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Stolorow, R.D. (1978). Themes in Dreams: A Brief Contribution to Therapeutic Technique. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 59:473-475.

(1978). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 59:473-475

Themes in Dreams: A Brief Contribution to Therapeutic Technique

Robert D. Stolorow

A hallmark of Freud's (1900) approach to the dream was his derogation of its manifest content as a beguiling, obfuscating façade which functioned to conceal, rather than to disclose, the inner psychological life of the dreamer. Hence, the aim of dream analysis was to undo the disguising, distorting effects of the dream-work, first by breaking up the dream narrative into its discrete elements, and then by using these isolated fragments as starting points for free-associative chains which lead the way back to the dream's latent content or unconscious meaning.

In contrast to this classical technique, in which the dream story is devalued and largely ignored, are certain other approaches in which it is claimed that psychologically meaningful information can be gleaned directly from the manifest content, even in the absence of associations to elements. For example, a number of authors (Ferenczi, 1913); (Kanzer, 1955); (Bergmann, 1966) have proposed that the dream as reported may be viewed, in part, as an important form of communication to the therapist. Others (Arlow & Brenner, 1964); (Spanjaard, 1969) have suggested that the interplay of forces and counterforces determining a patient's current conflicts may be more or less directly discernible in the manifest dream. Kohut (1977) has demonstrated that, in narcissistically disturbed patients, the precarious condition of an enfeebled or fragmented self may be concretely depicted in the manifest dream imagery. And Erikson (1954) has shown that systematic attention to the dream's manifest surface, especially its 'style of representation', can reveal the dreamer's individualized modes of experiencing and relating to himself and his world.

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