ask Dr. Freud: dreams

Dear Dr. Freud,

I heard that you believe every dream is the fulfillment of a wish on the part of the dreamer. I have a recurrent dream of toadstools growing all over the skirt and train of my wedding dress. I defy you to find a wish in this dream! I am getting married next month and toadstools would be my worst nightmare.

Sincerely,

Worried Bride To Be

Dear WBTB,

I am afraid I’m unable to interpret your dream via the post. I need to converse at length with the dreamer to establish context and unearth what is latent under the dream’s manifest content.

For example: you might suddenly recall, during your own extended musings on your dream, that as a child on a family picnic you saw your father chase your laughing mother with a toad. Your dream’s narrative has simply transcoded the central object of the memory into the word “toadstool.” In this case the dream could dramatize your wish for a marriage as happy as your parents’.

Or say, for instance, that your mother has insisted on a fancier wedding dress than you desired, or that the lace has not come up to your expectations. Your dream might be playing out your dissatisfaction with the wish: “I’d rather be covered with toadstools than with these gaudy trimmings,” or even “This will teach mother to interfere!”

Dream interpretation is even more complex than this, however. If a dream stirs up a repressed wish, it will simultaneously generate accompanying material that obscures or denies it. Strong feelings of fondness or disgust in dreams are often indicators of such denial and can typically be taken as confirmation that, deep down, the dreamer feels quite the opposite.

Again, you would need to visit my office to unpack your toadstool dream properly.

My best wishes for your marriage,

Sigmund Freud.

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