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Blechner, M.J. (2006). Commentary on “Freudian Dream Theory, Dream Bizarreness, and the Disguise-Censor Controversy”. Neuropsychoanalysis, 8(1):17-20.

(2006). Neuropsychoanalysis, 8(1):17-20

Commentary on “Freudian Dream Theory, Dream Bizarreness, and the Disguise-Censor Controversy” Related Papers

Mark J. Blechner

A Post-Freudian Psychoanalytic Model of Dreaming

I believe Freud's model of disguise-censorship to be incorrect as a general model of dream formation. It does not fit the data of the phenomenology of dreams. In some dreams, there is little or no disguise (Blechner, 1983, 2001; Greenberg & Pearlman, 1978; Levenson, 1983; Schur, 1966; Spanjaard, 1969). In other dreams, the manifest dream is more taboo than the underlying dream thoughts. There may be disguise in some dreams, at least of certain elements in dreams, although it is an open question whether the purpose of such disguise is to guard sleep or whether it is part of a general shift in cognitive processes during sleep (Blechner, 2005a, 2005b).

Many people who work with dreams clinically day after day are astonished at how little disguise is applied to some of the themes that are important to the dreamer and would be expected to be taboo. There is more censorship in the waking analysis of dreams than during the dream itself.

Freud's “Irma” dream, the first dream submitted to extensive psychoanalytic interpretation, is a prime example. While Freud's analysis of the dream (Freud, 1900, pp. 106-121) elaborated on the possible significance of many of the dream's details, Freud did not tell us (and, in Schur's opinion, may not have realized) that many of the details of the manifest dream reflected quite specifically a traumatic situation in Freud's actual experience (Schur, 1966). He had referred one of his patients to his friend Fliess for surgery on the turbinal bones of her nose, an operation that Fliess believed could help hysterics (Fliess, 1897).

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