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Giustino, G. (2009). Memory in Dreams. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(5):1057-1073.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(5):1057-1073

Memory in Dreams

Gabriella Giustino

(Final version accepted 22 April 2009)

In this paper the author discusses a specific type of dreams encountered in her clinical experience, which in her view provide an opportunity of reconstructing the traumatic emotional events of the patient's past. In 1900, Freud described a category of dreams—which he called ‘biographical dreams’—that reflect historical infantile experience without the typical defensive function. Many authors agree that some traumatic dreams perform a function of recovery and working through. Bion contributed to the amplification of dream theory by linking it to the theory of thought and emphasizing the element of communication in dreams as well as their defensive aspect. The central hypothesis of this paper is that the predominant aspect of such dreams is the communication of an experience which the dreamer has in the dream but does not understand. It is often possible to reconstruct, and to help the patient to comprehend and make sense of, the emotional truth of the patient's internal world, which stems from past emotional experience with primary objects. The author includes some clinical examples and references to various psychoanalytic and neuroscientific conceptions of trauma and memory. She discusses a particular clinical approach to such dreams and how the analyst should listen to them.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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