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Rubinstein, B.B. (1976). Hope, Fear, Wish, Expectation, and Fantasy: A Semantic-Phenomenological and Extraclinical Theoretical Study. Psychoanal. Contemp. Sci., 5:3-60.

(1976). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Science, 5:3-60

1 Theoretical Studies

Hope, Fear, Wish, Expectation, and Fantasy: A Semantic-Phenomenological and Extraclinical Theoretical Study

Benjamin B. Rubinstein, M.D.

No one would deny, I presume, that the words “hope,” “fear,” “wish,” “expectation,” and “fantasy” play a significant role in psychological, including psychoanalytic, discourse. It therefore does not seem to be an idle pursuit to try to define them (and thus the activities they stand for) as precisely as one can. Precise definitions do not, as Freud (1915a, p. 117) apparently believed, lead to petrified concepts, but to greater clarity of thought than is otherwise attainable.

It is important to note that, again contrary to what Freud (1915a) seems to have believed, precision and tentativeness are not mutually exclusive. In fact, it adds to its precision if one can state clearly the respects in which a definition is to be regarded as tentative, and even if one can state merely that a clear definition is not possible for the time being. In certain analytic circles the temptation seems to be great to denigrate a quest for precision by equating it with compulsiveness. Even though an element of compulsiveness may well be involved, to any one who does not still cling to an outmoded “nothing-but” school of thought it does not detract from the importance of the quest.

I will briefly indicate the main features of the method I have chosen to employ and what I hope to achieve by employing it.

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