AN OBJECT RELATIONS APPROACH TO DREAMS: FROM PROTOSYMBOLIC TO SYMBOLIC – IN DREAM CONTENT AND WITHIN THE THERAPEUTIC OBJECT RELATIONSHIP
– by Susan Kavaler-Adler, PhD, ABPP, NCPsyA, D.Litt.
This paper studies the object relations dream work in psychoanalytic treatment with patients who have suffered developmental arrests (borderline and narcissistic patients). Each case example demonstrates developmental progressions from protosymbolic (presymbolic) to symbolic level engagements with dreams in therapy sessions. Developmental progressions through the affects of a primal level mourning of loss (which the author has theorized as “developmental mourning”) also illustrates movement from being outside the body self to being integrated into self experience within the corporal containing body. Other developmental progressions are seen as patients develop the capacity for free association at a symbolic level and the capacity to understand meaning.
The dreams are both analyzed, and sometimes seen to be experienced within the sessions that the dreams are reported. The analyst’s sensory experience of the patient is also a key element, particularly in one of the clinical examples.
Key words: interpretation of dreams, psychoanalysis, object relations psychoanalysis, object relations approach, symbolic, protosymbolic
About The Author
Susan Kavaler-Adler, PhD, ABPP, NPsyA, DLitt is a graduate of the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University, and has been practicing for over 35 years as a psychologist and psychoanalyst in New York City. She founded the Object Relations Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis in New York City in 1991, and has been this institute’s executive director ever since. She is also a supervisor and former faculty member at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies, and is a member of the Postgraduate Psychoanalytic Society, where she had served as a faculty member at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health.
Besides individual psychoanalytic psychotherapy and object relations psychoanalysis, Dr. Kavaler-Adler offers groups on mourning, creative blocks, and supervision. She conducts classes on “Projection and Projective Identification,” “The Analyst as an Instrument,” and others, using role playing; and courses on work of Ronald Fairbairn, Melanie Klein, D. W. Winnicott, Michael Balint, Wilfred Bion, and on her own theories of “developmental mourning” and “the demon- lover complex.” Dr. Kavaler-Adler also conducts workshops in self-sabotage, developmental mourning and psychic change, fear of success, envy, creative blocks, and compulsions.
Dr. Kavaler-Adler is the author of 5 books and 60 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in the field of psychoanalysis and object relations theory. Three of her earlier books were published with Routledge: The Compulsion to Create: A Psychoanalytic Study of Women Writers (1993), The Creative Mystique: From Red Shoes Frenzy to Love and Creativity (1996), and Mourning, Spirituality, and Psychic Change: A New Object Relations View of Psychoanalysis (2003). The Other Press reprinted The Compulsion to Create as The Compulsion to Create: Women Writers and Their Demon Lovers (2000). Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s two recent books are published with Karnac: The Anatomy of Regret: From Death Instinct to Reparation and Symbolization through Vivid Clinical Cases (2013) and Klein-Winnicott Dialectic: Transformative New Metapsychology and Interactive Clinical Theory (2014).
Dr. Kavaler-Adler has won 16 awards for her books and articles, including the Gradiva Award from NAAP for Mourning, Spirituality and Psychic Change (published by Routledge) in 2004. She has won Arlene Wohlberg Memorial Awards from Postgraduate Center for Mental Health for peer-reviewed journal articles, including “Mourning and Erotic Transference” in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis (1992, Vol. 3), and “My Graduation is My Mother’s Funeral” in The International Forum of Psychoanalysis. Dr. Kavaler-Adler also received multiple Author’s Recognition Awards from the Postgraduate Psychoanalytic Society and the National Institute for Psychotherapies.
For more information, visit www.kavaleradler.com.
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