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Paris, G. (2005). Adams, Michael Vannoy. The Fantasy Principle. Psychoanalysis of the Imagination. Hove, East Sussex, UK: Brunner-Routledge, 2004. Pp. XV + 252. Pbk. £19.99/$35.99.. J. Anal. Psychol., 50(1):109-110.

(2005). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 50(1):109-110

Adams, Michael Vannoy. The Fantasy Principle. Psychoanalysis of the Imagination. Hove, East Sussex, UK: Brunner-Routledge, 2004. Pp. XV + 252. Pbk. £19.99/$35.99.

Review by:
Ginette Paris

Any intellectual discipline benefits from an occasional radical clean-up. Otherwise, the conceptual debris and theoretical junk pile up. We lose the capacity to distinguish a rotten idea from a fresh one. We begin feeding on jargon and self-fulfilling prophecies. The capacity for critical thinking is lost. Michael Vannoy Adams' new book, The fantasy Principle reads like drinking a glass of cool spring water on a hot day. Here are the most intellectually refreshing ideas I have encountered in a long while. With intelligence and wit, he suggests that all psychology—its theories, concepts, constructs, structures, models and paradigms—is a fantasy. It is time to unclutter the field and at last, to work imaginally. Adams writes:

Does Jungian analysis need a structural theory? Or can it do very well without one? I maintain that there is little to be lost and much to be gained if Jungian analysis dispenses entirely with the structural theory of the persona, ego, shadow, anima or animus, and Self, and relies instead on a post-structural theory.

1.   That the structures that are ostensibly ‘in’ the psyche are actually constructs ‘about’ the psyche;

2.   that these constructs are concepts;

3.   that these concepts are abstracts, generalizations and therefore content-poor in information in contrast to images, which are concrete particularizations and therefore content-rich in information. In place of a structural theory, what I propose is a post-structural that is an imaginal theory of the psyche.

Post-Structural, in Adams' proposition, also implies moving to a post-conceptual kind of psychology which, in turn leads to an imaginal theory of the psyche, a position he defends with intellectual deftness. Although he rejects many cherished Jungian concepts as outdated, Adams champions Jung's most basic and original contribution—the psyche speaks only in the language of images. ‘Jungian psychology is what I would call imaginology, and Jungian psychologists are imaginologists’.

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