Dreams in Myth, Medicine, and Movies

Dreams in Myth, Medicine, and Movies

Dreams in Myth, Medicine, and Movies

Dreams in Myth, Medicine, and Movies


Cinema--invented just before psychoanalysis formally developed--primed the public and scholars to rethink ideas about dreams. The author describes how surrealist artists purposely applied Freudian dream theories to their art to make the public aware of "modern" ideas about dreams. Most of our current cultural consciousness about the psychological value of dreams is traced to classical and contemporary cinema. This work examines how residuals of past approaches to dreams make conceptions of dreams in psychoanalysis and science more complex than ever today.


The actual writing of this book began on the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday and was completed the Sunday before the World Trade Center tragedy. Each of those events has an indelible connection to dreams and is reflected in the text. However, the lectures this book is based upon were delivered over several years, in a series of courses called Different Approaches to Dreams; Dreams, Drugs, and Drawings; and Dream and Film. Even those courses on dreams started out as spinoffs of a single lecture included in earlier courses: Insanity and Psychiatry and Psychology of Religion.

In one of those courses, a student noticed how much dreams were intertwined with the history of psychiatry and the history of religion and suggested that I offer a complete course on the history of dreams. At the time, this request seemed like an impossible task that would involve unending research. But the idea lingered. As I perused the existing literature on dreams, it became apparent just how many connections exist among dreams, art, film, religion, culture, and psychiatry. Dreams were a wonderful way to combine my favorite fields! It was worth a try, and, besides, my lectures on dreams had grown too long to squeeze into a single course.

I was surprised by how well received this arcane and out-of-date topic turned out to be. Each course on Different Approaches to Dreams filled beyond capacity and ran for five years longer than expected. The lectures again expanded into two additional courses. Each semester, new students appeared, and added new insights, and inspired me further.

It was odd that courses on dreams were so welcomed in a university at a time when psychiatry had shifted its focus away from dreams and onto the biology of the brain. But that was fine by me, because I was a

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