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Buckley, P. (1998). On Freud's “Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming.”. By Ethel Spector Person, Peter Fonagy and Sérvulo Augusto Figueira. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1995. 196 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 67(1):171-172.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 67(1):171-172

On Freud's “Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming.”. By Ethel Spector Person, Peter Fonagy and Sérvulo Augusto Figueira. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1995. 196 pp.

Review by:
Peter Buckley

The daydream has been a curiously neglected subject in the psychoanalytic literature. As Raphling recently suggested, this may simply be a consequence of the apparent infrequency with which patients report daydreams. However, the explanation for the paucity of such clinical material is to be found in Freud's remarkable 1908 paper that supplies the title for the volume under review here.

In this work, Freud traced the origins of adult daydreams to a substitute for children's play. While the child's attitude is an open one about playing, Freud observed that the adult is ashamed of his or her fantasies because of their instinctual origins and conceals them while simultaneously cherishing them as his/her most intimate possessions: “The adult … would rather confess his misdeeds than tell anyone his phantasies.” One arena in which the adult daydream achieves regular public display, albeit in disguised form, is in creative writing. While Freud rather disingenuously claimed that “[b]efore the problem of the creative artist analysis must, alas, lay down its arms,” he nonetheless wrestled in numerous studies, including this one, with the psychological provenance of artistic creativity, and he provided brilliant insights into its nature. In his 1908 paper he stated, “A strong experience in the present awakens in the creative writer a memory of an earlier experience (usually belonging to his childhood) from which there now proceeds a wish which finds its fulfilment in the creative work.” This is consonant with Thomas Aquinas's perception that fantasy is a collection of memories, an insight which was extended by Freud: “a piece of creative writing, like a day-dream, is a continuation of, and a substitute for, what was once the play of childhood.”

Confronted

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