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Malin, A. (1998). By Force of Fantasy. How We Make our Lives. By Ethel S. Person, M.D. New York: Basic Books, 1995. 276 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 67(1):177-178.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 67(1):177-178

By Force of Fantasy. How We Make our Lives. By Ethel S. Person, M.D. New York: Basic Books, 1995. 276 pp.

Review by:
Arthur Malin

The subtitle, How We Make Our Lives, gives the main thrust of this interesting book by Ethel Person. She reviews what psychoanalysis has taught us about unconscious fantasies as well as about daydreams and reverie, and demonstrates how studying fantasy life can be crucial in gaining understanding of the inner psychological life of the individual.

There are nine chapters which seem to encompass the entire world of fantasy. In a signficiant statement that brings out the views of contemporary psychoanalytic thinking, the author points out that the usual way in which we have thought of fantasies, as pleasure driven and “evoked in the service of wish fulfillment and substitute gratification,” is inadequate. These are not the only motivations for fantasy. The content of some fantasies appears to be affect-driven rather than wish-driven and is “directed more to achieve emotional mastery—creating a feeling of safety, containing fears and anxieties” (p. 47).

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