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Ullman, M. (1960). The Social Roots of the Dream. Am. J. Psychoanal., 20(2):180-189.

(1960). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 20(2):180-189

The Social Roots of the Dream

Montague Ullman, M.D.

The relationship between dream and social myth has been of interest to the social scientist and the psychoanalyst. As such, it has relevance to the therapeutic endeavor. I shall begin with some ideas about dreaming. Next I would like to consider the unique position of social myth as an area of obvious concern to both the social scientist and the student of the dream. Finally, I hope to show the pertinence of some of these considerations to the problems of therapy.

I. dreaming: There are four points I wish to make in connection with dreaming:

1.   The function of the dream can be understood in the light of the fact that it occurs during states of partial cortical arousal, unstable states that must be resolved by awakening or returning to deep sleep. By a sequential series of images, the individual forms a statement that represents a total assessment of the currently disturbing life situation, and the defensive mechanisms by which it can be handled. This assessment determines whether full arousal has to occur or not. It is in this sense that there is a connection between dream consciousness and the vigilance needs of the organism.1

2.   The elements in the dream are symbolic, not in the sense of disguising impulses, but because they represent the best approximation in personal terms that the individual can construct for himself of the real forces operating upon him and impinging upon the area of vulnerability with which the dream is concerned and which are not objectively known to the individual.

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