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Eisenstein, V.W. (1949). Dreams Following Intercourse. Psychoanal Q., 18:154-172.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:154-172

Dreams Following Intercourse

Victor W. Eisenstein, M.D.

Dreams which follow the act of sexual intercourse provide special data that are theoretically instructive and clinically useful, particularly in the treatment of sexual disorders. The adage, 'After coitus all animals are sad', expresses not a healthy but a neurotic reaction often clearly revealed in postcoital dreams. The genital sexual act, which provides a normal adult with a pleasant feeling of satisfaction and relaxation, is a source of frustration and tension for the neurotic. By reason of unconscious conflicts something in the neurotic is unsatisfied which cannot be satisfied through heterosexual intercourse. Pregenital cravings, whose derivatives are ubiquitous in the patient's symptoms, also seek satisfaction in coitus but are blocked by the forces of repression; however, these conflicting infantile strivings find an immediate pathway to gratification in the dreams which follow sexual intercourse, and the study of such dreams contributes significantly to an understanding of neurotic postcoital moods and reactions. The direct connection between the dream and the preceding sexual experience—a fixed relation of the dream to reality—offers certain advantages that find practical application in therapy.

Postcoital dreams also provide valuable insights into the psychopathology of orgasm and demonstrate lucidly the unconscious response to satisfaction or the lack of it. They yield data on the meaning of intercourse in various types of neuroses, the special sexual symbolism that is peculiar to the dreamer, and the defenses employed to counter the guilt or anxiety evoked by the actual sex act (2). The interpretation of this category of dreams is facilitated by the fact that the dream stimulus is a known factor that clarifies the manifest content of the dream and facilitates the secondary elaboration by association, provided that resistances have first been analyzed.


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