The Dreams Freud Dreamed

It is a daring undertaking to search anew the dreams of the founder of the dream interpretation, taken out of the classical work from which a whole generation has learned the language of the unconscious, which once was also a revelation for me, and which w ill remain a masterpiece in the history of the understanding of the human mind.

In my original manuscript there followed at this place these words: “That Freud may, and I hope will be, among the readers of this work I consider a great privilege. For it would not be doing Freud a service to keep silent about convictions in matters of science. So I hope that my observations regarding his dreams will find his approval, because it was he who has taught us insight into our own weakness and to face the truth.”.

After all, nothing is contradicted. All the explanations and interpretations of Freud remain unchanged. Merely a new determination is added. And yet I venture to say in advance that the interpretation which I arrived at is the dominant one, first, because it deals with an important problem in the life of the dreamer, and second, because it appears repeatedly in most of the dreams and in a dominating way.” Those ideas in the dream-thoughts which are most important are probably also those which recur most frequently, since the individual dream-thoughts radiate from them as centres.” (Freud)

The comparison with other interpretations in regard to their importance for the affective life of the dreamer will show beyond any doubt that oilier determinations presented in the book are of secondary importance.

I shall reproduce the detailed series of associations given in the book only in very condensed form. It is highly recommended that they be read in the original, which is open to every one.

It appears to me that the proofs which I present are neither far fetched nor arbitrary. The objective reader will probably agree with me. However, it may well be that since Freud’s death one or the other of his followers feels that any tampering with his words should be prohibited, and the premature reproach might be made that I have given my interpretation, while the dreamer himself must do the interpreting. However, nothing is done to violate the analytic procedure: when dealing with patients we too give our explanations of their associations. And, strangely enough, it happens very frequently that the dreamer alone does not arrive at the most decisive and important conclusions.

I want to clear up an important point right here. There are three types of associations to the dreams. One is the series of free and arbitrary associations of the dreamer. I have added nothing and used Freud’s own associations exclusively.

The second form of associating is the search for symbols in the dream: a symbol in some way is also an association to the content of a dream. There exists a “vocabulary” of symbols, but as one and the same object or idea may be represented by different symbols, the choice of interpretation remains to a certain degree with the dreamer. There still remains the question whether for different individuals of different culture and language one and the same symbol is efficient.

The third series of associations makes use of the play on words. For this a stranger-be it only because he can solve such riddles-is as capable as the dreamer himself of uncovering the hidden elements of the dreams. As an example: Freud tells us about a dream of his(1) in which a nurse with a red nose occurs. No explanation is given to this subject. I guess it means neurosis. (Red nose, nez rose, Neurose, Neurosis.)

I may not use my associations instead of those of the dreamer and, for instance, relate to his dream my own day or life memories. I must listen to his. I may make the somewhat daring attempt to undertake a symbolic interpretation. But I can be sure in my interpretation when I recognize the plays on words.(2)

It is this third way which I use almost entirely in my reinterpretation.

* * *

Freud had recognized and despised the weakness of the almighty father through a certain event. We know the story. In The Interpretation of Dreams the incident of the fur cap which was knocked off his father’s head into the mud by a Christian is related. The father stepped down from the sidewalk and silently picked up the cap. Sigmund heard the story from his father on a walk.

"That did not seem heroic on the part of the big, strong man who was leading me, a little fellow, by the hand. I contrasted this situation, which did not please me, with another, more in harmony with my sentiments-the scene in which Hannibal’s father, Hamilcar Barcas, made his son swear before the household altar to take vengeance on the Romans. Ever since then Hannibal has had a place in my phantasies."

Young Freud himself had to suffer from antisemitism. During the later school years “when I finally came to realize the consequences of belonging to an alien race, and was forced by the antisemitic feeling among my class-mates to take a definite stand, the figure of the Semitic commander assumed still greater proportions in my imagination. Hannibal and Rome symbolized, in my youthful eyes, the struggle between the tenacity of the Jews and the organization of the Catholic Church."

This is one of the very few pages among approximately 500 of the book where Freud speaks of his feelings regarding Judaism. I emphasize it with regard to my interpretation.

The road to success was a difficult one for Freud. When he was working in the laboratory, his superior who had learned of his financial situation, soon suggested to him to give up the scientific career and devote himself to the practice of medicine. In order to make his studies possible, he had to accept the help of a friend. To enable his studies in Paris at the clinic of Charcot he obtained a grant-in-aid. He kept his fiancé waiting for four years because he felt insecure financially. He had six children in quick succession. “Fees” was a frequent subject for conversation among the young physicians in Vienna. The title of professor had a magic effect on public and patients. In the meantime he had published a number of papers and was eager for recognition by academic circles; a professorship would be such a recognition of the scientific investigator.

A fortune teller had predicted for the boy the post of minister. Only His Excellency the Minister blocked his way to the professorship.

Confessional reasons were decisive in Vienna for a scientific career. He was proposed for a professorship by two scientists but the outlook was hopeless.

His professional life and his academic career were replete with slights and disappointments. He certainly must have had to look on when a man of average ability was preferred to him because this average person confessed the faith of the majority.

I shall anticipate my interpretation and state: an important, possibly the most important determination of almost all dreams mentioned by Freud is his inner struggle for unhampered advancement : In order to get ahead he would have to conclude a Faust-pact; he would have to sell his soul to the Church. Perhaps it was unconscious, perhaps he knew of his struggle. But in that case it would seem strange that he did not recognize it in his dreams.(3) We shall place the determinations opposite to one another. We shall present the dreams of interest to us, first consecutively, as they are given in The Interpretation of Dreams.


Dream. I have written a monograph on a certain plant. The book lies before me: I am just turning over a folded colored plate. A dried specimen of the plant, as though from a herbarium, is bound up with every copy.

