinctiveness. But in reality, Freud’s uncle, with distinct outlook, is a poor man who is regarded as simpleton for his motivation to commit crime. Though the analyzable part of this dream is really succinct, there exists a lot of hidden information outside of consciousness. While this scheme is still unclear in respect to the interpretation because R. does not commit crime, he thinks about his friend N. who does not achieve greater title because of his criminal accusation, which is also related to religions. Eventually, this dream comes clear under Freud’s explanation: since there is a factor – religious belief – that influence the accomplishment of professorship, he dreams himself to be unaffected by it. That means, by making contrast, the dream actually forms a wish-fulfillment in which Freud himself could achieve better job than R. and N. through avoiding their disadvantages.
Looking back to this dream, there has great distortions that make it difficult to be interpreted, which as Freud proposes, is the people’s escapism of certain ideas that alters the expected content of the dream. “Wherever a wish-fulfilment is unrecognizable and disguised there must be present a tendency to defend oneself against this wish, and in consequence of this defense the wish is unable to express itself save in a distorted form.” (Chapter 4, P37) As a result, Freud links the distortions to consciousness that clearly manifest the existence of wish-fulfillment inside their mind even though it is oppressed by emotions. Furthermore, he points out there have “two psychic forces” (Chapter 4, P38) that illustrate personal attitudes toward their wishes. The first one is the content that shows wish-fulfillment, and the second one is like the trimmer of the content that distort the dream without any satisfactory aspects being added. This theory may be somewhat too metaphysical to be understood, but it improve the reliability of Freud’s claim that the seemingly painful experience of dreams is in part wish-fulfillment.
Through the analysis part of this chapter, Freud encounters a lot of individuals who discover their dreams contradict his claim but always explain some reasons for them, showing that his idea is still persuasive. These reasons include their anxiety of telling the truth, while it is to Freud’s logical deduction and imagination that propel the eureka moment of dream interpretation. “If we subject content to analysis, we become aware that the dream-anxiety is no more justified by the dream-content than the anxiety in a phobia is justified by the idea to which the phobia is attached.” (Chapter 4, P47)
I often have some difficulties with speaking clearly and fluently when I meet a stranger or need to do some important tasks. For instance, this is what I feel before going to be interviewed by a college officer to attend a summer session. At that time, I had heard Hynir, one of my best friends who shared many of my career interests, rejected by another institution. When I met with him, he said about his bad test scores and complained that the college should not care about them so much but rather focus more on his activities. I was shocked by his conversation because I also got scores that were not satisfactory. That night, I had a dream which was very frightening for me. In this dream, I saw all my classmates chasing me with anger. While I could not figure out what was going on that occasion, they yelled that I was too incompetent to even communicate with them effectively and get teacher’s appreciation, depressing their expectation.
Different from the usual dream which I had great joyful moments that really fulfill my wishes, I did not realize how this dream would mean to me. Maybe according to Freud’s opinion, this dream could have some connections with my upcoming interview and standardized test results. Since I found great similarities to Hynir, I identify with him in this dream, with the anxiety of being rejected by the college officer. On the other hand, the classmates could generally be some students wo were already been accepted by certain organizations I knew so far. Moreover, their speech, quite intimidating, warned me of my own disadvantageous situations. So there was actually a wish-fulfillment which I sought to avoid some factors such as speech-making and test scores that could partially determine whether I would be accepted.
Now I know that distortions of dream play a vital role in illustrating people’s unchangeable self-consciousness. Though these distortions are really confusing, they are widespread through humans’ feelings of anxiety. If we have better understanding of this phenomenon, just like Freud did, we could objectively face these stressful situations and come up with solutions wisely.
Freud, S. (1997) The Interpretation of Dreams (Wordsworth Edition.). New York, NY: Wordsworth Classics of World Literature