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Granich, A. (1996). By Force of Fantasy: How We Make Our Lives: Ethel S. Person. New York Basic Books, 1995.. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 4(2):353-360.

(1996). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 4(2):353-360

By Force of Fantasy: How We Make Our Lives: Ethel S. Person. New York Basic Books, 1995.

Review by:
A. Granich

If the interpretation of dreams is the royal road to the unconscious, for Ethel Person the unravelling of fantasy is the service road to the unconscious, and the spinning of fantasy, the freeway through the journey of life In her typically clear style, she focuses on the essence of fantasy, broadening her scope to include such diversity as the influence of hormones on gender development and romantic love through the ages. This is accomplished in a creative, cohesive, and comprehensive way

Following a brief introduction, the book contains nine chapters, an abundance of reference notes per chapter, and a bibliography of close to 250 works. In addition to the referenced texts, the author produces a wealth of information from her own clinical and personal elements in the book. In her introduction, for example, by way of explaining the origins of her interest in this subject, she cites a vignette from one of her own interviews for analytic training. She recollects being asked about her fantasies and refusing to divulge them on the basis of not knowing her interviewer sufficiently well to reveal something so personal. Trying to understand why that private meaning [of her fantasy] is so powerful [as to have risked her acceptance into the training program] is part of the driving force behind this book (p. 2)

Although not without precedent, Person proves that the calibre of the literary style in analytic writing, albeit of scientific interest, can compete with any bona fide work of literature Take for example her description of surfing our fantasy Net.

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