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Kracke, W. (1999). A Language of Dreaming: Dreams of an Amazonian Insomniac. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 80(2):257-271.

(1999). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 80(2):257-271

A Language of Dreaming: Dreams of an Amazonian Insomniac

Waud Kracke

The author describes a series of psychoanalytic interviews conducted on the banks of an Amazonian stream, in the course of which a lively old Parintintin woman, wife of a chief, acknowledges and comes to terms with her lifelong insomnia. When she sleeps, she is plagued with anxious dreams; and her dreams take her back to her childhood as the daughter of a prominent chief and to memories of the strife between her parents. The way she talks about her dreams illustrates how cultural beliefs may facilitate the communication of dreams and introspective reflection on them, but may at the same time intensify anxieties. This article explores the cultural context of psychoanalytic understanding of dreams: how are dreams shaped by the dreamer's cultural beliefs about them and ways of interpreting them? How are they affected by the social uses the dreamer makes of them? The work also examines relationships formed in anthropological field-work, especially the separation that occurs when the anthropologist leaves (not unlike termination of an analysis)—an issue inadequately discussed in the anthropological literature and in the psychoanalytic literature on cross-cultural research.

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