In the introductory to The Interpretation of Dreams – New Developments and Technique – Vol 1, Wilhelm Stekel states that thirty years have passed since Freud gave the world his “epoch-making work” Die Traumdeutung. With great stress he insists, “it would be most unseemly to minimize the importance of that book. Never before did any investigator show so much self-sacrifice in confessing his inner life ; never before did a psychologist grasp and expound the nature of the dream in so unconventional a way, plough so deep a furrow, fight so strenuously on behalf of scientific truth. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the book was no more than a beginning.”
This precedes a highlighting of Freud’s faults: that the manifest content of the dreams were neglected; that an over-estimated importance was placed on associations which were meant to reveal the dreamer’s latent thoughts; that Freud fixated on dreams as “wish fulfillment” and fit every interpretation to this idea. However, he held high Freud’s findings with displacement, condensation, transfer from below upwards, etc. as valid and verifiable. Though again, this wasn’t outweighed by the fact that Freud viewed every dream as a way to test his method only.
“A decisive advance in dream interpretation was effected when we passed on from the passive method of free associations to active interpretation––an interpretation which lays more stress upon the manifest content of the dream, and is less inclined to have recourse to artificialized and forced explanations of the alleged dream content.”
(Thought to digest: would there be a more active interpretation to dreams than what is available to us in Hypnosis? I aim to play with this idea in articles on ‘Past Life Regression’ and for some history on ‘Egyptian Sleep Temples’.)
Wilhelm wrote that no member of the Freudian schools had advanced dream interpretation due to their confining themselves to the “masters rules”. He then prepared to outline his works and study, but before doing so offered a notice for those who will choose to be receptive: “This method can be learned by those who approach it without prejudice. Of course intuition is essential. By intuition I mean here empathy––imaginative insight into the working of the dreamer’s mind. This empathy is only possible to one who is free from complexes, has as much inner freedom as a human being can achieve.”
Lastly, he brought up an important idea to remember: that of the Polyphony of Thought.
We have thought which is in words, and thought which is without words (thought in statu nascendi) which is undirected thinking (dreaming) and operates as thinking in images. Polyphony of Thought implies that both thoughts run simultaneously. We never stop dreaming even throughout the day. Thought without words can also be called Feeling Thought. (An extra note for occultists: Bring to mind the Astral Light. For example; Eliphas Levi speaking of the ability to see sly people as foxes, the brave as lions, etc. with the astral vision.)
This article is dealing with sleep induced dreams however, not mysticism and visions. Stekel writes: “The dream expresses a search for deliverance from the life conflict. Since this latter, the “current conflict,” is usually an expression of the individual’s conflict constellation, it follows that by “magnifying” the present-day conflict we shall often be enabled to discern the pertinent life conflict.”
Of course, beyond the introductory, the book itself is fantastic, and I’ll reference it often throughout future articles given the impact it has had on my work. Though for this article I want to return to the idea that Freud fixated on his ideology too strongly, with a client case of Freuds which Wilhelm looked at.
Freud La Lune
An excerpt of the dream in question: “Spending summer beside Lake –––––– she flings herself into the dark waters at the place where the pale moon is mirrored.”
As Freud works with contraries, flinging into the water thus becomes emerging from the water; a birth dream. The moon representing the backside, which was interpreted through infantile theory of sex as to where a baby is born from. Therefor the dream was interpreted by Freud as meaning that she is hoping that her cure, her rebirth, will be continued during her summer vacation at lake ––––––.
Though this appears to be misguided. Stekel begins to correct, “Let me take this opportunity of insisting that it is long since I gave up trying to interpret dreams by contraries. I am firmly convinced that the manifest content of the dream will plainly disclose its main significance to the experienced interpreter. Control experiments made by colleagues using the method of free association have again and again shown me the superior advantage of my own plan. I therefor no longer ‘turn a dream inside out’ to discover its meaning, nor do I find it necessary to adopt any of the artifices which have brought dream interpretation into discredit among many serious thinkers–who maintain that in this way a dream may be made to signify anything you please.”
Stekel then shows his masterful work in dissecting the dream. The chapter this is brought up in is titled Symbols of the Mind. Throughout The Interpretation of Dreams, he insists that water represents the mind. So in this specific case the dark waters represents the stirrings of her memories and subconscious. She dives into the pale moon mirrored on the water, the moon (the ass) representing Freud. “For he is not the sun, which warms her and illumines ; he is only the pale moon. And what does he read in her mind? Merely his own image, reflected in the surface of her psyche. This, then, for me, is the meaning of the dream. Addressing the analyst, she says: “I shall produce neither associations nor memories during the analysis, but shall await the time when you are on leave and I am at Lake –––––– in the fresh air of the mountains. Then, I shall revive all the associations, all the deep thoughts, which are hidden from you because in my psyche you can find only the reflection of your own ego.”
Put it this way, if Stekel was a modern day MC, it would be about here where he’d drop the mic and walk off. So I’ll leave it at that.