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Gazzillo, F. Fimiani, R. De Luca, E. Silberschatz, G. Bush, M. (2020). Dreaming and Adaptation: The Perspective of Control-Mastery Theory. Psychoanal. Psychol., 37(3):185-198.

(2020). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 37(3):185-198

Dreaming and Adaptation: The Perspective of Control-Mastery Theory

Francesco Gazzillo, Ph.D., Ramona Fimiani, M.S., Emma De Luca, Ph.D., George Silberschatz, Ph.D. and Marshall Bush, Ph.D.

The aim of this paper is to illustrate the meaning and functions of dreams according to control-mastery theory (CMT), a cognitive-dynamic relational theory developed and empirically validated in the last 40 years by the San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group (Gazzillo, 2016; Silberschatz, 2005; Weiss, 1993a; Weiss, Sampson, & the Mount Zion Psychotherapy Research Group, 1986). CMT stresses how dreams reflect the person's efforts to adapt to reality; their production is regulated by a safety principle and is an expression of human unconscious higher adaptive functions. According to this model, dreams represent our unconscious attempts to find solutions to emotionally relevant problems. In dreams people think about their main concerns, particularly those concerns that they have been unable to solve by conscious thought alone, and they try to develop and test plans and policies for dealing with them. After having introduced the reader to the main concepts of CMT, we will illustrate the different facets of the CMT model of dreams with several clinical examples. Finally, we will describe the core elements of recently developed models of dream functions and meanings based on empirical research on sleep and dreams, and we will show their substantial compatibility with hypotheses proposed by CMT.

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