Table of Contents
Welcome to a mini course on the use of dreams in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. We will take a general overview; move into how dreams integrate affect; focus on the sensory, somatic, visual process in which a dream is like a painting that patient and therapist can look at together; and consider the dream as transitional play space for the patient’s growth and development.
It’s ideal to have you present some dreams from your patients, but we have limited time. Please let me know if you want to present a dream from a current psychotherapy patient. It would be good to have one person each week willing to present dream material for the purpose of working together as a group and gaining skills on how to work with dreams.
November 15, 2021
Greenson, R. (1970). The exceptional position of the dream in psychoanalytic practice, Psychoanalytic Quarterly: 39:519-49.
Working with dreams facilitates free association through a comfort with the unconscious. The immediate visual/affective experience of dreams allows the patient to see the unconscious, thus interpretations are more readily accepted as are the disguised, hidden unconscious affects, wishes, and prohibitions.
November 22, 2021
Livingston, M. (2006) Sustained Empathic Focus, Vulnerability, and the Centrality of Subjective-Affective Experience: Further Thoughts on a Self Psychological Approach to the Clinical Use of Dreams. International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology 1:285-300
The dream provides a psychological space wherein overwhelming, contradictory or highly complex affects that, under waking conditions, are subject to dissociative splitting or disavowal may be brought together for observation by the dreaming ego. The “me/not me” quality of the dream contributes to the creation of the dream space where play, creativity, and self-analysis can develop. New self and object representations and new relational scenarios may be revealed in dreams, demonstrating the development, integrative, creative aspects of the dreaming process.
November 29, 2021
Molinari, E. (2008). Dreams: A ≪Transitional≫ Area from the Body of Experience to the Body of Thought. Ital. Psychoanal. Annu., 2:157-169.
Dreams occur in a transitional space from the experience of the body to the area of thought. Dreams are shared between the analyst and analysand and are visual, affective experiences of past scenes either imagined or remembered. They can be unconscious memories of primitive sensorial experiences during analytic regression similar to a small child and its mother. The field of the preverbal, relational experience and early proto-affective traces may be in the transference and referenced in dreams.
December 6, 2021
Atlas, G. (2013). Eat, Pray, Dream: Contemporary Use of Dreams in Psychoanalysis. Contemp. Psychoanal., 49(2):239-246.
Atlas, a contemporary relational analyst, presents four dreams that demonstrate the movement from concrete to symbolic process. The paper is an illustration of dream work as a transitional play space that leads to growth in the patient.