Dreaming about War with Bion

Dreaming about War with Bion

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Magdalena Zolkos

University of Jyväskylä

29.3.2023, 18:30

online / zoom

Can dreaming in the times of war be considered a form of historical witnessing? What aspects of or "truths" about war does the dreamer testify to? 

We invite you to the lecture "Dreaming about war with Bion" by Dr. Magdalena Zolkos.

In her lecture, the researcher will draw on the work of British psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion (1897-1979) and highlight the ways in which Bion's reframing of the Freudian theory of dreams — away from the concept of dreams as repressed wishes and towards the notion of dreaming as processing of lived emotional experiences — helps us think about war’s effects on culture, society and the psyche.

From Bion’s perspective, dreaming in relation to war would be marked by an irreducible paradox: on the one hand, dreaming is integral to the process of thinking about, and assigning meaning to, people’s corporeal experiences of war; on the other hand, dream-images also point to what is un-processable about war, and what is too powerful and traumatic to make sense of.

Drawing on Bion's theory, the researcher makes an argument that "war dreamers" are witnesses to how war's violence imprints itself upon people’s bodies, while also gesturing at a communal or social aspect of dreaming. By sharing the dream, the dreamer does not only produce a unique form of knowledge of history, but also implores the listener to "dream together", to help them "contain" what is traumatic and un-dreamable in the war dream.

MD Roman Kechur will join the conversation.

The event will be delivered on the online platform zoom. To join the discussion, please, register.

Working language: English. Interpretation into Ukrainian will be provided.

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Magdalena Zolkos

Associate professor in the Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy at the University of Jyväskylä (Finland). Consultant of the project “Diaries and Dreams of the War”.Her areas of research include psychoanalytic political theory, intersections between violence and culture, and politics of embodiment. Her most recent book Restitution and the Politics of Repair. Tropes, Imaginaries, Theory was published by Edinburgh University Press in 2020.  

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Roman Kechur

MD. Ph.d, Head of the Department of Psychology and Psychotherapy of the Ukrainian Catholic University, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, teaching therapist and supervisor of the Ukrainian Union of Psychotherapists and the European Confederaon of Psychoanalyc Psychotherapies, Chairman of the Training Council and Secretariat of the Ukrainian Union of Psychotherapists. President of the Ukrainian Confederaon of Psychoanalyc Psychotherapies, Chairman of the Board of the Ukrainian Psychotherapeuc University.

This event is part of a broader documentation initiative entitled "Diaries and Dreams of the War."

Project team

  • Dr. Bohdan Shumylovych (Center for Urban History)
  • Natalka Ilchyshyn (Ukrainian Catholic University)
  • Ihor Kolesnyk (Lviv National University)


Cover Image: Anastasiia Bodnaruk