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Spanjaard, J. (1969). The Manifest Dream Content and its Significance for the Interpretation of Dreams. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 50:221-235.

(1969). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 50:221-235

The Manifest Dream Content and its Significance for the Interpretation of Dreams

Jacob Spanjaard


Despite his often having shown consideration for the manifest dream, Freud warned in all his publications against taking the connections and logical elements (secondary revision) which appear in it seriously.

Federn was the first to devote attention to the role taken by the dreamer himself in the manifest dream, while for a number of other authors increasing attention to the manifest dream was one symptom of a departure from psychoanalytic ideas in the strict sense. Parallel with the development of ego psychology, interest in the manifest dream content increased markedly. The present author is of the opinion that the role of the dreamer in the manifest dream is particularly important as a guide for the construction of one's interpretation, namely in relation to the current conflict.

In most dreams by far, the dreamer—who is always present—appears as dissociating himself in any of a number of various ways from some of the events and images which are hallucinated. First one employs all the associations to the elements of the dream in the usual fashion, and all the knowledge which one has of the dreamer. This material is set against the manifest dream content and, making-use of the already manifest dynamic aspects menttioned above, one can then attempt to interpret the dream—particularly in the light of the current conflict. In this fashion one can localize the most superficial wish and defence, the latter being comparable with the mechanism of negation.

The author believes that adherence to this principle willl enable the analyst at any given point in the course of an analytic treatment to offer an interpretation which satisfies as closely as possible the well-known rule: always be aware of the surface of the patient at any given moment.

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