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Brenman, M. (1949). Dreams and Hypnosis. Psychoanal Q., 18:455-465.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:455-465

Dreams and Hypnosis

Margaret Brenman, Ph.D.

Since Schrötter's fragmentary, unfinished investigation in 1911 (1) of so-called 'hypnotic dreams', there has been a good deal of glib talk regarding the power of hypnosis to create dreams which, according to most researchers on this problem, are in all ways like spontaneous night dreams. The classic example, often quoted by Freud and by many others since, is that of Schrötter's female subject, presumably an unsophisticated person, who was told while in a deep hypnotic state to dream of having homosexual relations with a lady friend; she promptly reported a 'dream' in which the friend appeared, carrying a shabby traveling bag, on which there was a label with the printed words: 'For ladies only'. This was certainly a provocative outcome but scarcely proof that the response to a hypnotic suggestion to 'dream' is a psychological product comparable in all significant qualities to the condensed, delicately wrought content which issues from the dream work during sleep.

It is curious that investigators appear to have taken it for granted that the hypnotic suggestion to 'dream' actually issues in a dream (2), (3), (4). It is as if the belief in the magic power of hypnosis overwhelms the investigator as well as the subject and thus, when the subject responds with a production which often resembles a night dream, it is assumed without further question that there is no difference between the two. The hypnotist might as well assume that were he to command his subject to fly, the resulting activity, whatever its nature, could


From a joint research project with Merton M. Gill, M.D. on the nature and applications of hypnosis. This study, previously supported by the Menninger, Macy (New York), and Hofheimer Foundations, is now being supported by a grant from the United States Public Health Service. Robert P. Knight, M.D. has served as consultant for this work.

Read at the meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association, New York, December 1948.

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