As to Freud’s thoughts, the dream content has a lot of backstories to tell about: “It would of course be incorrect to attempt to read these symbols in accordance with their values as pictures, instead of in accordance with their meaning as symbols.” (Chapter 6, P121) And there exists dream-work that makes the dreamer’s subconscious latent. Virtually, this work comes into two parts: condensation and displacement. Condensation means that even a single fragment of the dream has more than one thought about the dreamer, and the various thoughts attach to it. On the other hand, displacement transfer the dreamer’s thoughts about certain subject to another one, for the purpose of escaping from censorship. Moreover, symbolism also connects certain objects to other meanings. To address the mechanism of dream-work, Freud proposes some types of dreams, of which there are three major subcategories: arithmetic, speech and absurd dreams.
For the arithmetic dream, Freud says that “What the dream-work consists in, and its unceremonious handling of its material, the dream-thoughts, may be shown in an instructive manner by the numbers and calculations which occur in dreams.” (Chapter 6, P198) He points out that the digits are representative of the dream-work that makes something obvious unexplainable. Still, these numbers are not nonsensical, but possess certain traits the dreamers are await. Freud exemplifies this principle through a typical dream: The dreamer perceives himself as a policeman with a mission, and he sees his supervisor has an armlet with number 22 and 62. In fact, the dream is a high class general, with the same number on the armlet, but he wishes to get higher to be a supervisor. Through further investigation, Freud knows he only serves for 22 years, and two years plus two months are needed to get a satisfactory retirement pay. If he does so, he can get all the payment, just like his colleague, who retires in age 62 recently. Therefore, it is still that the dream subconsciously has the wish to be at a higher position as well as that of getting more money, and Freud’s account of the nature of dream is thought to be feasible.
I also have a dream about arithmetic: When I am traveling in a forest with a zoologist, I sees a lot of squirrels. Suddenly, as the zoologist calls out a signal, the squirrels become obedient to him and even stand in certain locations to make the entire team looks like a number “five” in front of my eyes. If Freud’s argument is true, it should be obvious that there is a wish: I dream of becoming an expert in biology. I do like squirrels, and they never come to be so agile inside this scene. But for more things about number, I guess it conveys me information that I need to study for at least five more years to profess in this field of study.
The second typical dream Freud mentions about is speech. “No matter how many speeches and answers, which may in themselves be sensible or absurd, may occur in dreams, analysis always shows us that the dream has merely taken from the dream-thoughts fragments of speeches which have really been delivered or heard, and has dealt with them in the most arbitrary fashion.” (Chapter 6, P200) This applies to the dream-content measure mentioned in previous chapter, which explains why dreams include fragments of various events happened in the past. Freud furthers his opinion about the speech dream by pointing out another dream. In this dream, the dreamer is posited inside a big yard, where many corpses are burned. As he says, “I want to leave here, this scene is unbearable,” the butcher’s two kids appear and is asked whether the taste is good. One of them says, “No, it’s not good at all.” Supposedly, this meat comes from humans. But, as Freud explores deeper inside the dream, he discovers a context which completely alters the meaning of the dream: When he is visiting an old granny, who is not welcomed by others, with his wife, she just finishes the meal and forces him to taste her dishes. He politely rejects, with saying about his lack of appetite. But due to the granny’s urges, he tries and does feel good about the meal. However, when he is getting alone with his wife, he complains that this neighbor is too stubborn and cooks bad. Therefore, we can see that the dream really plays a magical role in carrying out the true thoughts about dreamers. Like this example, his bad feelings about the granny’s meal is transferred to the seemingly horrible content of the dream, though the words changed a little.
For me, this type of dream is rare, but I still can remember one: I works for a farm with a tool that remove the weeds. Though being tired, I still whisper to myself that working for a farm is far more “fortunate” than studying. As my cousin comes in, he says, “Your work is great, but you would rather study for a while.” This dream interesting because it provides me with confusion about my attitude toward studying. For no reason, I prefer reading books than doing farm works, and this should not be a direct wish fulfillment. However, as I start to think that maybe the word “fortunate” in Chinese is similar to “painstaking”, I recollect back some memories with my cousin that we really have great times in my hometown. But the farm works are actually tedious. But during present time, I also have gotten tired occasionally, so I transfer this feeling to the dream, with a complete change in the meaning of a word.
The last type of dream Freud talks about is of absurdness. To be more precise, it is the category that collects all the supernatural scenes into the dream-content. Even though the absurdity really intrigues a lot of thoughts about the nature of dreams, Freud still maintains his idea: “The dream-thoughts are never absurd and the dream-work produces absurd dreams, and dreams with individually absurd elements, when the dream-thoughts contain criticism, ridicule, and derision, which have to be given expression.” (Chapter 6, P215) Specifically, there is a dream Freud deals with for a patient who has a father died earlier: His father experiences a severe accident. When the train is traveling at night, it suddenly gets off the track and squishes his father’s head because the seats are distorted. Then, the dreamer discovers his father is in a bed with a clear scar. He is surprised by his father being involved inside an accident. In fact, this dream appears because of recollection about memories with his father. He asked for an artist to make a sculpture for his father, and he discovered a bust after several days when he checked the progress. Moreover, the scar inside the dream actually corresponds to his father’s frown of sadness, and as he finds out his picture, he accidentally dropped it, forming a scar piercing through his sister’s eyelids. The background for this dream seems very odd, but it still plays a major role in modulating the dream-content.
Freud, S. (1997) The Interpretation of Dreams (Wordsworth Edition.). New York, NY: Wordsworth Classics of World Literature