Convenience, Dream of

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The "dream of convenience" is a dream described by Freud as fulfilling two of a dream's essential functions: satisfying a wish and safeguarding sleep.

He first mentioned this type of dream in a letter to Wilhelm Fliess dated March 4, 1894 (letter 22): A young doctor (Josef Breuer's nephew) is awakened early one morning so that he can go to work at his hospital ward. However, he immediately falls back to sleep and, in his dream, has "a hallucination of a notice-board over a hospital bed with [his] name on it" (p. 213); in the dream the thought comes to him that he does not need to wake up, since he is already in the hospital.

In The Interpretation of Dreams (1900a), Freud twice referred to "Herr Pepi's dream": in chapter 3, where he discussed the fulfillment of wishes in dreams, and in chapter 5, where he mentioned the dream's role as "guardian of sleep" (p. 233). In chapter 3 he gave other examples of what he explicitly called "dreams of convenience": for example, dreaming that he is drinking saves the dreamer the trouble of having to wake up to quench his thirst.

Freud did not especially develop a theory of this type of dream, which only represents a specific type of wish-fulfillment in dreams. In his last mention of this topic in "An Outline of Psycho-Analysis" (1940a), he illustrated this theme by again citing the case of the doctor who can continue to sleep by dreaming that he is already at the hospital, and two other dreams that fulfill wishes, one involving hunger and the other sexual desire. He reminded readers that dreams are in fact compromise formations (between renunciation and satisfaction).

Clinical practice often provides examples of dreams of convenience. Their interpretation cannot be limited to "decoding" the meaning only within a particular category of dreams, because the dream involves the entire dynamic theory (conflicts between the instincts and the defenses).

Roger Perron

See also: Dream.


Freud, Sigmund. (1900a). The interpretation of dreams. SE, 4-5.

. (1940a [1938]). An outline of psycho-analysis. SE 23: 139-207.

. (1950c [1887-1902]). Extracts from the Fliess papers. SE, 1: 173-280.

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Convenience, Dream of

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Convenience, Dream of