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Rogers, R. (1981). Textuality in Dreams. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 8:433-447.

(1981). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 8:433-447

Textuality in Dreams

Robert Rogers


This paper emphasizes the textuality of dreams as a way of addressing their fundamental determinacy. It explores the determinacy of the texts of dream reports as though they exhibited the degree of textual coherence commonly attributed to poems. Freud's formulations about the nature of dreams and the process of dream interpretation are reviewed in such a way as to emphasize their hermeneutic implications. After discussing the information-processing view that dreaming furthers adaption through helping the dreamer to deal with anxiety by integrating current problems with memory systems, and after arguing that dreams are informational in substance as well as function, the paper builds on this emphasis by directing attention to heuristic elements in Freud's hermeneutic guidelines. In order to clarify the heuristic potentiality of the text of the dream report itself, the paper distinguishes between the extratextual informational value of the dreamer's associations and the intratextual information incorporated into the structure and fabric of the dream report that can further interpretation in a metacommunicational way by virtue of its redundancy. The paper then illustrates the implications of handling dream reports as texts—that is, as meaningful, code-using structures exhibiting such properties as wholeness, coherence of parts, and interpretability—by examining two dreams together with the dreamers' own interpretations of them. This discussion of the textuality of dreams concludes by suggesting that dreams can reveal a high level of semantic determinacy in spite of their semantic ambiguity.

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