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Róheim, G. (1945). Animism and Dreams. Psychoanal. Rev., 32(1):62-72.

(1945). Psychoanalytic Review, 32(1):62-72

Animism and Dreams

Géeaza Róheim

“Atque ea nimirum, quaecumque Acherunte profundo Prodita sunt esse, in vita sunt omnia nobis.”

In a very interesting paper on “Instinct Dualism in Dreams” Jekels and Bergler suggest that the death impulse or Thanatos is actually represented in our life by our tendency to rest, i.e., to go to sleep. Eros prevents us from going to sleep altogether, i.e., from dying by a heightened degree of libidinal defense, by investing the Ego with all the libido at its disposal and for this purpose it mobilizes also the repressed libido, the infantile sexual wishes.

“If then appearances are not deceptive we must add to the well known function of the dream as guardian of sleep a second function which towers above the first—the guarding of life.”

A dream of an analysand of mine shows how the Super-Ego acting as representative of the Death Impulse may even partially break through this protective function of the dream and represent the dreamer as dead. “I dreamt that I was dead. I had been operated on the brain and the spinal chord had been removed. Some people said, ‘That is not him, it is his soul.’” The day residue of the dream are his worries about a job. He stands a good chance of getting a job but some activity on his part would be necessary. Another day residue; a letter from a friend, an active energetic type of person who is now engaged in medical work similar to that mentioned in the dream. The Super-Ego; why don't you do something about it, why are you not like X. (Ego ideal), why don't you get a job? To get a job would be to kill father and to have intercourse with mother, that is why he does not do it, and prefers the female passive role. His friend X. is the Super-Ego as castrator but also the Super-Ego as representing Thanatos. (The feeling that he is dead.) Besides castration the dream also means that he is having intercourse, with X. in the active rôle—the reparation work of Eros.

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