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Shapira-Berman, O. (2018). Psychosomatic Symptoms as Physical Dreams: Emotional Experiences Given Expression through the Body. Contemp. Psychoanal., 54(3):560-589.

(2018). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 54(3):560-589

Psychosomatic Symptoms as Physical Dreams: Emotional Experiences Given Expression through the Body

Ofrit Shapira-Berman, Ph.D.

This article offers a view of psychosomatic symptoms as experiential phenomena that function as “physical dreams.” The author suggests a way of perceiving psychosomatic symptoms either as "undreamt" dreams or as "interrupted" dreams, reflecting the various ways in which patients are able to utilize their symptoms in undertaking unconscious psychological work. For this work to be carried out, patients, as well as their analysts, need to have some ability to engage in intersubjective “dream-work” with the patient’s symptomatology. In the tradition of Bion's conception of the dual function of the contact-barrier, I propose viewing psychosomatic symptoms as constructions by which aspects of the psyche-soma are rendered conscious or unconscious in the service of psychological work. With the analyst's aid, the analysand may restart his or her interrupted “physical” dreaming and/or (re)form an “undreamt” dream, transferring and transforming “physical” into “psychical” material and verse versa.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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