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Skinner, J. (1955). Censorship in Films and Dreams. Am. Imago, 12(3):223-240.

(1955). American Imago, 12(3):223-240

Censorship in Films and Dreams

John Skinner

Motion pictures are modern substitutes for the myths and fairy tales of earlier times, for films are often adaptations of older stories which reassert timeless unconscious themes. The conscious goal of the motion picture may be simple entertainment, telling a good yarn, although there is always an undisclosed, unconscious content, as there is in all creative phantasy. Make-believe is perceived at different levels of consciousness, and the creative writer is often unable to explain the origin of his phantasy, since he unwittingly expresses unrealized unconscious motivations in his writing.

We are confronted with a similar enigma in dreams, and without the benefit of psychoanalytic understanding, the dream seems confused, chaotic, unintelligible; a part of mental life discarded as unimportant on awakening.

Psychological analysis of the myth or fairy tale shows a similarity among the unconscious themes expressed in the phantasies of the emotionally discontented. The most common of these, a phantasy of noble birth, is the preoccupation of many unhappy children, and everyone has entertained similar thoughts when dissatisfied with his own imperfect, mortal parents. Stories originate as individual phantasy and by the time the fairy tale or myth is written down, the well-spring from which it flowed is often lost or the original creative impulse repressed, just as the origin of a dream may be censored and the dreamer unable to explain the meaning. We are able to test this theory in the admission of modern authors when they are asked to explain the origins of their stories, for often they do not consciously know the meaning of the symbols which they have chosen.


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