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77. Эмпирические доказательства вневременности бессознательного. К. Халл, В. Нордби

77. Empirical Evidence for the Timelessness of the Unconscious. Calvin S. Hall and Vernon J. Nordby

(This investigation was supported in part by a USPHS reseaich grant No. MH 07457-ol from the National Institute of Mental Health, Public Health Service)

University of California, Santa Cruz, USA

  "The primitive mind is, in the fullest
 meaning of the word, imperishable".



The contents of the unconscious are, according to Freud, timeless. They are not dated, as conscious memories are, nor do they have a history. They exist in a psychological eternity in which there is no past, no present, and no future. (Freud, 1933, pp. 104-105)

Of course, they have a beginning but like the birth of a baby the date of their beginning is merely a vital statistic, a fact to be entered in a ledger as tangible proof that a person has been born. Even when an unconscious item is brought into consciousness by psychoanalysis and its birth date established, the date itself is a biographical fact without psychological significance.

The implications of the timeless nature of the contents of the unconscious for comprehending human behavior are so far-reaching that any evidence for the validity of a timeless id is eagerly to be sought. For if human behavior is motivated solely by unconscious wishes which are timeless, as Freud believed, then it follows that there will be no changes in the motives of a person after the age when the unconscious is fully formed. This age is usually assumed to be five or six by which time the child has passed through the pregenital stages and is entering the latency period. Whether the contents of the unconscious are laid down to any extent by heredity-an hypothesis which Freud did not reject and which Jung made explicit in his concept of a collective unconscious-is not under scrutiny in the present investigation. It is enough of a task for us to try to secure evidence for timelessness. If supporting evidence is found, then future investigation can tackle the question of whether the timeless unconscious is phylogenetic in origin.

By this time, the reader may be up in arms. "Do you mean to say that there are no changes in behavior after the age of five?" Obviously behavior does change. But these changes are not due to changes in the id but to developments that take place in the ego and superego as a consequence of the person's interactions with the external world and from maturation. These changes, striking, as they may appear to be, do not alter the nature of the id and consequently do not produce alterations in the motives of a person. The ego and the superego may place limits on or provide alternate channels for the fulfillment of id wishes but neither the ego or the superego have nor can they obtain wishes of their own. There are in Freudian theory no wishes which are autonomous or independent of the id. Later-day psychoanalytic theorists, and of course many psychologists have assumed that there are autonomous ego or superego motives but against such a view Freud contended throughout his life. His theory of motivation began and ended with the id. The ego and superego can direct, dispose of, and bind energy but they cannot motivate.

Where shall we seek evidence for the hypothesis that the contents of the unconscious are timeless-evidence which will meet the stern standards of a positivistic psychology? It seems to me that the most feasible place to look for such evidence is in dreams because it is in dreams that id wishes do get or attempt to get fulfilled more directly than they do in waking behavior. Actually, it is not that simple-to find id wishes in dreams-because a dream is rarely a product solely of the id. The ego and superego help to shape a dream in the same manner, although possibly not to the same extent, that they shape waking behavior. Consequently, it is often as difficult to identify the unconscious wish in a dream as it is in a piece of waking behavior. Psychoanalysts employ the technique of free association to discover the wish in a dream but this is an arduous and time-consuming task, particularly when the investigator has set for himself demanding quantitative standards.

Therefore, instead of trying to identify wishes in dreams we have adopted a different strategy. This strategy was suggested to us by Freud's defense of his wish-fulfillment theory of dreams. He writes:

"The assertion that dreams are wish-fulfillments will easily arouse skepticism when it is remembered how many dreams have a positively painful content or even wake the sleeper with anxiety, quite apart from the numerous dreams without any definite feeling tones. (1940, p. 56)

He denied, however, that such dreams refute the basic wish-fulfilling purpose of dreams. "We have kept our theory intact by dividing dreams into wish-dreams, anxiety-dreams, and punishment-dreams". (1933, p. 43) To these three classes may be added two more which Freud identified-the neutral dream and the traumatic dream.

