Understanding the Nature of Dreams

“Thus the breathing lungs find their symbol in the flaming stove with its windy roaring, the heart in hollow chests and baskets, the bladder in round, ball-shaped, or simply hollow objects. The man’s dreams, when due to the sexual stimulus, make the dreamer find in the street the upper portion of a clarinet, or the mouthpiece of a tobacco-pipe, or, again, a piece of fur. The clarinet and tobacco-pipe represent the approximate form of the male sexual organ, while the fur represents the pubic hair. In the sexual dreams of the female, the tightness of the closed thighs may be symbolized by a narrow courtyard surrounded by houses, and the vagina by a very narrow, slippery and soft footpath, leading through the courtyard, upon which the dreamer is obliged to walk, in order perhaps to carry a letter to a man”


In his research for similarities concidering the nature of dreams Freud also mentions the idea of internal that cause sequences. These impulses derive from our internal organs and are called physical impulses. It would be difficult to analyse the nature of these impulses as in most cases the dreamer could experience such disturbances while sleeping but may not be able to identify them otherwise. They may suddenly stop occurring and this way there is no proof of their existence.

Freud believes that the physical condition of our internal organs can directly affect the content of our dreams and can actually be the reason for dream generation. There are several examples that he uses in order to justify this idea such as the human reproduction organs, the bladder and the colon. He uses these examples because they are easier to verify as the dreamer can wake up by specific functions of these organs and make the appropriate connections and speculations for the interpretation of the dream they just had.

Freud refers specifically to Karl Albert Scherner’s examples at this point that was a dream researcher and verified the same idea. In his dream he sees; “ two lines consisted by beautiful boys with blonde hair and slim bodies, fighting each other, clashing, grabbing each other and then letting go only to go back again to the initial position and later start all over the same actions, again and again.” After the dream his tooth extracted out his jaws and we can only assume that the boys represented the condition of his teeth. Scherner also supported the idea that the shape of the organ that produces the impulse can be represented by objects or mater in general of a similar shape. For example our colon can be translated into

“long, narrow, winding corridors”

in the .

Based on these observations we can find a lot of similarities between attributes of external and internal impulses with the most obvious one being their effect on the content of the dream. Both internal and external impulses can be the origin of our dreams which are a simple reaction to them.

Lets imagine the relationship of these impulses and the nature of the dream itself as something similar to the relationship between a work of art and the reason for its creation. It is like understanding the representation of a painting without taking into consideration its synthesis, the use of color or the texture. Therefore Freud comes to the conclusion that internal and external impulses are only a trigger mechanism for dreaming and cannot help us understand its nature.

We can find all this information useful in order to interpret some dreaming qualities. By observing our physical surroundings before and after sleeping we can start making connections between the two worlds. For example when sleeping in an open space, noise, weather and light conditions can directly affect the content of our dream. We can simply start to understand some of our dream qualities even if they appear as nightmares. They could in fact be just an impulse…