Louis Breger, Ph.D

LOUIS BREGER, PH.D. License # PSY 3121

Office: PO Box 1159
Woodacre, CA 94973
(415) 488-4825


Louis Breger is an American psychologist, psychotherapist and scholar who was born and grew up in Los Angeles, California. He is the father of three grown children and two stepsons, married to Barbara Gale Breger; together, they have 13 grandchildren.

Dr. Breger has been both a practicing psychotherapist and a faculty member at several universities where he carried out research on dreams, reformulations of psychoanalytic theory, psychotherapy process and outcome, studies of personality development, the application of psychoanalysis to literature, and published two biographies of Sigmund Freud. He has always taken a critical stance towards psychoanalysis, as revealed in most of his publications. His work on dreaming – using the REM techniques of monitoring sleep through the night – showed that dreams are symbolic attempts to master emotional conflicts that have been aroused during the pre-sleep period, in contrast to Freud’s wish fulfillment theory (see Function of Dreams, 1967). His work on personality development – as found in his book From Instinct to Identity – is an integration of theory and research from child development, John Bowlby, Erik Erikson, Harry Stack Sullivan, Freud, Jean Piaget, primate studies, and research on hunter-gatherer societies. The study of Doetoevsky treats him as a fellow “psychoanalyst” who has much to teach us rather than a patient to be “analyzed.” The two biographical studies of Freud bring out the personal – often traumatic – roots of what is valuable and problematic in psychoanalytic theory and therapy.

Dr. Breger has been Professor of Psychoanalytic Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences Division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, from 1970 to the present, (currently, Emeritus Professor). Prior to this, he taught at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California Medical School in San Francisco, and the University of Oregon. He graduated from the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute in 1979, where he became a Training and Supervising Analyst and was the recipient of the Franz Alexander Essay Award and the Distinguished Teaching Award. In 1990, he resigned from that institution and, with a group of colleagues, created the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis (ICP) where he was the Founding President from 1990 to 1993. ICP reflected Breger’s commitment to an open, democratic form of education; it is a non-hierarchical training institute, not affiliated with the American Psychoanalytic Association.


Undergraduate: Cornell University and U.C.L.A.

Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, Ohio State University, 1961



A Dream of Undying Fame: How Freud Betrayed His Mentor and

Invented Psychoanalysis (Basic Books, 2009)

Freud: Darkness in the Midst of Vision (John Wiley & Sons, 2000)

Feodor Dostoevsky: The Author as Psychoanalyst (New York University Press, 1989, reissued by Transaction Publishers, 2009)

Freud’s Unfinished Journey: Conventional and Critical Perspectives in Psychoanalytic Theory (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981)

From Instinct to Identity: The Development of Personality (Prentice Hall, 1974, reissued by Transaction Publishers, 2009)

The Effect of Stress on Dreams (with I. Hunter and R. W. Lane) Psychological Issues, No. 27, (1971)

Clinical Cognitive Psychology: Models and Integrations (ed.) (Prentice Hall, 1969)


Breger, L. & McGaugh, J. L. Critique and reformulation of ‘learning theory’ approaches to psychotherapy and neurosis. Psychological Bulletin 63, 338-358, (1965)

Breger, L. Function of Dreams. Journal of Abnormal Psychology Monograph 72, 1-28, (1967)

Breger, L. The manifest dream and its latent meaning. In J. Natterson (ed.) The Dream in Clinical Practice Aronson, 3-27, (1980)

Breger, L. Some metaphorical types met with in psychoanalytic theory. Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought 4,107-140, (1981)

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