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(1964). Symposium on Fantasy—Fantasy, Reality, and Truth. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 45:180-189.

(1964). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45:180-189

Symposium on Fantasy—Fantasy, Reality, and Truth


As distinct from conscious fantasy, the existence and nature of unconscious fantasy are inferred, on the basis of psycho-analytical evidence. Taking the model of conscious fantasy as a point of departure, a provisional definition of unconscious fantasy cannot cover all its elements, particularly the variation of belief and judgement; by hypothesis, unconscious fantasy can be defined as a positive or negative intention directed towards an object-goal—that is to say, a positive, negative, or mixed value—without any concern as to the independent existence of the object. Psycho-analytical investigation cannot dispense with the concept of unconscious fantasy: the analyst formulates in words 'something' which exists but is not explicitly stated by the patient and is unknown to him; every psycho-analytical interpretation and construct involves unconscious fantasy. As to its nature, unconscious fantasy is included in the reactivation of memory by desire: this observation stresses the economic aspect of 'this preliminary stage in the formation of dreams and symptoms' (Freud); as recathexis or reinvestment rather than differentiated representation, intensive rather than extensive, unconscious fantasy lends itself to the transposition of the primary process. This hypothesis leads to the consideration of original fantasy, not as a differentiated representation but as an intuition of value, the material for the actualization of the intention being provided by certain transcultural constants found in the relationship of the maturing organism with its human and material environment. The genealogy of original fantasies, of unconscious fantasies, of conscious fantasies and the phantasmatic systems of thought and action shows a movement from value to representation, the more primitive forms of fantasy underpinning its more evolved forms. The extension of fantasy gives greater validity to Calderón's words: 'Life is a dream'; but desire is directed towards objects independent of fantasy, which may co-operate or withdraw; reality then appears as a correlative of fantasy, although itself tinged with fantasy; truth is the surmounting of the conflict between reality and fantasy. The dialectic of fantasy, reality, and truth is illustrated by a return to the psycho-analytic sphere, with an examination of the relationship between the fundamental rule and interpretation, and by certain principles of therapeutic action: decentralization, reshaping of the fantasy system, sublimation. The triad, fantasy, reality, and truth, is taken to be the basis of human existence, of science, and of psycho-analysis. Reason is not entirely absent from the fantasy system, or reason would find nothing to lay hold of. Finally, the fantasy system is a structural concept, being the system of unconscious fantasies constructed in the course of analytic investigation; 'unconscious fantasy' means also an unconscious process of the mind, which is continued by preconscious and conscious fantasy. The end-products of the whole process of fantasy are the conscious fantasies as fictions.

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