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Martin, J. (1984). Three Stages of Dreaming: A Clinical Study of Henry Miller's Dream Book. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 12(2):233-251.

(1984). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 12(2):233-251

Three Stages of Dreaming: A Clinical Study of Henry Miller's Dream Book

Jay Martin, Ph.D.

When Henry Miller died in 1980, he was world famous as the author of dozens of books. During his career he was so prolific that we tend to forget that he was already 42 years old in 1934, when Tropic of Cancer, his first book, was published. Though he had yearned since the age of 20 to become an author, he had been scarcely able to write at all, and certainly had written nothing of value before Tropic of Cancer. The period immediately prior to the composition of this first book is one of transition from an imaginative impasse to creative fecundity. Miller's case offers a particularly dramatic instance of a creative breakthrough. To gain insight into the dynamics of this period in his life, then, is likely to increase the psychoanalytic understanding of creative release and creative processes, and even of the therapeutic effects of psychoanalysis itself.

Fortunately, Miller left a revealing record of this period in a notebook recording and analyzing his dreams between October 1932 and the end of 1933, precisely the period when he was trying to write what would become his first book. What is more, the dreams recorded in his dream notebook not only reveal the dramatic alteration in his capacity for his creativity, they became the instruments of transformation itself.

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