Five Kinds of Dreams

In order to comprehend the empirical strategy which is employed in the present investigation and the justification for deriving the hypotheses in the way we have done, it is necessary to describe the five kinds of dreams identified by Freud.

Wish dreams. There are some dreams, probably not many, which portray directly or in transparent symbols the fulfillment of an id wish. Freud believed that such dreams might be found more frequently in children but our impression from reading hundreds of children's dreams is that simple wish dreams are no more common in childhood than they are in adulthood. Evidence for this impression is contained in the findings of the present study. It 122 may be, however, that the dreams of very young children - under the age of three or four - are predominately wish dreams. Unfortunately, our sample of dreams from this young age is very small.

Anxiety dreams. Freud discussed anxiety dreams in the first edition of The Interpretation of Dreams, and gave as the explanation for them that the fulfillment of a wish originating in one system (the unconscious) could produce anxiety in another system (the preconscious). (1900, pp. 556-557; 580) Feeling, perhaps, that he had not made himself clear or that he had not been sufficiently emphatic, Freud added this footnote in 1919:

"No doubt a wish-fulfillment must bring pleasure; but the question then arises, 'To whom?'. To the person who has the wish, of course. But, as we know, a dreamer's relation to his wishes is a quite peculiar one. He repudiates them and censors them - he has no liking for them, in short. So that their fulfillment will give him no pleasure, but just the opposite; and experience shows that this opposite appears in the form of anxiety..." (1900, p. 580).

At the end of his life, he was still saying the same thing.

"But the objection based upon anxiety dreams cannot be sustained against analysis - something that is a satisfaction for the unconscious id may for that very reason be a cause of anxiety for the ego" (1940, p. 56).

Punishment dreams. Freud gave at least three explanations for punishment dreams. In 1900, he suggested that punishment dreams may be caused by masochistic impulses (1900, p. 476). Then, in a paragraph added in 1919 to the discussion of punishment dreams, he thought they represented the fulfillment of a punitive wish on the part of the ego (1900, p. 557). Finally, in 1922, he said a punishment dream is a reaction formation by the ego against the dream thoughts (1922, p. 118).

As far as I am able to determine, Freud did not follow up the explanation of punishment dreams in terms of masochistic impulses. It is strange he did not because the concept of masochism eventually led him, along with other considerations, to postulate a death instinct. Had he done so, he could have attributed punishment dreams to the death instinct and kept his wish-fulfillment theory intact, at least in this respect. As far as I know, the death instinct was not utilized by Freud to explain dreams, although, of course, he discussed death-wish dreams.

Whether punishment dreams are ego punishments or ego reaction-formations is of no great import; they probably mean exactly the same thing. It is scarcely necessary to point out that when the ego punishes the id it does so at the dictation of the superego.

What is important is that a punishment dream is constructed in order to protect sleep (Freud, 1922, p. 118). For if the ego did not react by constructing a punishment dream, the fulfillment of an id impulse might produce anxiety in the ego sufficient to awaken the person. And it must always be borne in mind, Freud reminds us, that the superordinate wish which motivates every dream is the wish to sleep. Any dream which does not fulfill this wish is a failure.

The punishment dream, according to Freud, does not abrogate the wish- fulfillment doctrine because the ego can only make a dream when it is activated by an id wish.

Neutral dreams. A neutral dream is one which has no definite feeling tone. The ego has succeeded in neutralizing the wish, so that there is neither pleasure nor anxiety.

Traumatic dreams. The traumatic dream is the exception to the proposition that dreams are fulfillments of wishes. They occur in traumatic neurosis, during psychoanalysis when traumas of childhood are brought back to memory, and outside of analysis. In short, a traumatic dream may appear at any time.

