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Coen, S.J. (1996). The Passions And Perils Of Interpretation (Of Dreams And Texts): An Appreciation Of Erik Erikson's Dream Specimen Paper. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 77:537-548.

(1996). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 77:537-548

The Passions And Perils Of Interpretation (Of Dreams And Texts): An Appreciation Of Erik Erikson's Dream Specimen Paper

Stanley J. Coen

The author reconsiders Erikson's ‘Dream specimen’ paper as a forerunner of subsequent reader-response criticism, constructive writings on the exploration of countertransference and our contemporary debates about the constructions of meaning in the analytic and literary situations. He regards Erikson as deconstructing our interpretive efforts with texts and with patients; we are to move away from an interpretive process in which we pin down meanings towards opening up the ongoing exploration of multiple meanings. By emphasising self-reflexive questioning and joyful play between texts and readers and analysands and analysts, Erikson contributed to opening up the pleasures of both psychoanalysis and literary criticism. Although he wonders whether Erikson may have wished to move his own creativity beyond conflict, the author heartily endorses his encouraging us to enjoy playing with our materials—texts, dreams and analyses.

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