Theories of Interpretation

Today, there is a crisis in the field of psychoanalysis.  Since Freud’s discovery of the unconscious and the contributions of other renowned analysts such as Carl Jung and Melanie Klein, there have been no significant breakthroughs in the field.  Under traditional Freudian psychoanalysis, patients have not flourished as hoped.  As a result, psychoanalysis has gone out of fashion and “New Age” remedies have eclipsed scientific approaches.  Psychoanalytic societies and institutes are impoverished in numbers, conviction, and enthusiasm.  Fewer people seek out analysts.  These are all indications that the traditional, Freudian paradigm has reached its limit and that the time is ripe for a new model.

Dr. Bernard W. Bail, a physician, psychoanalyst and training analyst in Los Angeles, has developed a methodology that may well resolve this crisis.  At 90 years old, Dr. Bail has been working with patients and analysts for over 50 years and still maintains his private practice.  In Dr. Bernard Bail’s paradigm, dream interpretation rests on the twin theories of the Maternal Imprint and the Internal Saboteur. First, that all human beings are born with a split psyche – an imprint – which is the result of psychological and emotional trauma sustained in fetal life. Second, that the survival pact between mother and newborn is maintained throughout an individual’s life by a status-quo mechanism called the Internal Saboteur.

These theories provide the foundation for a new understanding of the human psyche. According to Dr. Bail, the unconscious mind, which communicates to our conscious mind through dreams, is the untapped resource that is the key to psychological health. With dream interpretation, one can visit the site of the original fetal trauma and repair the psychological pathways that hinder emotional balance and realizing one’s potential.

More about the Maternal Imprint
More about the Internal Saboteur


Dr. Bernard W. Bail is a physician, a psychoanalyst and a training analyst who lives and practices in Los Angeles, California. He has worked with both patients and analysts for over fifty years. Dr. Bail received his M.D. at Temple University and interned at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Pennsylvania. He is a member of the International Psychoanalytical Association and the American Psychoanalytic Association where he chairs the ongoing discussion group, “Infant Mental Life and the Dream in Psychoanalysis.” His training includes eight years with Dr. Carl Van der Heide and twelve years with Dr. Wilfred Bion. Through his intensive work in the unconscious via the dream, Dr. Bail developed a new paradigm for psychoanalysis centered at the beginning of human life, which he describes in his book, The Mother’s Signature: A Journal of Dreams. Dr. Bail taught extensively from 1956-1972 at the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, the Reiss-Davis Child Study Center and the UCLA Department of Psychiatry. He is the author of numerous essays and a regular presenter at psychiatric and psychoanalytic conferences.

For his military service during World War II, Dr. Bail received the Distinguished Service Cross, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, five Air Medals, five Battle Stars in the European Theater of Operations, a Purple Heart, a Prisoner of War Medal, and the 44th Bomb Group Presidential Citation. In addition, the French government awarded Dr. Bail the French Legion of Honor, the highest military honor bestowed by France.

The Long Hello
The Longest Ongoing Story in the History of the World
The Mother’s Signature


  • Breaking the Tie: Fear and Psychoanalysis

    Dr. Bernard W. Bail discusses the role of the psychoanalyst.

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