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De Urtubey, L. (1999). Belief and Imagination. Explorations in Psychoanalysis: Ronald Britton. London and New York: Routledge. 1998. Pp. 280. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 80(4):828-831.

(1999). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 80(4):828-831

Belief and Imagination. Explorations in Psychoanalysis: Ronald Britton. London and New York: Routledge. 1998. Pp. 280

Review by:
Louise De Urtubey

Both imagination and belief have been the subject of a number of philosophical studies (Hobbes, Bergson, Taine for the first, and especially Kant for the second, for example). Although psychoanalytical literature has not disdained them, they have been generally regarded as unrelated to the analytical situation and have been linked, rather, to creativity and art. Freud himself did not pay much attention to these questions, although he underscored the distinction between perceptions and representations, lively as the latter were. He felt that imagination was at least preconscious, if not conscious, and close to daydreams, whereas belief was seen as a product either of religion as a collective illusion, or of delusions, in relation to conviction. This makes this work by Britton all the more interesting and stimulating in that it deals with a subject that has not been sufficiently studied in depth in all its aspects.

What imagination is, where it is to be found in our present model of the mind, and how it should be conceived in psychoanalytical terms are the questions that guide a large part of Britton's research. For about fifteen years, he has been studying the status of phantasies (and not only their contents), which he has considered as ‘facts, probabilities, possibilities, or as mere fancies’ (p. 1).

For this reflection, he relies on his clinical experience and, in an original way, on poetry, which is for him more than a pleasure: ‘it is a source of understanding and a departure point for psychological explorations’ (p.

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