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Starr-Karlin, P.S. (2015). Postcards from the Couch: A Patient’s Dreams as Communication in the Intersubjective Field During an Impasse. Psychoanal. Inq., 35(3):281-297.

(2015). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 35(3):281-297

Postcards from the Couch: A Patient’s Dreams as Communication in the Intersubjective Field During an Impasse

Penelope S. Starr-Karlin, Psy.D., MFT

I propose that during an impasse, analysands’ dreams can be usefully conceptualized as a form of communication when defensive processes blockade the verbal narrative. A change in the presentation of dreams heralded their new function to present information that could not be articulated directly, or even known consciously, because doing so was presumed to be too threatening to the wellbeing of the relationship. The dreams showed the analyst’s unknown trauma-based self-state. This dissociated transference was prolonging the impasse by triggering the analysand. Dreams spoke to what needed to be brought into the analytic dialogue and conscious focus to resolve the impasse. Case material shows how intersubjective-systems theory, which addresses the interplay of organizing principles in both analyst and analysand, was useful to unlocking the communication in the dreams and dissolving the impasse.

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