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Mittelmann, B. (1949). Ego Functions and Dreams. Psychoanal Q., 18:434-448.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:434-448

Ego Functions and Dreams

Bela Mittelmann, M.D.

The customary meaning of 'ego functions' in connection with dreams is that of 'secondary elaboration', the process by which the disconnected manifest dream elements are woven into a more coherent pattern (7). Added to it are such phenomena as the feeling in the course of dreaming, 'this is only a dream', or the reverse feeling, 'this is real'.

However, Freud's constructions on the dynamics of dream formation appear to have more complex implications for the relevant functions attributed to the ego(7), (8), (9). The dream is a compromise between the wish to sleep and the potentially disturbing needs and desires of the sleeper. The wish to sleep, withdrawal from the world, is considered an ego function. A further effect of 'ego function' is assumed to be the diminution of 'censorship', i.e., functions of conscience, self-criticism, and reality testing (evaluation of external danger). The compromise between unforbidden bodily urges, such as hunger and the


Read before the midwinter meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association, New York City, December 1948.

From the Department of Psychiatry of the New York University College of Medicine, and the Psychiatric Division of Bellevue Hospital.

1 The concept of the ego is one of the most complex constructs in psychoanalysis. As one of the theoretical agencies in the psychic apparatus, the following functions

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