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Dreams, psychoanalysis and virtuality: the ancient mind in the modern world

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The modern psyche is being shaped by the technological revolution involving the development of a virtual electronic environment in replacement of the natural world. Through the lens of the dream, as it has been valued and devalued in various cultures (including psychoanalysis), we can explore changes in the status of inner life. Psychoanalysis at first celebrated, now ignores dreams. This development runs parallel to the high value of dreams in pre-industrial cultures and their demotion in contemporary post-industrial Western culture. Despite official disregard for dreams, dreams as the original virtual experience, serve as the basic model from nature for the electronic virtual world displayed on the external screen. Also, dreams reappear in a technological transformation as film, video, TV and computer imagery. The ancient importance of dreams has been transferred to the powerful influence of life on the external screen. But dreams as dreams are like "the canary in the mind," warning of a continuing demotion of inner life in modern "post-human" culture. A rebellious re-engagement with dreams, in clinical and theoretical psychoanalysis, is advocated.
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Keywords: dreams; electronic technology; inner life; psychoanalysis; virtual reality

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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