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Spiwak, A. (2009). The Role of Dream Work in Contemporary Psychoanalytic Practice. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 57(5):1217-1223.

(2009). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 57(5):1217-1223

The Role of Dream Work in Contemporary Psychoanalytic Practice

Alana Spiwak

One's approach to dreams is based on one's preferred theoretical model. This panel, supported by the IPA's Committee on Analytic Practice and Scientific Activities, attempted to facilitate a cross-cultural dialogue about dream work in contemporary analytic practice. Glen Gabbard introduced the panel by providing an overview of dreams in psychoanalysis. He believes that Freud's views on dreams have stood the test of time. He cited the work of the neuroscientists Allen Braun and Mark Solms (Braun et al. 1997; Solms 2000) to support Freud's idea that dreaming is a higher mental function, a “wishing system.” Gabbard outlined Freud's technical procedures, still used by analysts today to understand dreams. He further reflected that dreams are no longer regarded as being the only “royal road” to the understanding of the unconscious. Developments in the past three decades lead us to add other sources of information about the patient's unconsciousfantasy, transference, countertransference, enactments, and the nonverbal characterological dimensions of the patient's style of interacting.

Gabbard commented that there have been only a few novel contributions to the dream literature in recent years. He cited the work of Jean-Michel Quinodoz (1999), who has written of dreams that turn over a new page. Quinodoz argues that the reintegration of previously expelled fragments of the patient's self causes anxiety but also gives the dreamer a sense of inner cohesion. Hanna Segal, examining termination dreams, noted that the analyst can detect a transition from the paranoid-schizoid to the depressive position, a higher degree of internalization of good experiences, and an increased capacity to cope with conflicts and separation.

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