The Freud Museum


The Butcher's Wife's Dream

A woman patient, who was married to an honest and capable wholesale butcher, had the following dream: “I wanted to give a supper party, but I had nothing in the house but a little smoked salmon. I thought I would go out and buy something, but remembered then that it was Sunday afternoon and all the shops would be shut. Next I tried to ring up some caterers, but the telephone was out of order. So I had to abandon my wish to give a supper party”

“My patient’s husband, the butcher, had remarked to her the day before that he was getting too stout and therefore intended to start on a course of weight reduction. - She laughingly added that, at the place where he regularly lunched, he had made the acquaintance of a painter, who had pressed him to be allowed to paint his portrait. Her husband however had replied in his blunt manner that he was much obliged, but he was sure the painter would prefer a piece of a pretty young girl’s behind to the whole of his face. She was very much in love with her husband now and teased him a lot. She begged him, too, not to give her any caviare.

“I asked her what that meant: and she explained that she wished for a long time that she could have a caviare sandwich every morning but had grudged the expense. Of course her husband would have let her have it at once if she had asked him. But on the contrary, she had asked him not to give her any caviare, so that she could go on teasing him about it.... I saw that she was obliged to create an unfulfilled wish for herself in her actual life; and the dream represented this renunciation as having been put into effect.

But why was it that she stood in need of an unfulfilled wish...?”

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