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Reverie: between thought and prayer



Abstract:  Taking inspiration from a quotation by Lao Tzu, this paper considers ‘reverie’ as a dynamic process of containment as well as a state of mind. Reverie as a quality of thought akin to prayer is explored in the relationship between self and other. In infant observation, the paper contemplates the development of a baby's capacity to reach beyond the personal world to an archetypal experience of being held, where the creation of an internal space in mind could indicate the beginnings of spiritual awareness. ‘Maternal/analytic reverie’ views the passage of unconscious communication between patient and analyst as the result of a ‘window’ opening in the meniscus of the analyst's self. ‘Paternal/supervisory reverie’ reflects on the impact on a patient of an extra containing mind of a supervisor. ‘Archetypal reverie’ considers the transforming impact of numinous dreams on the psyche, and reflects on the power of prayer. Drawing on clinical examples from these four areas, the aim is to demonstrate the usefulness of the ‘void within’ and the perceptive function of emptiness in the ‘doors and windows’ of our mind.