Birth, Dream of

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The dream of birth is a dream that depicts, generally in a transposed way, the birth of the dreamer or, in women, the act of giving birth.

In The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), Freud classed this type of dream among the "typical dreams," but this classification appeared only with his addenda to later editions. In an addition made in 1909, he wrote: "A large number of dreams, often accompanied by anxiety and having as their content such subjects as passing through narrow spaces or being in water, are based upon phantasies of intra-uterine life, of existence in the womb and the act of birth" (p. 399). He also reported, in a note dating from 1909, Carl G. Jung's opinion that, in women, dreams of having teeth pulled signified childbirth (pp. 387-88, note 3). He cited the dream of a young man "who, in his imagination, had taken advantage of an intra-uterine opportunity of watching his parents copulating" (pp. 399-400). In subsequent addenda he analyzed the dream of a young woman which expressed her fear of (and wish for) the loss of her virginity and the birth of the baby that would result, as well as several other dreams with this meaning reported by Otto Rank and Karl Abraham. In 1919, he added to the 1909 note cited above Ernest Jones's observation that what the pulled tooth and childbirth had in common was the meaning of "separation of a part of the body from the whole" (pp. 387-88, note 3). Accordingly, the dream of birth can be linked to the theme of castration.

As with most of the other "typical dreams," there is hardly any further discussion of this type of dream in Freud's work, and the later literature is limited, despite the fact that such dreams are often encountered in clinical work.

Roger Perron

See also: Birth; Castration complex; Dream; Myth of the Birth of the Hero, The .


Freud, Sigmund. (1900). The interpretation of dreams. SE, 4-5: 1-625.