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Steiner, R. (2016). Reply to Bohleber and Colleagues' Paper on ‘Unconscious Phantasy’. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(4):1129-1142.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(4):1129-1142

Letters to the Editor

Reply to Bohleber and Colleagues' Paper on ‘Unconscious Phantasy’

R. Steiner

‘In psychoanalysis nothing is true except the exaggerations’.

(T. W. Adorno (1974) Minima Moralia, p. 49)

Dear Editor,

In response to the paper by Bohleber et al. entitled ‘Unconscious phantasy and its conceptualizations: An attempt at conceptual integration’ (IJP 3, 2015), I would like to raise two important issues which I feel are missing in the paper. The first concerns the need to consider the history of psychoanalysis when discussing a psychoanalytic concept, in particular the cultural and linguistic areas. The second issue concerns the need for a more complete evaluation of Kleinian ideas, especially Bion's development of Klein's understanding of phantasy.

The Cultural and Linguistic Background of Freud's Unconscious Phantasy

I quite accept that the first issue I want to raise and remind you of could be considered if not my ‘pathology’ then at least an idée fixe of mine - my interest in the history of psychoanalysis. Die Phantasie and Traumphantasie are concepts belonging to the prehistory of psychoanalysis. And, one has to say, these terms do not belong so much to the natural sciences, but to German Romantic philosophy and literature.

As far as our discipline is concerned, we find them for instance in the Brautbriefe, in the love letters exchanged between Freud and Martha during the long period of their engagement. In 1882, already in the first letters they exchanged, Freud and Martha both tried to make sense of their dreams - their internal passionate emotional life - using expressions like die Phantasie and die Traumphantasie, not to mention even das Unbewusste.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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