Freud’s Analysis. Associations and Day-residues. In the morning he had seen in a bookseller’s window a volume entitled The Genus Cyclamen, obviously a monograph on this plant. The cyclamen is his wife’s favorite flower. He forgets to bring her flowers. He is reminded of a story of a young husband who forgot to bring his wife flowers on her birthday (sign of indifference). His monograph on the coca plant. K. Koller reaped the success for the discovery of cocaine which he almost made himself. A day dream about an operation on his eye, the physician who praises cocaine knows nothing of his part in this discovery of the anesthetic effect of cocaine. The association leads to the operation on his father’s eye. Again Dr. Koller. A jubilee volume which speaks of Koller. The conversation with Dr. Konigstein, the ophthalmologist, and the meeting with Professor Gartner and his wife and reference to her blooming appearance.

A memory from the time when he went to high school (Gymnasium) is connected with the herbarium. The principal instructed the pupils to clean a herbarium in which there were small bookworms. On the pages were crucifers. Preliminary examination in botany (again crucifers) and weakness in this subject. “Crucifers suggest composites. The artichoke too is really a composite, and in actual fact one which I might call my favorite flower” .

Association to monograph: a letter from a friend who asks about the publication of the dream book.

The colored plate: As a student he was interested in illustrated monographs. One of the plates in his own treatise turned out badly. As a child he was given a book to tear up (like an artichoke, leaf by leaf). He is a “book-worm” ; he remembers his book collection in his youth. Thus far the associations with day residues and memories.

And the interpretation: “I am much too absorbed in my hobbies.” “The meaning of the dream becomes clear.” “The dream assumes the character of a justification.” “I am indeed the man who has written on cocaine. Thus I can allow myself this.” The detailed description of a dream interpretation and of that which he “can allow” himself is omitted by Freud. “In the dream interpretation everything converges upon the important and justifiably disturbing event.” “If I judge the sense of the dream . . . according to the latent content I find that I have unwittingly come to a new and important recognition. The riddle that the dream apparently dealt only with worthless odds and ends of the day’s experience is solved.” “The idea of the monograph on the cyclamen would be associated only with the idea that this is the favorite flower of my wife, possible also the recollection of the flowers missed by Mrs. L. I do not believe these secondary thoughts would have sufficed to evoke a dream.

“There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave
To tell us this”

as we read in Hamlet. But behold: in the analysis I am reminded that the name of the man who interrupted our conversation was Gärtner (gardener) and that I thought his wife looked blooming. . . . Other connections were then established, that of cocaine . . . . The indifferent event is substituted for that which is important psychically.”

My interpretation. The associations regarding crucifers should not have led only to composites and artichokes but also to crucifix and crux. Crucifer means one who carries a cross (crux), a baptized person.

Herbarium suggests the sound association to “Hebrew.” A herbarium which contains a crux would be a baptized Hebrew. A herbarium which is a book containing a “crucifer” is the Bible, a Gospel. A monograph would be the writings on monotheism. To page through also means to turn the pages (umschlagen), to convert. Cyclamen contains the word “Amen.” (4)

The tables (Tafeln) recall the tablets with the Ten Commandments (Gesetzstafel). Hebrew is contrasted with Christian. From the entire text of the dream only the word “colored” has not been used for this scheme, since there are no associations to it by the dreamer. Later we shall be able to understand this word also.

To quote Freud: “The source of a dream may be: An inner, significant experience (recollection, train of thought) which is regularly represented in the dream by allusion to a recent but indifferent impression” .


Before giving the next dream Freud states: “I note the fact that although the wish which excites the dream is a contemporary wish, it is nevertheless greatly reinforced by memories of childhood. I refer to a series of dreams which are based on the longing to go to Rome. For a long time to come I shall probably have to satisfy this longing by means of dreams” . Two dreams about Rome are briefly mentioned but not told. In regard to the second one it is stated: “The motive to see the promised land afar is he re easily recognizable” .

The third dream about Rome: “I am at last in Rome as the dream tells me. To my disappointment the scenery is anything but urban: it consists of a little stream of dark water on one side of which are black rocks, while on the other are meadows with large white flowers. I notice a certain Herr Zucker (with whom I am superficially acquainted), and resolve to ask him to show me the way into the city” .

Freud’s Interpretation. His associations as dreamer: “It is obvious that I am trying in vain to see in my dream a city which I have never seen in my waking life” . The scenery reminds him of Ravenna where he saw beautiful water-lilies in black water. Furt her the narcissi of Aussee. The dark rock recalls the valley of the Tepe at Karlsbad. The name Karlsbad reminds him of several Jewish anecdotes. One concerns a Jew who because he has no railroad ticket is put off the train repeatedly and who, upon being asked at one of the stations of his martyrdom where he is going, replies: “If my constitution holds out-to Karlsbad” . The memory of Karlsbad explains the peculiar circumstance that “I ask Mr. Zucker to show me the way” . We usually send our patients with the constitutional disease, diabetes, to Karlsbad” (Zucker-sugar). “Asking the way” is a direct allusion to Rome, for we know “all roads lead to Rome” . “The occasion for this dream was the proposal of my Berlin friend that we should meet in Prague at Easter. A further association with sugar and diabetes might be found in the matters which I had to discuss with him."

"During my last Italian journey I considered the plan of traveling in the following year to Naples via Rome” . “I myself had walked in Hannibal’s footsteps; as little as he was I destined to see Rome, and he too had gone to Campania when all were expecting him in Rome. Hannibal, with whom I had achieved this point of similarity, had been my favorite hero during my years at the ‘gymnasium’ ; like so many boys of that age, I bestowed my sympathies in the Punic war not on the Romans, but on the Carthaginians” .

Here follows the story which I have mentioned of how he suffered from anti-Semitism at school and that “Hannibal and Rome symbolized, in my youthful eyes, the contrast between the tenacity of Judaism and the organization of the Catholic Church. The significance for our emotional life which the anti-semitic movement has since assumed helped to fix the thoughts and impressions of those earlier days. Thus the desire to go to Rome has in my dream-life become the mask and symbol for a number of warmly cherished wishes, for whose realization one had to work with the tenacity and single-mindedness of the Punic soldier, though their fulfillment at times seemed as remote as Hannibal’s life-long wish to enter Rome. And now, for the first time, I happened upon the youthful experience which even to-day still expresses its power in all these emotions and dreams” .

