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Blechner, M.J. (1998). The Analysis and Creation of Dream Meaning: Interpersonal, Intrapsychic, and Neurobiological Perspectives. Contemp. Psychoanal., 34(2):181-194.

(1998). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 34(2):181-194

The Analysis and Creation of Dream Meaning: Interpersonal, Intrapsychic, and Neurobiological Perspectives

Mark J. Blechner, Ph.D.

I wish to convey the enthusiasm that I feel about dreams, their significance in clinical work, and the many new ways that we have learned to understand them. I would also like to familiarize the reader with some findings about dreams that have come from neurobiologists and cognitive scientists. Some of those researchers have made broadside attacks on the psychoanalytic theory of dreams and the practice of dream interpretation; psychoanalysts have either returned the hostility or simply ignored the empirical research. My own view is that both empirical researchers and practicing psychoanalysts could benefit by a serious exchange of information.

The current gap between psychoanalysis and neurobiology did not exist when psychoanalysis was founded. Freud's first scientific research (1877) was on animal neurology, the development of the nervous system of the eel. Later, one of Freud's major works was the Project for a Scientific Psychology (1895), which attempted to create a model of human mental functioning based on the neurological knowledge of his time. This work is still appreciated by cognitive neuroscientists today. If one studies the Project carefully, one realizes that most of Freud's later thinking about psychoanalytic metapsychology had its origins in the psychoneural model that he developed in the Project.

Over the years, however, psychoanalysis, cognitive science, and neurobiology have become estranged from one another, although something of a dialogue (not always friendly) between the fields has continued, especially in the area of dreams.


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