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Donald Meltzer re-establishes psychoanalysis as the art of reading dreams, and dream-life as the core of mental processes, placing the experience of the consulting room in the context of contemporary philosophical ideas about the origins and development of language.
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Psychoanalysis, Philosophy of Language
‘Dreams are my landscape’, said Meltzer. In this book, he reviews the metapsychology of dream theory through Freud, Klein and Bion and re-establishes psychoanalysis as the art of reading dreams, and dream-life as the core of mental processes. Meltzer views dream life as a continuum within each personality, of which the psychoanalyst is offered a privileged sampling, just as the child analyst is presented through play with a picture of unconscious phantasy life. Meltzer places the experience of the consulting room in the context of contemporary philosophical ideas about the origins and development of language. Dreams are not just puzzles to be decoded, the effluence of past trauma or future wish-fulfilment; they are the psyche’s attempt – with a varying level of aesthetic achievement – to symbolise its present emotional conflicts in order to re-orient itself toward ‘the real world – meaning external and internal reality’.
Foreword by Meg Harris Williams
PART A: THEORETICAL BACKGROUND
1. Freud’s view of the dream as the guardian of sleep
2. The epistemological problem in the theory of dreams
3. The Klein-Bion expansion of Freud’s metapsychology
PART B: A REVISED THEORY OF DREAM LIFE
4. Dreams as unconscious thinking
5. Symbols, signs, epitome, quintessence
6. Dream-life: the generative theatre of meaning
7. The interaction of visual and verbal language in dreams
8. The borderland between dreams and hallucinations
PART C: THE PRACTICE OF DREAM INVESTIGATION
9. The borderland between dreams and actions
10. Dream exploration and dream analysis
11. Dream narrative and dream continuity
12. Resistance to dream analysis in patient and analyst
13. The relation of dreaming to learning from experience in patient and analyst
14. Recovery from analysis and the self-analytic method
Donald Meltzer (1923–2004) was born in New York and studied medicine at Yale. After practising as a psychiatrist specialising in children and families, he moved to England to have analysis with Melanie Klein in the 1950s, and for some years was a training analyst with the British Society. He worked with both adults and children, and was innovative in the treatment of autistic children; in the treatment of children he worked closely with Esther Bick and Martha Harris whom he later married. He taught child psychiatry and psychoanalytic history at the Tavistock Clinic. He also took a special scholarly interest in art and aesthetics, based on a lifelong love of art. Meltzer taught widely and regularly in many countries, in Europe, Scandinavia, and North and South America, and his books have been published in many languages and continue to be increasingly influential in the teaching of psychoanalysis.
His first book, The Psychoanalytical Process, was published by Heinemann in 1967 and was received with some suspicion (like all his books) by the psychoanalytic establishment. Subsequent books were published by Clunie Press for the Roland Harris Educational Trust which he set up together with Martha Harris (now the Harris Meltzer Trust). The Psychoanalytical Process was followed by Sexual States of Mind in 1973, Explorations in Autism in 1975; The Kleinian Development in 1978 (his lectures on Freud, Klein and Bion given to students at the Tavistock); Dream Life in 1984; The Apprehension of Beauty in 1988 (with Meg Harris Williams); and The Claustrum in 1992.
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