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Wolpert, E.A. (1972). Two Classes of Factors Affecting Dream Recall. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 20:45-58.

(1972). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 20:45-58

Two Classes of Factors Affecting Dream Recall

Edward A. Wolpert, M.D.


Dream recall was seen to be determined by two classes of factors. The first included four classical faculty psychology concepts: the "laws" of consolidation, stimulus characteristics, decay, and awakening characteristics. Such "laws" indicate that the prerequisites for the psychological act of dream recall include biologically giveen limitations: The dream presentation must be registered or consolidated for a finite time period (Law of Consolidation). The consolidation must occur within a certain period after the dream ceased (Law of Decay). There are externally imposed limitations on what can be recalled from a series (Law of Stimulus Characteristics). Remembering depends in part on how the stimulus is

interrupted (Law of Awakening Characteristics). Failure of such "laws" to account for empirical observations was attributed to a second class of factors described by Freud as repression. The second prerequisite for the psychological act of dream recall is determined by the emotional needs of the dreamer. Ideational representations of unacceptable impulses will be hidden from the dreamer both by being disguised in the dream content and by the entire dream not being available to consciousness. Undoing of repression of visual elements of dreams depends on subtle or not so subtle shifts in transference meaning of the analyst along both narcissistic and object relation parameters. Any complete account of the remembering and forgetting of dreams must include both classes of factors: utilization of one set of factors without the other is incomplete. Memory thus is determined both by the limitations imposed on the nervous system by its biological structure and by psychological conflict interfering with its function. Because the absence of dreaming never occurs, the presence of forgetting may or may not indicate current psychological conflict.

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