I'm All Ears—Thoughts on Psychoanalysis: The Musical Reverie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In this article I describe one dimension of the reverie phenomenon, which I term the “musical reverie,” whereby the therapist experiences a kind of daydreaming that includes songs with both lyrics and tunes. In early development, the reverie function permits a transformation of the baby's unprocessed and unmetabolized materials within the mother's psyche, so that once they are returned to the infant, it will be possible to contain them in a manner that neither overwhelms nor fragments the child. Likewise, this may operate in psychoanalytic treatment. This article suggests that the auditory dimension, where lyrics and tunes exist successfully, captures both the symbolic and the presymbolic, and bridges the two. I further suggest that the music serves the analyst in early, hopeless, and fragmented moments as a companion to reignite the psychic movement that has halted in both the patient's and the analyst's mind. The therapist's ability to process beta elements—the unmetabolized (unprocessed affective experience)—into alpha elements (thoughts that can be thought by the thinker) will enable the renewed movement and rehabilitation of the mind, even in barren, dead areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)578-601
Number of pages24
JournalContemporary Psychoanalysis
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, © William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis & Psychology and the William Alanson White Psychoanalytic Society.


  • movement
  • music
  • reverie
  • sonorous bath
  • symbol
  • transformation


Dive into the research topics of 'I'm All Ears—Thoughts on Psychoanalysis: The Musical Reverie'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this