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Sarnoff, C.A. (1972). Symbols in Shadows—A Study of Shadows in Dreams. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 20:59-91.

(1972). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 20:59-91

Symbols in Shadows—A Study of Shadows in Dreams

Charles A. Sarnoff, M.D.


The use of shadows as symbols in art, stories, folklore, and dreams has been surveyed. Shadows are rare as symbols in art and equally rare in dreams. In fact, they fail as symbols in dreams. The potential for multiple representations implicit in the visual imagery of the shadow defeats the goals of psychoanalytic symbol formation. The shadow as a dream symbol reveals what it should conceal. Where the purpose of a symbol is the masking of meaning, shadows can serve no better than a sieve can serve as a parasol.

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