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Aberbach, D. (1984). Loss and Dreams. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 11:383-398.

(1984). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 11:383-398

Loss and Dreams

David Aberbach


The large body of clinical literature on loss and separation which has built up in recent years takes virtually no account of the effects of loss on the dreams of the bereaved. In addition, relatively little attention has been paid to the abundant literary material on dreams and loss. Yet the study of dreams and loss was a crucial aspect in the early development of psychoanalysis: Freud wrote The Interpretation of Dreams during the period of grief for his father, and a number of childhood experiences of loss and separation also emerged in the course of his self-analysis at this time. The purpose of the present study is twofold: (a) To explore the possible role of loss in dreams of seven writers: Dante, Descartes, Milton, De Quincey, Nerval, Cocteau, and Jung. (b) To

consider the impact of loss and separation in Freud's own life and works, and the question why Freud waited a quarter-century to develop a theory of loss when he had the evidence, based on his self-analysis, at the time of writing The Interpretation of Dreams.

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