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Nersessian, E. (1989). The Interpretations of Dreams in Clinical Work: Edited by Arnold Rothstein. Madison, Conn: International Universities Press. 1987. Pp. 229.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 70:736-738.

(1989). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 70:736-738

The Interpretations of Dreams in Clinical Work: Edited by Arnold Rothstein. Madison, Conn: International Universities Press. 1987. Pp. 229.

Review by:
Edward Nersessian

This book is a compilation of papers that were presented to an audience of mental health workers, as part of a series of conferences held under the sponsorship of the American Psychoanalytic Association. These conferences, including the ones on which this volume is based, have been both successful and extremely useful; this reviewer will separate the book from the conferences, focusing solely on the former. Two points need to be made from the outset, the first being that many of the papers were written specifically for the conference and hence represent an extension of the author's theoretical views to the subject of dreams (Dr Rangell's excellent tour de force survey being an exception). Second, it is evidence that an old theoretical battle continues to preoccupy many analysts, and it can be detected as an underlying theme in many of the papers. I will describe this controversy in some length because I believe it continues to occupy an important position in theoretical and technical discussions about dreams and dream interpretation.

In 1969, Dr Charles Brenner, writing on the subject of dreams, concluded that they are best understood as compromise formations, similar to all other compromise formations such as symptoms, character traits, and parapraxes (an idea he has since extended to include the concept of the superego). According to this view, which had earlier been expressed in the findings of the Kris Study group on dreams chaired by Brenner, dreams do not have a special place in clinical psychoanalysis, nor do they have a special place in the psychoanalytic theory of the mind.

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