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(1943). Untranslated Freud—(9) Some Additional Notes Upon Dream-Interpretation as a Whole (1925). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 24:71-75.

(1943). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 24:71-75

Untranslated Freud—(9) Some Additional Notes Upon Dream-Interpretation as a Whole (1925)

(A) THE POSSIBLE LIMITS OF INTERPRETATION

It may be asked whether it is possible to give a complete and assured translation into the language of waking life (that is, an interpretation) of every product of dream-life. This question will not be treated in the abstract but with reference to the conditions under which one works at interpreting dreams.

Our mental activities pursue either a useful aim or the immediate attainment of pleasure. In the former case what we are dealing with are intellectual judgements, preparations for action or information conveyed to other people. In the latter case we describe them as play or phantasy. What is useful is itself (as is well known) only a circuitous path to pleasurable satisfaction. Now, dreaming is an activity of the second kind, which is indeed, from the point of view of evolution, the earlier one. It is misleading to say that dreams are concerned with the tasks of life before us or seek to find a solution for the problems of our daily work. That is the business of preconscious thought. Useful work of this kind is as remote from dreams as is any intention of conveying information to another person. When a dream deals with a problem of actual life, it solves it in the manner of an irrational wish and not in the manner of a reasonable reflection. There is only one useful task, only one function, that can be ascribed to a dream, and that is the guarding of sleep from interruption. A dream may be described as a piece of phantasy working on behalf of the maintenance of sleep.

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