Forgotten After Waking
It is proverbial fact that dreams melt away in the morning. The can, of course.be remembered, for we only know dreams from our memory of them after we are awake. But we very often have a feeling that we have only remembered a dream in part and that there was more of it during the night, we can observe, too, how the recollection of a dream, which was still lively in the morning, will melt away, except for a few small fragments, in the course of the day, we often know we have dreamt, without knowing what we have dreamt, and we are so familiar with the fact of dreams being liable to be forgotten, that we see no absurdity in the possibility of someone having had a dream in the night and of his not being aware in the morning either of what he has dreamt or even of the fact that he has dreamt at all. On the other hand, it sometimes happens that dreams show an extraordinary persistence in the memory.
In the first place, all the causes that lead to forgetting in waking life are operative for dreams as well. When we are awake we regularly forget countless sensations and perceptions at once, because they were too weak or because the mental excitation attaching to them was too slight. The same holds good of many dream-images, they are forgotten because they are too weak, while stronger images adjacent to them are remembered.
We often forget dream-images which we know were very vivid, while a very large number which are shadow and lacking in sensory force are among those retained in the memory. Moreover, when we are awake we tend easily to forget an event which occurs only once and more readily to notice what can be perceived repeatedly. Now most dream-images are unique experiences, and that fact will contribute impartially towards making us forget all dreams.If a short line of verse is divided up into its component words and these are mixed up,it becomes very hard to remember. If words are properly arranged and put into the relevant order, one word will help another, and the whole, being charged with meaning, will be easily taken up by the memory and retained for a long time. Peculiar dreams are best remembered.
Dream-compositions find no place in the company of the psychical sequences with which the mind is filled. There is nothing that can help us to remember them. In this way dream-structures are, as it were, lifted above the floor of our mental life and float in psychical space like clouds in the sky, scattered by the first breath of wind. Dreams give way before the impressions of a new day just as the brilliance of the stars yields to the light of the sun.
Finally, there is another fact to be borne in mind as likely to lead to dreams being forgotten, (1)Namely that most people take very little interest in their dreams.(2) That the alteration in coenaesthesia between the sleeping and waking states is unfavourable to reciprocal reproduction between them. (3) That the different arrangement of the ideational material in dreams make them untranslatable, as it were, for waking consciousness.
But the recollection of dreams in general is open to an objection which is bound to reduce their value very completely in critical opinion. Since so great a proportion of dream is lost altogether, we may well doubt whether our memory of what is left of them may not be falsified. Thus it may easily happen that waking consciousness unwittingly makes interpolations in the memory of a dream, we persuade ourselves that we have dreamt all kinds of dungs that were not contained in the actual dreams. It is seldom or never that a coherent dream was in fact as coherent as it seems to us in memory. Even the most truth-loving of men is scarcely able to relate a noteworthy dream without some additions or embellishments. The tendency of the human mind to see everything connectedly is so strong that in memory it unwittingly fills in any lack of coherence there may be in an incoherent dream.