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Lewin, B.D. (1952). Phobic Symptoms and Dream Interpretation. Psychoanal Q., 21:295-322.

(1952). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 21:295-322

Phobic Symptoms and Dream Interpretation

Bertram D. Lewin, M.D.

Early in the history of psychoanalysis, Freud discovered that the interpretation of dreams and the interpretation of neurotic and psychotic symptoms were merely two applications of the same depth psychology. Properly translated, dreams and symptoms often said the same thing, and the processes that led to symptom formation were in part identical with those that formed dreams. In 1909, in his General Remarks on Hysterical Attacks, Freud stated this explicitly: the unconscious fantasies of hysterical patients were 'of the same nature as those that may be observed directly in daydreams or revealed by an interpretation of nocturnal dreams'. He added that 'as a rule the pantomimic representation of the fantasy [in the hysterical attack] undergoes distortions of the censorship, analogous to the hallucinatory ones of dreams', and he indicated many distortions (such as condensation, multiple identifications, representation by opposites, reversal of the sequence of events) common to both mental structures. The equivalence of dream and psychosis or neurosis has been accepted in analytic practice and theory, and there has been a constant reciprocal enrichment by borrowings and exchanges between the two fields of study. Among others, Alexander (1927) showed the essential dynamic and topologic similarity of certain paired dreams and the paired symptoms of obsessional neurosis. Recently, I have tried to demonstrate the value of applying the methods of dream interpretation in the study of the elations.

Although the seeds of present-day ego psychology are contained in Chapter VII of The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud adopted a different set of terms in later publications, especially in The Problem of Anxiety, to describe the intrapsychic processes. Nowadays most writers use both terminologies, the older when discussing dreams, the newer when writing about the neuroses. This cleavage is not deep-seated.

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