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Jelliffe, S.E. (1917). Technique of Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Rev., 4(2):180-197.

(1917). Psychoanalytic Review, 4(2):180-197

Technique of Psychoanalysis

Smith Ely Jelliffe

(Concluded from Vol. IV, page 83)

Kaplan in a recent valuable work on the Fundamentals of Psychoanalysis has some very practical suggestions relative to the subject of dream symbolism, some of which I here utilize, in free translation, as they are apropos at this point.

He reëmphasizes that the language of the unconscious is a symbolic or picture language. Much conscious language is also purely pictographic. It is important then in the dream to attempt to piece together this conscious and unconscious use of the symbol through the common and distinctive features of both.

“Thus the hand hollowed like a ladle is a gesture for a drinking vessel and is based upon immediate association, but the Indians make the same gesture to express ‘water.’” “Thus the plastic image of the horned bull's head may for the Neapolitans express besides its immediate meaning of strength, as the main peculiarity of the bull, first, danger, particularly that of being assailed by an angry bull, next danger in general, and finally by a third displacement, the ‘wish to be protected from danger.’” The symbols of the conscious life are quite as ambiguous as those of dreams and myths. “In sign language of the deaf mute it is not said: ‘He died because he was addicted to drink’ but ‘drink, drink, die.’ The signs for drinking are several times made, then as sign for death the head with closed eyes is laid on the right hand and a gesture made toward the ground indicating ‘sleep down there.’” That means that Every separate symbol has a certain indefiniteness, and only from the interrelation of the symbols can their sense be perceived. Another common quality of the conscious (purposive) and the unconscious (purposeless) symbolism is that they both express only the present; extent of time has to be inferred. That accords well with the evidently sensational nature of the symbol; everything sensational belongs to the present.

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