The Dream and the Image: Creative Transformations in Psychoanalytic Space


Psychoanalysis is a transformational process through which meanings become visible and foreclosed identity may be further constituted. Winnicott (1971) marks the crucial developmental function of the relationship that is good enough to tolerate the separateness of the other. The analyst’s ability to “take the transference” enables the patient to locate himself in relation to another mind and being in ways that did not happen sufficiently in childhood. This process requires the signification of personal meanings that can become consensual without subverting one’s own becoming in the process. The dream provides idiosyncratic images that can demarcate conceptual space in ways that can enable the individual to move from the sign to the symbol; from what Kleinians term the symbolic equation, to the symbol proper, the domain of language and consensual meanings. I describe a case in which one young man used his dreams as a way of moving from a universe in which meanings could not be made into one in which he could build meanings in relation to his own experience and ideas.

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Correspondence to Marilyn Charles.

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Marilyn Charles, Ph. D. ABPP is a psychologist and psychoanalyst at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, MA, affiliated with Harvard University, University of Monterrey (UDEM), Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, and Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis.

Address correspondence to: Marilyn Charles, Ph.D., 25 Main Street, P.O. Box 962, Stockbridge, MA 01262-0962 USA.

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Charles, M. The Dream and the Image: Creative Transformations in Psychoanalytic Space. Am J Psychoanal 79, 174–195 (2019).

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  • dreams
  • development
  • narrative