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Lewin, B.D. (1953). Reconsideration of the Dream Screen. Psychoanal Q., 22:174-199.

(1953). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 22:174-199

Reconsideration of the Dream Screen

Bertram D. Lewin, M.D.

In 1946, I conceived the idea that dreams contained a special structure which I named the dream screen. My initial formulation and nomenclature were naïve. I thought of the dream as a picture or a projected set of images, and for the reception of these images I predicated a screen, much like the one we see in the artificial night of a dark motion-picture house before the drama has radiated forth from the window of the projection box. I assumed that this screen persisted all through the dream performance, and that its presence was noted and mentioned only rarely, for the same reason that a spectator would not bother to tell us about the cinematic screen.

I do not apologize for this naïveté, for my assumption led to several interesting theoretical and practical consequences. I found that the dream screen, when noted and subjected to free association, could be interpreted as the breast. This I observed empirically when, as I have several times told the story, a dream which a patient was 'looking at' suddenly curved over backward, rolled up and then rolled off into the distance away from the patient. My knowledge of the patient permitted me to be sure that this experience represented her 'losing the breast' in several senses. To sleep and to dream for her meant consistently to be attached to her mother and to be identified with her mother's breast; indeed, her whole neurosis was precipitated and established during the three years that her mother survived their surgical amputation. In a later dream an iron latticework that came between her and the background represented the prosthetic frame that her mother had worn.

The simple idea that the visual dream is as if projected onto a screen was very useful.

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