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An interobject is a phenomenon of dreams, in which there is a perception of something that is "between" two objects. The term was coined by Blechner in his book The Dream Frontier. Interobjects differ from typical dream condensations in which two objects are fused into one. Instead the condensation is incomplete. Some examples from the literature on dreams include "a piece of hardware, something like the lock of a door or perhaps a pair of paint-frozen hinges,"[1] and "something between a record-player and a balance scale."[2] Interobjects are new creations derived from partially fused blends of other objects.

Interobjects, like disjunctive cognitions, would sound bizarre or psychotic as perceptions in waking life, but are accepted by most people as commonplace in dreams. They have implications for both the theory of dreaming and the theory of categorization. Interobjects show the dreaming mind grouping items together whose connection may not be apparent to the waking mind. "Something between an aqueduct or a swimming-pool"[3] reveals the category of "large man-made architectural objects that contain water." "Something between a cellphone and a baby"[4] reveals a category combining a relatively new piece of technology and a live infant: both make noise when you don't expect it, both are held close to your body, and both can give you a feeling of connectedness.

Scientists do not know if interobjects occur only in dreamlife or may occur as unconscious categorizations during waking life. Freud[5] called interobjects "intermediate and composite structures." He thought they were inferior mental constructions and were scrupulously avoided in waking life.

Most adults tend to regularize interobjects when discussing them in waking life. Children are better able to sustain interobjects in their original form. A child told his father a dream in which he was in trouble at sea and "a seal swam up to them. They thought it was just a seal, but then they looked and under the water it was a whole boat, it was huge, so they climbed onto the seal/boat, and it brought them to the shore of the mainland." When the boy told his father the dream in the morning, the father, speaking like an adult who cannot tolerate contradictions, said to him: "So really, it was a boat, a big, safe boat." The child, holding fast to the integrity of his dream, said, "It was a boat, but it was still a big, friendly seal." This child had not yet learned to regularize his perceptions to fit the way the world works. Adults may learn to reject interobjects in waking life, but still retain them in their dreams.

Interobjects may have an elementary function in human thought. By transgressing the normal mental categories described by Eleanor Rosch, interobjects may be the origin of new ideas that would be harder to come by using only fully formed, secondary process formations. They may be one example of "Oneiric Darwinism"[6] in which new thought-mutations are created during dream-life and rejected or retained in waking life depending on their usefulness.

Jung [7] held that if the dreamer walked about and acted like a person awake, we would have the clinical picture of schizophrenia. Hobson [8] concluded that dreams are more like delirium than schizophrenia. Both Jung and Hobson focus on how dreams are defective forms of normal waking life, but in dreams, our minds are in some ways able to function better than in waking life. Interobjects show the ability of the dreaming mind to notice how things that are very different nevertheless have features in common. The mind then creates a new category, which we might never have noticed in our waking life. The woman who dreamed of a "cellphone-baby" was creating a new category: small objects that are held close to the body and that make noise at surprising and embarrassing times.

Interobjects have been used creatively in advertising. A set of rules, known as a "Replacement template," enabled a computer to create interobjects:

"Given a product (P) with a trait (T), the subject is asked to come up with a creative idea for an ad that conveys the message that P has T. In a visual format, an object S (symbol), which is universally identified with T, is replaced with P. The effect is enhanced if S is placed in a situation in which T is essential. Moreover, the replacement operation can be iterated: Rather than P one can use parts of it, or aspects of it, or objects associated with it, to replace the corresponding elements associated with S."[9] When asked to produce an ad for the World Tennis Cup tournament in Jerusalem, the computer generated a mosque with a dome that had a tennis ball texture. In advertising on-time performance for an airline, the computer generated a cuckoo-clock in which a jumbo jet pops out of the clock instead of a cuckoo. Both of these creations – the mosque/tennis ball and the jumbo jet/cuckoo clock – are interobjects.


  1. ^ Hobson, J.A. (1988) The Dreaming Brain. New York: Basic Books.
  2. ^ Meltzer, D. (1984) Dream-Life. Perthshire, UK: Clunie Press.
  3. ^ States, B. (1995). "Dreaming "accidentally" of Harold Pinter: The interplay of metaphor and metonymy in dreams". Dreaming. 5: 229–245. doi:10.1037/h0094438.
  4. ^ Blechner, M. (2005). "The grammar of irrationality: What psychoanalytic dream study can tell us about the brain". Contemporary Psychoanalysis. 41: 203–221. doi:10.1080/00107530.2005.10745859.
  5. ^ Freud, S. (1900) The Interpretation of Dreams. New York: Viking.
  6. ^ Blechner, M. (2001) The Dream Frontier. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press.
  7. ^ Jung, C. G. (1907/1960) The psychology of dementia praecox. (R. Hull, Trans.) In C. G. Jung, ' 'Collected Works' ' (Vol. 3, pp. 1–15). New York, NY: Pantheon.
  8. ^ Hobson, J. A. (1997) Dreaming as delirium: A mental status analysis of our nightly madness. ' 'Seminars in Neurology' ', 17, 121–128.
  9. ^ Goldenberg, J.; Mazursky, D.; Solomon, S. (1999). "Creative sparks". Science. 285 (5433): 1495–1496. doi:10.1126/science.285.5433.1495.