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Palombo, S.R. (1976). The Dream and the Memory Cycle. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 3:65-83.

(1976). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 3:65-83

The Dream and the Memory Cycle

Stanley R. Palombo

My purpose here is to present a new theoretical model of the process by which the structure and contents of the human memory store are modified and extended through new experience. This paper will continue the psychoanalytic study of memory begun earlier in 'The Associative Memory Tree' (Palombo, 1973) in which I attempted to define the structure of the memory storage system as it is revealed through the pattern of free association which unfolds during the psychoanalytic hour.

As my title indicates, the pathway leading to the permanent memory passes through a territory already familiar to psychoanalysts; the world of dreams. The dreaming state, in fact, constitutes the crucial step in the introduction of new experimential material into the existing structure of the memory. In what follows I shall refer to the sequence of events through which a newly recorded sensory impression is processed and stored as the memory cycle.

The suggestion that dreaming is involved in the transfer of new experience to the long-term memory was made independently by Greenberg & Leiderman (1966), Breger (1967), and Dewan (1967). What I will add here is a detailed exposition of the processes and mechanisms which take part in the accomplishment of this transfer and of the specific role played by the dreaming state.

One of the advantages of the approach developed here is that it reconciles two views of dreaming often thought to be in opposition. The dreaming state functions as an adaptive process necessary to the integration of new experience and at the same time as a conduit through which unconscious infantile wishes gain access to the realm of contemporary waking consciousness.

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