Desoille, Robert (1890-1966)

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DESOILLE, ROBERT (1890-1966)

Robert Desoille, a French engineer, psychotherapist, and creator of the concept of the "directed daydream," was born on May 29, 1890, in Besançon, France, and died on October 10, 1966, in Paris. Born into a family of military officers, Desoille studied engineering as a young man. In 1923 E. Caslant initiated him into an experimental technique of mental imaging, which he felt had psychoanalytic applications. He worked out his theory over the course of seven volumes.

In Exploration de l'Affectivité Subconsciente par la Méthode du Rêve-éveillé [Exploration of subconscious emotions using directed daydreams] (1938), he studied the relationship between symbolism, invention, and memory, demonstrating the advantages of his method for exploring sublimation. He built on the work of Pierre Janet, Sigmund Freud, Carl Gustav Jung, and Roland Dalbiez.

In Le Rêve-éveillé en Psychothérapie (The directed daydream in psychotherapy; 1945), he made reference to Jung's collective unconscious. For him, the psyche consists of two poles: the Freudian id and the self, which consists of the limit of what sublimation can obtain. The conscious ego shifts between the id and the self as a possible representation. In the directed daydream, transference is expressed and resolved.

In Théorie et Pratique du Rêve-éveillé Dirigé (Theory and practice of the directed daydream; 1961), Desoille moved toward a "rational psychotherapy" and developed a Pavlovian conception of neurosis. Through the directed daydream, he held, poorly adapted reflexes are dissolved and new dynamic stereotypes are formed, initially in the imagination.

Upon its appearance a number of authorsincluding Charles Baudouin, Gaston Bachelard, Juliette Favez-Boutonier, Françoise Dolto, and Daniel Lagachetook an interest in Desoille's work. Moreover, it has continued to generate commentary and further analysis since its introduction.

Jacques Launay

See also: Directed daydream (R. Desoille); Fantasy.


Desoille, Robert. (1938). Exploration de l'affectivité subconsciente par la méthode du rêve-éveillé: sublimation et acquisitions psychologiques. Paris: J. L. d'Artrey.

. (1945). Le rêve-éveillé en psychothérapie: essai sur la fonction de régulation de l'inconscient collectif. Paris: Presses universitaires de France.

. (1961). Théorie et pratique du rêve-éveillé-dirigé. Geneva: Mont-Blanc.

. (1971). Marie-Clotilde. Une psychothérapie par le rêve-éveillé-dirigé: un cas de névrose obsessionnelle. Paris: Payot.

. (1973). Entretiens sur le rêve-éveillé-dirigé en psychothérapie. Paris: Payot.