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Unconscious fantasy: a reconsideration of the concept

, : Unconscious fantasy: a reconsideration of the concept. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 38(1): 113-130

Despite general agreement about the clinical importance of unconscious fantasy, the concept itself has remained unclear. After reviewing Freud's work on the subject, the conceptual dilemma is specified: where in current psychoanalytic theory do we place this important, dynamically repressed, structuralized mental content? Three conceptual paths have been followed in attempting to deal with this problem. The first emphasizes the structural, tripartite model, discarding topographic concepts. The second replaces the structural model with a schema model borrowed from academic psychology. The third combines the structural and topographic models. None of these approaches is entirely satisfactory and without problems. Because of their central role in mental life, unconscious fantasies deserve careful definition. They should be distinguished from conscious fantasies and daydreams as well as from the process of fantasizing. They are differentiated from other varieties of unconscious content by their enduring quality and their organized, storylike quality reflecting the distortions typical of the primary process. As dynamically unconscious templates from the childhood past, they shape subsequent compromise formations and are relatively impervious to new experience. The development of psychoanalytic theory from a macrostructural to a microstructural emphasis is discussed in relation to the unconscious fantasy concept.


PMID: 2189925

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