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Kelman, H. (1975). The 'Day Precipitate' of Dreams: The Morris Hypothesis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 56:209-218.

(1975). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 56:209-218

The 'Day Precipitate' of Dreams: The Morris Hypothesis

Harvey Kelman


In dream formation the day residue is the raw material used by the ego in its synthesis of instinctual wishes and of censoring counter-cathexes. The resultant compromise-formation—the manifest dream—represents the ego's best attempt to balance all contending forces while preserving sleep.

It is the thesis of this paper that the dream is anchored in reality at both ends. The day residue provides images and ideas for the construction of the manifest dream. The compromise-formation achieved in the dream is then often acted out in the subsequent psychoanalytic session and/or in the following day, almost as if the manifest dream had served as a blueprint for new action. We call this actualization of the manifest content of dreams their 'day precipitates'.


The day precipitate is most convincingly demonstrated when new behaviour, consonant with the manifest content of a dream, occurs subsequent to the dream, as in the following cases.

Case 1

An alcoholic man spent the day cleaning his basement, principally to keep himself busy so that he would not drink. That night he dreamt:

There was a big mess that I was cleaning up. Somebody was helping me, but we disagreed about how it was to be done. This made the job harder because I had to stop from time to time to hold my own against my helper.

He spent the remainder of the dream-report hour 'arguing' with his analyst, unusual behaviour for this ordinarily overly passive and compliant man. But, contrary to a previous agreement, the patient no longer felt that it was necessary to abstain from alcohol.

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