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Low, B. (1922). The Meaning of Dreams: By Isador H. Coriat, M.D. (Mind and Health Series. Little Brown & Company, Boston. William Heinemann, London. 1920. Pp. 194. Price 1.75 dollars.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 3:394-395.

(1922). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 3:394-395

The Meaning of Dreams: By Isador H. Coriat, M.D. (Mind and Health Series. Little Brown & Company, Boston. William Heinemann, London. 1920. Pp. 194. Price 1.75 dollars.)

Review by:
Barbara Low

The theme of this book, and its attempted scope, cannot fail to be of interest, but it is difficult to see how Dr. Coriat reconciles his appreciation of Psycho-Analysis (he goes so far as to say in his Preface: 'This volume is written along purely psycho-analytic lines …. Its aim is to give the general reader an outline of the meaning of dreams as elaborated by the psycho-analytic school' …) with the dream-interpretation he supplies again and again in his book. It is true that he often explains he can only give imperfect descriptions and explanations owing to the limited space, but this hardly accounts for interpretations which are either quite superficial or inaccurate. As an example, Chapter III ('Dreams as the fulfilment of Wishes') may be referred to. We read: 'A young man on a short visit to a congenial household dreamed that the recently planted bulbs in this household had sprouted and bore flowers. The wish in this dream is perfectly clear: it expresses the desire to prolong the visit, and this is expressed by the length of time it takes bulbs to grow' (p. 53). One may remark, in passing, that this sort of 'explanation' cannot possibly be of use to anyone—even if it were in any way correct—since it reveals nothing whatever of the unconscious elements which created the dream nor the mechanisms at work in it. But does Dr. Coriat imagine that here he is writing 'along purely psycho-analytic lines', or indeed doing anything connected even remotely with dream-interpretation? The curious part is that he has a whole chapter of thirty pages devoted to 'The Mechanism of Dreams', in which he writes of Dream-Symbolism, Dream-Displacement, Dream-Condensation, etc. etc., yet in his applications, he behaves mostly as though he were unconscious of such processes. One finds serious confusion in statements made throughout the book, surprising from a writer who claims to have studied his subject seriously. For instance, on page 1 we are told that the dream 'may be symbolic of something deepseated in the personality of the dreamer, or it may indicate something trivial …', while on page 3 we read: 'no dream ever deals with trifles, but only subjects of great personal interest to the dreamer'. (Italics are the Reviewer's).

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