The Freud Museum


A Castle by the Sea

We feared the arrival of enemy warships, since we were in a state of war. Herr P. [the Governor] intended to leave and gave me instructions.... I held him back and asked him how I was to communicate with him in case of necessity. He added something in reply, but immediately fell down dead.... ... his death... made no impression on me...

I was standing at the window, and observing the ships as they went past. They were merchant vessels rushing past rapidly through the dark water... Then my brother was standing beside me and we were both looking out of the window at the canal. At the sight of one ship we were frightened and cried out: 'Here comes the warship!'

The localities in the dream were brought together from several trips of mine to the Adriatic (to Miramare, Duino, Venice and Aquileia).

At two points in the dream affects were in question. At one point an affect that was to be anticipated was absent: attention was expressly drawn to the fact that the Governor's death made no impression on me. At another point, when I thought I saw the warship, I was frightened and felt all the sensations of fright in my sleep.

In this well-constructed dream the affects were distributed in such a way that any striking contradiction was avoided. There was no reason why I should be frightened at the death of the Governor and it was quite reasonable that as Commandant of the Castle I should be frightened at the sight of the warship.

The analysis showed, however, that Herr P. was only a substitute for my own self. ... I was the Governor who suddenly died. The dream-thoughts dealt with the future of my family after my premature death.

On the other hand, the analysis showed that the region of the dream-thoughts from which the warship was taken was filled with the most cheerful recollections. It was a year earlier, in Venice, and we were standing one magically beautiful day at the windows of our room on the Riva degli Schiavoni and were looking across the blue lagoon... Suddenly my wife cried out gaily as a child: 'Here comes the English warship!'

Here, then, in the process of changing the dream-thoughts into the manifest dream-content, I have transformed cheerfulness into fear... This example proves, however, that the dream-work is at liberty to detach an affect from its connections in the dream-thoughts and introduce it at any other point it chooses in the manifest dream.

[The dream account ends with the following episode.]

There now came a small ship, cut off short, in a comic fashion, in the middle. On its deck some curious cup-shaped or box-shaped objects were visible. We called out with one voice: 'That's the breakfast ship!'

... it was only the name of the breakfast-ship that was newly constructed by the dream. The thing had existed and reminded me of one of the most enjoyable parts of my last trip. ... while the little mail steamer made its way slowly ... across the empty lagoon to Grado we, who were the only passengers, ate our breakfast on deck in the highest spirits...

... it was precisely behind this memory of the most cheerful joie de vivre that the dream concealed the gloormiest thoughts of an unknown and uncanny future.

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