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Padel, J. (1979). The Innocence of Dreams: By Charles Rycroft. London: The Hogarth Press. 1979. Pp. 184.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 60:535-538.

(1979). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 60:535-538

The Innocence of Dreams: By Charles Rycroft. London: The Hogarth Press. 1979. Pp. 184.

Review by:
John Padel

This book will be welcomed, I believe, by many people. It is written for the general reader of the sort who might seek analysis, might have had it, or might be having it now, as well as for the practising psychoanalyst or students. For the professional, even if it does not come as an immediate and valid simplification of theory, meeting, in the way which Freud recognized as the surest sign of the rightness of an interpretation, the response 'I never thought of that', it will be an inescapable challenge—and a help—to reexamine his own ideas about dreams and about some basic pieces of psychoanalytic theory.

Besides this it should liberate both dreamers and interpreters of dreams from the sense that there is a special or expert way to find their meanings. Dr Rycroft quotes many of his patients' dreams and obviously some of his own but, even when his interpretations are most convincing, he never implies that other interpretations will be irrelevant or invalid. So he allows his readers to feel that they can share in the understanding and contribute to it.

As those who are familiar with his other writings will expect, Rycroft here applies to the process of dreaming and to understanding its importance two fundamental ideas. The first is that dreaming is a form of communication, ordinarily internal to ourselves; the second is that when freest (and perhaps always) it conveys our self-communing about 'our biological destiny' and our most important relationships, a self-communing in ways which may be mostly private to ourselves. These two ideas combine in the third, that dreaming is the natural, unwilled use of our imagination when we are asleep and centrally concerned with our place and presence in the world.

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