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Pincus, D. (2002). Dreaming Souls: Sleep, Dreams, and the Evolution of the Conscious Mind: Owen Flanagan, New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, 210 pp., $25.00.. Psychoanal. Psychol., 19(2):416-424.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 19(2):416-424

Dreaming Souls: Sleep, Dreams, and the Evolution of the Conscious Mind: Owen Flanagan, New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, 210 pp., $25.00.

Review by:
David Pincus, DMH

The status of dreams in analytic practice is a topic of significant interest and disagreement. While it is my sense that most analytic clinicians now privilege the “waking dreams” of their patients' transferences (and the “waking dreams” of their own countertransferences), dreaming of the usual sort is still afforded an important place in psychoanalysis in the path of self-discovery. Although dreams may no longer be the “royal road” to the unconscious, they are a path nonetheless. Owen Flanagan's book, although critical of the depth psychological viewpoint on dreams and doubting their adaptive and biological usefulness, still leaves room for dreams in the consulting room. His ability to dismember the depth psychological position and yet to resuscitate an identity constitutive purpose for dreaming is a remarkable argument. He is not a clinician, and if one is looking for clinical wisdom in approaches to dream material, it will not be found in this book.

The author writes in the new field of neurophilosophy, traveling between converging disciplines. This book is one of the Philosophy of Mind series, of which Flanagan is the editor. He is the chairman of the philosophy department at Duke University, and he is also a professor in neurobiology and psychology. He has written other books on a range of topics, including the evolution of consciousness, matters of morality and character, and issues pertaining to psychological realism. Flanagan is one of the “new naturalists” in the field of philosophy.

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