The Fantasy Principle: Psychoanalysis of the Imagination

The Fantasy Principle: Psychoanalysis of the Imagination

The Fantasy Principle: Psychoanalysis of the Imagination

The Fantasy Principle: Psychoanalysis of the Imagination


Contemporary psychoanalysis needs less reality and more fantasy; what Michael Vannoy Adams calls the 'fantasy principle'. The Fantasy Principle radically affirms the centrality of imagination. It challenges us to exercise and explore the imagination, shows us how to value vitally important images that emerge from the unconscious, how to evoke such images, and how to engage them decisively. It shows us how to apply Jungian techniques to interpret images accurately and to experience images immediately and intimately through what Jung calls 'active imagination'. The Fantasy Principle makes a strong case for a new school of psychoanalysis - the school of 'imaginal psychology' - which emphasizes the transformative impact of images. All those who desire to give individuals an opportunity to become more imaginative will find this book fascinating reading.


The illustration opposite this page represents one of my attempts to acknowledge both Freud and Jung. in 1992, the New School University (then the “New School for Social Research”) established a Psychoanalytic Studies program in the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science. the purpose of the program was to study psychoanalysis not as a clinical practice but as a cultural theory. (A number of students who graduated from the program did eventually train at psychoanalytic institutes.)

I was privileged to be the director of the Psychoanalytic Studies program for the first three years of its existence. the curriculum that I designed allotted equal time to both the Freudian and Jungian traditions (Adams 1993). in addition to courses on Freudian and post-Freudian analysis and Jungian and post-Jungian analysis, that curriculum included such courses as “Psychoanalysis and Gender Studies” and “Psychoanalysis and Social and Political Thought, ” as well as a lecture series of guest speakers from all of the different schools of psychoanalytic thought.

The cartoon of Jung and Freud sitting together, the one smoking his pipe, the other smoking his cigar, was my idea. the artist William Bramhall drew the image beautifully, brilliantly, with all the humor that I had imagined. (Free associate, if you will, to that very phallic cigar, with Freud's fingers so ready to flick red-hot ash right into Jung's lap!) For me, the cartoon is an especially apt illustration for this book because it evokes a fantasy of just how imaginative (and just how much fun) psychoanalysis might have been had Jung and Freud remained colleagues. Just imagine!

The New School University used the cartoon of Jung and Freud to promote the Psychoanalytic Studies program in advertisements with the headline “Earn the Degree of Your Dreams.” Not everyone, however, appreciated my effort to establish a Freudian-Jungian program. Eventually, I was replaced as director of the program, and the curriculum was redesigned, effectively to exclude Jung. Sadly, the program has been defunct for the last few years. the Graduate Faculty offers occasional courses on psychoanalytic topics and now plans a psychoanalytic concentration in the Philosophy department, but it does not currently grant a degree in Psychoanalytic Studies. Perhaps one day it will again. As for me, I continue to

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