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Ornstein, P.H. (1987). Chapter 7: On Self-State Dreams in the Psychoanalytic Treatment Process. The Interpretations of Dreams in Clinical Work, 87-104.

Ornstein, P.H. (1987). Chapter 7: On Self-State Dreams in the Psychoanalytic Treatment Process. The Interpretations of Dreams in Clinical Work , 87-104

Chapter 7: On Self-State Dreams in the Psychoanalytic Treatment Process Book Information Previous Up Next

Paul H. Ornstein, M.D.


Interest in dreams is probably as old as human self-awareness. Their interpretations have always been based on the prevailing interests, assumptions, and knowledge about man's inner life and its genesis. The history of the use of dreams and their meanings throughout the ages ought to be a sobering antidote to the assumption that there is only one correct way to understand and to interpret them. Efforts at a scientific interpretation of dreams began way before Freud—he gives us an account of these in his comprehensive review of the existing literature of his time (Freud, 1900, pp. 1-95). But the groundwork for a systematic scientific approach to the interpretation of dreams, that was to become an intrinsic part of an evolving larger scientific psychology of man, was single-handedly established by Freud himself.

The justifiable fascination with the dream as the “royal road” to the unconscious established the centrality and uniqueness of the dream in the therapeutic communication for several decades. There are now, however, other well-paved and well-traveled roads as well, such as, for instance, the transference (the best traveled among them) that give us the desired access to the inner life of our patients.

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