Structure and Functions of Fantasy

By Eric Klinger | Go to book overview

Preface

The writing of this book grew out of an experimental analysis of achievement fantasy. I began the experimental program itself when my difficulties in trying to solve a problem of personality measurement dramatized the inadequacies of theory about responses to projective techniques. Achievement fantasy, probably the most intensively investigated class of projective responses, seemed to be the safest place to begin.

The first results that the program produced were reconcilable with existing notions, but soon our procedures produced data so puzzling, so totally out of keeping with the slender body of theory about projective techniques, that they forced a choice: either abandon the program as producing results that were theoretically inscrutable or pull together a robust enough general theory of fantasy to imbue such unexpected data with theoretical meaning. I chose to theorize.

The project quickly gained its own momentum. Theories of fantasy have, with rare exceptions, remained insulated from general psychology, but much of general psychological theory bears important implications for a theory of fantasy. Knowledge is, after all, of a piece, a nonlinear multidimensional space in which one never knows what he may meet or need next. Fantasy -- real-life, free fantasy as well as the processed fragments in projective protocols -- partakes of human behavioral organization generally. There were lessons to be extracted from research on play and dreams which have theoretically always been regarded as akin to fantasy; from research on conditioning, imagery, language, and motor skills which reveal aspects of the serial order of response components; and from research on motivation, for the dependence of fantasy content on motivational states is perhaps the best documented relationship concerning fantasy.

Defined as broadly as it is in this book, "fantasy" encompasses a very large share of waking awareness. Connected, directed thought and concentrated scrutiny of one's environment make up at most a modest fraction of daily life for most people. Even much instrumental thinking goes on interspersed with extraneous elements of thought, and perceptual activity most often takes the form of an automated monitor that coexists with mental ac-

-vii-

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