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Greenson, R.R. (1970). The Exceptional Position of the Dream in Psychoanalytic Practice. Psychoanal Q., 39:519-549.

(1970). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 39:519-549

The Exceptional Position of the Dream in Psychoanalytic Practice

Ralph R. Greenson, M.D.


Freud considered The Interpretation of Dreams his major work. He wrote in the third (revised) English edition, published in 1932, 'It contains, even according to my present-day judgement, the most valuable of all the discoveries it has been my good fortune to make. Insight such as this falls to one's lot but once in a lifetime' (17, p. xxxii). At the end of Part E in the seventh chapter Freud said: 'The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind' (p. 608). A further indication of how important Freud considered this work to be is that he revised and amplified the book on dreams on eight different occasions, the last time in 1930 (55, p. xii).

You may wonder why I chose to present a paper on the exceptional position of the dream since all this would seem to be common knowledge. A careful reading of the psychoanalytic literature in recent years, however, reveals that a number of psychoanalysts believe either that the dream has declined in clinical importance over the last forty years and is of no special value for psychoanalytic therapy or they use techniques which indicate that they have disregarded Freud's theory and methods of understanding and using the dream in clinical practice.

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