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Prot, V.A. (2017). Several Aspects of the Concept of Phantasy. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(3):779-783.

(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(3):779-783

Education Section

Several Aspects of the Concept of Phantasy

Viviane Abel Prot

The four authors of the texts included in this collection revisit some of the stages of Freud's thought in which psychic reality is endowed with as much effectiveness and reality as material reality. These authors stress the fundamental role of Freud's abandonment of the neurotic, and insist on the clinical effects of the fantasy; they show how pivotal it can be in theory as well as in our practices. Fantasy life has a presence and effectiveness in the life of every person of which the subject is not always aware. I will leave you to discover the lovely fish story told by David Bell.

From a Kleinian perspective, in the clinical treatment, transference is the permanent enactment of fantasies. For Freud, the formation of fantasies is contingent upon the constitution of the object. This is also the case for Klein except that the (partial) object is from the beginning a fantasmatic relation to the ego, even though it is qualified as a primal object. The difference in viewpoint sometimes leads to very distinct paces and temporalities in the treatment.

As you would expect, Klein's thought is extensively re-examined by some of the authors gathered here. Including Heinz Weiss who argues that Freud did not endow fantasy with the essential status it acquired subsequently. Whereas Klein came to view children's play as a counterpart of fantasy. Weiss develops the notion of fantasy, leaning on Susan Isaacs and Hanna Segal, as well as Roger Money-Kyrle, Ronald Britton and John Steiner. Thanks to her famous essay, Susan Isaacs has a predominant place in the historical revival of the term fantasy. She advocates a division of fantasies according to the suggested spellings of the word (with f and ph) and most importantly according to two psychic spaces in which ‘phantasies’ are ascribed to the primary content of the unconscious, possibly merging with it.

For Melanie Klein, the patient's fantasies immediately and often violently encompass the analyst's body and psyche. Fantasies are part of the individual psyche from the outset and fantasmatic activity is concurrent with the birth of the individual. Emphasis is laid on the relevance of the Kleinian approach that envisions the session as the site and fulfilment of an ever operating fantasmatic dramaturgy. The schizoid-paranoid and depressive positions are features of specific fantasies. As for projection and introjection, they are the equivalents of breathing for the body.

[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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