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Hartmann, E. (1976). Discussion of 'The Changing Use of Dreams in Psychoanalytic Practice'—The Dream as a 'Royal Road' to the Biology of the Mental Apparatus. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 57:331-334.

(1976). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 57:331-334

Discussion of 'The Changing Use of Dreams in Psychoanalytic Practice'—The Dream as a 'Royal Road' to the Biology of the Mental Apparatus

Ernest Hartmann

I shall here consider the dream as a 'royal road' (via regia) but I shall attempt to follow the road somewhat further than has been customary. I believe the dream may serve as a royal road to the unconscious wishes and conflicts of the dreamer, certainly; and it can lead to a broader general knowledge of the human unconscious; in addition I shall try to show that the dream can lead to a psychological and biological understanding of waking psychic structures, and thence to a knowledge of the biology of the mental apparatus. I shall only be able here to map roughly the direction and destination of this road.

I shall follow an approach here based to some extent on the work of Hughlings Jackson, the great neurologist whose name is not frequently seen in a psychoanalytic journal. Jackson saw the brain as a series of concentric layers from the lowest functions 'inside' to the highest functions at the top or 'outside'; the principle he enunciated to which I want to call attention is that any neurological illness involving damage to so-called higher centres produces two kinds of symptoms: it reveals or unmasks something of the underlying 'lower' structure and it also tells us something about what has been removed. Thus for a neurological condition which involves injury to some 'higher' function, we can learn something about the 'lower' centres which have been unmasked, and we can also learn something about the 'higher' functions which have been injured or removed.

It may be worth looking at the dream in this way.

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