Published as Appendix A in SE V p623-625, published 1941c

Translated by James Strachey

[N.B. The Interpretation of Dreams was actually published on 6th November 1899 but its publication date was altered to the beginning of the twentieth century (1900). This appendix was published after The Interpretation of Dreams. Julia Evans]

Available below or /freud (November 1899)

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APPENDIX A-A PREMONITORY DREAM FULFILLED : 10th November 1899 : Sigmund Freud

Published in SE V p623-625, Published 1941c

Translated by James Strachey

[N.B. The Interpretation of Dreams was actually published on 6th November 1899 but its publication date was altered to the beginning of the twentieth century (1900). This appendix was published after The Interpretation of Dreams. Julia Evans]

Frau B., an estimable woman who moreover possesses a critical sense, told me in another connection and without the slightest arrière pensée that once some years ago she dreamt she had met Dr. K., a friend and former family doctor of hers, in the Kärntnerstrasse in front of Hiess’s shop. The next morning, while she was walking along the same street, she in fact met the person in question at the very spot she had dreamt of. So much for my theme. I will only add that no subsequent event proved the importance of this miraculous coincidence, which cannot therefore be accounted for by what lay in the future.

Analysis of the dream was helped by questioning, which established the fact that there was no evidence of her having had any recollection at all of the dream on the morning after she dreamt it, until after her walk – evidence such as her having written the dream down or told it to someone before it was fulfilled. On the contrary, she was obliged to accept the following account of what happened, which seems to me more plausible, without raising any objection to it. She was walking along the Kärntnerstrasse one morning and met her old family doctor in front of Hiess’s shop. On seeing him she felt convinced that she had dreamt the night before of having this very meeting at that precise spot. According to the rules that apply to the interpretation of neurotic symptoms, her conviction must have been justified; its content may, however, require to be re-interpreted.

The following is an episode with which Dr. K. is connected from Frau B.’s earlier life. When she was young she was married, without her wholehearted consent, to an elderly but wealthy man. A few years later he lost his money, fell ill of tuberculosis and died. For many years the young woman supported herself and her sick husband by giving music lessons. Among her friends in misfortune was her family doctor, Dr. K., who devoted himself to looking after her husband and helped her in finding her first pupils. Another friend was a barrister, also a Dr. K., who put the chaotic affairs of the ruined merchant in order, while at the same time he made love to the young woman and – for the first and last time – set her passion aflame. This love affair brought her no real happiness, for the scruples created by her upbringing and her cast of mind interfered with her complete surrender while she was married and later when she was a widow. In the same connection in which she told me the dream, she also told me of a real occurrence dating from this unhappy period of her life, an occurrence which in her opinion was a remarkable coincidence. She was in her room, kneeling on the floor with her head buried in a chair and sobbing in passionate longing for her friend and helper the barrister, when at that very moment the door opened and in he came to visit her. We shall find nothing at all remarkable in this coincidence when we consider how often she thought of him and how often he probably visited her. Moreover, accidents which seem preconcerted like this are to be found in every love story. Nevertheless this coincidence was probably the true content of her dream and the sole basis of her conviction that it had come true.

Between the scene in which her wish had been fulfilled and the time of the dream more than twenty-five years elapsed. In the meantime Frau B. had become the widow of a second husband who left her with a child and a fortune. The old lady’s affection was still centred on Dr. K., who was now her adviser and the administrator of her estate and whom she saw frequently. Let us suppose that during the few days before the dream she had been expecting a visit from him, but that this had not taken place – he was no longer so pressing as he used to be. She may then have quite well had a nostalgic dream one night which took her back to the old days. Her dream was probably of a rendez-vous at the time of her love affair, and the chain of her dream-thoughts carried her back to the occasion when, without any pre-arrangement, he had come in at the very moment at which she had been longing for him. She probably had dreams of this kind quite often now; they were a part of the belated punishment with which a woman pays for her youthful cruelty. But such dreams – derivatives of a suppressed current of thought, filled with memories of rendez-vous of which, since her second marriage, she no longer liked to think – such dreams were put aside on waking. And that was what happened to our ostensibly prophetic dream. She then went out, and in the Kärntnerstrasse, at a spot which was in itself indifferent, she met her old family doctor, Dr. K. It was a very long time since she had seen him. He was intimately associated with the excitements of that happy-unhappy time. He too had been a helper, and we may suppose that he had been used in her thoughts, and perhaps in her dreams as well, as a screen figure behind which she concealed the better-loved figure of the other Dr. K. This meeting now revived her recollection of the dream. She must have thought: ‘Yes, I had a dream last night of my rendez-vous with Dr. K.’ But this recollection had to undergo the distortion which the dream escaped only because it had been completely forgotten. She inserted the indifferent K. (who had reminded her of the dream) in place of the beloved K. The content of the dream – the rendez-vous – was transferred to a belief that she had dreamt of that particular spot, for a rendez-vous consists in two people coming to the same spot at the same time. And if she then had an impression that a dream had been fulfilled, she was only giving effect in that way to her memory of the scene in which she had longed in her misery for him to come and her longing had at once been fulfilled.

Thus the creation of a dream after the event, which alone makes prophetic dreams possible, is nothing other than a form of censoring, thanks to which the dream is able to make its way through into consciousness.

10 Nov. 1899