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Berman, L.E. (1985). Primal Scene Significance of a Dream Within a Dream. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 66:75-76.

(1985). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 66:75-76

Primal Scene Significance of a Dream Within a Dream

Leon E.A. Berman

Freud (1900) originally described the function of the dream within a dream as basically defensive: 'to detract from the importance of what is "dreamt" in the dream, to rob it of its reality' (p. 338). He further considered the insertion of an event into a dream within a dream to be 'the most decided confirmation of the reality of the event—the strongest affirmation of it' (p. 338). In spite of its frequency, there has been little mention of this type of dream in the literature except to restate Freud's original thesis (Grinstein, 1956); (Wilder, 1956). A more extensive study of a dream within a dream was recently reported by Silber (1983). Quoting Freud's observation that 'the form of a dream or the form in which it is dreamt is used with quite surprising frequency for representing its concealed subject-matter' (p. 910), Silber describes a dream within a dream whose form served to symbolize various aspects of the patient's vagina. In the case to be described, the dream within a dream not only attempted to deny the reality of what was dreamed, but its structure served to express the instinctual dream wish: to participate in the primal scene.

The patient, a divorced woman in her early thirties, recalled no primal scene experience; yet the material of her analysis contained many such references. Her masturbation fantasies had a strong, visual quality, in which she was the observer of vivid sexual scenes. Her dreams were frequently set in theatres, stadiums and auditoriums.

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