The structural approach to the empirical investigation of the meaning of dreams – Findings from the research project „Structural Dream Analysis“
The structural approach to the investigation of the meaning of dreams is described, which is also the foundation for the research method Structural Dream Analysis (SDA). The method focuses especially on the relationship between the dream ego and other figures in the dream and the extent of activity of the dream ego. Research with this approach has produced new insights on the connections of dream content with the personality of the dreamer. Five major dream patterns were identified which accounted for the majority of the dreams. These patterns are closely correlated with the psychological problems of the dreamers and their development in the course of psychotherapy. Additionally, typical changes in the dream series’ patterns could be identified which corresponded with therapeutic change. The usability of the structural approach is exemplified with the famous specimen case of psychoanalysis, Amalia X, and its 96 dreams. The implications for different psychoanalytic theories of dreaming and dream interpretation are discussed as well as implications for the continuity hypothesis.