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Erickson, M.H. (1941). On the Possible Occurrence of a Dream in an Eight-Month-Old Infant. Psychoanal Q., 10:382-384.

(1941). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 10:382-384

On the Possible Occurrence of a Dream in an Eight-Month-Old Infant

Milton H. Erickson

The age at which dreams first play a part in the psychic life of the individual is unknown. Various careful studies have reported that dreams may occur even before the development of speech, but the weight of evidence has been inferential in character and based upon sleep disturbances for which purely physiological, as distinct from psychic, activity might as readily be postulated. With the development of speech, however, definite evidence of dreaming by very young children is obtained, their utterances while asleep disclosing their sleep disturbances to have an unmistakable psychic content, as is shown so clearly in Grotjahn's recent observations of dreaming in a two-year-four-month-old baby.

Pertinent to these considerations is the following brief note reporting an instance in detail which suggests strongly that a dream with definite psychic and affective content may occur even at the early age of eight months. The attendant circumstances are given in full since they suggest a possible background for the development of affective desires which might in turn give rise to dream activity.

For a period of months a father was in the habit of playing with his infant daughter regularly just previous to her six p. m. feeding and much pleasure was taken in inducing her to laugh and in watching her extend her legs, flex her arms over her chest and turn her head from side to side as she laughed. The infant had developed a definite attitude of expectation for this specific play activity.

When she was exactly eight months old, external circumstances caused the father to be absent from home one evening and the next. Returning at midnight the second evening, he paused at her bedroom door.

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