He then recites the incident of his father and the Christian mentioned above. He thinks of Hamilcar who makes his son Hannibal swear before the household altar that he will take vengeance on the Romans.

This “enthusiasm for the Carthaginian general “brings up another memory from his still earlier childhood. He was playing with wooden soldiers and his favorite marshal among the marshals of Napoleon was Massena ("as a Jew Menasse” ). That much we have learned from Freud about his Roman dreams.

My interpretation. It is Rome, not however the scenery of a town but “a small stream with black water” . Thus Rome is not the city but the Roman-Catholic Church which Freud has also mentioned in associations, to use a non-sequitur. Rome is for him the symbol “of the cherished wishes, for whose realization one would like to work with the tenacity of the Punic soldier” .

"Dark water” is the water for baptism. “On one side of the dark water, black rock” -Judaism, the sad life of the children of the Jewish people, “on the other, meadows with large white flowers” -Christianity, the happy life of those who are not persecuted.(5) It is characteristic that Freud in his associations twice arrived at the word ‘constitution’ .

We shall interpret it in the civic-legal sense. According to the constitution the Jew does not have equal rights. In the anecdote too the Jew is put off the train again and again “because he has no ticket” . Under this constitution he cannot get on. The anecdote deals really with himself. To be a Jew is a “constitutional disease” . This road to Rome would not be Hannibal’s road. For Hannibal Rome was no “promised land” . But it might be for a Mr. Zucker who knows the roads.-Not. to submit, but to gain a victory the Semitic general led his army towards Rome.

But for a Jew the promised land was Jerusalem. The small stream of black water, a border like the Rubicon, signifies temptation and the anguish of the lonely wanderer from that dispersed people of whom he knew that it had stubbornly resisted powerful Rome for a thousand years. Freud’s fate was to be a strange one. He will see Rome. And there he will be fascinated by nothing but one figure, “How often did I climb the steep stairway of the ugly Corso Cavour to the lonely place where stands the deserted church and tried repeatedly to withstand the contemptuous-angry look of Moses; sometimes I slunk away from the twilight of the inner room as if I myself belonged to the mob who can not be faithful to any conviction, who can not wait and will not have confidence, and who cheers when given back the illusions of its idol” (Freud, Michelangelo).


The next dream. “I go into a kitchen in order to ask for some pudding. There three women are standing, one of whom is the hostess; she is rolling something in her hands, as though she were making dumplings. She replies that I must wait until she has finished (not distinctly as a speech). I become impatient, and go away offended. I put on an overcoat; but the first one I try on is too long. I take it off, and am somewhat astonished to find that it is trimmed with fur. A second coat which I put on has a long strip of cloth with a Turkish design sewn into it. A stranger with a long face and short, pointed beard comes up and prevents me from putting it on, declaring that if belongs to him. I now show him that it is covered all over with Turkish embroideries. He asks: ‘How do the Turkish (drawings, strips of cloth . . .) concern you?’ But we soon become quite friendly” .

Freud’s analysis. Recollection of a novel in which the hero becomes psychotic and continually calls the names of the three women who have brought the greatest happiness and the greatest misfortune into his life. One of the names is Pelagie. “I still do no t know what to make of this recollection during the analysis. There now emerge with the three women the three Parcae, who spin the fates of men, and I know that one of the three women, the hostess in the dream, is the mother who gives life and the first nourishment” . . . “One of the Parcae, then, is rubbing the palms of her hands together, as though she were making dumplings. A strange occupation for one of the Fates, and urgently in need of explanation! This explanation is furnished by another and earlier memory of my childhood. When I was six years old, and receiving my first lessons from my mother, I was expected to believe that we are made of dust, and must, therefore return to dust. But this did not please me, and I questioned the doctrine. Thereupon my mother rubbed the palms of her hands together-just as in making dumplings, except that there was no dough between them-and showed me the blackish scales of epidermis which were thus rubbed off, as a proof that it is of dust that we are made. My astonishment was boundless at this demonstration ad oculos, and I acquiesced in the idea which I was later to hear expressed in the words: ‘Thou owest nature a death’ ."

Further associations of Freud: Knödl (dumplings) reminds him of the professor with whom he studied histology (epidermis) and whose writings a man named Knodl plagiarized. Further a whole chain of similar sounds: Pelagie, Plagiarism, Plagiostomi, fish, fish -bladder; the latter as also the overcoat in the dream obviously refer “to an appliance appertaining to the technique of sex” . “A very forced and irrational connection” , Freud says about this, “but nevertheless one which I could not have established in waking life if it had not been established by the dream-work” . “The name of a professor Fleischl again sounds like something edible and this in turn recalls the Latin pharmacopeia (kitchen) and cocaine which numbs the sensation of hunger” .

The train of thought leads to memories which to divulge would entail too great a personal sacrifice. He only “ takes up one .of the threads “. “ The stranger with the long face and pointed beard . . . has the features of a tradesman of Spalato” . “His name was Popovic, a suspicious name” which was utilized by humorists. The purchase in Spalato reminds him of another purchase at Cattaro where he was all too cautious and missed the opportunity of making an excellent bargain. One of the dream thoughts which hunger suggests to the dreamer is the following: “ One should not miss any thing, take that which one can have, even if a small wrong is involved, one should not pass up any opportunity, for life is so short, death inevitable” .

My interpretation. It is a dream about the death of his mother and his father. Freud correctly recognized his mother in the hostess. She is the mother of a Jewish home. Dumplings are a specifically Jewish dish.

"She replies I should wait until she is finished” . He should wait with his intentions until she is dead. Likewise the same idea of death is in the association brought up by Freud of the mother who rubs the palms of her hands together and who tells him that “everything must return to dust” .

