4. A Metapsychological Supplement to the Theory of Dreams (1917 [1915])

The discussion is about the effects produced by the state of sleep on the different 'systems' of the mind, which in turn resolves itself into the problem of hallucination and an investigation of how it is that in our normal state we are able to distinguish between phantasy and reality.

Freud begins this paper by emphasising the heuristic value of comparing certain states and normal pathological affections - such as the state of sleep and dreaming.

Somatically, sleep is a reactivation of intra-uterine existence, fulfilling the conditions of repose, warmth and exclusion of stimulus. In investigating psychoneurotic states, in each a temporal regression is found - of two distinguishing types - one affecting the development of the ego, and the other affecting that of the libido - in sleep the latter restores primitive narcissism and the former returns to the state of hallucinatory satisfaction of wishes. These two points can be summed as reflecting the egoism and narcissism that make up dreams. Since whilst we know that dreams are instigated by residues from the previous day - they still retain either original or otherwise libidinal or other interest.

Furthermore, Freud notes that to fend off interruption during sleep, a dream is a projection, an externalisation of an internal process (a defence mechanism found many areas of psychical life). Freud then looks further at the interaction between the roles of the days residues and the libidinal and ego orientated impulses in the make up of dreams, and how the vicissitudes undergone by each are represented if at all - i.e. by pressing from Pcs to Cs, or bypassing Cs and being released as motor discharge, or taking an unexpected path, traceable through observation. - in dreams though it seems that the oath taken is remarkable and unforeseen - a sort of topographical regression - rather than a temporal regression.

Freud then looks at the differences between the delusions and hallucinatory aspects of dreams and schizophrenia - the main one being that in schizophrenia the words themselves in which the preconscious thought was expressed, are modified, however in dreams not the words but the thing presentation itself is modified.

Freud also looks at the completion of dreams, consisting in the thought content - such that it becomes acceptable as a sense perception - i.e. is hallucinated. He looks at explanations behind how dreams achieve the results of both bringing hidden or repressed wishes into consciousness and representing them with the subject's entire belief, as fulfilled. H also raises the important point of how we distinguish perceptions from ideas, in waking life - 'reality- testing'. He answers this with reference to the third psychical system - the Cs, attributing conscious perception and discrimination between what is internal and external, to a particular system of this Cs.

Light is also thrown on the mechanism of this discrimination. From looking at pathology, where reality testing may be done away with - Freud looks especially at the wishful psychosis of amentia, and the hallucinatory psychosis of schizophrenia.

In conclusion, Freud proposes that dreams are the residues of mental activity, made possible by the fact that the narcissistic state of sleep has yet to be completely established. The topography of the process of repression thence clarifies the mechanism of mental disturbances - in dreams the withdrawal of libido or interest (cathexis) affects all systems equally, in transference neuroses, the Pcs. cathexis is withdrawn, in schizophrenia, the cathexis of the Ucs, in amentia, that of the Cs.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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