Dreams in psychoanalytic treatment Dr. M. de Wolf Introduction

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Dreams in psychoanalytic treatment
Dr. M.de Wolf

Within the psychoanalytic frame of reference, the elaboration and analysis of dreams has, since the publication of
The Interpretation of Dreams

, been seen as the main thoroughfare to the unconscious and a course change was increasingly seen in how psychoanalysis positioned itself in the scientific landscape. Dream research has always been divided into two different approaches the approach that concentrates on the 'hardware' vs the approach that focuses on retrieving the meaning of the dream. The former, more objectifying approach aims at identifying the brain functions and structures that are important for the various aspects that have apart to play in creating the dream. The second, more subjective approach aims at identifying the meaning of the dream its ultimate objective is to increase the dreamer's self-insight. These approaches depart from different epistemological starting points, which cannot be traced back to a common origin.They do share one commonality in that the origin of the dream must besought in the inner being of the dreamer.Today we will focus upon the second more subjective approach related to creating self – insight. As long ago as 1895, Freud had described two types of angst the "anxiety neurosis, which was not amenable to the psychoanalytic methodology that he was using at that time, and the "psychoneurosis, which could be treated with the psychoanalytic techniques of the day. From the very beginning of his attempts to understand mental processes, Freud had had to contend with the difference between what we today refer to as mental process disorders and conflicting mental representations. From his need to be able to continue to position psychoanalysis between biology and psychology, he then attempted in the

to describe and explain the development of mental processes from a neurological perspective. His intention was to be able to explain both the process and the content. He wanted to keep the process and the content together. When he was unsuccessful in that endeavour - due to the shortcomings in scientific knowledge at that time - only two possibilities remained

2 psychoanalysis could either move to the side of hermeneutics or it could find its home among the natural sciences. Freud attempted to trace the origins of two intrinsically different epistemological frameworks — which were, in fact, related — back to a common source. That attempt remains unsuccessful to the present day. The distinction that Freud introduced between the anxiety neurosis and the pscyho-neurosis has helped us to understand two qualitatively different types of dreams, however. One type concerns the dreams of patients with conflicting mental representations who are capable of symbolisation and whose dreams can often be characterised as wish-fulfilment dreams as described by Freud. The other kind are dreams of patients with mental process disorders. They are unable to use the symbolising function of the language and their dreams are often not of the wish-fulfilment type but are clear types of communication. We shall examine this type later in this chapter.

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