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Scott, W.M. (1975). Remembering Sleep and Dreams. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 2:253-354.

(1975). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 2:253-354

Remembering Sleep and Dreams

W. Clifford M. Scott

I wit I wot but I forgot.


O Sleep! thou flatterer of happy minds.





When Freud began to listen to patients' stories of their lives, their dreams were naturally part of the story. Eventually, he had an idea which he felt was the most important new idea he ever had. It was so important that he felt, as a scientist, that he was one of those lucky enough to have a very fruitful idea once in a lifetime. Like many scientific discoveries, it was very simple. He discovered that dreams showed disguised attempts to fulfil wishes which often dated from infancy. When he applied this idea to the dreams patients told him, he was surprised and gratified to discover that so many mysteries of development began to become clearer.

When he asked patients to tell him more about their associations to parts of their dreams, he discovered that their thoughts led to infantile wishes which could not have been satisfied in the culture in which the patients lived or in the family situation in which they had developed. These wishes were disguised in such a way that sleep was preserved or protected, unless the emotion connected with the attempted wish fulfilment was so great, or the dream was repeated with such increasing emotion, that continued sleep became impossible.

He discovered that in attempting self-understanding, not only the history of one's changing neurotic symptoms, but also the causes of slips of the tongue and other minor accidents of behaviour, such as temporary forgetting, could be studied with profit by paying attention to dreams.

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