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Rycroft, C. (1955). Two Notes on Idealization, Illusion and Disillusion as Normal and Abnormal Psychological Processes. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 36:81-87.

(1955). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 36:81-87

Two Notes on Idealization, Illusion and Disillusion as Normal and Abnormal Psychological Processes

Charles Rycroft

Fairly soon after the beginning of her analysis a patient reported a dream in which the moon fell out of the sky into a dustbin. The night, however, remained bright as another moon was shining in its place. Her only comment on the dream was the rather sarcastic one that, of course, her previous psychotherapist would have said that the moon stood for either the breast or the vagina. In the absence of further associations, no interpretation was attempted and the dream was never referred to again. I shall return later to the significance of what was for this patient a characteristic piece of behaviour—giving me material which was tantalizing in its apparent significance, but doing so in such a way that I was unable to make any use of it.

I was reminded of this dream when, some months later, I was reading an English translation of some poems by Giacomo Leopardi, the Italian romantic poet of the early nineteenth century. One, an early fragment written when the poet was twenty-one, describes a dream in which the moon falls out of the sky and burns itself out in a field. The dreamer then looks up at the sky and is frozen with terror at the sight of the hole from which the moon has been torn. I quote the poem in full. It is written in the form of a dialogue between the dreamer, Alcetas, and his companion, Melissus.

THE TERROR BY NIGHT (a fragment)

ALCETAS:

Hear me, Melissus; I will tell you a dream
I had last night, which comes to mind again,
Now that I see the moon.

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