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Directed Daydream (R. Desoille)


The notion of the directed daydream refers to a product of the imagination, an expression of a waking oneiric state, used in the 1930s by Robert Desoille for therapeutic purposes; he later gave it the name directed daydream (or directed waking dream ).

The directed daydream is an active mobilization of the imagination in a relaxed setting by means of suggestions of climbing and descending, for the purpose of exploring "subconscious affectivity" and gaining access to the "superior part of the mind that is not exclusively colored by instinct." Imaginary space appears in this context as a metaphor for mental space. The approach's theoretical development extends from Freudian sublimation (1938) to a Pavlovian conception of the search for new, dynamic stereotypes (1961), by way of a Jungian mobilization of archetypes (1945).

At the beginning of the 1970s, practitioners of the directed daydream technique in the Groupe International du Rêve Eveillé en Psychanalyse (GIREP; International group of the directed daydream in psychoanalysis) integrated the Freudian unconscious into their practice and theory. This gave rise to an analytical practice known as the "directed daydream in psychoanalysis." This involved allowing images to form as spontaneously as possible, creating an imaginary space based on the idea of moving or traveling, describing to the analyst the scenes that unfold, and having the patient describe his associated feelings. Treatment comprised two inseparable and interactive elements: producing the directed daydream and putting it into words, and the associative work of exploring its meaning in relation to memories, nocturnal dreams, and fantasies; constructions and interpretations operated on a metaphorical level. Psychoanalytic in its reference to the unconscious and to various Freudian and post-Freudian concepts, this treatment is distinctive in terms of its procedures and its view of the therapeutic relationship, according to which the dynamics of the directed dream treatment imply analysis of the transference. Among the approach's main theoretical orientations are the following:

  • Nicole Fabre, for whom the space of the directed daydream, a joint creation, facilitates the expression of old problem areas and partakes of sublimation in the Freudian sense.
  • Roger Dufour, who emphasizes the specular function of the directed daydream: the patient works on the relationship between speech, the body, and the Imaginarya relationship that is basic to mental dynamics.
  • Gilbert Maurey, who locates the directed daydream at the metaphorical boundary between the Imaginary and the Symbolic as a mediator for access to the unconscious, the treatment being worked out in terms of the Real-Symbolic-Imaginary triad.
  • Jacques Launay, who emphasizes the role of movement in the imaginary space and its ability to invigorate the primary process.
  • Jean Guilhot and Marie-Aimee Guilhot, who describe the directed daydream as an instrument for change through the visualization of reparative or innovative experiences within an analytic and transpersonal perspective.

Jacques Launay

See also: Desoille, Robert.


Dufour, Roger. (1978).Écouter le rêve. Le Rêve-éveillé-dirigé analytique.Écoute et repères de l'Inconscient. Poésie et mythe en psychanalyse. Paris: Robert Laffont.

Fabre, Nicole. (1985). Les voies et les fins d'une analyse R.E.D. Le Rêve-éveillé-analytique. Toulouse, France: Privat.

Guilhot, Jean, and Marie-Aimée Guilhot. (1987). Analyse, activation et action thérapeutique. Vers un intégralisme analytique et prospectif. Paris: E. S. F.

Launay, Jacques. (1983). Le Rêve-éveillé et l'Inconscient. La Serrure et le Songe. Paris: Economia.

Maurey, Gilbert. (1995). Le Rêve-éveillé en psychanalyse. De l'imaginaireà l'Inconscient. Paris: E. S. F.

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