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Smith, S. (1977). The Golden Fantasy: A Regressive Reaction to Separation Anxiety. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 58:311-324.

(1977). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 58:311-324

The Golden Fantasy: A Regressive Reaction to Separation Anxiety

Sydney Smith

The analysis of fantasy is a prominent aspect of the work of psychoanalytic treatment. For historical reasons dream interpretation has received the lion's share of our professional interest in fantasy, but every analyst is aware that daydreams, reveries, conscious imagery and flights of fancy can provide significant grist for the treatment mill. The expectation is that bringing into focus the unanalysed meanings, the wishful musings embedded in fantasies of whatever nature will further strengthen the ego's hold on reality. But in the course of analysis with many patients a specific hidden fantasy eventually unfolds which not only has a fixed content noteworthy for its similarity from patient to patient, but which becomes the basis of a significant resistance to treatment.

The fantasy is a simple and familiar one: it is the wish to have all of one's needs met in a relationship hallowed by perfection. Two invariable features of this fantasy make it a thing apart both in its effect upon the patient's life and in its influence on the analysis. The first aspect has to do with the patient's position in respect to the fantasy: it is always passive, always tied to the conviction that somewhere in that great, unbounded expanse called the world is a person capable of fully meeting one's needs. The wish is to be cared for so completely that no demand will be made on the patient except his capacity for passively taking in. The second aspect, a corollary of the first, is the subjective experience of the patient that this fantasy touches on the deepest issues of one's life and that indeed one's very survival may depend upon its preservation.

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