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Emery, E. (1992). On Dreaming of One's Patient: Dense Objects and Intrapsychic Isomorphism. Psychoanal. Rev., 79(4):509-535.

(1992). Psychoanalytic Review, 79(4):509-535

On Dreaming of One's Patient: Dense Objects and Intrapsychic Isomorphism

Edward Emery, Ph.D.


Hanuman: a monkey/agramma of language … an imitative simian, an artist of repetitions, he is the Aristotelian animal that copies from nature but at the same time he is the semantic seed, the bomb-seed that is buried in the verbal subsoil.

— Octavio Paz

No dream has played a more pivotal role in psychoanalysis or received closer scrutiny than Freud's Irma dream (Freud, 1900). The dream through which Freud first began to unravel the logic of the unconscious was also the first counter-transference dream. Continual mining of the Irma dream has yielded an evocative array of amplified manifest configurations and latent meanings (Elms, 1980; Langs, 1984; Grinstein, 1988), some only surmised after light has been shed on previously obscured historical fact (Schur, 1966). Among the wish fulfillments Freud ascribed to the Irma dream, most salient is the wish to disavow culpability for a patient's continued suffering and complicated treatment coupled with the desire to save face. Among those who subsequently have been fascinated by this dream's richly elaborate associative web, none are as thorough as Anzieu (1986).

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