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L., B.D. (1954). The Gates of the Dream: By Géza Róheim, Ph.D. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1953. 554 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 23:98-102.

(1954). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 23:98-102

The Gates of the Dream: By Géza Róheim, Ph.D. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1953. 554 pp.

Review by:
B. D. L.

A certain personal interest is attached to the fact that Géza Róheim saw the first copy of this book just before his death, and that he begins his Introduction to it with a query, Has my life really been in vain? For he had been seriously asked by one of his oldest friends, Is there such a thing as psychoanalytic anthropolgy?

That was a question which must have continually exercised him, for he made repeated attempts to get anthropologists to understand what psychoanalysis might mean for them, and to get analysts to see the richness of anthropological data. Consistently psychoanalysis for him provided a store of basic theory, empirically established, and anthropology seemed more a field for its practical application. Yet, he did not admit that clinical analysis was the sole font of analytic knowledge, maintaining that even fine points of instinct psychology, ego psychology, or the dream, might be learned as readily from myths and folkways.

The Gates of the Dream shows an awareness of this, for the material presented, save for the first chapter, is largely anthropological. Whereas the first chapter is called The Basic Dream and deals directly with the problem implied in that phrase by an attack on clinically collected dream material, the other chapters are entitled and have as their subject matter, Animism, Dreamers and Shamans, Descensus Averno, The Song of the Sirens, The Nature of Ogres, The Way Back (in certain myths of the other world), Mythology (The Creation Myth, Castor and Pollux, Vesical Dreams and Myths, The Water Carriers in the Moon), The Danaids, Ghosts at Midnight, and Oedipus Rex. The mention of these headings alone reminds us of the breadth of Róheim's culture. Their contents are as vastly erudite as all of Róheim's previous writings have led us to expect.

The reviewer first heard of Róheim's theory of the 'basic dream' privately and in a way very characteristic of Róheim, for it combined his fencer's directness and his love of the classics. 'What do you mean', he said, 'that dreams come from the mouth? Don't you know about sleep and the two gates of horn and ivory? That's the uterus!', and he quoted Vergil's beautiful lines. Elliptically, this is the theory of the basic dream outlined in the first chapter.

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