Brain Mechanisms of Dreaming

A presentation in English by Mark Solms (South Africa) with Margaret Wilkinson (UK) responding.
Thursday 16 August 2007

Professor Mark Solms is best known for his discovery of the forebrain mechanisms of dreaming, and for his attempts to integrate psychoanalytic theories and methods with those of modern neuroscience. He was born in Namibia in 1961. He was educated in Namibia, South Africa and Great Britain. Currently he holds the Chair of Neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town, where he is based in the Departments of Psychology and Neurology (Groote Schur Hospital).

Mark Solms MDHis other current positions include: Honorary Lecturer in Neurosurgery at St. Bartholomew's and the Royal London School of Medicine & Dentistry, Lecturer in Psychology at University College London, Director of the International Neuro-Psychoanalysis Centre, London, and Director of the Neuro-Psychoanalysis Center of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. He is a member of the following professional and learned societies: British Neuropsychological Society, British Psychological Society (Clinical Neuropsychology Division), British Psychoanalytical Society, New York Psychoanalytic Society (Honorary), South African Clinical Neuropsychology Association, Psychological Society of South Africa (Research Division), International Psychoanalytical Association, and International Neuro-Psychoanalysis Society (of which he is co-Chairperson).

He is a registered practitioner with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. He has published widely in both neuroscientific and psychoanalytic journals, including Cortex, Neuropsychologia, Behavioral & Brain Sciences, International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Psychoanalytic Quarterly. He is also frequently published in general-interest journals, such as Scientific American, Der Spiegel and The Psychologist. He has published more than 250 articles and book chapters, and 5 books. He is co-Editor of Neuro-Psychoanalysis: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Psychoanalysis and the Neurosciences. He is the authorised editor and translator of the forthcoming Revised Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (24 vols), and the Complete Neuroscientific Works of Sigmund Freud (4 vols). His second book, The Neuropsychology of Dreams (1997), was a landmark contribution to both fields. His latest book (with Oliver Turnbull) is The Brain and the Inner World: Introduction to the Neuroscience of Subjective Experience (2002) is a best-seller. His book Clinical Studies in Neuro-Psychoanalysis (with Karen Kaplan-Solms) won the NAAP's Gradiva Award (Best Book, Science Category) in 2001. Other awards include the George Sarton medal of the Rijksuniversiteit Gent (1996), and the 'International Psychiatrist' award of the American Psychiatric Association (2001). His major current research interests are the neuropsychology of dreaming, confabulation and anosognosia. He is also engaged in a large-scale investigation into the pathological-anatomical correlates of neuropsychological syndromes.



Response to Mark Solms’ paper

In this response I hope to examine the insights that Dr Solms’ has shared concerning the nature of the dreaming process, exploring the insights that neuroscience offers concerning the nature of the dreaming process from a contemporary Jungian viewpoint. In so doing I will review its relevance to Jung’s specific perspectives on the dreaming process and our understanding of the process of working analytically with dreams in the light of this. Throughout my response I will seek to explore how Dr Solms’ understanding of working with dreams relates to a Jungian way of using them in order to help a patient to develop the emotional scaffolding necessary for the process of ‘coming into mind’.



Mark Leonard Solms : Biographical Details

Born district of Lüderitz, Namibia, 17 July 1961.
Matriculated Pretoria Boys' School, South Africa, 1979.

(All awarded by the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa)

1992  Doctor of Philosophy (Neuropsychology).
1987  Master of Arts (Neuropsychology) with distinction.
1985  Bachelor of Arts with Honours (Applied Psychology) in the first class.
1984  Bachelor of Arts (Applied Psychology) with distinction.

Clinical Training in Psychoanalysis

1989-94 The Institute of Psycho-Analysis, London.

Memberships and Registrations

2004-  National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis, New York (Honorary).
2004-  American College of Psychoanalysts (Honorary).
2003-  South African Clinical Neuropsychological Association.
2000-  International Neuro-Psychoanalysis Society.
1998-  New York Psychoanalytic Society (Honorary).
1995-  International Psychoanalytical Association.
1995-  British Psycho-Analytical Society (Associate).
1991-  British Neuropsychological Society.
1989-  British Psychological Society (Division of Neuropsychology, 1999-).
1986-  Psychological Association of South Africa (Psychological Society of South Africa 1995-).
1986-90 South African Society for Brain and Behaviour Studies.
1985-   South African Medical and Dental Council, Psychology Board (Health Professions Council of South Africa 1999-).


2003- Director, International Neuro-Psychoanalysis Centre, London. (Honorary)
2002- Chair in Neuropsychology, Department of Psychology, University  of Cape Town, South Africa.
2001- Director, Arnold Pfeffer Center for Neuro-Psychoanalysis, New York Psychoanalytic Institute. (Honorary)
2001- 2004 Distinguished Fellow, New England Institute of Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Psychology.
2001-2002 Teaching Faculty, MSc in Cognitive Neuropsychology, University College London.
1999-2000 Paediatric Neuropsychology Supervisor, St George's Hospital, London.
1998- Teaching Faculty, New York Psychoanalytic Institute. (Honorary)
1998- Freud Archive Visiting Professor, University of Essex.
1997-1998 Paediatric Neuropsychology Supervisor, Royal London Hospital.
1997-2002 Teaching Faculty, MSc and DPsych in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology, University College London (Anna Freud Centre).
1997-2002 Teaching Faculty, MSc in Theoretical Psychoanalytic Studies, University College London.
1997- Teaching Faculty, British Association of Psychotherapists.
1996-2001 Teaching Faculty, Institute of Psycho-Analysis, London.
1995-2005 Lecturer. University College London, Department of Psychology.


