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Horowitz, M.H. (1992). The Durability of Unconscious Fantasy. J. Clin. Psychoanal., 1(4):525-531.

(1992). Journal of Clinical Psychoanalysis, 1(4):525-531

The Durability of Unconscious Fantasy

Milton H. Horowitz, M.D.

Jack Arlow, one of the more talented and prolific contributors to our field, has written on every major subject of psychoanalytic inquiry. What has characterized each of his papers has been a close adherence of his theoretical concepts to the directly observable clinical facts derived from the psychoanalytic situation. Every idea is linked to experiences of real people who do and say things derived from real circumstances. Arlow's explanatory concepts have consistently remained close to the experiential source, whether he speaks of neurotic symptoms, historical and cultural trends, or religious experience. As did Freud before him, he has extended the psychoanalytic endeavor to encompass the wide range of human experience through this close adherence to the directly observable. Thus, it comes as no surprise to this audience that Arlow's manifold speculations upon the concept “unconscious fantasy” are, in each instance, related to the evidence in word and behavior derived from daydream, dream, symptom, language, metaphor and behavior. Exquisite clinical description is the underpinning of his work.

The concept “unconscious fantasy” is an explanatory hypothesis for certain clinical facts. In one of the seminal papers in our field, Arlow (1969) presented a schematic relationship of a constant interaction of everflowing daydreamlike activity with the data of perception, the two tendencies coming together, fusing, creating conflict, creating compromises, exerting a variety of expressive and defensive effects.

I would like to focus upon one small aspect of the concept “unconscious fantasy”; that is, the relative persistence in time of the unconscious fantasies of each individual.

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