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Colby, K.M. (1956). The Gates of the Dream. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 4:176-183.

(1956). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 4:176-183

The Gates of the Dream

Kenneth Mark Colby, M.D.

Once closed, this book continues to stir a montage of impressions. Massive, tangled, now brilliant, now tedious—only the most determined of readers can avoid sorting and skipping and complaining. It is not a new regret that Róheim seldom makes reading easy. His turgid sentences and nonchalance in paragraphing are unsettling to anyone accustomed to more disciplined standards of writing. His tousled style of communication readily invites impatience. If only he had taken some time from his voluminous collecting of folk tales to organize and clarify what he was laboring to say!

As a pioneer in psychoanalytic anthropology, Róheim observed, theorized and published at a frontier level for over forty years. In studying cultures other than our own, he gathered confirmations for psychoanalytic hypotheses of human behavior. But besides accumulating evidence for constructs already established, he sought to formulate and document hypotheses of his own.

Near the end of the first chapter there appears a summary of the major hypotheses in The Gates of the Dream. It is condensed enough to permit quotation in full here:

a. In sleep we return to the intrauterine situation.

b. The dream as such is an attempt to re-establish contact with environment, to rebuild the world. It is the normal parallel to schizophrenia, not to the manic-depressive states.

c. Falling asleep is both birth in reverse and coitus. Awakening is birth.

d. Sleep is a combination of regression and introversion. The dream space is both the mother's womb and the dreamer's body.

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1 Géza Róheim, THE GATES OF THE DREAM. New York: International Universities Press, 1952, x + 554 pages, $10.00.

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