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Gillman, R.D. (1992). Rescue Fantasies and the Secret Benefactor. Psychoanal. St. Child, 47:279-298.

(1992). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 47:279-298

Rescue Fantasies and the Secret Benefactor

Robert D. Gillman, M.D.


The concept of rescue fantasies is traced from Freud's earliest idea of the rescue of the mother as the fallen woman to later ideas of ambivalent rescue of the father, siblings, and children. Clinical vignettes from work with children and adults illustrate these points as well as reparative rescue fantasies in response to trauma and narcissistic hurt. The contemporary family romance myth of the secret benefactor as rescuer is described. An analytic case presentation explores the narcissistic-masochistic and the positive and negative oedipal meanings of the secret benefactor rescue fantasy. Application to countertransference enactments in the analyst is suggested.

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