We know that a stranger in a dream is usually the father. Also the name Popovic suggests the association with papa. Likewise the overcoat which is too large (Jews wear long overcoats) is that of the father. He is surprised in the dream “that the coat is trimmed with fur” . Eight pages earlier the story of the father’ s fur cap which was thrown into the mud by a Christian is told in connection with a previous dream. The overcoat is too long, it binders him in walking. The father too (or the memory of the father who died in 1896) “hinders me” . (His father’s coat is put on-a thought of death.) There is no greater shame for Jewish parents than the baptism of their children. They are obliged to mourn for such a son as for a child that died. He tries on the Jewish coat (trimmed with fur, father’s religion) and afterwards a foreign (Turkish) one. Why “Turkish” was chosen for foreign I can not say definitely without the assistance of the necessary associations. But Viennese history considers the Turk especially as the foreigner.

Thus we have again the same problem which he would like to solve in the way stated by him: “One should not miss anything, take that which one can have even if a small wrong is involved; one should not pass up any opportunity for life is so short” .

But the tragedy unfolds. In his mind he sees the work-worn hands of his mother who speaks to the little boy of the mysteries of life and death, the tall, strong, wise father who is being insulted in the street by a Christian scamp. Can one still deal them a blow? No. “We have now become quite friendly” .


Before reciting the next dream Freud presents some preliminary remarks. I shall summarize them briefly.

On the preceding day he was on the platform at the station awaiting his train, as he was leaving on his vacation. Count Thun arrived on the platform and waved back the gate keeper who did not know him with a curt gesture and without explanation. After the train which the minister took had left, Freud was told to leave the platform and had some difficulty to be allowed to remain. He passed the time noting whether anybody got a whole compartment because of his connections. He decided to make a row, that is, t o demand the same privilege. He was in high spirits. He sang the aria from The Marriage of Figaro:

"If my lord Count would tread a measure,
 Let him but say his pleasure” .

Count Thun (tun-do) is jokingly called Count Do-Nothing.

The dream. “A crowd, a students’ meeting. . . . A certain Count Thun (or Taaffe) is making a speech. Being asked to say something about the Germans, he declares with a contemptuous gesture, that their favorite flower is colts-foot, and he then puts into his button-hole something tike a fern leaf, really the crumpled skeleton of a leaf. I jump up, that is, I jump up (sic), but I am surprised at my implied attitude” .

Then follows an indistinct part of the dream which because of its length I do not repeat in folio (it can be read in the original): a hall, it is necessary to escape, all exits are barred, he makes his way through handsomely appointed governmental apartments with furniture in brown and violet, past an elderly housekeeper with a lamp, he “avoids speaking to her” , and “it seems to me that I am very clever to evade her control “. He ascends a steeply rising path . . . escapes again to the station in a cab drawn by one tired horse. “I can’t ride on the railway tracks” . The seats are all taken. Finally in the train and “I find a peculiar, long braided thing in my buttonhole” . Again in front of the station, with an elderly gentleman who is blind. He gives him a glass urinal, sees his genital “plastically” . He wants “to think out a scheme to remain unrecognized” . hopes to get away without being seen.

Freud gives a long chain of associations of memories and ideas for the interpretation, of which I wish to take up but a few.

"This phantasy which attaches itself to the thoughts evoked by the sight of Count Thun is, like the façade of an Italian church, without organic connection with the structure behind it, but unlike such a façade it is full of gaps, and confused, and in many places portions of the interior break through” .

"Here in Vienna white carnations have become the badge of the antisemites, red ones of the Social Democrats. Behind this is the recollection of an antisemitic challenge during a railway journey in beautiful Saxony “... ‘” Being a green youth, full of materialistic doctrines, I thrust myself forward in a German students’ society in order to defend an extremely one-sided position, I jump up” .

"The elderly man. obviously my father, for the blindness in one eye signifies his one-sided glaucoma, is now urinating before me... since he is blind, I must hold the glass in front of him.... I make fun of him.... Glaucoma ... cocaine” . “The analysis shows these three dreams fragments to be impertinent boasts as the result of a ridiculous megalomania which in my waking life I have long since overcome” . “In this dream I am not concerned with the reasons which force me to hide the solution, but with the motives of the inner censor who hides the true content of the dream from me” .

My interpretation. Freud again experiences an offense, he has difficulty to remain on the platform. He has occasion to make a comparison with the haughty attitude of the count. As a Jew he feels insulted, therefore he remembers Saxony and an anti-semitic incident in a train while there. His feeling of equal right which is inherent in everybody and the affront on the platform again prompt the wish to “demand the same privilege” , not only at the departure of the train but always and everywhere-this is the la tent content of the dream.

Count Taaffe stands for baptism (Taufe). “Favorite flower” is known from Freud’s associations to a previous dream and means “Crucifer” (leaf skeleton). Later in the dream, in the train, he has a “thing in his buttonhole” . Before “all seats had been taken “. Progress in his career is symbolized by walking through ministerial rooms. The only control, the housekeeper, and we recognize her from a previous dream, is his mother.” It seems to me that I am very clever to evade the control in the end” . He finds a steeply rising path. Many a Jew who escaped from the Ghetto, far from his home town, has taken the secret blessings of baptism in order to ascend the steep path of life without hindrance.

He is alone in his struggle for existence, tired and exhausted, he himself is the tired horse of the one-horse cab. Like a tired nag is the poor Jewish physician to whom a scientific career has been closed, who has been refused recognition of his attainments and for whom the struggle for existence is made difficult. “He can not ride on the railroad track” , there, where everybody finds the road laid out. For him alone everything is “taken” .

The doctor who has studied philosophy and medicine, and who could say with Faust:

"Then, too, Iive neither lands nor gold,
Nor the world’s least pomp or honor hold . . ."

hears the spirit of doubt whispering the words of Figaro:

"If my lord Count would tread a measure
Let him but say his pleasure . . . “

In the dream “He jumps up” . He has the “thing” in his buttonhole, he is no more in the one-horse cab, but in “the train” . Is not the violet color which is mentioned twice in the dream the color of the tempter, the Roman church, consecrated to the ritual of Baptism?(6)

The dream cannot end. The fugitive has evaded “the control” of the mother. But his father’s eye directed toward the son will paralyze him, he wants to “invent a scheme, to remain unrecognized” . As Jacob once obtained his blind father’s blessing, without being recognized, so another son of a blind father makes an effort to “remain unrecognized” in order to escape the curse. Since the time of this arch father, through hundreds of generations, loyalty to the tribe has been guarded, and what the son sees “plastically” ere he becomes his father’s lost son is that part of the body into which this loyalty is carved with a knife.

