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Weisner, L. (2008). Unconscious Fantasies and the Relational World, Danielle Knafo and Kenneth Feiner, Relational Perspectives Book Series, Volume 31, The Analytic Press, Inc., Hillsdale, NJ, 2006, 232 pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 68(3):308-312.
   

(2008). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 68(3):308-312

Unconscious Fantasies and the Relational World, Danielle Knafo and Kenneth Feiner, Relational Perspectives Book Series, Volume 31, The Analytic Press, Inc., Hillsdale, NJ, 2006, 232 pp.

Review by:
Lindsay Weisner, Psy.D.

In Unconscious Fantasies and the Relational World, Danielle Knafo and Kenneth Feiner attempt to weave fantasy and reality into a tapestry explanation of the unconscious mind. The book examines three fantasies that the authors believe constitute the organizing structure of unconscious life. As they examine each fantasy, they separate the threads of fantasy from the influence of reality and demonstrate that in the unconscious mind, both are equally relevant.

In the first part of the book, the fantasy of the primal scene is discussed. Knafo and Feiner point out that in the primal scene there are multiple identifications. There is the child as observer, as same-sex parent, and as a future partner of the opposite sex. Knafo and Feiner emphasize that developmentally, these fantasies serve the purpose of encouraging the child to shift his understanding to the next level, or progress towards a more mature relationship with others. The child's identification shifts according to both the wish and defense that must be satisfied at that point in his development.

Through case examples, the authors use reality to illustrate the interaction between fact and fiction. An example is given of a female patient who believed that as a child, she had won her father's love from her mother in an oedipal victory. Consequently, she feared marriage, for she feared a repetition of the past: losing the love of her husband (father) to her children (herself). This identification surfaced only later in life, when she was in a position which heightened her fears and brought them to light.

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