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Alban, L.S. Groman, W.D. (1975). Dreamwork in a Gestalt Therapy Context. Am. J. Psychoanal., 35(2):147-156.

(1975). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 35(2):147-156

Dreamwork in a Gestalt Therapy Context

Lewis S. Alban, M.S. and William D. Groman, Ph.D.

Unfettered by most of the limits of physical reality, spatial dimensions, social mores, and conventional clock time and schedules, the act of dreaming during sleep approaches a metaphysical (beyond-physical) happening. Dreaming only approaches, it does not retain, being completely a metaphysical occurrence, since three basic interrelated realms of constraint active in the physical world operate during this covert drama. These three realms are biological, psychological, and social in character. Within the biological realm, the physical mechanisms and systems of the body provide both the capacity to dream and to know the dream. The psychological and social realms provide the determinants of the dream story, including all content.

What gives the dream the character of going beyond physical events is, first, that the dream content, at the time of dreaming, may convincingly defy or alter all real physical relationships and laws. From images of objects in the real world, the dreamer may create new forms or relationships of forms. Such production of new forms and relationships is common to all fantasy and to many kinds of disciplined artistic expression. Second, at the time of dreaming, the experience is taken as real, regardless of how bizarre the dream.

What may make the dream events and situations seem real is not only the intimate relationship of the dreamer (who is both dreamer and witness) to the characters and objects of the dream, but also the artificial distance between the dreamer and certain aspects of the drama. Some of the characters in dreams appear to have points of view other than those with which the dreamer identifies, and thus the impression of a multiplicity of individuals is created. However, the individuality of the characters is illusory; it is the dreamer who has produced these characters and their motivations, the plot, and the setting of the dream. Nevertheless, in the dream the dreamer does not identify with the characters’ viewpoint or action; he identifies only with “himself.” This illusion of individuality creates in the dream the impression of a reality of social interaction.

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