And yet, his conscience participated in this trick, he becomes his father’s “nurse” , who does not want to bury those who brought him into the world. The plan of the previous dream was refused the tempter by the unconscious. Instead of burying the parents (as in the previous dream) one could keep the step a secret, deceive the mother (hinters Licht führen—lamp), present to the blind father a glass that is not meant for seeing, then climb the ascending path, get into the train, drive onward.

"Yet I am surprised at this attitude of mine” .

* * *

Before continuing I should like to explain an important factor to the reader who may not be very familiar with the psychoanalytic theory. The night dreams even of highly ethical people, just as the dreams of innocent children, may contain veiled death wishes (desires to kill) which are especially directed towards parents, brothers and sisters, husband or wife, one’s own children. In their waking life these people will be self-sacrificing and affectionate. Only the true criminal does not need the disguise which occurs in the dream work, he carries out his wishes in his life.

We are, therefore, not justified to say: behold, here are the evil intentions of killing the parents or of doing something sinful in secrecy, thus the dreamer is a sinner. We find, on the contrary, that those thoughts have been repressed and banished from consciousness and the light of day into the darkness of the night and of the dream; and even there they remain veiled and concealed, so that the dreamer, be he even Freud himself, should not have to hear the suppressed voice of the banished sinner.


The next dream. “I am riding a gray horse, at first timidly and awkwardly, as though I were merely leaning on it. Then I meet a colleague. P., also on horseback and dressed in rough frieze; he is sitting high on his horse. He culls my attention to something (probably to the fact that I have a very bad seat). Now I begin to feel more and more at ease on the back of my highly intelligent horse; I sit more comfortably, and I find that I am quite at home up here. My saddle is a sort of pad, which completely f ills the space between the neck and the rump of the horse. I ride between two vans, and just manage to clear them. After riding up the street for some distance, I turn round and wish to dismount, at first in front of a little open chapel which is built facing on to the street. Then I do really dismount in front of a chapel which stands near the first one; the hotel is in the same street; I might let the horse go there by itself, but I prefer to lead it thither. It seems as though I should be ashamed to arrive there on horseback. In front of the hotel there stands a page-boy, who shows me a note of mine which has been found, and ridicules me on account of it. On the note is written, doubly underlined: ‘Nothing to eat’ , and then a second sentence (indistinct) something like: ‘No work’ . At the same time a hazy idea that I am in a strange city in which I do no work” .

Freud’s analysis. Associations: He had suffered in the night from boils and the last thing he could possibly have done was to ride. But the dream plunges him into this very activity. (He cannot ride at all.) It is a negation of suffering. The gray color of his horse corresponds to the pepper-and-salt suit in which he saw his colleague P. the last time. Highly seasoned food is considered a cause of boils. Dr. P. liked to “ride the high horse” after he had replaced Freud in the treatment of a female patient who, like the Sunday equestrian, led him where she wished. “Thus the horse comes to be the symbolic representation of a woman patient (in the dream it is highly intelligent)” . “I feel ‘quite at home’ refers to the position which I occupied in the patient’s household before I was replaced by my colleague P.” It is a feat to practice psychotherapy for several hours daily while suffering from furunculosis, and the dream is a dismal allusion to the situation: “Do not work and do not eat” . The street in the dream is built up out of impressions of Verona and Sienna, the association is Italy ("gen Italien” in German means to Italy) and an association to this.

My interpretation. Riding horseback is also called to career. It is a career dream. Therefore “riding the high horse” . Colleague P., as Freud mentions, is a person who is after a successful career (we suppose a Christian or a baptized Jew, not a Jew). Th e gray, very intelligent horse consequently is Freud’s career. In the same book we read that his hair is already getting gray. One who is worried about his career will frequently compare the color of his hair with the distance he has traveled and the success that did not come. He has a ‘bad seat’ .

Vans (Lastwagen) among which one rides may be symbolic of a load taken off one’s conscience, but usually mean a load on one’s conscience (Entlastung-Belastung). “I turn around” means conversion (ich kehre um-Bekehrung). “Open chapel” -we know a psychoanalytic sexual interpretation for this, but the reader will know himself already what the open chapel means, it needs no interpretation.

Hotel may be Hotel de Dieu, but it is also the symbol for homelessness, The hotel page who ridicules the new arrival is a sad piece of reality from the Christian present: in a hotel the Jew must show his passport and his native religion thus is known. Even if he be a genius like Freud it may happen and does happen that the hotel staff lets the guest who scents insult feel something indefinite, (if only in the unspoken words: “never mind, you are welcome just the same” ).

The hotel page knows how to raise eyebrow and the corner of his mouth behind the back of a guest.

"Eat nothing and do not work” is the position in which the young Jewish physician often finds himself.

Is it not because of Freud’s Jewish origin that colleague P. has replaced him?

"A hazy idea that I am in a strange city in which I do not work” . Freud is a Jew and the strange city has closed its doors to him.

At the end of the last and the beginning of the present century “Eat nothing and do not work” laws and customs intended for the Jews in Vienna have led many of them to small open chapels. “I should be ashamed” -it is this voice which is responsible that Freud remained a Jew.


"You might as well have wiped your shoes to-day, doctor, before you came into the room. The red carpet is all dirty again from your feet” . With these words the maid stopped Freud in the entrance hall of one of his patients. I believe such behavior would be impossible if the servants did not also feel superior to the Jews. Servants especially need a feeling of superiority because of their position of servitude.

Freud tells this incident (without connecting it with the fact of his being Jewish) as a day memory in connection with his next dream.

"I am very incompletely dressed, and I go from a flat on the ground-floor up a flight of stairs to an upper story. In doing this I jump up three stairs at a time, and I am glad to find that I can mount the stairs so quickly. Suddenly I notice that a servant-maid is coming down the stairs-that is, towards me. I am ashamed, and try to hurry away, and now comes the feeling of being inhibited; I am glued to the stairs, and cannot move from the spot."