"The fulfillment of wishes is, as we know, brought about in a hallucinatory manner by dreams, and under the dominance of the pleasure principle this has become their function. But it is not in the service of that principle that the dreams of patients suffering from traumatic neuroses lead them back with such regularity to the situation in which the trauma occurred. We may assume, rather, that dreams are here helping to carry out another task, which must be accomplished before the dominance of the pleasure principle can even begin. These dreams, are endeavoring to master the stimulus retrospectively, by developing the anxiety whose omission was the cause of the traumatic neurosis. They thus afford us a view of the function of the mental apparatus which, though it does not contradict the pleasure principle, is nevertheless independent of it and seems to be more primitive than the purpose of gaining pleasure and avoiding unpleasure". (1920, p. 32).

This momentous paragraph is followed on the next page by an equally momentous sentence. "If there is a 'beyond the pleasure principle', it is only consistent to grant that there was also a time before the purpose of dreams was the fulfillment of wishes" (1920, p. 33). When was this time? In childhood. "The traumatic neurosis is an extreme case, but one must also attribute a traumatic character to the infantile experiences as well" (1933, p. 46). Since adult dreams contain material from infancy - "all the imperishable and unrealizable desires which provide the energy for the formation of dreams throughout one's whole life are bound up with these childish experiences..." (1933, p. 44) - it follows that there will be 'beyond the pleasure principle' dreams throughout life.

Derivation of the Empirical Hypotheses

This concludes our discussion of the five types of dreams distinguished by Freud. It is now our purpose to show how we propose to use these types of dreams for realizing the objective of deriving and testing hypotheses regarding the timelessness of the material in the unconscious.

The wish dream and the neutral dream are not serviceable for our purpose; the former because it is uncommon, the latter because the id wishes have been silenced. This leaves the anxiety dream, the punishment dream, and the traumatic dream. It is clear from Freud's description of the first two that they bespeak the presence of wishes which have been or are on the verge of being satisfied in a dream. In other words, we can use the presence of anxiety or punishment in dreams as objective and dependable indicators of wishes.

For the purpose of this investigation, it is not necessary for us to distinguish anxiety dreams from punishment dreams. As a matter of fact, we take into account in this study only those dreams in which the dreamer specifically states that he was afraid or anxious. In some cases, he is afraid of being punished or he feels guilty because he had done something wrong. But if he is punished and does not say that he feels afraid, anxious, or guilty, that dream forms no part of this investigation.

The traumatic dream does play havoc with our plans. For how are we to distinguish between anxiety which is evoked by a fulfilled or incipient wish and anxiety which is produced by a traumatic experience?

Fortunately, it is not necessary for us to distinguish between the ego's tear of the id and repetitive traumatic fears in order to test hypotheses concerning the timelessness of the contents of the id. For not only does the unconscious contain wishes but it also contains fears. In his essay on anxiety, Freud says that traumatic experiences of childhood are preserved in the unconscious, and the id's tendency to repeat causes them to find expression in dreams. So there is not only a timeless quality to unconscious wishes but also unconscious traumas.

But it would be disingenuous of us to skip lightly over the distinction between anxiety dreams and traumatic dreams. Perhaps, we can make some empirical capital out of the distinction, and thereby add another dimension to the present investigation. It will be risk capital because there are no established theoretical or empirical guidelines. We can, at least, start from firm ground. Freud says that a traumatic situation is one which has actually been experienced, not just fantasied, and that it produces in the person a feeling of helplessness. It has happened to the person sometime in his life, or if one wishes to consider the possibility of phylogenetic origins, sometime in the history of the human species. The point to bear in mind is that the danger which precipitates a feeling of helplessness is an external danger.

