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Rosenbaum, J.B. (1962). Holiday, Symptom and Dream. Psychoanal. Rev., 49C(3):87-98.

(1962). Psychoanalytic Review, 49C(3):87-98

Holiday, Symptom and Dream

Jean B. Rosenbaum, M.D.


Freud pointed out in his later comments on Little Hans that the oral frame of expression of his phobia was a regressive expression of castration anxiety; that it is more comfortable for the little boy to deal with his genital fears in oral terms.6 The purpose of this paper will be twofold. Clinically, an attempt will be made to use Freud's observation to explain the reaction of many patients to the annual feast of Thanksgiving. It will be demonstrated that the holiday permits a regression toward the oral level and that this oral regression is used as a defensive expression of predominantly Oedipal conflicts. Theoretically, an attempt will be made to show that the relationship of the holiday feast stimulus to the patient material produced is the same as the relationship of the stimuli of daily events to dream formation.

Thanksgiving was selected as a model in this study because this holiday has not been explored extensively from the psychoanalytic point of view, and also because the feast presents a relatively simple holiday stimulus as compared, for example, to the complexities of Christmas, New Year's or Easter. However, it is the impression of the author that the theoretical formulation presented here can be applied to a large number of patient responses during major holidays.

Ferenczi wrote “… Sunday is the holiday of present-day civilized humanity. But one is mistaken if one thinks that a holiday is only significant as a day of physical and psychic rest.”

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