The Discovery of the REMS

The Problem of Freud’s Theory
  • Helen Block Lewis
Part of the Emotions, Personality, and Psychotherapy book series (EPPS)


Freud’s insights about the emotional meaning of dream content (like his clinical observations about hysterical symptoms) were placed by him in a theoretical straitjacket that not only created a schism among his followers but also discouraged fresh observations about dreams. The blow to Freud’s theory of dreams that resulted from the discovery of the REMS was felt as a relief by some clinicians, including myself, who had long been irritated by classical psychoanalysis’s slavish adherence to “rules” forbidding dream interpretation outside the analytic situation. The discovery of the REMS has actually made it possible to study dreaming on the spot, with control over presleep emotional input. As we shall see in the next chapter, a firsthand study (in which I was one of a team of researchers) of REM period dreams collected from normal people demonstrates the freshness and vitality of Freudian dream interpretation, although dream theory remains obscure.


Emotional Conflict Dream Content Manifest Content Dream Recaller Dream Experience 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Block Lewis
    • 1
  1. 1.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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