The traumatic situation par excellence is, of course, the trauma of birth, but throughout infancy, as Freud points out, the infant "is really not equipped to master psychically the large sums of excitation that reach him whether from without or from within". (1926, p. 146) The "within" in this case refers to bodily conditions, e. g. extreme hunger, gastric disturbances, and the like. But each particular period of psychosexual development has its own dangers. "At a certain period of his life his most important interest really is that the people he is dependent on should not withdraw their loving care of him. Later on in his boyhood, when he feels that his father is a power rival in regard to his mother and becomes aware of his own aggressive inclinations towards him and of his sexual intentions towards his mother, he really is justified in being afraid of his father; and his fear of being punished by him can find expression through phylogenetic reinforcement in the fear of being castrated. Finally, as he enters into social relationships it really is necessary for him to be afraid of his super-ego, to have a conscience..." (1926, pp. 146-147).

Freud distinguishes between a traumatic situation and a danger situation. A traumatic situation overwhelms the person with large sums of excitation whereas a danger situation is one which the person is prepared for, to some extent, and may even anticipate. "Anxiety is the original reaction to helplessness in the trauma and is reproduced later on in the danger situation as a signal for help. The ego which experienced the trauma passively, now repeats it actively in a weakened version in the hope of being able to direct its course. It is certain that children behave in this fashion towards every distressing impression they receive, by reproducing it in their play. In thus changing from passivity to activity they attempt to master their experiences psychically". (1926, pp. 166-167).

In another place Freud observes that dreaming as well as playing is an attempt to master the traumatic experience.

From this discussion, there emerges a new dimension: the helplessness-mastery dimension. In anxiety and traumatic dreams, one might expect to find that the capability of the dreamer to deal with a traumatizing situation increases with age. Granted that there be just as many anxiety dreams in adults as there are in children, we might conjecture that adults will demonstrate greater mastery of the threatening situations in their dreams than children do. But we are compelled to hedge on this conjecture in the light of other considerations. First, Freud himself hedges on the question of the ego's capacity for mastering the traumatic experiences of cnildhood. In the paragraph quoted above his reservations about this matter are made plain by such phrases as "in the hope of being able to direct its course" and "they attempt to master their experiences psychically". On the same page as the paragraph quoted above, Freud asks why the person "after he has learned to master stimuli, to look after his own needs, to learn that castration is no longer practised as a punishment, does he behave as though the old danger-situations still exist, and keeps hold of all the earlier determinants of anxiety?" (1926, p. 147) Partly because he has not really mastered the dangers and partly because the dangers have become Hydra-headed through the process of transference. For example, tear of castration may appear in a new guise as fear of venereal disease. This spread of effect means that the task of the ego isgreatly increased. Here, as in many other places in his writings, contemporary psychoanalytic theorists notwithstanding, Freud shows where he stands on the question of the ego's strength relative to the id's strength.

So if the ego is as weak as Freud always found it to be, there might not be much of a decrease in the number of mastery-of-anxiety dreams from childhood to adulthood.

There is another consideration, too. If a traumatic experience can be mastered, that is, bound by the ego, whether in dreams or in play or a host of other ways, then the battle with that traumatic experience has been won - consequently, there is no need any longer to dream about it. The trauma will have been abreacted.

In the light of these considerations we are faced by a dilemma. In the dreams of adults will there be a greater number of dreams in which the danger situation is dealt with effectively than there are in children? Or will there be no difference between adults and children? We are going to bet on the latter.

The Hypotheses

The theoretical proposition which is under investigation in this study is the timelessness of the contents of the id. The empirical propositions which are to be tested are the following ones.

1. The number of dreams in which the dreamer experiences anxiety does not change significantly with age.

2. The kinds of danger situations which evoke anxiety in dreams do not change significantly with age.

3. The dreamer's capacity for dealing with anxiety-producing situations in his dreams does not change significantly with age.

The Subjects

The subjects for this investigation consisted of 770 individuals from whom either single dreams (one dream per person) or dream series (more than one dream per person) were collected. The dreams were written down on a standard report form by the dreamer himself, usually on the day following the dream, or in the case of some of the younger children their dreams were told to an adult who wrote them down verbatim. The 770 individuals consisted of eight groups, which are described in the following table.

