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Boris, H.N. (1989). Interpretation of Dreams, Interpretation of Facts. Contemp. Psychoanal., 25:212-225.

(1989). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 25:212-225

Interpretation of Dreams, Interpretation of Facts

Harold N. Boris


MORE THAN ONCE BION REMARKED that now we have "Interpretation of Dreams" we should have its companion volume: "Interpretation of Facts." He felt this would provide "a two-way street." In this wish he was not alone. Winnicott, too, thought that now we know what the symbols of the penis are we might wonder what the penis symbolizes:

Incidentally, it rather amuses me to make an exercise by saying "what is the penis symbolical of?" To some extent the penis is symbolical of a snake or of a baby's bottle or of the baby's body as it moved in the womb before the arms and legs became significant and before there were oral and anal zones. I think that in regard to the one way in which the idea of a penis develops where it is gradually constructed out of certain properties of the mother, then we have to think of a very fundamental concept, and have to say that the snake is symbolical of a penis. When we come, however, to the other extreme such as your son's observation of his penis and his mind-work on the subject, then I think we can look at it the other way and talk about the penis as symbolical of other more fundamental objects as, for instance, the tooth-brush or some other toy or, as I have said, of the fish or reptile that is understood because it is like the infant was at the dawn of impulse. (Winnicott in Rodman, 1987).

Regarding this matter of the symbol, Green (1986) quotes Robert's Dictionary to the effect that a symbol is, "an object cut in two, constituting a sign of recognition when its bearers can put together the two separate pieces." Let us take a leaf from Bion and Winnicott and suppose that there is a penis which is itself and at the same time symbolizes and is symbolized by other things. The latter idea is established: the familiar phallic symbols.

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