Dora's dream of being rescued from a burning house, told to Freud in late 1900. Swansea Science Festival event, 24th October 2020
A house was on fire. My father was standing beside my bed and woke me up. I dressed quickly. Mother wanted to stop and save her jewel-case; but Father said “I refuse to let myself and my two children be burnt for the sake of your jewel-case.” We hurried downstairs, and as soon as I was outside I woke up.
The above dream first occurred in 1898, when Dora was 15 years old and she was propositioned by an older married man who was a friend of the family and with whose wife, Frau K., Dora's father was having an affair. The dream occurred on each of the four nights following the proposition. The man was anonymised as Herr K. by Freud in his 1905 case study on Dora. Freud stated that the meaning of the dream was: ‘This man is persecuting me, he wants to force his way into my room. My “jewel-case” is in danger….’ The dream seems to depict Dora’s wish that she would be rescued from the danger by her father.
Dora, the pseudonym used by Freud for the young woman, now known to be Ida Bauer, then had the dream again a few weeks after starting psychoanalysis with Freud, near the end of 1900. For more details, see our chapter https://psyarxiv.com/379kz/.
At the top left of the painting Julia has depicted the spa town of Merano, where Dora / Ida lived with her family and where the K. family also lived. As occurs in our DreamsID events, for painting on, Julia chooses pages from Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams with regard to the shapes of the paragraphs, but then during the painting finds words on the page that are often uncannily relevant to the dream. Note the words ‘female genitals’ appearing twice under the jewel-case, ‘boyish’ in Dora’s brother’s head, ‘17’, at the bottom left, her age at starting to see Freud, ‘was night room in which dressing to go’, and, most eerie of all, ‘Fräulein K.’ in her mother’s head!
The aim of the Science Festival event was to look at the case study not in how it is often taken, as a criticism of Freud, but to emphasise solely the dream, Dora’s free-associations, and the historical events of Dora’s life, so as to honour her strength and life, and the poignant depiction by the dream of her life at that time. The words highlighted ‘deserves to be recorded in detail dream’, at the top right-hand side, are therefore relevant, as although there is much in dispute in the case study, we are grateful that the dream was recorded by Freud after she discussed it with him.
The event at which this dream was discussed was part of the Swansea Science Festival and had a large number of attendees worldwide online, and panel members from London (Dany Nobus), Harvard Medical School (Deirdre Barrett), Vienna (Brigitte Holzinger and Zora Wessely), Swansea, and, from Germany, writer Katharina Adler, author of the novel Ida, and great-grand-daughter of Dora / Ida Bauer.
The film of the event can be seen on our YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/ilbPU_TGeVg.
The film of the dream being read by Dr Brigitte Holzinger at the Sigmund Freud Museum, Vienna, which was Freud's apartment and offices where Dora / Ida first told the dream to Freud, can be seen on our YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/kkMMeSo1ndk.
I am walking alone in the country, trying to get to a village. I am wearing a red skirt and red jacket. The short route to the village isn't possible as the sea is coming over the path. The longer route is difficult, and involves climbing and takes energy. I go across a thin rope-and-wood bridge, and ignore the advice of a group of people who I don't know to take the dangerous short route. I am alone and look at the remote village.
I am then at my destination, in a big hall, the sort of venue a wedding would be held in. My friend P is there, she is wearing a thin black dress and tells me her favourite music is the waltz. She tells me my friends are going to be there and a crowd of people start dancing to a waltz.
In the discussion the dreamer spoke of her life as an artist under Lockdown, how she cannot go to her art studio, that she has had to put off a trip to see a friend in Paris, and that her plans with P for buying a house in France have been put on hold, that hoped-for house would be a place for music.
In the discussion we and the online participants remarked on how the dream has two halves, one of being alone, even with a bridge for one person at a time crossing, and one of being with friends, dancing.
Dream of finding baby in Victorian pram, and finding mother has died in baby car seat. Dream shared, discussed and painted as online event for the Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education, London, 27th June 2020
Dream told at event organised by the Dream Research Institute at the Center for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education, London.
I look out of my bedroom window on a sunny day and see traffic on the road outside. It is a busy road with shops opposite and a post office on the corner, with a red post box. I go outside and cross the road to see a Victorian pram with a lacy white sunroof and a white frilly quilt. It is blocking the pavement, and not parked safely. There is a baby girl in the pram, dressed in a pink dress. She appears well looked after, but I think ‘where is her mother?’ I then see my mother in a baby car seat, in the road, it has a sunroof and my mother is small, the right size for the child seat. She is dressed in her everyday clothes with a blue cloth, like a dusting cloth, over her face. She is not moving and I think she is asleep. I know it is dangerous for her and the car seat to be in the road.
I am then at a man’s house, in his wealthy farmhouse-type kitchen. It has lots of wood, and an oak table, with pots and pans hanging and horseshoes on the wall, and a coffee table. He is my intended partner, my love, but his ex-wife is there as well. I am having a friendly discussion with her, she is lovely, and I get on well with her and feel love for her. I ask my intended partner, ‘are you sure you want to leave her?’, and he nods yes, indicating that there is something wrong with her, or not right between them, and that he is no longer with her.
