• Tamara FischmannEmail author
  • Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber


Dreams have been one core element in psychoanalysis and have been emphasized already by Freud as central therapeutic elements. Here we review recent findings on the neurobiology of sleep in general and dreams in particular. We here consider dreams as indicators of inner transformation processes in the structure of the ego—the vivid experiences of dreams are thus supposed to index change in our self and its structure. This is based on various findings from psychoanalytical dream research and, more specifically, the contents of dreams. That is complemented by recent psychological-cognitive and neurobiological findings of dreams—considered in a cognitive perspective, dreams can be regarded as ‘embodied memories’.

Different theories of dreams are compared and discussed. Taken in this sense, dreams have a central function for the ego in allowing for transforming previous memories into the present and current state of the self—they thus serve for the self to adapt itself to its changing environmental contexts without losing itself.


Dreams REM sleep Dream generation model Embodied memories 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sigmund-Freud-InstitutFrankfurtGermany

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