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Bradlow, P.A. Coen, S.J. (1975). The Analyst Undisguised in the Initial Dream in Psychoanalysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 56:415-425.

(1975). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 56:415-425

The Analyst Undisguised in the Initial Dream in Psychoanalysis

Paul A. Bradlow and Stanley J. Coen


Thirteen patients in psychoanalysis presented an initial dream in which the analyst appeared undisguised in the manifest content. We reviewed previous literature on this topic and offered various hypotheses concerning the possible meaning and significance of this phenomenon. Clinical data involving a control series failed to demonstrate that the analyst undisguised in the initial dream was a useful predictive item for full analysability, initial or final diagnosis, or therapeutic outcome. However, both early parental loss and a clear undisguised wish for the analyst to be a real figure in the early phase of analysis were present in ten of our 13 cases as contrasted with only three in the control series; this is statistically significant (p. < 0.05, chi square = 4.09). These findings were discussed in relation to Fleming's (1972) paper on early object loss and transference phenomena. The undisguised analyst may reflect at times, in patients with early object loss, an unconscious denial of the analyst as the lost parent, or in certain instances the reverse, where he does symbolize the lost parent. Intense mistrust and difficulty with reality testing were not found with sufficient frequency, although in the expected clinical direction, to confirm statistically our original hypothesis that the analyst undisguised dream related to a wish for the analyst to be a real figure in an attempt to overcome marked feelings of mistrust and difficulty with testing reality, particularly in differentiating the analyst from transference figures (10/13 compared with 5/11 for mistrust and 7/13 compared with 3/11 for reality testing).

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