Associations: on the evening before the dream he had actually gone up the main staircase connecting his consultation-rooms and his living rooms with his clothes in disarray. “It is a habit of mine to run up two or three steps at a time” . The ease with which he ran upstairs in the dream reassures him as to the condition of his heart. But the stairs are not those of his own house. “The shame of not being fully dressed is undoubtedly of a sexual character; the servant of whom I dream is older than I, surely, and by no means attractive” . On the day before the dream the servant had confronted him with the above remark.

My interpretation. This dream too is a dream about forging ahead and about his struggle with the obstacles in his path. Freud wrote neurological investigations which are finding recognition. He goes “from the apartment on the ground floor up the stairs to a higher floor” . “I am glad to find that I can mount the stairs so quickly” . But he is balked. “I am glued to the stairs and cannot move from the spot” . He is incompletely equipped because he is not a Christian. “Three” is a Christian symbol. “Three steps at one time” . With the Trinity (Dreieinigkeit) one can climb well. Should he take a “jump” ? And again as in the previous dream “I am ashamed” , “and now comes this feeling of being inhibited” , “I cannot move from the spot” .

The careerist dismounts from the horse. The speedy climber stops and stands still.


In the next dream also Freud “cannot walk” . In all his dreams he is hindered.

The dream, related by Freud in abbreviated form:

"The scene is a mixture made up of a private sanatorium and several other places. A man-servant appears, to summon me to an inquiry. I know in the dream that something has been missed, and that the inquiry is taking place because I am suspected of having appropriated the lost thing.” “Being conscious of my innocence, and my position as consultant in this building, I calmly follow the man-servant. We are received at the door by another man-servant, who says, pointing at me, ‘Have you brought him? Why, he is a respectable man’ . Thereupon, and unattended’ , I enter a great hall where there are many machines, which reminds me of an inferno with its hellish instruments of punishment, I see a colleague strapped to an appliance; he has every reason to pay attention to me, but he takes no notice of me. I understand that I may now go. Then I cannot find my hat, and cannot go after all."

Freud’s Analysis: “The dream obviously fulfills the wish that I shall be acknowledged as an honest man and may be permitted to leave; there must therefore be all sorts of material in the dream-thoughts which comprise a contradiction of this wish. The fact that I may go is the sign of my absolution” . “The fact that I cannot find my hat therefore means: ‘You are not after all an honest man’ .” “A rejection of melancholy thoughts of death is also concealed behind this dream: ‘I have not done my duty, I cannot go yet’ ."

My Interpretation. Tormented by the nocturnal visits of the tempter who beckons to him in every dream to flee from the misery of the persecuted and the humiliated by making a pact which, like Faust’s pact with the devil, could be concluded in an instant, Freud measures his love of freedom and unhampered advancement against his loyalty to the tribe from which he derives and his feeling of honor, and judgment is about to be pronounced.

As if it were at the Judgment Day a messenger leads him to the door of the inquest because he has been suspected of having appropriated something which has been missed. “I calmly follow the man-servant” . A second messenger of the inquest (the voice of the defendant) receives him and says: “He is a respectable man.” He did not take anything which did not belong to him.

He escapes the inferno with its dire punishments of remorse. Was not the colleague who was bound to one of the infernal racks a baptized Jew?

This is not the first time that hell appears in his dreams. Here it is called inferno. Did it not occur already in previous dreams?

Hell on earth is the destiny of Jews. Hell in heaven and torment in his soul for him who seeks to escape the earthly inferno by way of the pact which opens all doors, be it only because he is capable of remorse and possesses a feeling of honor.

Religious feelings in the meaning of the Hebraic law Freud has lost. “I cannot find my hat and cannot go after all” . He has given up the law (a Jew wears a hat when praying, he has no hat-and still the roads are blocked, because he has remained loyal to his sense of honor.

When somebody sees the inferno in his dreams, the thought arises: is not the dreamer-even if he has given up the law-a religious person?


Seventeen dreams are discussed in detail by Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams. So far we have re-interpreted six consecutive dreams. One and the same motive was found in all these dreams- this speaks for our interpretation. We shall only touch briefly on the dreams that follow. “This is the threshold” , we read in one dream,” on two chairs stand “(sits) in another,” communication from the town council of my native town “ (probably birth certificate) in the third and regarding this last one Freud writes: “The dream thoughts defend themselves vigorously against the reproach that I do not advance more rapidly” . In the fourth dream” naturally “is used twice (and also “ Nature” by Goethe) and soon there follows a dream in which the thought which tried to rise from the depth so often finally breaks to the surface, now no more ambiguous.

But first a few other dreams.

The following dreams have in common that in all three there is a discussion of Freud’s children. I reproduce the first of these “ children-dreams “ only briefly.

"Old Bruecke must have set me some task or other; strangely enough” (7) means also, ’ may be separated ’ it relates to the preparation of the lower part of my own body, the pelvis and legs. . . . The pelvis is eviscerated. . . . Also something had to be care fully removed. . . . Then I was once more in possession of my legs . . . but I took a cab (as I was tired). To my astonishment, the cab drove into the front door of a house . . . and through the house and then into the open. Finally I wandered with an Alpine guide. . . . He carried me for some distance, out of consideration for my tired legs. The ground was swampy . . . gypsies. . . . At last we came to a small wooden house with an open window at one. end. Here the guide set me down and laid two boards which stood in readiness, on the window sill so as to bridge the chasm which had to be crossed from the window. Now I became really frightened about my legs . . . as though not the planks but the children were to make the crossing possible. I awoke with terrified thoughts” .

