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(1964). Symposium on Fantasy—On the Concept of Fantasy. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 45:190-190.

(1964). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45:190-190

Symposium on Fantasy—On the Concept of Fantasy


The terms 'fantasy' and 'unconscious fantasy' have had a variety of meanings attributed to them in the psycho-analytic literature. As a consequence of the need to clarify fantasy material in the Hampstead Psycho-Analytic Index, it was necessary to review the development of Freud's theory of fantasy, as well as to consider the contributions made by subsequent psycho-analytic authors. It was found that a great deal of unclarity exists in the literature on the subject of fantasy, primarily due to a failure to distinguish between the function of fantasying on the one hand, and the vicissitudes of fantasy-content on the other. In Freud's writings, the term 'unconscious fantasy' refers, in different contexts and at different times, to both primary and secondary process fantasying, and also to content which is in the system Unconscious as well as in the system Preconscious.

We can summarize Freud's writings on fantasy as follows:

1. Conscious fantasy, or daydreaming, is a reaction to frustrating external reality. It implies the creation of a wish-fulfilling situation in the imagination, and thereby brings about a temporary lessening of instinctual tension. Reality testing is discarded; the ego nevertheless remains aware that the imaginative construction is not reality, without this knowledge interfering with the gratification thus achieved.

Conscious fantasy differs from hallucinatory wish fulfilment in that the daydream is not normally confused with reality, whereas the hallucinatory gratification cannot be distinguished from reality.

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