In preparation under contract to the publishers:

Solms, M. (ed & trans.) The Complete Neuroscientific Works of Sigmund Freud. London: The Institute of Psycho-Analysis & H. Karnac Books. (4 volumes)

Solms, M. (ed & trans.) Revised Standard Edition of The Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. London & New York: The Institute of Psycho-Analysis, The Hogarth Press & W.W. Norton & Co. (24 volumes)

In Press

Solms, M. ‘Freud returns.’ Scientific American: Mind (April).

Solms, M ‘“Freud” and Bullitt: A previously unknown manuscript by Freud.’ Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association.

Turnbull, O. & Solms, M. ‘What is neuro-psychoanalysis?’ Cortex. [Target paper with open peer commentary]

Solms, M. ‘Dream syndromes.’ In Schokroverty (ed.) Handbook of Clinical Neurology, 3rd series. New York: Elsevier.


Solms, M. ‘Schmerz: Eine neuro-psychoanalytische Perspective.’ Psychotherapie Forum, 13: 143-145.

Savitz, J., Solms, M., Ramesar, R. (2005). ‘The Molecular Genetics of
Cognition: Dopamine, COMT, and BDNF.’ Genes, Brain and Behavior.

Savitz, J.B., Solms, M., Ramesar, R.S. (2005). ‘Neurocognitive function
as an endophenotype for genetic studies of bipolar affective disorder.’
NeuroMolecular Medicine, 7

Savitz, J., Solms, M., Ramesar, R. (2005). ‘Apolipoprotein E Variants and
Cognition in Healthy Individuals: A Critical Opinion.’ Brain Research

Solms, M. & Turnbull, O. To sleep, perchance to REM? The rediscovered role of emotion and meaning in dreams. In S. Della Sala (ed.) Tall Tales: Popular Myths about the Mind and Brain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Solms, M. ‘Freud returns.’ In A. Lightman (ed.) The Best American Science Writing, 2005. New York: Harper Perennial, pp. 244-253.

Feinberg, T, De Luca, J, Giacino, J, Roane, D. & Solms, M. ‘Right hemisphere pathology and the self: Delusional misidentification and reduplication’. In T. Feinberg & J. Keenan (eds) The Lost Self: Pathologies of the Brain and Identity, pp 100-130. New York: Oxford Universities Press.

Solms, M. Foreword to L. Oppenheim, A Curious Intimacy: Art and Neuro-Psychoanalysis, p. x. Hove: Routledge

Solms, M. ‘Integracao da psicanalise com as neurociencias.’ In C. Eizirk, R. Aguiar & S. Schestatsky (eds.), Psicoterapia de Orientacao Analitica, 2/ed. Sao Paulo: Artmed, pp. 113-129.

Savitz, J., Solms, M., Ramesar, R. ‘Neuropsychological dysfunction in bipolar affective disorder: A critical opinion.’ Bipolar Disorders, 7: 216-235.

Solms, M. ‘Neurosceince.’ In: E. Person, A. Cooper & G. Gabbard (eds.) Textbook of Psychoanalysis. Washington DC: American Psychiatric Publishing, pp. 535-546.

Solms, M. ‘A interpretacao dos sonhos e as neurosciencias.’ Viver Mento & Cerebro, 13: 28-36.


Malcolm-Smith, S. & Solms, M. ‘Incidence of Threat in Dreams: A Response to Revonsuo’s Threat Simulation Theory.’ Dreaming, 14, 220-229.

Fotopoulou, K., Solms, M. & Turnbull, O. ‘Wishful reality distortions in confabulation: a case report.’ Neuropsychologia, 42: 727-744.

Solms, M. ‘Dream research in the court of public opinion.’ (Reply to Domhoff). Dreaming, 14: 18-20.

Savitz, J., Solms, M., Pietersen, E., Ramesar, R. & Flor-Henry, P. (2004) ‘Dissociative identity disorder associated with mania and change in handedness.’ Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, 17: 233-237.

Solms, M. ‘Freud returns.’ Scientific American, May: 56-62 [with commentary by J.A. Hobson]. Spanish, Italian, French, Chinese, Greek, Polish, Portuguese  translations.

Solms, M. ‘Is the brain more real than the mind?’ In A. Casement (ed.) Who Owns Psychoanalyis? London & New York: Karnac, pp. 323-342.

Solms, M. Ein Beispiel aus der Neuropsychoanalytischen Forschung: Das KorsakowSyndrom. In P. Giampieri-Deutsch (ed.) Psychoanalyse im Dialog der Wissenschaften, Band 2: Anglo-amerikansche Perpektieven. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, pp. 213-8.



Margaret Wilkinson : Biographical Details

Margaret Wilkinson is a professional member of the Society of Analytical Psychology, London and of the West Midlands Institute of Psychotherapy, and an assistant editor of the Journal of Analytical Psychology. She lectures internationally on contemporary neuroscience and its relevance to our clinical practice. She is the author of numerous papers, including ‘Undoing trauma. Contemporary neuroscience: a clinical perspective’, Journal of Analytical Psychology, 48 (2) which won the Michael Fordham Prize in 2003. Her book ‘Coming into mind. The mind-brain relationship: a Jungian clinical perspective’ was published by Routledge in January 2006. She is in private practice in North Derbyshire, England. Her email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.