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Twemlow, S.W. (2003). The Dream Frontier. By Mark J. Blechner, Ph.D. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 2001. 324 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 72(4):1077-1081.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 72(4):1077-1081

The Dream Frontier. By Mark J. Blechner, Ph.D. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 2001. 324 pp.

Review by:
Stuart W. Twemlow

This book is one of a number synthesizing new research about the nature and function of dreams, how dreams are integrated into psychic life, what meanings they have, and how clinically useful they can be, both to the patient and the therapist. Blechner's unique approach, which makes this book a gem, is that he writes as a practicing psychoanalyst who both trains students and treats patients, clearly conveying his intense personal enthusiasm for both. He is obviously a deeply reflective man who seems capable of admitting his own lack of knowledge and errors in judgment as he presents many useful clinical vignettes and engages in an ongoing dialogue with the reader. Reading The Dream Frontier makes one feel as though one is engaged in a complex combination of philosophical discussion, treatment, supervision, and general social conversation with the author. He makes use of one of the more endearing features of Freud's technique of writing, whereby the reader is cast in the role of an interested skeptic and the arguments are directed to that skeptic. I wish more extant scientific writing used this approach.

If it has a fault, the book is to some degree overly comprehensive, shortchanging some areas for the sake of completeness; nonetheless, the author has, I believe, at least mentioned most of the issues critical to an understanding of clinical, theoretical, and neuroscientific aspects that are germane to the understanding of dreams. The prime value of this book is that it integrates, updates, and unabashedly questions many of the traditional approaches to dream understanding that Freud proposed and propagated, without there having been a great deal of change over the succeeding decades. This book modernizes current dream theory and suggests some quite radical ideas, couched in humble language without one iota of arrogance. Blechner even suggests that individuals can use nonclinicians to help them apply their dreams to self-understanding.

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