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Anzieu-Premmereur, C. Barrett, D.G. Karush, R.K. (2016). Prologue: Psychoanalytic Work with the Dreams of Children: The Forgotten Royal Road. Psychoanal. Inq., 36(3):197-198.
    

(2016). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 36(3):197-198

Prologue

Prologue: Psychoanalytic Work with the Dreams of Children: The Forgotten Royal Road

Christine Anzieu-Premmereur, M.D., Ph.D., Denia G. Barrett, M.S.W. and Ruth K. Karush, M.D.

fIn child and adolescent psychoanalysis, the analyst cannot rely on a patient to follow the fundamental rule of free association as part of a shared effort to reach unconscious mental processes. He or she makes inferences about the unconscious from the child’s play, stories, drawings, fantasies, dreams, and the progression of activities during an analytic hour. Of all of these possibilities, dreams may offer the most direct access to the unconscious. The technique of obtaining dream material from young patients depends on the characteristics of childhood and varies with the developmental level of the child. Dream interpretation with children, however, does not differ fundamentally from that with adults. Dreams can be extraordinarily useful in explicating the conflicts of young patients. Thus, it is striking that the analysis of dreams in the psychoanalytic treatment of children is still a relatively neglected area.

In 1927, Anna Freud wrote enthusiastically about the value of dream analysis in child treatment. However, in 1945 she qualified her earlier enthusiasm about the therapeutic value of working with children’s dreams. She said, “Children tell their dreams freely; but without the use of free association, the interpretation of manifest dream content is less fruitful and convincing” (p. 6). It seems to us, however, that dream interpretation can be quite persuasive. We agree with Ablon and Mack (1980) who pointed out that “the potential arbitrariness of an interpretation can be balanced by the child’s subsequent play and verbal response, which may or may not provide confirmation that the analyst is following a fruitful avenue” (p.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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