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Mcllwain, D. (2006). Commentary on “Freudian Dream Theory, Dream Bizarreness, and the Disguise-Censor Controversy”. Neuropsychoanalysis, 8(1):42-47.

(2006). Neuropsychoanalysis, 8(1):42-47

Commentary on “Freudian Dream Theory, Dream Bizarreness, and the Disguise-Censor Controversy” Related Papers

Doris Mcllwain

Substitute Objects and Substitute Acts

Dreams are bizarre—a surrealism of one, involving fractured story-lines and composite beasts that puzzle even their narrator. Other people's dreams confound us as we listen politely to this “hallucinatory, self-involving narrative” (Solms, 1995, p. 46). The narrative we tell, the manifest content, is a tapestry of dreamwork, symbolism, and the “plastic representation” Freud describes, where, dreaming, we find ourselves regressing back at the hallucinatory raw-feel level of sensory experience—we see, hear, smell, and take it all as real (see Solms, 1995). As we know, from a classical psychoanalytic point of view the logic of dreams is not to be sought merely at the level of the manifest content, but in a complex defensive mapping between latent wish and hallucinatory manifest array. Defense requires motivational conflict. Before it became clear that dreams were not coterminous with REM sleep (Foulkes, 1962; Solms, 1995), the Hobsonian account made it unlikely that anything motivational could play a part in causing dreams. We are now in a position to say, as Solms and Turnbull (2002) note, “the brain mechanisms of dreams are the same as those for the basic emotions” (p. 201). Reminiscent of Panksepp's (2000) characterization of the basic emotion systems having “minds of their own” (p. 237), drives, for Freud, are somatically anchored sources of policy with regard to aspects of reality relevant to their satisfaction.

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