Monday, 30 April 2012

Herbert Silberer and the autosymbolic effect


Herbert Silberer was one of Freud's original 'professional circle' in Vienna and is a neglected figure in the history of psychoanalysis.

Like Freud, he was interested in dreams and wrote extensively on the 'hypnogogic' stage of sleep, that strange state that occurs as you drift off to slumber from your left hemisphere to your right, in which hallucinations, lucid dreaming and creative thought regularly manifest.

His research lead to the discovery that the images which occur during this state are metaphoric representations of waking thoughts of the dreamer. He termed this the "autosymbolic effect" and in recent years this buried finding has been rediscovered and found vital to our modern day understandings of why we dream.

But Silberer never received the credit he had hoped for from Freud. In 1923 he took his new book to show his master and Freud coldly dismissed it, probably because the publication contradicted his own dream research.

Silberer was greatly depressed at Freud's reaction to his work and committed suicide by hanging in 1923, aged just 40.

Read more about the significance of the auto symbolic effect in the book: Dreaming Reality: How dreaming keeps us sane, or can drive us mad

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