From Freud’s analysis: “The preparation of my own body which I am ordered to make in my dream is thus the self-analysis involved in the communication of my dreams” . “My immortal works have not yet been written” Freud had said shortly before in a conversation (before he had finished The Interpretation of Dreams). “The fatigue in my legs was a real sensation from those days. Probably a weary mood corresponded with this fatigue, and the doubting question: ‘How much farther will my legs carry me?” ’ . “The comment ‘strangely enough’ (sonderbar genug) applies to a book, She, by Rider Haggard and to another by the same author, Heart of the World; and numerous elements of the dream are taken from these two fantastic romances.” “In She the end of the adventure is that the heroine meets her death in the mysterious central fire, instead of winning immortality for herself and for others. Some related anxiety has unmistakably arisen in the dream-thoughts. The ‘wooden house’ is assuredly also a coffin.” “… I awake with ‘thoughts of terror ‘even after the idea that perhaps my children will achieve what has been denied to their father: a fresh allusion to the strange romance in which the identity of a character is preserved through a series of generations through two thousand years."

My interpretation. Again a dream which deals with not being able to advance on the obstacled path. The inability to move is plastically represented in the tired legs, he must be carried. Legs (in English)(8) might also refer to the law (legs-lex, legis) which has made his advancing difficult. He submits his civic position to an analysis (preparation, dissecting room, without legs, “lawless” ), as well as his feeling of fatigue and inadequacy which his position causes. The pelvis (Becken) recalls a receptacle which is used in the ritual of conversion-the baptismal fount (Pelvis-Becken, “Tauf-becken” ). Bridge “ Bruecke” in Latin is pons, pontis (reminiscent of Pontificus). Through a “front door” which opens and finally “leads on into the open” ("an open chapel” in another dream), “one could drive in” .

Is the unfriendly road upon which this tired man travels swampy, or the ground which leads into the open? Possibly both, each according to its kind.

At the end of the road are his children who must continue on the way. Should he not cross the bridge for their sake?” to make the crossing possible for the children?

Twice we find the bridge in the dream: once in the beginning, “Professor Bruecke” (Bruecke-bridge) ; the second time at the end-wooden boards which have been placed to bridge the chasm. “To be crossed” (Uebertritt-conversion). This is the main motive of the dream.

It is a nightmare (Alpdruck-"alpiner” ) to have put children into the world who will wander around like “gypsies” , homeless and deprived of rights. But it is a still greater horror to pass over the chasm across which two boards (a cross) have been laid to step over (to cross over). For himself he cannot do it. “Now I became really frightened “. But one could perhaps separate the children (separate-"absondern” -"sonderbar genug” ) “Sondern” (separate) must have been the intent of the dream as Freud himself emphasized the word “sonderbar genug” by putting it in large print.

He awakens with terrified thoughts. The thought came too near to consciousness.

This interpretation makes clear why he “awakes with ’ thoughts of terror’ even after the idea that perhaps (his) children will achieve what has been denied to their father."

Is not the Jew also the one whose “identity is preserved through a series of generations through two thousand years” ? The thought really came very close. We should expect clear language after the dreams have repeated a subject so untiringly.

* * *

As for himself, he has solved the question. When this thinker tries to visualize in his dream the act of conversion it must appear humiliating and ridiculous to him. Should he really voluntarily attend a ritual and in the nave of a church participate in t he mysteries of communion in which as a psychologist he will soon recognize the symbolic swallowing of God by the devout person? He has a rather vague dream: He is a “volunteer” in a large salon with three windows” (Trinity), a battleship, a cruiser (Kreutzer is a battleship, but also a cross, Kreutzschiff-Kirchen-schiffnave of a church) on “dark water” (again dark water) on which “one can proceed quickly” , a narrow canal which leads into the ocean. “Breakfast-ship” may be a reversal of the last supper. “Comically truncated” is mentioned in the dream. Thoughts of his own death, “saddest thoughts of an unbeknown and mysterious future” Freud feels in this dream.


A Dream: “On account of something that is happening in Rome it is necessary to let the children flee, and this they do. The scene is then laid before a gate, a double gate, in ancient style (the Porta Romana in Siena, as I realize while I am dreaming). I am sitting on the edge of a well and am greatly depressed; I am almost weeping. A woman-a nurse, a nun-brings out the two boys and hands them over to their father, who is not myself. The elder is distinctly my eldest son, but I do not see the face of the other boy. The woman asks the elder boy for a parting kiss. She is remarkable for her red nose. The boy refuses her the kiss, but says to her, extending his hand in parting, ‘Auf Geseres’ , and to both of us (or to one of us) ‘Auf Ungeseres’ . I have the idea that this latter indicates a preference"

From Freud’s interpretation:

“This dream is built upon a tangle of thoughts induced by a play I saw at the theatre, called ‘Das neue Ghetto’ (the new Ghetto). The Jewish question, anxiety as to the future of my children, who cannot be given a fatherland, anxiety as to educating them so that they may enjoy the privilege of citizens-all these features may be easily recognized in the accompanying dream-thoughts."

"By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept. Siena, like Rome, is famous for its beautiful fountains “.

An association to a co-religionist who had to give up the position in a state asylum which he secured with great effort.

"Geseres is a Hebrew word and means ordained sufferings, doom... Ungeseres is a word I coined myself and at first I am at a loss regarding it. The brief observation at the end of the dream-that Ungeseres indicates an advantage over Geseres-opens the w ay to the associations and therewith to understanding. This relation holds good in the case of caviar; the unsalted kind is more highly prized than the salted. Caviar for the people-’ noble passions ’ ... But a connecting-link is wanting between the pair, salted-unsalted and Geseres-Ungeseres. This is to be found in gesaeuert and ungesaeuert (leavened and unleavened). In their flight-like exodus from Egypt the children of Israel had not time to allow their dough to become leavened, and in commemoration of this event they eat unleavened bread at Passover to this day."

My interpretation. Do I perform an act of grace for my children if I let them” flee” , if I make bigoted people of them (double gate- bi-gate). Catholics ("Rome” ), “Refugees” , chose a godfather for them ("hand them over to their father who is not myself” ), let them enact the kissing ceremonials of the church ? I should “not be a father anymore for my children” . Do not children who grow up in the Christian faith become estranged from their Jewish father? Would my children, thus torn, not become neurotics? (red nose-nez rose-Neurose-Neurosis).

But this will not happen. The older boy already seems to show a national or Jewish-religious attitude. In the eyes of Freud this latter would be a neurosis. The boy “refuses the kiss” and says he chooses for himself the ordained suffering and doom. He offers to his father what the father offered him in the dream: Auf Ungeseres “which indicates a preference over Geseres” .

