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Masserman, J.H. Balken, E.R. (1939). The Psychoanalytic and Psychiatric Significance of Phantasy. Psychoanal. Rev., 26(3):343-379.

(1939). Psychoanalytic Review, 26(3):343-379

The Psychoanalytic and Psychiatric Significance of Phantasy

Jules H. Masserman, M.D. and Eva R. Balken, Ph.D.

It is perhaps of significance from the standpoint of the development of psychology that phantasy—the sphere of artists and poets since the human mind first grew capable of imagery—has only within the past six decades become the subject of scientific investigation. Galton in 1883 was the first to study imagination methodologically, but unfortunately, research in this field for almost three decades thereafter became concerned with relatively sterile quests such as the proper delimitation of the “faculty” of imagination, the determination of “imaginal types” and the possibility of “image-less thought.” Some thirty years ago, however, psychiatrists and psychologists, stimulated by the pioneer contributions of Freud, began to turn their attention to the affective and qualitative rather than the cognitive and quantitative aspects of phantasy. During this period various methods other than psychoanalysis for the study of imagination were advocated: formal questionnaires, verbatim records of daydreams, completion of sentences and stories, examination of the structure of sentences, studies of ink-blots, etc. Representative studies of this type were the following:

Lundholm attempted—on the whole unsuccessfully—to differentiate between normal and psychotic subjects on the basis of the relative incidence of various parts of speech in their descriptions of an ink-blot of hazy outline.

Hargreaves used an extensive battery of tests in an attempt to isolate the group and specific factors comprising imagination, and found that facility in imagination had a high content of the factor of “g” or general intelligence.

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