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Ullman, M. (1973). Societal Factors in Dreaming. Contemp. Psychoanal., 9(2):282-293.

(1973). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 9(2):282-293

Societal Factors in Dreaming

Montague Ullman, M.D.

PSYCHOANALYTIC THOUGHT and scientific interest in dreaming have close, if not identical, historical roots. Within the past decade and a half, we have witnessed the discovery of a vast amount of new biological data concerning dreaming. As a consequence, a new "psychology of dreaming" is coming into being, with the evident need for theoretical accommodation, noted by even the most conservative writers.

There is much going on about us on the sociopolitical scene. Old values are challenged continuously. Confrontations occur wherever opportunity presents itself. A sense of transition, change, and flux has replaced a feeling of complacency and a sense of stability. Sociologists, taking note of this, are raising sharp questions concerning our institutions and the quality of life they evoke and foster. If the question of institutional change is on the agenda, as some of us hope it will be, then perhaps it is timely to consider whether a study of dream consciousness can contribute to our understanding of the reciprocal relationship between society and the individual. This, in effect, is to raise the question: Can there be a sociology of dreaming?

Roger Bastide (1966), a French social anthropologist, critical of the psychoanalyst's failure to come to grips with the dream in its social setting, does in fact raise this question. He notes:

In our Western civilization … the bridges between the diurnal and nocturnal halves of man have been cut. (p.

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