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Sandler, J. Nagera, H. (1963). Aspects of the Metapsychology of Fantasy. Psychoanal. St. Child, 18:159-194.

(1963). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 18:159-194

Aspects of the Metapsychology of Fantasy

Joseph Sandler, Ph.D. and Humberto Nagera, M.D.

A year or two ago a number of analysts and child psychotherapists working on the Hampstead Index were faced with the need to create a workable classification of observed clinical material relating to the superego concept as it was developed by Freud and in subsequent psychoanalytic writings. This led to a formulation of the superego (Sandler, 1960); (Sandler et al., 1962) which stressed, among other things, its function as a source of well-being and self-esteem, and its general role in the regulation of narcissistic supplies. On the basis of these formulations and their interaction with actual clinical observations recorded in the Index, it became clear that one of the main mechanisms used by certain children to deal with lowered narcissistic cathexis of the self was the creation of daydreams in which the child could restore his diminished self-esteem through the creation of ideal and satisfying situations in which he played a central


The investigation reported here has been aided by a joint grant from the Foundations' Fund for Research in Psychiatry, New Haven, Connecticut, and the Psychoanalytic Research and Development Fund, Inc., New York.

The material used has been collected at the Hampstead Child-Therapy Clinic, a therapeutic and research center financed by the following foundations: The Field Foundation, Inc., New York; The Ford Foundation, New York; The Foundations' Fund for Research in Psychiatry, New Haven, Connecticut; The Anna Freud Foundation, New York; The Grant Foundation, Inc., New York; The Estate of Flora Haas, New York; The Old Dominion Foundation, U.S.A.; The Psychoanalytic Research and Development Fund, Inc., New York; The Taconic Foundation, New York.

The fantasy research group of the Hampstead Index includes the following psychoanalysts, child psychotherapists, and students: Mrs. L. Neurath, Mrs. M. Kawenoka, Mrs. H. Kennedy, M. Goldblatt, Professor I. Janis, Miss S. Baker, Miss A. Schnurman, A. Holder, Miss E. First, D. Meers, H. Nagera, and J. Sandler.

This paper was presented at a meeting of the British Psycho-Analytical Society, on 6 June, 1962, and formed the basis for a contribution to the Symposium on Fantasy at the 23rd Psycho-Analytical Congress, Stockholm, July, 1963.

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