In this course we will explore dreaming from the perspective of different psychoanalytic models of the mind. To keep our discussions connected to your analytic work, please bring dreams from your clinical work, which you believe illustrate the concepts in our readings and or dreams you find particularly perplexing.
Each of the learning objectives for this course will serve to further and deepen the associate’s analytic work leading to improved treatment outcome.
Additional Optional Readings for a longer course on dreams:
Dreams can reveal an analysand’s readiness for termination. Dreams of graduation, funerals, people or objects separating, self-examination (capacity for self analysis) may all be preconscious reference to termination.
The compulsion to repeat can be seen as a wish from the ego, originally overwhelmed, as preparing itself in both dreams and repetitive acts to replay and eventually to master overwhelming traumatic experiences. Soldiers, returning from battle, experienced dreams as though they were flashbacks – exact replays. But, on careful examination the nightmares were not exact replicas and some contained material from early family experiences. Viewing the dream as exact replicas of battlefield experience, when they clearly were not, must be seen as an aspect of the disguise function of the dream, a screen to prevent the dream from being too troubling and too connected to ongoing painful and conflicted material, past and present, embedded with guilt and shame. The rationalization that the nightmare has nothing to do with one’s life experiences is used to prevent the dream experience from integration into the entire continuity of one’s life, childhood, and military experience.
The nightmares clearly have a screening function to conceal from awareness infantile trauma and its residuals. Most of the patients were raised in families where marital strife, physical violence, and alcoholism were rife. The handling of intense shame and rage by placing it on the battlefield is rationalized as coming from the battlefield only and not connected to one’s entire life.
Dreams allow old experiences to be reconsidered in the present allowing new meaning to be assigned to past experiences.
The analyst’s dream involving the patient can represent (1) neurotic conflict in the analyst; (2) a transient identification with the patient; (3) the mind of the analyst attempting to symbolize and integrate (understand) the patient; (4) a containing function of the projections from the patient with the analyst identifying with the projected disavowed parts of the analysand’s mind. Also, the dream may be a representation of the current interpersonal action in the analysis.