In the earlier dreams already my interpretation disclosed what is here confirmed by Freud in his interpretation, namely, his worry about the future of his children as Jews. Thus my determination surely was correct.

But even on the occasion of this dream, Freud worried about the future of his children, did not make clear that he harbored a temptation in his heart and that there existed a plan to leave the Ghetto. Nowhere in his writings has he expressed this secret thought regarding himself and his family.

In this dream there occurs the curious sequence of sentences: “By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept. Siena, like Rome, is famous for its beautiful fountains” . The waters of Babylon brought up associations to waters in Siena and Rome? Here and there were the lands of exile. But Babylon’s waters were not for baptism. They were the waters of suffering; and here the waters of escape and salvation. The brave man chooses the stony road of the homeless for his lot. But it was hard to decide on the same fate for his children, when a tempter is calling day and night."

"I am almost weeping” . Suffering is chosen.

* * *

The question of religion is more important for boys than for girls as regards a successful career. The question has been decided for the boys; the girls also will remain in the house of their parents and their people.

In the next dream Freud fetches from a “Frau Doni” (my interpretation: “Ma Donna” ) his two little girls who had been left there and “I take them with me” with a feeling of relief.

He too will “stand before his children great and pure” , as he has said of his father.


The next dream: “I hear someone call out: ‘Hollthurn, 10 minutes’ . I immediately think of Holothuria-a museum of natural history-that here is a place where brave men have vainly resisted the dominating force of their overlord... Yes, the counterrefor mation in Austria!... I should like to leave the train but I hesitate to do so.... I hesitated, in doubt as to whether we have sufficient time but here we are still stationary... Suddenly I am in another compartment in which the leather and the seat s are so narrow that one’s back directly touches the chair-rest. I am surprised at this, but I may have changed carriages while asleep. Several people, among them an English brother and sister; a row of books plainly on a shelf on the wall.-I see ‘Wealth of Nations ’ , ‘Matter and Motion’ (by Maxwell).... The man asks his sister about a book by Schiller, whether she has forgotten it... I tell the brother and sister in English, referring to a certain book: ‘It is from...’ but I correct myself: ‘It is by...’ The man remarks to his sister: ’ He said it correctly’ ."

From Freud’s analysis: The dream was dreamed in the train. He has been slighted. “... in my compartment I had come upon a lady and a gentleman who seemed to be very distinguished people, and did not have the good breeding, or did not think it worth while , to conceal their displeasure at my intrusion. My polite greeting was not returned, and although they were sitting side by side (with their backs to the engine), the woman before my eyes hastened to pre-empt the seat opposite her, and next to the window, with her umbrella. The door was immediately closed, and pointed remarks about the opening of windows were exchanged. Probably I was quickly recognized as a person hungry for fresh air. It was a hot night, and the atmosphere of the compartment, closed on both sides, was almost suffocating... In my dream I take a terrible revenge on my disagreeable travelling companions."

Freud identifies himself with one of his patients in whose neurosis the idea that “all men are brothers” plays an important role and in whom “hostile impulses towards his father had been at the foot of his illness” .

My thoughts in regard to this dream:

Again an insult. The distinguished people in the compartment do not respond to the greeting of the Jewish physician. But his reaction is now a different one, he has already turned back in his unconscious. “I may have changed while asleep” . No surrender-a “ counter-reformation” has been proclaimed. “All men are brothers” . He, the son of “a series of generations two thousand years old “, wants to fight proudly, even if he fails, just as the “brave men against the dominating force” .

"I hesitated in doubt” , “I should like to leave the train” —enough of dreams about getting ahead: His position will be small (“narrow seat” ) but the interests of his nation ("Wealth of Nations” ) have become his own. His mother and his people (mother and nation possibly instead of “Matter and Motion” ) cannot be separated from him, his origin from the nation as little as his origin from his mother. Did you forget a book by Schiller? Which one might it be ? Was it the “Mission of Moses” which he really forgot? The number 10 also will remind us of Moses. Are not the English brother and sister a pair of angels (Engel) ? Does Holl-thurn not mean “turned back from hell” ? Is not: “It is from” - he is devout (fromm)?(9) Is not the glorious past of a people the philogenetic wealth of every son of this people? Can he allow this past to be blotted out by amnesia?"

"My parents were Jews, I too remained a Jew.” Thus wrote Freud in his autobiography in 1925.


  1. Freud: Traumdeutung.

  2. See my article: “Can a newly acquired language become the speech of the unconscious ? Word-plays in the dreams of Hebrew-thinking persons.” Imago, Band XX, Heft 2, The Psychoanalytic Review, Vol. XXI, No. 3, July.

  3. In the preface to his book of “Traumdeutung” (German edition), Gesammelte Schriften, 2. Band, Freud wrote: “With the presentation of my own dreams it became necessary to reveal more intimate details for the insight of the reader than I would like to do. This was painful but inevitable and I had to adjust myself. Naturally I could not resist the temptation through some omissions and replacements to diminish the indiscretion.” To the dream about “Old Bruecke” Freud did say: “I think of the effort it cost me to make public even my work on dreams, in which I had to surrender so much of my own intimate nature. ‘The best that you know you can’t tell the boys.’” These remarks make us think the omissions concern only some important experiences of intimate nature, not the leading ideas of interpretation.

  4. *Trimethyamin remained a riddle for Freud in another dream. Tri-three; amin-Amen-belief in the trinity (baptism).

  5. “White flowers” are the symbol of anti-semitism, as we shall see from another dream. The rock, by way of associations, had led the dreamer to the anecdotes about Jews.

  6. Cf. The stole used in the first phase of baptismal ceremonies “ must be violet.” Catholic Encycl., Vol. 4, “color.”

  7. Freud’s italics.

  8. In some of Freud’s dreams we find plays on words in English. See later.

  9. “This interpretation (“it is from” as er ist fromm) by Freud himself I found later in a footnote some hundred pages away from the text of the dream.