The Freud Museum


Bismarck's Dream

I dreamt that I was riding on a narrow Alpine path, precipice to the right, rocks to the left. The path grew narrower, so that the horse refused to proceed, and it was impossible to turn round or dismount, owing to lack of space. Then with my whip in my left hand, I struck the smooth rock and called on God. The whip grew to an endless length ...

The difficult situation in which the horse and its rider were placed is an easily recognizable dream-picture of the statesman's critical position....
His pride, which forbade his thinking of surrendering or resigning, was expressed in the dream by the words "it was impossible to turn round or dismount".

... the words "the horse refused to proceed" meant nothing more nor less than that the over-tired statesman felt a need to turn away from the cares of the immediate present...
The wish-fulfilment which became so prominent in the second part of the dream, was already hinted at in the words "Alpine path". No doubt Bismarck already knew at that time that he was going to spend his next vacation in the Alps - at Gastein; thus the dream, by conveying him thither, set him free at one blow from all the burdens of State business.
In the second part of the dream...the rocky wall dropped like a piece of stage scenery and opened out a broad path, with a view over hills and forests, like a landscape in Bohemia; there were Prussian troops with banners, and even in my dream the thought came to me at once that I must report it to your Majesty.

The fact that the dreamer took the whip in his hand was a clear allusion to masturbation, thought the reference was not, of course, to the dreamer's contemporary circumstances but to childish desires in the remote past.
In the second part of the dream, the dreamer's wishes were represented as fuflilled in two ways: undisguisedly and ... symbolically.
Their fulfilment was represented symbolically by the disappearance of the obstructive rock and the appearance in its place of a broad path - the "way out".... and it was represented undisguisedly in the picture of the advancing Prussian troops.

We would expect that at the end of an infantile masturbation phantasy ... the child would wish that the people in authority ... should learn nothing of what had happened. In the dream this wish is represented by its opposite, a wish to report to the King

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