Table 1
Table 1

Identification and Classification of Anxiety Dreams

A manual for the identification and classification of experienced anxiety in dreams was constructed. (Institute of Dream Research, 1962) The presence of fear or anxiety in a dream is defined by the dreamer himself in reporting the dream. It is never inferred from events in the dream. If the dreamer relates a dream in which he is being chased or attacked but does not say that he felt afraid or anxious (or some equivalent term), this is not counted as an anxiety dream. He must say he felt anxious, afraid, apprehensive, terrified, guilty, worried, or use some equivalent term or expression, e. g., "I woke up in a cold sweat" in reporting the dream or in answer to a question about the emotions he felf during the dream which is printed in the standard report form, in this investigation we are concerned only with the fears of dreamer and not to any fears which he may attribute to other characters in his dreams.

Thirteen classes of dream situations in which the dreamer experiences fear or anxiety or an equivalent emotion are described in the manual. These are as follows:

1. The dreamer is being chased, followed, or attacked or is afraid he is going to be chased, followed, or attacked. (Abbreviation: chased-attacked)

2. The dreamer has committed, or is planning to commit, or is accused of having committed a crime, a misdemeanor, or something which is socially prohibited or frowned upon. (Abbreviation: crime)

3. Actual or anticipated injury, sickness, or danger to the dreamer or to one of his possessions. Excluded from this class are those which fall in class 1 or 2. (Abbreviation: adversity to dreamer)

4. Actual or threatened adversity to a person (other than the dreamer) or to one of his possessions. It is the dreamer's apprehension concerning danger to the other person, and not any emotion that the dreamer may attribute to the threatened person, which is counted. (Abbreviation: adversity to another person)

5. Dreamer falling or in danger of falling. (Abbreviation: falling)

6. Dreamer apprehensive concerning a school examination, assignment or grade. (Abbreviation: examination)

7. Dreamer cannot find or reach a person, place or object. (Abbreviation: lost)

8. Dreamer is late or is in danger of being late for something such as a train or class or appointment. (Abbreviation: late)

9. Dreamer loses or is afraid of losing the love or friendship of another person. (Abbreviation: loss of love)

10. Dreamer feels inadequate. (Abbreviation: inadequate)

11. Dreamer frightened by an animal, unless already classified in classes 1 or 3. (Abbreviation: animal)

12. Dreamer experiences anxiety but does not know why he does. (Abbreviation: nameless)

13. Miscellaneous.

In the theoretical introduction to this article, it was pointed out that Freud made a distinction between anxiety dreams and punishment dreams. Our class 2 and possibly other classes contain what would be described as punishment dreams. But a dream in which punishment occurs is only counted when there is some attendant anxiety or guilt. There may be punishment dreams in which the dreamer does not experience these or comparable emotions but these were omitted from consideration in the present study. In effect, then, this is a study of fear and anxiety in dreams.

Another manual was constructed by which a classification of the dreamer's reaction to the fear-producing situation could be categorized. Three types of reactions and their consequences were identified.

The dreamer makes no attempt whatsoever to deal with the anxiety-producing situation.

The dreamer makes some attempt but it is unsuccessful or the outcome is uncertain.

The dreamer makes an attempt to deal with the anxiety-producing situation and he is successful in coping with the situation. Included in this class are the very few cases in which the outcome was successful either because someone else came to the dreamer's assistance or because of a "magical" change in the situation.

The writer and another psychologist made independent classifications of 1/3 anxiety dreams into these three classes. The percentage of agreement was 82.

The Results

The findings which bear upon the first hypothesis appear in Table 2. The first hypothesis states, it will be recalled, that the number of dreams in which the dreamer experiences fear or anxiety or an equivalent emotion will not change significantly with age.

