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Whitman, R.M. (1963). Remembering and Forgetting Dreams in Psychoanalysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 11:752-773.

(1963). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 11:752-773

Remembering and Forgetting Dreams in Psychoanalysis

Roy M. Whitman, M.D.


A technique for the recovery of dreams as they are dreamed throughout the night has enabled us to re-examine the metapsychology of dream forgetting and remembering.

Failure of dream recall, on the basis of primal repression, seems to be due to several factors: (1) the difficulty of conceputalizing primary-process thinking in secondary-process terms; (2) the energy demands on the ego to deal on the one hand with the dream and on the other with incoming sensory stimuli and also to initiate motor activity; and (3) the difficulty in recalling a completed (oral) experience as compared with an interrupted one.

Dream forgetting, on the other hand, seems to be due to repression proper, or afterexpulsion, which occurs in response to an endopsychic perception of the latent content of the dream which

is seen as ego-alien to the waking individual or potentially unacceptable to the listener.

This formulation is examined in the light of conceptions of the dream screen, and the hypothesis is offered that the dream itself is a hallucinatory oral experience which is introduced in the third month of life and enables the infant to achieve a daynight feeding-sleeping schedule. This becomes the psychophysiological basis of the sleep-protecting function of the dream and the prototype of later and more complex forms of wish fulfillment.

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