"A dream is the fulfillment of a wish': traumatic dream, repetition compulsion, and the pleasure principle

Int J Psychoanal. 1990;71 ( Pt 3):513-22.


This paper describes the case of a battle veteran who suffered from a repetitive traumatic dream and symptoms of a traumatic stress disorder. Psychodynamic exploration revealed the basic wish-fulfilling aspects of both the dream and the fact of its repetition. The patient's obsessional preoccupation with his war experiences was also in significant part determined by unconscious wishes to repeat the infantile experience it represented. It is suggested that the repression of pleasure according to the classic psychoanalytic model is as important a dynamic in the dreams and symptoms associated with specific traumata as with any other neuroses. The question is raised as to whether a repetition compulsion, of normal or pathological intensity, may reflect the wish to repeat a descriptively unconscious pleasurable component of a disturbing experience, as well as to master it.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Combat Disorders / psychology*
  • Combat Disorders / therapy
  • Compulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Dreams*
  • Freudian Theory
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Object Attachment
  • Pleasure-Pain Principle*
  • Psychoanalytic Interpretation*
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy / methods*