Interface of Psychoanalysis and Psychology

By James W. Barron; Morris N. Eagle et al. | Go to book overview

16
PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY, DREAM
FORMATION, AND REM SLEEP

STEVEN J. ELLMAN

Shortly after rapid eye movement (REM) sleep 1 was discovered (Aserinsky & Kleitman, 1953), Dement and Kleitman (1957) found that dreaming occurred during this stage of sleep. 2 Subsequently, a number of studies demonstrated that many parts of the central nervous system (CNS) fire at high rates during this state (rates equivalent to that during active waking). On first consideration, it seems paradoxical 3 that during sleep so many aspects of the CNS are activated. 4 This seeming paradox and the lure of the dream together created a tremendous interest in the REM state. Psychoanalysts were among the first REM investigators; it was Dement, working in Charles Fisher's 5 laboratory, who discovered that if humans are deprived of REM

____________________
1
Because Winson (see chapter 15 in this book) gives an overview of some aspects of REM sleep, I will not repeat many of the descriptive characteristics that he details (see, however, Ellman & Antrobus, 1991, for a recent review of the sleep mentation literature). The focus of this chapter will be to present some of the results from our laboratory, and as importantly to show how my work derives from and has implications for Freudian and current psychoanalytic theory.
2
This early discovery was met with a number of methodological criticisms. The history of sleep mentation begins with this early claim and various responses to this finding (see Pivik, 1991, for a good review of this literature). Recently, my colleagues and I (Weinstein, Schwartz, & Ellman, 1988) have shown that REM mentation is discriminably different from all other sleep mentation.
3
Jouvet (1967) originally called REM sleep paradoxical sleep.
4
These systems are by no means limited to the brain stem and the hippocampus. In fact, many parts of the CNS display equally dramatic activity during this state. I mention this because Winson (chapter 15 of this book) focuses on hippocampal activity during REM sleep.
5
Fisher was a well-known analyst and analytic investigator. He wrote the first review of the modern sleep literature in a psychoanalytic publication (Fisher, 1965).

-357-

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