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Miller, C.H. (1975). Reams and Dreaming: The Current State of the Art. Am. J. Psychoanal., 35(2):135-146.

(1975). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 35(2):135-146

Reams and Dreaming: The Current State of the Art

Claude H. Miller, M.D.

Ask for three things: a good wife, a good year, a good dream.

Anonymous1

The subject of dreams and dreaming is a very popular one, and if the literature is a reliable indicator, it is becoming more so all the time. In 19272 there were 15 entries under this heading in the Psychological Abstracts; in 19723 there were 59 entries for the first six months of that year.

The formal, systematic study of dreams and dreaming began with the publication of Freud's Interpretation of Dreams4 around the turn of the century. Since that time there has been a prodigious amount of work done in this area by proponents, agnostics, and opponents. In 1970 Hartmann5 compiled a volume on Sleep and Dreaming which reviewed and summarized the subject up to that time. In the 1970's Jones6 set himself the task of extending the frontiers in the area of dreams and dreaming by attempting to answer the following question:

What if I were Freud and could sit before an electroencephalograph and observe the utterly predictable comings and goings of a remarkably consistent constellation of neurophysiologlcal patterns which were direct correlates of dreaming? What — if I were Freud - would I make of all this? And, more important, how would I change my theory of dreaming in response to what I made of it?

In this same book Jones distinguishes between the psychology of dreaming, which pertains to how dreams originate, and the interpretation of dreams, which deals with what dreams mean and how they are used clinically. In summary Jones ascribes five biological functions to sleep and five analogous psychological functions to dreaming: neutralizing, stimulating, reorganizing, alerting, and innervating. He expands on each of these headings and enlists experimental and theoretical evidence to support his hypotheses.

In 1972 Rossi7 described a case in which he used dreams as a vehicle for understanding the personality dynamics and achieving a happy therapeutic outcome. The facility with which he uses primary-process material is impressive.

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