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Stewart, W.A. (1967). Comments on the Manifest Content of Certain Types of Unusual Dreams. Psychoanal Q., 36:329-341.

(1967). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 36:329-341

Comments on the Manifest Content of Certain Types of Unusual Dreams

Walter A. Stewart, M.D.


A review of Freud's discussion of dream psychology points up his modification of the wish-fulfilling function of the dream. His modification introduced the concept that the original function of the dream was the mastery of traumatic stimuli.

A question is raised and discussed as to the relationship of preconscious and unconscious elements of the dream. Usually we relate manifest content to preconscious source and current life, and latent content to unconscious source and infantile life. Brief clinical examples question these relationships.

In the unusual dreams considered, actual traumatic childhood experiences appear directly in the manifest content of the dream. These dreams were also often openly incestuous. It is suggested that this does not represent a failure of the dream work, but rather a use of unconscious instinctual wishes to defend against the recall of the traumatic childhood experience. This invites a re-evaluation of the role of the forces which lead to dream formation. The preconscious forces represented in the day residue are related to the original function of the dream—that of mastery. A reciprocal relationship between these forces, comparable to the mutual influence between ego and id, is suggested.

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