Mourning, Dream of

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The dream of mourning is a "typical" dream in which someone close to the dreamer is dead or in which their death is evoked.

In The Interpretation of Dreams (1900a), Freud returned several times to this type of dream, which he included among those "typical dreams" whose form and content are similar for everyone.

He discussed the objection that the painful nature of such dreams seemed to run counter to his main thesis that all dreams are fulfillments of wishes. One had to accept, he said, that despite their sad subject matter these dreams did, in fact, express a secret wish for the death of the person concerned; the dreamer's brother or sister (rivals to be eliminated), or father or mother (in the oedipal context, often first articulated in such dreams). There is often relatively little affect in these dreams, a fact that astonishes the dreamer when she or he recalls the dream upon awakening. This lack of feeling, explained Freud, was because the dream fulfilled childhood wishes, a legacy of the time when death was conceived simply as the disappearance of the person in question. Later, in "Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria" (1905), he would analyze Dora's dream of her father's death in detail.

Freud never perceptibly changed his views on this type of dream; his theory of dreams as the fulfillment of wishes continued to prevail, even after Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920g).

Roger Perron

See also: Dream.


Freud, Sigmund. (1900a). The Interpretation of Dreams. SE, 4-5 : 1-625.

. (1905e [1901]). Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria. SE, 7 : 1-122.

. (1920g). Beyond the Pleasure Principle. SE, 18 : 1-64.

Further Reading

Aberbach, David. (1984). Loss and dreams. International Review of Psychoanalysis, 11, 383-398.