The Freud Museum


Up the Staircase

“I was very incompletely dressed and was running upstairs from a flat on the ground floor... Suddenly I saw a maid-servant coming down the stairs towards me. I felt ashamed and tried to hurry, and at this point the feeling of being inhibited set in: I was glued to the steps and unable to budge from the spot”

“Now how did this staircase and this female figure come to be in my dream?.... The only answer that occurred to me was this. When I paid my morning visits to this house I used as a rule to be seized with a desire to clear my throat as I went up the stairs. On neither of these floors was there a spittoon; and the view I took was that the cleanliness of the stairs should not be maintained at my expense but should be made possible by the provision of a spittoon. The concierge, an elderly and surly woman (but of cleanly instincts as I was prepared to admit), looked at the matter in a different light. She would lie in wait for me to see whether I should again make free of the stairs, and, if she found that I did, I used to hear her grumbling audibly; and for several days afterwards she would omit the usual greeting when we met....

“There was an internal connection between my running up the stairs and my spitting on the stairs. Pharyngitis as well as heart trouble are both regarded as punishments for the vice of smoking. And on account of that habit my reputation for tidiness was not of the highest order with the authorities in my own house any more than in the other; so that the two were fused into one in the dream.”

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