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Bergler, E. (1943). A Third Function of the 'Day Residue' in Dreams. Psychoanal Q., 12:353-370.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:353-370

A Third Function of the 'Day Residue' in Dreams

Edmund Bergler

In discovering the meaning of the 'day residue' in dreams, Freud has provided us with one of the most significant guiding posts in the interpretation of dreams. In the first edition of his Traumdeutung, published in 1899, the founder of psychoanalysis was already able to prove that there was no simple repetition of the day's events in sleep, but that a selection took place. From the multitudinous mass of thoughts, things read, things experienced, only those were chosen which seemed particularly suited to represent unconscious material. Hence the significance of the 'day residue' could be described as an 'acceptable package wrapping in which contraband articles are smuggled across the border'. 'We … learn', says Freud, 'that an unconscious idea, as such, is quite incapable of entering into the preconscious, and that it can exert an influence there only by establishing touch with a harmless idea already belonging to the preconscious, to which it transfers its intensity, and by which it allows itself to be screened'. Freud gives the example of a dentist practicing in a foreign land who protects himself against the law by associating himself with a native doctor of medicine who then serves him as a signboard and legal 'cover'. 'We thus see that the day residues, among which we may now include the indifferent impressions, not only borrow something from the unconscious, when they secure a share in dream formation—namely, the motive power at the disposal of the repressed wish—but they also offer to the unconscious something that is indispensable to it, namely, the points of attachment necessary for transference.' On the other hand, the cathexis of the unpleasant residue is offset by the wish fulfilment of the dream, and so the dream is preserved as the protector of sleep.

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