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Glucksman, M.L. (2020). The Mindbrain and Dreams: An Exploration of Dreaming, Thinking, and Artistic Creation by Mark J. Blechner, Routledge, New York, 2018, 343 pp.. Psychodyn. Psych., 48(1):101-104.
(2020). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 48(1):101-104
The Mindbrain and Dreams: An Exploration of Dreaming, Thinking, and Artistic Creation by Mark J. Blechner, Routledge, New York, 2018, 343 pp.
Review by: Myron L. Glucksman, M.D.
According to Mark J. Blechner, the purpose of his book The Mindbrain and Dreams is an attempt to undo the Cartesian concept of the duality of mind and brain. He focuses on the dream as a model that can help us understand cognition, emotions, defenses, perception, and language. Moreover, he states his intention to update Freud's conception of the dreamwork, including condensation, displacement, and symbolization. Blechner hypothesizes that the “mindbrain” is an “information transformer that re-represents the world” and that dreams reflect non-linguistic mental activity via metaphor, imagery, and emotion. He refers to Freud as a “dream translator,” who believed that dreams need to be decoded from their hidden or censored wishes and meanings. Blechner proposes the opposite: that dream are the substrate of mentation, composed of images and emotions that need to be translated into waking thought and language. He proceeds to elaborate on his conception of the dreamwork, including various types of metaphors, symbols, defenses, and imagery.
Blechner describes six types of metaphor, including those involving the body, sex, emotion, interpersonal relationships, and life situations. In discussing symbols, he explores “homoforms,” objects with similar physical characteristics (e.g., apple=breast); “metonyms,” objects that stand for attribute (e.g., crown = royalty); linguistic (e.g., cantaloupe = can't elope); cultural (cross = Christianity); mythic (Hermes = messenger); and idiosyncratic symbols (green dress = divorce). In addition, he points out that affects may be symbolized (e.g. electric chair = guilt) or masked by the opposite emotion.
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