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Grotstein, J. (2008). The overarching Role of Unconscious Phantasy. Psychoanal. Inq., 28(2):190-205.

(2008). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 28(2):190-205

The overarching Role of Unconscious Phantasy

James Grotstein

In the Kleinian/Bionian way of thinking, all transactions that occur internally within the infant, between infant and mother, infant and world, and between objects in the world are represented as unconscious phantasies. All defense mechanisms themselves constitute unconscious phantasies about the interrelationship between internal objects and between them and the self. Unconscious phantasies constitute moving narrative images and arise during the prelexical hegemony of imagery (Shlain, 1998). They and the objects that they choreograph are believed to be concrete because they originate during the hegemony of that stage of infant development that can be characterized as a cyclopean or one-eyed, absolutist perspective, which has been termed by Freud (1924) and Segal (1981) as “symbolic equations.” It corresponds to Klein's paranoid-schizoid position. It is succeeded by the depressive position, which is characterized by a binocular (Bion, 1962) or dual-track (Grotstein, 1978, 1989) perspective, and has latterly been expanded upon by Fonagy (1995) and Fonagy and Target (1996) as “reflective and capable of contemplating ‘other minded-ness.’” I shall discuss unconscious phantasy generally in this article as Section I, and shall continue its discussion as it relates to autochthony and creativity in Section II.

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