Table 2. Proportion of Anxiety Dreams by Age and Sex
Table 2. Proportion of Anxiety Dreams by Age and Sex

The average proportion of dreams in which the dreamer experiences anxiety for the dream series groups was obtained by calculating the proportion for each dream series, summing the proportions of all the dream series in a group, and dividing by the N of the group.

The test of the hypothesis is to determine whether the differences between each group of children and each corresponding group of young adults is significant, It will be observed that in each of the four comparisons between children and adults, the proportion of fear in children's dreams exceeds the proportion of fear in adult dreams. This consistency speaks against the hypothesis.

When the differences are put to a statistical test, the differences in proportions for the dream series of children and adults are not significant, whereas the difference between the single dreams of male children and male adults is significant at the 5 per cent level, and the difference between the single dreams of girls and young women is significant at the 1 per cent level.

Since the results from the several groups are not consistent when measured by a statistical criterion of significance, the hypothesis cannot be said to be confirmed. There is evidence that the incidence of anxiety in dreams decreases with age. But the magnitude of the decrease is not very great - from .58 to .44 in the case of males and from .65 to .50 in the case of females. Furthermore, we feel that the results obtained from the analysis of dream series have greater validity than those obtained from the analysis of single dreams. It will be observed that the proportions derived for single dreams are higher than those for dream series. Apparently when a person reports only one dream he is apt to report a striking or outstanding dream. This would inflate the number of anxiety dreams in single dream reports. It is conceivable that children who report just one dream might relate an anxiety dream oftener than do young adults who report just one dream, and that this selective factor is responsible for the obtained differences. So although the hypothesis cannot be accepted, it should not be rejected either on the basis of these findings.

Table 3. Incidence of Dreams in the Thirteen Classes of Anxiety-Provoking Situations (All Groups Combined)
Table 3. Incidence of Dreams in the Thirteen Classes of Anxiety-Provoking Situations (All Groups Combined)

No hypotheses were derived concerning sex differences because there is no theoretical reason to assume that the timelessness of the unconscious differs for males and females. There is a very slight and insignificant tendency for females of both age groups to experience more anxiety in their dreams than males do. We conclude that there is no sex difference.

The second hypothesis states that the kinds of danger situations which evoke anxiety in the dreamer will not differ significantly with age. In terms of the data, the hypothesis states that the incidence in each of the twelve classes of fear-provoking situations (omitting the miscellaneous category) will be about the same for children and young adults. Since the incidence in some classes is small, as the following table shows, we have selected for statistical evaluation only those categories in which the incidence is sufficiently large to warrant quantitative treatment.

We have selected out of this list those classes with an incidence of 25 or more. These classes are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 11, and 12. The miscellaneous class is not included for the obvious reason that it is made up of a number of different fear-provoking situations.

The proportion of chased-attacked dreams is higher for children than [for adults in every comparison as Table 4 shows. Since this is the case, we have combined all of the children groups and all of the adult groups. The proportion for children is .40, and for adults .17. The difference between these proportions is significant at less than the 1 per cent level.

Table 4. Proportion of Chased-Attacked Drearrs by Age and Sex
Table 4. Proportion of Chased-Attacked Drearrs by Age and Sex

Just the opposite is found for crime dreams and adversity-to-dreamer dreams. Adults have more of these two types of anxiety dreams than children. The results are presented in Tables 5 and 6.

From inspection of Table 5 we see that all of the adult groups, with the exception of one equality, have more crime dreams than children do. The combined proportion for children is .08, for adults .16. This difference is significant at less than the 1 per cent level.

Table 5. Proportion of Crime Fiearrs by Age and Sex
Table 5. Proportion of Crime Fiearrs by Age and Sex

From inspection of Table 6 we see that, aside from one equality, adults experience more anxiety over adversity to themselves than children do. The combined proportion for children is .07, for adults .18. The difference is significant at less than the 1 per cent level.

