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Sprengnether, M. (2004). Conversations at the Frontier of Dreaming. Thomas H. Ogden. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. 2001. 255 pp. $32.00.. Am. Imago, 61(3):411-418.

(2004). American Imago, 61(3):411-418

Conversations at the Frontier of Dreaming. Thomas H. Ogden. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. 2001. 255 pp. $32.00.

Review by:
Madelon Sprengnether

Thomas Ogden is a poet's psychoanalyst—someone who listens to his patients on the level of voice, metaphor, and what he describes (somewhat more enigmatically) as “the music of what happens” (79-113). Those familiar with Ogden's work in Reverie and Interpretation: Sensing Something Human (1997) will recognize his concept of the “analytic third,” a feeling state that is co-created by patient and analyst in which they communicate on nearly unconscious levels with each other. For Ogden, this is where the real work of analysis takes place—not in the space of interpretation per se, but at the level of mutual entanglement in reverie or something like waking dream. This condition is also akin to the location described by D. W. Winnicott (1971. as that of “transitional phenomena,” where boundaries between inside and outside, self and other, become permeable—the space of creativity and play.

Here is a selection of statements from Ogden's introductory essay about this elusive state:

Metaphor is an integral part of the attempt of two people to convey to one another a sense of what each is feeling (like) in the present moment and what one's past experience felt like in the past (as viewed from the vantage point of the present). (26)

Reverie is a process in which metaphors are created that give shape to the analyst's experience of the unconscious dimensions of the analytic relationship. (38)

Dreams are metaphors, reveries are metaphors, symptoms are metaphors for the individual's unconscious experience. To the degree that we as analysts are interested in unconscious experience, we are students of metaphor.

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