Scientific Meeting | Saturday, September 29, 2018 | Venue: Arbutus Club
2001 Nanton Avenue, Vancouver, B.C.
This paper investigates the role of dreams and dreaming in psychoanalytic couple therapy. Being able to think about dreams in relation to couples hinges on the concept of shared unconscious phantasy first developed by Pincus (1962). The notion of shared unconscious phantasy posits a shared unconscious life based on shared hopes and anxieties for each couple. This concept “is the heart and soul of psychoanalytic marital psychotherapy” (Tarsh, H. & Bollinghaus, E., p. 123) because it helps us understand what unconsciously joins the couple. Every couple, not unlike individuals in their lives, will experience the return of the repressed thus putting each partner in exactly the kind of emotional turmoil each partner sought to avoid.
Armed with the concept of shared unconscious phantasy, the author then posits that dreams dreamt by one of the partners can be seen to be both emanating from the unconscious of the individual, but also as expressions of a shared unconscious phantasy of the couple both in relation to each other and in relation to their couple therapy. The author then delineates the status of dreams in couple therapy with reference to the dream theories of Freud, Fairbairn and Bion. Since each dream brought into couple therapy is “dreamt for two”, the author then goes on to present clinical vignettes of dreams from various stages of the therapy process. These vignettes include dreams from the beginning of therapy, dreams that show a synchronisation of dream activity around the shared task of working through, and finally dreams signalling the end of couple therapy. The author shows the increased capacity of the couple to dream for each other and to work with dreams with each other in psychoanalytic couple therapy.
Klaus Wiedermann is a registered psychologist and psychoanalyst now practicing in Toronto. Dr. Wiedermann studied psychology at Phillips Universitaet Marburg and became a psychologist. During that time, he also trained for four years in body-oriented psychotherapy at the Boyesen Institute in London, England. After immigrating to Canada in 1985, he did his Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Toronto under Professor Dr. Otto Weininger, a prominent Kleinian analyst. Subsequently he completed his psychoanalytic training at the Toronto Institute of Psychoanalysis.
Dr. Wiedermann is in full time clinical practice working with couples and individuals. He is on the Board of the Toronto Psychoanalytic Society and is a Faculty member at the Toronto Institute of Psychoanalysis, the Advanced Training Program for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, and the Fundamentals of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. He practices, teaches, and supervises psychoanalytic couple therapy in various settings and has published in the Journal of Couple & Family Psychoanalysis (“Fear of Break-up, Fear of Breakdown, why some can only come to Psychoanalysis as a Partner in a Couple.”).
At the end of this program/session/event participants will be able to:
1. Participants will understand and evaluate Pincus’ (1962) concept of ‘shared unconscious phantasy’ as a foundational concept of psychoanalytic couple therapy.
2. Participants will compare and contrast Freud’s, Fairbairn’s, and Bion’s theory of dreams and dreaming and will understand how each theory contributes to the concept of ‘dreaming for two’, that is, the dream of one partner as expressing aspects of shared unconscious phantasy.
3. Participants will discuss the technical challenges of working with dreams in couple therapy, in particular, whether to address the dream on the level of couple transference to the analyst, or as expression of growing awareness within the couple, or as expression of unconscious dynamics of one of the individuals.
SCIENTIFIC PROGRAM COMMITTEE: Karin Holland Biggs, Ph.D., FIPA. (Chair), Celine Brouillette, R. Psych, Elizabeth Wallace, MD, FIPA.
For further information please contact Program Chair: Karin Holland Biggs – email@example.com