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Erotic dreams and nightmares from antiquity to the present

Stewart, C.; (2002) Erotic dreams and nightmares from antiquity to the present. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute , 8 (2) pp. 279-309. 10.1111/1467-9655.00109.

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The history of erotic dreams, nightmares, and erotic nightmares offers a valuable opportunity to study how such dreams tested Western ideas about the self, desire, and self-control. Like Foucault, I find it more productive to analyse these dreams, and the struggles to introject them, as sites of self-making rather than of repression. Erotic dreams and nightmares have been inflected by various historical strategies of self-making, themselves produced by different regimes of knowledge such as Christian asceticism, medicine, or philosophy. Erotic nightmares still proliferate today in reports of alien abductions. A reason for this historical tenacity has been the ease with which the affective sensations of the erotic nightmare – terror and sexual arousal – have jumped between genres as various as monastic handbooks, medieval folk-tales, gothic fiction, and personal dreams. This study demonstrates the importance of historical perspective for the ability to identify and understand culturally elaborated ('culture-bound') syndromes.

Type: Article
Title: Erotic dreams and nightmares from antiquity to the present
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9655.00109
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.00109
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/12872
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