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Foss, T. (2012). The Surface Effect. The Screen of Fantasy in Psychoanalysis By: André Nusselder. London: Routledge, 2012. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 35(2):131-132.

(2012). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 35(2):131-132

Book Section

The Surface Effect. The Screen of Fantasy in Psychoanalysis By: André Nusselder. London: Routledge, 2012

Review by:
Torberg Foss

On the whole, we have a tendency to think of fantasy as something that blocks our access to reality. Fantasy is seen as a place into which we may retreat, belonging to the innermost part of ourselves. In this way, fantasy is juxtaposed to reality. This rather common-sense idea of a strict opposition is challenged by different schools of psychoanalytic thought. Especially Lacanian thought has provided arguments undermining a clear-cut opposition between reality and fantasy or illusion.

What seems to facilitate the Lacanian tradition in this particular respect is probably its far stronger affiliation to philosophy than is the case in most other psychoanalytic schools. Kant is one philosopher who provides us with arguments for an alternative rôle of fantasy, where it is not a mere counterpart to reality. Kant's view on the rôle of the imagination in our way of understanding the world gives a hint of how fantasy plays a more active part in how we relate to reality.

In his book, André Nusselder starts by accounting for this philosophical background, before getting to what is the main focus of his book: Lacan's theory of fantasy. Immediately, this subject matter catches our interest. It does so because fantasy never seemed to be a main preoccupation of Lacan; his persistent emphasis was on language. The determining rôle of linguistic elements appears to have had an upper hand with respect to how images and fantasies play a part in our lives.

Indeed, one should not ignore the notion of fantasy as a kind of “reserve” kept free from reality testing.

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