320 PSYCHOTHERAPY : SCIENTIFIC AND RELIGIOUS chap.
As in our waking thoughts we facilitate the solution of actual difficulties by the fiction of a simplifying, or it may be of an exaggerating, allegory, so the dreamer imagines an analogy in picture-form for the dominating problem of the moment and tries with its help to find the solution adapted to his goal-setting.
To interpret a dream means then to find that real mental contact to which the dream allegory refers. For the purpose of therapy dream interpretation offers advantages of two kinds : First, the patient learns, through the successful and convincing interpretation of his dreams, that there really are mental processes which he himself feels to be withdrawn from his willing and thinking, and which yet on closer consideration reveal themselves as valid portions of his responsible actively thinking and active personality. But with his nervous symptoms the case is precisely similar. Secondly, the denouement of the dream, when one has once found the tertiurn comparationis, snows for the most part with great clearness in what sense the patient is inclined to solve his actual problems. If such a dream has been understood it will often be easy to foretell the behaviour of the patient for the time immediately ahead, so far as his present difficulties are concerned, since this future behaviour has already been indicated in the dream. But this prophecy brings to light all that is going on in the psyche, and renders its discussion possible.
Any attempt to understand the dream of a person who is not otherwise known is likely to be waste of time. For the dream, like all expressions of life, becomes comprehensible only in connection with the whole personality. The ideas which a patient brings can only contribute to the solution of the dream-riddle in so far as they are at the same time of use for the understanding of the personality.