Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dissection dream

When Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was writing The Interpretation of Dreams, he revealed a dream of his own that he had in 1899: "...strangely enough it related to a dissection of the lower part of my own body, my pelvis and legs, which I saw before me as if in the dissecting room, but without noticing their absence in myself and also without any trace of any gruesome feeling....The pelvis had been eviscerated, and it was visible now in its superior, now in its inferior, aspect, the two being mixed together." He and others interpret the dream as symbolic of his concerns about the self-revelation required in the writing of the book: self-dissection = self-analysis. That there was no "gruesome feeling" was wish fulfillment that he would overcome the feeling of distaste he had about revealing his own dreams to the public. To illustrate this post, I chose an image from the appropriately-named Dream Anatomy site of the National Library of Medicine. This 1627 copperplate engraving was made by Odoardo Fialetti based on a dissection by Venetian anatomist Giulio Casserio, and follows a style in anatomical illustration in which the cadaver was shown as lively - and often dissected itself.

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