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De Silvestris, P. (2004). L'illusione: Una certezza [Illusion: A certainty] By Anteo Saraval Milan: Cortina. 2003. 100 pp.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(3):779-782.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(3):779-782

L'illusione: Una certezza [Illusion: A certainty] By Anteo Saraval Milan: Cortina. 2003. 100 pp.

Review by:
Pia De Silvestris

The title of this book expresses a paradox: illusion should be considered one of the basic foundations of the mind, a psychic process necessary to the constitution of a notion of mature certainty, capable of drawing from a rational as well as an affective truth. However, the title also alludes to the change, in psychoanalysis, of the conceptual meaning of the term, from Freud to Winnicott, up to an understanding of its established importance in very different phenomena, both anthropological and sociological. What, then, is the explanation for these different meanings of illusion? First of all, the book gives us, through Saraval's work, the fundamental historical and theoretical possibilities of interpretation.

In his essay ‘Formulations on the two principles of mental functioning’ (1911), Freud talks about how an archaic thought, dominated by phantasies and illusions that pursue pleasure, is destined to face up to the disillusion of satisfaction, gaining access to the principle of reality: in The future of an illusion (1927), he even prophesies the definitive triumph of rationality. But does this development describe in a truly complete way the psychic evolution of infant and man? Observing the relationship between mother and child, it is Winnicott (1951) who modifies the meaning of illusion: illusion allows a first step towards reality, creating an object-subject, the maternal breast, without which value cannot be assigned to the disillusory object experience. Illusion and disillusion are not, therefore, antagonists.

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