Deconstruct This Dream!

· Psychoanalysis

J’ai trouvé la Schadenfreude!

In my teen years, I was exposed, through the most unlikely of places, first in an elective business course, and then in English class, to psychological ideas. Freud was the first name heard – was this a bowdlerized, transmogrified, or a true version of his beliefs? I have to ask myself, because the version does not correspond to the one most of us have in our mind.

The answer to the question is important, because it has a lot to do with where society is going.  Cultural creativity, according to the Business Economics teacher, was supposed to be the result of self-control.  Certainly, even now, there can be found Internet pages which point out that some of the greatest creativity was found in societies which imposed limits on their “artists” – especially as regards to their writers.

True or not, our curiosity led us to read more about psychology, and in spite of a librarian who would not allow me to read a book about the creation of the world – as defined in scientific terms – somehow, maybe it was a couple of years later – I could access the more, shall we say, potentially explosive material that psychologists provide us. The book we found dealt with Adolf Adler, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Gustav Jung

Adler, according to the book, defined the driving force as the one to power. That sounds like a chicken and egg conundrum, as it is stated by some, that the powerful are more affected by the drive Freud discussed.  But based on the idea of control causing creativity, perhaps we might say that a controlled person became a type of artist, metaphorically speaking, in politics or business, but with success, in some cases, comes a breaking of self-restraint – a snowballing onwards, providing opportunities of all types – which now become inconvenient to reject, in order to keep things rolling. (The personality is mentioned in the Matt Damon-narrated film, Inside Job.)

My preferred theory, nevertheless, is Jung’s fantastic one about creativity, about imagination, and archetypes.

Scientifically-speaking, to say theory is wrong, because we cannot have competing ideas about something – we, at best, can only say, that he created a hypothesis. 

So, 3 dominant hypotheses – those of Jung, Adler, and Freud – were in my mind.  (It seems that Adler has been demoted by the latter part of the 20th Century, according to Wikipedia, to 67th place as a cited psychologist.)  Some other names were met later on, like Erich Fromm, Karl Stern, and Karen Horney. This writer now lives in a climate where civilization is still mired in the Freudian theories, and somebody’s – Jacques Lacan’s – never heard of in my younger years.  The book with his picture on the cover made him out to be a laid-back type – far from the intellectualism of the others mentioned here.  Truth, though – that’s judging a book by its cover!

Well, at this point in my life, more than ever, I am extremely skeptical about Freud especially, and the ideas of word associations, ditto for associations with images, such as Rorschach’s.  When the Mafia-don (played by Robert De Niro) in the movie said, “Analyze this!”, at least there was a gun – thus the image of a gun – suitable for Freud’s or Adler’s theories – though lacking in anything of the archetypical required for Jung.

I propose to show my scepticism with an event caused by fatigued presence in a place of worship.  The preacher was speaking in a language which is neither my maternal tongue, nor the one of my education.  The audio system, though I was in front of the speakers, did not carry his voice well.  It was way too soft, and of very low audio frequency, adding to an already soporific mood.

I dozed off …  In my mind appeared the German word, used in psychology, “Schadenfreude“! It is said to be the untranslatable concept of enjoying the suffering of another.  It had no connection with the preacher’s unintelligible discourse.

As an aside, if we split the word, we could have “Schaden, Freud!”  A bad translation, “A pity, (Dr.) Freud!”  More correctly, “Damages, Freud!”, an answer to the question, “What have you suffered?”  Adding the missing “e”, we can get a more nonsensical, “Damages, joy!” But why not? A Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary gives the roots as being related to “scathe” and “frolic”! It comes out the same.

(Further, we can say that in Swedish, the German word “Freude” is “fröjd“, roughly pronounced the same as “Freud”.  A similar Swedish word, “frejd“, means “reputation” – a good reputation being the delight of the one so honoured.)

Well, I temporarily wake up, and fall asleep again.  This time the French word “trouver“, the infinitive “to find” appears in written form.  Upon awakening, I wonder upon the apparition of this foreign word.  There was no exposure to that language in at least 40 days.  The most “exciting” experience with “find” was with an American woman who claimed that I had mistranslated a Spanish word, on the grounds that one cannot find something if it was not lost in the first place.

(I find the preceding ludicrous!  If any reader ever has the misfortune of having the police find something incriminating, get a lawyer to argue that they couldn’t have found it because it never was misplaced!  Ask for dismissal on the grounds that the pre-trial “discovery” is as fraudulently labelled as Christopher Columbus’ “feat”, [in the minds of revisionists]!)

Asleep for the third time.  I see a skeletal image, a type of line, with a head and a tail – perhaps representing a scorpion. A few days earlier, something similar had been seen in a Spanish translation of Mathematics and Imagination, by Edward Kasner and James Newman.  Perhaps it was a deformation of the drawing about the spider going after a fly (Fig. 61).

Concluding the argument about our skeptism: note that the principal language in which I communicate is English.  I was attempting to listen to a preacher whose discourse was in Spanish.  I dream, first in German, then in French, then in silence – a very childish drawing.

I believe, that were any value to some analytical system to be found in this series, it would be superior to that of word association, because it was, as far as we know, purely spontaneous.  Reactions to word associations, in the words of a now-deceased lawyer I once knew, are induced by the person deciding on what we are to hear.

By the way, our record is three languages in one dream.

Deconstruction, anyone?


For the sake of simplicity, the preceding article ignores distinctions between psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychoanalysts, and their specific fields of interest.  Canadian spelling is used. Our French sub-title was an afterthought – an effort to link two of the 3 dream fragments.  “Schadenfreude” is used in French, as our link here proves [(§ 31)].


November 26, 2016

© 2016, Paul Karl Moeller


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