I then go back to my house. In the road there is the child’s car seat, which has been pushed into the gutter. I can’t see fully inside it because of the sunroof but I can see my mother’s tan coloured skirt and brown top, she still has the blue cloth over her face. I have been waiting all day for her to wake up but now realise that she has died. I then hear the baby crying. I know that my mother is the baby’s mother. I pick up the baby to look after her, all the while having a sinking grief feeling about my mother having died. But the baby is giggling, she is happy to see me, and so I take her into my house. She tries to feed on my right breast but I have no milk. My 12-year-old daughter is there and she asks if the baby is ours. I am smiling and thinking that, as the baby has no mother, we can keep her.
Lockdown dream of parental home, a playful golden monkey, and painting on a black remote control box. Dream told, discussed and painted online, in event organised by the Department of Design, Goldsmiths, University of London, 19th June 2020.
Dream of an art and design student who had chosen at the start of the Covid-19 Lockdown not to go back to her home, where her parents live, but instead to go to live with her boyfriend and his parents.
I was walking down the short garden path to the back door of my home, where I lived all my life before university and where my parents live. I went in through the back door but know that it is a female teacher's house, I am unsure who she is, and I knew I should not be there. It looked exactly the same as my family home; a fairly small house in a village in the country. As I walked through the hall to the front of the house, I noticed a very small monkey, about 2 or 3 inches in height following me. It was gold or some kind of metal, but it moved as a live monkey would. I remember feeling worried about it, like it was going to alert the homeowner or attack me, but soon I found out that it was not a threat and that it just wanted to be around me. It was quite playful really. I went to the mantelpiece in my kitchen and the monkey followed me. It opened its mouth and hinged its whole face back. Then I had a paint brush. I dipped it into the monkey’s mouth, its head had golden orange paint inside, and I started to paint small gold details onto a black remote control rectangular box that was on the mantelpiece. Then the female teacher’s husband pulled up in an old car in front of the house. I quickly ran away through the house, as I thought he might hurt me or take me to the police, and I went out of the back door. Then I woke up.
This was a very life-affirming dream. In it the dreamer was watching a robin inside a person, possibly inside the dreamer. The robin was scratching and picking with its beak and feet at black, tar-like Covid-19, all around the lungs. The robin was working to move the black Covid to a pile, so as to remove it. The robin was also looking for small worms to feed to itself. The lungs and heart could be seen as the skin was letting through some light.
The painting and discussion took about 1h45m and we discussed how in waking life at the moment, in gardens or on walks, we, including the dreamer, often see robins and they are very friendly to humans. In the dream the robin was healing the person.
The dream-sharer lives in Scotland and was waiting to go back to teaching in a school, her husband and daughter are both key workers.
Dream of Tom, a doctor who has been speedily graduated so as to start work on the wards.
In the dream Tom was walking with his partner through a forest of olive trees, which led to a sunny and sandy beach. Above the cliffs at the edge of the beach was a castle, round like the chess piece. They were looking for a place to live and were told that in the cliffs there was a comfortable cave in which to live, with a TV, purple bedding on the double bed, and paintings on the wall. They lived with a young boy in this lovely environment, but the beach started to become full of holidaymakers, with some sunbathing. Security guards in yellow high vis jackets arrived, and the beach was losing all the charm it had when Tom, his partner and the boy were there alone.
In the on-line dream-sharing event we and Tom discussed the theme in the dream of becoming more responsible, which we and Tom related to his real-life sudden taking on of responsibilities.
Dream of looking out of a blue and green abalone, a paua shell, and seeing the ocean and a friendly, brown, playful seal pup, 16th May 2020
The online dream-sharer here was working at a hospital in Melbourne, Australia, but in work that is not directly related to Covid-19. She is originally from New Zealand. Her dream was of slowly moving in darkness, realising that she is in a paua shell, a blue and green abalone shell, and then looking out of the side of the shell and seeing the ocean, some land in the distance, a then a playful, loving, brown seal pup. This was a very positive and joyful dream.
Dream of US keyworker delivery driver Mason told online for one of our Covid Lockdown dream events. In waking life Mason was relocating across the US. Dream: 'I am trying to drive up the incline from a suburban house garage but the gears keep crashing and so I can't move into the road to join the traffic there. I release the clutch but find the car is not in gear and it moves backwards and stops. I get out to check that it did not hit the white garage door and am surprised to see that it has damaged the door badly. I get back in the car and see a man and a woman in an old white car looking at me almost with disgust. I feel embarrassed as I was not being able to drive the car, even though I should be able to do so and as it is my job to drive. The car was a brown Mazda Miata, which is not a car I drive in waking life and is a color I would not choose.'
I am sitting at my desk in the hospital at work with blue medical gloves on. I have a purple woollen furry blanket from home on my lap. I am peeling quails’ eggs which are to be used to treat Covid patients. The phone rings and I am being asked lots of questions about the eggs as they are needed for patients. More eggs are being heated in a white medical bath, but they are soft and egg yolk spills when I try to crack them open. I push my red glasses up with my wrists. The phone starts ringing again but I can’t answer it as I am covered in yolk and bits of shell.
I leave a room by revolving so as to get past a strap on the doorway. I go down a corridor to see my wife. She is in the next room and has a present for me on the table, a box about 30x60cm, and about 5cm thick with a clear plastic top. It has various novelties and small activities in it. In the middle is a table tennis set with green bats. On one side in the box there is an old black mobile phone, with a few other small components, and the words Funeral Preparation Kit. The kit is partly a joke rather than being serious.
[On the day before the dream the dreamer had heard of an acquaintance who had died in hospital, possibly with Covid-19.]
Dr Julia Lockheart