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Grossman, W.I. (1982). The Self as Fantasy: Fantasy as Theory. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 30:919-937.

(1982). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 30:919-937

The Self as Fantasy: Fantasy as Theory

William I. Grossman, M.D.

THE PROBLEM OF THE SELF IN psychoanalysis stands at the intersection of many traditional philosophical and psychoanalytic issues which might be thought of as lying along two axes. The first axis, by far the older, joins the everyday personal experiences of self—that is, self-awareness, self-consciousness, self-observation, self-esteem, self-determination and will—with the ancient philosophical dilemmas concerning a variety of themes, such as mind and body, free will, and the relation between the self and the world of things. The other axis is the psychoanalytic axis with the concrete events of the clinical situation and the subjective experience of the patient at one end, and its mosaic of systematic, theoretical concepts at the other end. The concept of self joins these coordinates and the different perspectives they offer. Although for some psychoanalytic purposes we may not need to keep all of these perspectives in view at any one time, we must not forget the everyday personal and philosophical axis. Even in the realm of theoretical examination, ignoring this axis will covertly narrow and redefine the concept of the self.

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