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Ferenczi, S. (1922). The Symbolism of the Bridge. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 3:163-168.

(1922). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 3:163-168

The Symbolism of the Bridge

S. Ferenczi

In establishing the symbolic relation of an object or an action to an unconscious phantasy we must first have recourse to conjectures, which necessarily undergo considerable modifications and often complete transformation with wider experience. Indications flooding in on one, as they often do, from the most diverse spheres of knowledge offer important confirmation; so that all branches of individual and group psychology can take their share in the establishment of a special symbolic relation. Dream-interpretation and analysis of neuroses, however, remain, as before, the most trustworthy foundation of every kind of symbolism, because in them we can observe in anima vili the motivation, and further the whole genesis, of mental structures of this kind. A feeling of certainty about a symbolic relation can, in my opinion, only be attained in psycho-analysis. Symbolic interpretations in other fields of knowledge (mythology, fairy-tales, folk-lore, etc.) always bear the impress of being superficial, two-dimensional: they tend to produce a lurking feeling of incertitude, an idea that the meaning might just as well have been something else, and indeed in these fields there is always a tendency to go on imposing new interpretations on the same content. The absence of a third dimension may well be what distinguishes the unsubstantial allegory from the symbol—a thing of flesh and blood.

Bridges often play a striking part in dreams. In the interpretation of the dreams of neurotics one is frequently confronted with the question of the typical meaning of the bridge, particularly when no historical fact apropos of the dream-bridge occurs to the patient.

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