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Izner, S.M. (1959). On the Appearance of Primal Scene Content in Dreams. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 7:317-328.

(1959). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 7:317-328

On the Appearance of Primal Scene Content in Dreams

Sanford M. Izner, M.D.

In the course of the process of psychoanalysis or intensive psychotherapy the occurrence of the dream of the primal scene is an expected and usual phenomenon. Although much has been written about primal scene dreams from the standpoint of their content and structure since the early detailed accounts of Freud (4), (5) to further accounts by Róheim (8), Fenichel (2), and others, there has been little effort directed at any explanation of the circumstances leading to the appearance of these dreams.

It is generally recognized and accepted that primal scene content in dreams may occur during almost any phase of the treatment process; for example, the occurrence of dreams of this nature early in treatment has long been recognized to represent a form of resistance to the intense anxiety liberated by the developing transference neurosis. The content, although seeming out of context with the level of material being recognized by the patient in the analysis at that phase, must serve a different function. We must ask "What is the defensive function of these dreams?"

At much later phases of the treatment process the recollection of dreams of the primal scene is generally considered to be in keeping with the material being liberated during the analysis, as the defensive structures are removed and information concerning impulses on a deeper level are brought forth. So if a dream occurs, the question that then arises is as follows: "What in effect has given rise to this kind of recollection at this time in treatment?" Since dreams of the primal scene seem to serve defensive functions on several levels, this paper deals with the defensive function of these dreams in relation to certain specific elements in the transference.

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