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Anzieu-Premmereur, C. (2016). Peter, the Child Who Could Not Dream. Psychoanal. Inq., 36(3):231-238.

(2016). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 36(3):231-238

Original Article

Peter, the Child Who Could Not Dream

Christine Anzieu-Premmereur, M.D., Ph.D.

Dreams play a central role in the process of working through emotional experiences. When dream work fails to perform this function, the capacity to form symbols is affected. The ability to dream and create representations well-organized enough to be remembered is associated with good regulation of emotions and symbolization. Some children do not develop these abilities, due to difficulties in containing disorganized experiences, including traumatic ones. The first sessions with a five-year-old boy suffering from night terrors, and the parallel work with his parents, show how the role of maternal containment is essential for developing this capacity. In addition to its function of wish fulfillment, dreaming is a process of representation that fills the void of nonrepresentation associated with traumatic experiences of presymbolic origin.

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