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Miller, S.C. (1964). The Manifest Dream and the Appearance of Colour in Dreams. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 45:512-517.

(1964). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45:512-517

The Manifest Dream and the Appearance of Colour in Dreams

Stuart C. Miller

Several years ago I attended a seminar given by Charles Fisher on the relatively early stages of his series of experiments based on Poetzl's earlier ones (Poetzl et al., 1960). Some parts of his presentation raised the question: What is a manifest dream? The answer may seem obvious, but I should like to suggest that it is not, or at least that there is some lack of clarity about what psycho-analysts consider a manifest dream to be. Fisher (1954), in his studies of dreams in relation to subliminal visual stimulation, often asked subjects to draw what they had dreamed, and then treated the drawings as manifest dream-content, although, particularly with artistically untalented subjects, it seemed that often the drawings scarcely resembled the dream-imagery. I believe he was justified in doing this, but it did raise a question about a taken-for-granted conception, the manifest dream.

Freud's explicit and implicit definitions of the manifest dream differ among themselves; and, though the differences appear small, they are important. He repeatedly refers to the manifest dream as what the dreamer remembers having dreamed (see, for instance, 1900pp. 122, 144, 243, 277). Elsewhere he defines it not from the point of view of the dreamer but from that of a listener-to-dreams: 'We will describe what the dream actually tells us as the manifest dream-content …' (1916, p. 120). These two definitions and the small difference between them raise a number of questions: (a) How closely does the dream as remembered or as related resemble the dream as actually experienced during sleep? (b) How much alike are the remembered dream and the recounted dream? (c) How close to the recounted dream is the conception of it formed by the listener? and (d) How nearly does the listener's conception approach the dream as experienced? It is often clear in psycho-analytic writings about dreams that what is being written about as manifest dream is the dream as conceived of by the analyst, his conception being determined not only by what the dreamer tells him but also by his own cognitive and perceptual style and his preconceptions about the nature of dreaming.

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