In none of the other classes of anxiety dreams for which an analysis was made are there significant differences between children and adults.

Table 6. Proportion of Adversity-To-Drean er Dreams by Age and Sex
Table 6. Proportion of Adversity-To-Drean er Dreams by Age and Sex

Contrary to the hypothesis there are three classes of anxiety dreams which differentiate between children and adults. Children have more chased-attacked dreams, adults have more crime and adversity-to-dreamer dreams. These findings suggest to the writer that the differences are due not so much to differences in the contents of the unconscious as they are to differences in the nature of the superego of children and adults. In other words, the contents of the unconscious have not changed but the way in which the superego reacts to the wishes of the unconscious has changed.

Let us assume that these three classes of dreams all represent superego punishment for the expression of prohibited wishes, and that the nature of the punishment tells us something about the nature of the superego. To dream of being chased and attacked is a much more primitive, physical, sadistic and personalized kind of punishment than to dream of being arrested by the police or to suffer some adversity. The superego of the child reflects in greater measure than that of the adult the archaic origin of the superego - this archaic origin being, of course, the physical attacks (whether fantasied or real) of the father or father-surrogate. The superego of the child is still pretty much an angry, castrating father superego.

Table 7. Proportion of No Attempts, Unsuccessful Attempts, ar.d Successful Attempts to Deal with Anxiety-Producing Situations by Age and Sex
Table 7. Proportion of No Attempts, Unsuccessful Attempts, ar.d Successful Attempts to Deal with Anxiety-Producing Situations by Age and Sex

As a consequence of various conditions, the superego changes with age. It becomes less assaultative (the adult is more apt to be arrested than to be attacked), less personal (in adult dreams impersonal police take the place of personal enemies), and less externalized (the adult punishes himself with self-imposed adversity, the child is punished by external agents.).

Therefore, although we must reject the hypothesis that the kinds of danger situations which evoke anxiety will not differ significantly with age, we believe that the differences are due to changes in the superego and not to alterations in the id.

Moreover, it should be pointed out that of the 12 classes of anxiety dreams there are only three significant age differences. Not too much should be made of this fact, however, because the three significant classes contain more than one-half of all the anxiety dreams and the proportions for the other nine classes are all quite low.

The third hypothesis states that the dreamer's capacity for dealing with anxiety-producing situations in his dream will not change significantly with age. The relevant data for testing this hypothesis appears in Table 7.

It will be observed that with the exception of unsuccessful and successful attempts by boys and young men in the dream series groups there are no important differences in the way in which children and adults deal with danger situations in their dreams. Successful attempts are in the minority in all cases, with the one exception noted, and no attempts outnumber unsuccessful attempts. The third hypothesis appears to be confirmed.


Although the evidence presented here does not permit the unequivocal acceptance of all three hypotheses relating to the timelessness of the unconscious, neither do the data offer any compelling reasons for rejecting them.

In some groups, the number of anxiety dreams decreases with age but the decrease is too small to permit us to conclude that there are important alterations in the contents of the unconscious with age. Moreover, the decreases may be due to selective factors in remembering or reporting dreams. Young adults may not wish to report dreams which frighten them. One way to get around the problem of selective remembering is to collect dreams using objective indicators of dreaming. It is our intention to use these indicators in future studies.

Some danger situations that evoke anxiety differ in frequency in the dreams of children and young adults. These differences appear to be due to developments in the superego and not to changes in the id. The superego of the young adult seems to be more internalized than the superego of the child.

The third hypothesis, that the dreamer's capacity for dealing with danger situations will not differ significantly with age, was accepted without qualification.

If we assume, then, that the overall evidence does not overthrow the concept of a timeless unconscious, there is still one strong objection that can be made to the nature of the evidence secured from this investigation. The data were all obtained from the analysis of dreams, and it may be argued that it is only in dreams that one is warranted to speak of a timeless unconscious. Waking behavior may not be motivated by a timeless id. The adult may become a child when he falls asleep and therefore any conclusions reached from a study of his dreams may not apply to his waking life.

