Special Talk

“Analyzing Dreams or Dreaming Analysis: The Perspective about Dreams and Dreaming from the Analytic Field Theory”


by Dr. António Alvim
Portuguese Association of Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Portugal



Dreams are one of the most important mental phenomena tackled by psychoanalytic investigation and clinic practice, since Freud’s publication of “The Interpretation of Dreams” in 1900, where they have earned the epithet of a royal road to the unconscious; from a popular point of view, dreams have also earned an iconic status – maybe only second to sexuality, but also mingled with it -, to which Freud’s functional description of dreams as a realization of forbidden desires, may have contributed. However, and if the analyst doesn’t see himself as an active part of the dreaming process, this iconic status may endanger the psychoanalytic process, saturating it as a quest to unveil the patient’s unconscious, where the analyst assumes a translator or decodifier function, losing its main role as an enzyme to the transformative processes that the patient’s (proto)emotional experiences must undergo if mental growth is to be achieved, and mental pain to be made more thinkable and tolerable. From a psychoanalytic field perspective, rooted on Bion’s conceptions about mental functioning and development, dreams become not only a privileged way to reach the unconscious, but the proper way for its expansion: dreams and dreaming are taken not as an icon but as the fundamental method for mental transformation. As such, psychoanalysis becomes not only interested in analyzing dreams, but mostly in dreaming the analytic experience, fostering material for thoughts and the capacity to think them.

Keywords: Dreams (and dreaming), Transformation (of emotional experience), Mental growth, Psychoanalytic Process, Psychoanalytic Field.