Skip to main content

The Personality of R’ Nahman of Bratslav: Comparing Dream Content Analysis and Biography


The technique of dream content analysis as a source for gaining a clear personality picture of the dreamer was first formalized by Calvin S. Hall. It has been used in this paper to gain a better understanding of a historical, renowned personage—R’ Nahman of Bratslav, who established a distinct sect within the Jewish-Hasidic circles in Eastern Europe about two hundred years ago. He was a very controversial figure, and remains so to this day. Following a detailed analysis of 17 of his dreams, a personality picture of R’ Nahman has been derived. A comparison of this picture with what is known from his biography, showed many correspondences, as well as some non correspondences. The dream analysis discloses basic, psychological motivation, while the biography points to relatively more specific behavioral traits, even though both relate to the highly complex personality of R’ Nahman.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Bell, A. P., and Hall, C. S. (1971). The Personality of Child Molester. Chicago: Aldine Atherton Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Green, A. (1979). Tormented Master—A Life of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav. Birmingham, Alabama: The University of Alabama Press.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Hall, C. S., and Lind, E. L. (1970). A Study of Franz Kafka. Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Hall, C. S., and Van de Castle, R. L. (1966). The Content Analysis of Dreams. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Hall, C. S. (1969). Normative Dream Content Studies. Dream Psychology and the New Biology of Dreaming. Milton Kramer (Ed.) New York: Charles C. Thomas, Publisher.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Hall, C. S., and Domhoff, B. (1968). The Dreams of Freud and Jung. Psychology Today. PP.2, 42–45, 64–65.

  7. Lewin, I. (1986/87). A Three Dimensional Model for the Classification of Cognitive Processes & Imagination. Cognition and Personality. pp. 6, 43–54.

  8. Lewin, I. (1980). The Psychology of Dreaming [Hebrew]. Tel-Aviv, Israel: Dekel Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Lewin, I., and Singer, J. L. (1991). Psychological Effect of REM (“dream”) Depression. The Mind in Sleep: Psychology and Psychophysiology (2nd Ed.) Ellman, S. J. and Antrobus, J. S. (Ed.) New York: Wiley & Sons, pp. 396-412.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Sternharz, Nathan Rabbi of Breslov. (1987). Tzaddik (CHAYEY MOHARAN.)-A Portrait of Rabbi Nahman. Jerusalem/New York: Breslov Research Institute.

  11. Woods, R. L. (1947). The World of Dreams. New York: Random House Inc.

    Google Scholar 

Download references


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Lewin, I., Schlezinger, D. & Derby, D. The Personality of R’ Nahman of Bratslav: Comparing Dream Content Analysis and Biography. Journal of Psychology and Judaism 22, 33–50 (1998).

Download citation


  • Detailed Analysis
  • Content Analysis
  • Cross Cultural Psychology
  • Behavioral Trait
  • Distinct Sect