The validity of this objection cannot be evaluated because we do not have the necessary data. There are no relevant studies on the relation of waking behavior to dreaming. It is common knowledge, of course, that we dream of many things that we do not do and probably would never do in waking life. But this observation bears upon differences in behavior and not upon differences in motivation. It has already been said that behavior does change due to alterations in the ego and superego, and it may very well be that the ego and superego play more decisive roles in shaping waking behavior than they do in shaping our dreams. Were we to look at the motives which underly our waking behavior - and not be duped by the rationalizations, intellectualization, narcissistic idealizations and other pretenses by which we maintain the image of adult maturity - we would probably find that the same motives which activate dreams also activate waking behavior. Why should an automobile have a different meaning for us when it appears in our dreams than it has for us in waking life? I have discussed some of the issues involved in this question in another paper (Hall, 1952). Such a discontinuity in the dynamics of personality awake and asleep does not seem plausible.

The discontinuity resides, I believe, rather in the outlook of the investigator. Those who investigate dreams, mental illness, and other reputedly aberrant behevior are likely to approach the phenomena with the assumption that there are hidden motives which must be uncovered by specialized methods - projective tests, free association, hypnosis, and the like. Those who investigate the normal phenomena of waking life are more likely to assume that deep analysis is unnecessary because the motives speak for themselves. Obviously, different theoretical positions with respect to behavior while we are asleep and awake, and the utilization of different methods for investigating dreaming and waking behavior, are going to lead to different conclusions.

What we need, however, is not more opinion but more data.


The theoretical construct under investigation in this study is the timeless character of the unconscious (id). Three empirical propositions were formulated. They are:

1. The number of dreams in which dreamer experiences anxiety does not change significantly with age.

2. The kinds of danger situations which evoke anxiety in dreams do not change significantly with age.

3. The dreamer's capacity for dealing with anxiety-producing situations in his dreams does not change significantly with age.

119 boys and 133 girls between the ages of 2 and 12, and 269 young men and 249 young women between the ages of 18 and 26, were the subjects. 1625 dreams were collected from the 770 subjects, and were analyzed using objective, quantitative methods.

For some groups of dreamers, there was a significant decrease in the number of anxiety dreams with age but the magnitude of the decrease was not very large. It was concluded that the hypothesis could not be rejected.

The incidence of three out of twelve kinds of dangers doss change signi ficantly with age. Children have more chased-attacked dreams, young adults more crime and adversity-to-dreamer dreams. This change was attributed to alterations in the superego, and not to changes in the id.

The proposition that the dreamer's capacity for dealing with dangerous situations does not change significantly with age was confirmed without qualification.

It is concluded that the findings of this study support Freud's concept of a timeless unconscious. The far-reaching implication of this concept is that motives do not change with age once the unconscious has reached its full development at the age of five.


1. Freud. S. The Interpretation of Dreams. 1900. In The Standard Edition, Vols. IV, V.

2. Freud, S. Beyond the Pleasure Principle. 1920. In The Standard Edition, Vol. XVIII.

3. Freud, S. Remarks on the theory and practice of dream-interpretation. 1922. In The Standard Edition, Vol. XIX, pp. 109-121.

4. Freud, S. Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety. In The Standard Edition, Vol. XX, 1926.

5. Freud, S. New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-analysis. 1933. New York: Norton, 1933.

6. Freud. S. An Outline of Psychoanalysis. 1940. New York: Norton, 1949.

7. Hall, C. Out of a dream came the faucet. Psychoanalysis and the Psychoanalytic Review, 1962, 49, No. 4, pp. 113-116.

8. Institute of Dream Research. A Manual For Classifying Fears and Anxieties in Dreams. Technical Manual No. 6, 1962.

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