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Ullman, M. (1982). On Relearning the Forgotten Language—Deprofessionalizing the Dream. Contemp. Psychoanal., 18:153-159.

(1982). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 18:153-159

On Relearning the Forgotten Language—Deprofessionalizing the Dream

Montague Ullman, M.D.

ERICH FROMM'S BLEND OF SCHOLARSHIP and common sense is no more in evidence than in his small volume entitled, "The Forgotten Language". In this book he took a major step toward demystifying dreams and dream work and preparing the way for their more general accessibility. Very early in the book he calls attention to an unfortunate consequence of Freud's classic contribution to our understanding of the dream:

Another limitation is that interpretation of dreams is still considered legitimate only when employed by the psychiatrist in the treatment of neurotic patients. On the contrary, I believe that symbolic language is the one foreign language that each of us must learn. Its understanding brings us in touch with one of the most significant sources of wisdom, that of the myth, and it brings us in touch with the deeper layers of our own personalities. In fact, it helps us to understand a level of experience that is specifically human because it is that level which is common to all humanity, in content as well as in style (Fromm 1951).

Not only was it necessary to clear the air, as Fromm did, of certain mistaken notions about dreams and the exclusive position held by the therapist in relation to them, but, what was also needed, was a way of implementing this point of view. Turning his attention elsewhere, Fromm never got back to this task. Freud and later, Jung had addressed the general public on the subject of dreams. Freud emphasized the unique role of the psychoanalyst. Jung went further, in efforts to orient the public to dreams, but he too felt that specialized knowledge and training was essential. In the light of the views they held neither could provide the non-professional with the tools needed to comprehend one's own dreams.


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