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Levitan, H.L. (1974). The Dreams of a Phobic Patient. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 1:313-323.

(1974). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 1:313-323

The Dreams of a Phobic Patient

H. L. Levitan


This study of the dreams of a phobic patient is one of a series of studies of dreams in various psychiatric syndromes in which the author utilizes manifest dream material in order to explore the processes of symptom formation. The dreams of this phobic patient are unusual because they contain orgasm and/or sexual arousal in non-sexual situations. Further, many of these non-sexual dreams with orgasm depicted the very activities, such as walking in the street or riding for which she was phobic during the day. The split between drive and situation indicated that the dream ego was able to displace the original content of the sexual fantasies on to neutral themes but was not able to control the drive itself. This split between drive and situation in dreams was considered essential to the creation of the phobia because it enabled the sexualization of non-sexual situations.

Several of her dreams with orgasm were examination dreams. This type of dream is interesting because it has long resisted consistent interpretation. In the present case they could be seen as instances of the mechanism classified above, i.e. successful displacement of content in association with unrestricted drive.

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