The Examination Dream

Everyone who has passed the Matriculation examination at the end of his school studies complains of the obstinacy with which he is pursued by anxiety-dreams of having failed, or of being obliged to take the examination again, etc. In the case of those who have obtained a University degree this typical dream is replaced by another one which represents them as having failed in their University finals; and it is in vain that they object, even while they are still asleep, that for years they have been practicing medicine or working as University lecturers or heads of offices. The ineradicable memories of the punishments that we suffered for our evil deeds in childhood become active within us once more and attach themselves to the two crucial points in our studies—the dies irae, dies illa of our stiffest examinations.

—Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams

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