Understanding Fantasies

Fantasies are not frivolous. They can be entertaining, distracting, frightening, even arousing, but they also allow for creativity and help us plan for the future. As long as we don't mistake fantasies for reality (as in delusional disorder and schizophrenia) or let them become too rigid (as in paraphilias), they provide a necessary escape from the here and now.

Recent posts on Fantasies

Anna Quinn: When Memoir Becomes Fiction

By Jennifer Haupt on January 21, 2018 in One True Thing
The "Night Child" uncurled from a tight fetal position and emerged from the thick-skinned seed of personal narrative.

Do Dreams Really Mean Anything?

By David B. Feldman Ph.D. on January 19, 2018 in Supersurvivors
To understand dreams, we must interpret them, as if they were written in secret code. But what if there’s no code and we’ve been reading into a bunch of meaningless images?

In the Digital Age, Why Voyeurs Prefer to Spy in Person

Even in the digital age, prying eyes prefer to spy in person. The thrill is in catching an unauthorized view of unsuspecting victims.

How Reality TV Preferences Reveal Personality

Reality TV watchers love to live vicariously through other people's lives. Clinical voyeurism is different: It's a paraphilic disorder involving observing unsuspecting victims.

Beyond Looking: When Voyeurism Leads to Criminal Behavior

Voyeuristic tendencies range from the mild to the malevolent. And although such behavior itself is unsettling, some voyeuristic individuals do more than just look.

The Freudian Symbolism in Your Dreams

By Frank T. McAndrew Ph.D. on January 01, 2018 in Out of the Ooze
Do dreams mean anything? Psychologists are genuinely divided over the function and meaning of dreaming, but psychoanalysts believe that they are a window into the unconscious.

Catch Your Partner Spying on Other Women? What It Means

By Wendy L. Patrick, Ph.D. on December 29, 2017 in Why Bad Looks Good
Should you be concerned when your partner has eyes for you . . . and unsuspecting others? Will voyeurism harm your relationship, even if he is “just looking"?

Adaptation? It's Way Different For Humans

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on December 21, 2017 in Ambigamy
Adaptation—good fit to reality—is as old as life but very different for humans given our power of language. Here we imagine a beginner's guide for us newfangled language users.

Why Daydreaming Is Good for Us

By David B. Feldman Ph.D. on December 19, 2017 in Supersurvivors
Though many of us were told by our grade-school teachers to get our heads out of clouds, research shows that this may not have been good advice.

Sex Is Neither Right nor Wrong

By Ari Tuckman PsyD, MBA on December 19, 2017 in Sex Matters
Sexual desires are subjective, so why do so many people believe that some acts are objectively superior to others — and some are just wrong?
Randi Hutter Epstein with permission

Using Fiction to Narrate a Transition

How a novelist and mother used storytelling to teach about transgender.

The Lessons of Time Travel in "Dark" and "Twin Peaks"

By Jean Kim M.D. on December 18, 2017 in Culture Shrink
Time travel is popular in recent TV shows like Netflix's "Dark" and "Twin Peaks" and reflects our internal anxiety about death and loss and lack of control in our lives.

Finding Solace in Physics

By David Dillard-Wright Ph.D. on December 13, 2017 in Boundless
These reads in science and science fiction will keep your mind sharp in these winter months.
K. Ramsland

Women Aroused by Murder

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on December 12, 2017 in Shadow Boxing
Some female serial killers defy notions in criminology and sexology that women develop sexual addictions.

How Novels Help You Grieve

Freud warned that "unexpressed emotions never die." Perhaps a good book can help you connect to deep emotions.

What You Should Read Next

As the days get shorter and the news gets more brutal, we could all use a healthy dose of fictional transportation. Here are some of my favorite 2017 reads.
M. P. Priestley

The Ripper's Home Base?

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on December 05, 2017 in Shadow Boxing
As we approach the 130th anniversary of the Ripper murders, we see more theories about whodunnit; here's one that offers details from original reports.

Criminal Profiling: The Original Mind Hunters

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on December 04, 2017 in Wicked Deeds
Practitioners of profiling analyzing evidence gathered at a crime scene and statements provided by victims and witnesses in order to develop a description of an unknown offender.

What Sexy Dreams Say About Your Psyche

By Susan K Perry Ph.D. on December 03, 2017 in Creating in Flow
One woman's sex dream is another's nightmare. But such dreams may tell you something about your real life, both in and out of bed.

Mental Masturbation Deserves More Appreciation

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on November 30, 2017 in Ambigamy
We can't help but fantasize, often with great vision often with dangerous delusion. Since right or wrong, fantasy is our human birthright, we have to get good at it. Here's how.

Power in Sex Isn't a Problem, in Fantasy or With Consent

By Karen L Smith MSS, LCSW on November 27, 2017 in Full Living
Disturbing as the recent accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct are, the sexual fantasies that fueled them are common. The problem isn't the fantasies; its the enactment.

Fantasyland: A Nation of Primally Wounded People

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on November 26, 2017 in Moral Landscapes
Are you concerned about a post-truth world? Kurt Andersen’s new book, Fantasyland, gives the history of America's attraction to fantasy. Primal woundedness helps explain it.

Cyberstalker Alert: Spotting Dangerous Friends and Followers

By Wendy L. Patrick, Ph.D. on November 26, 2017 in Why Bad Looks Good
Take note of online strangers who have become overly familiar with your personal information. The next step is contact—with an unrealistic expectation of reciprocity.

“Don't I Know You?” How Curious Strangers Become Stalkers

By Wendy L. Patrick, Ph.D. on November 25, 2017 in Why Bad Looks Good
Familiarity breeds contentment. Be alert for signs that someone has formed a unilateral, imaginary relationship with you — and may expect something in return.

Interview with Janet Fitch: Why Historical Fiction?

By Jennifer Haupt on November 21, 2017 in One True Thing
"People think you get to this magical place where you know what you’re doing....But every novel is a completely new animal. You’re always a beginner. That makes it interesting."

The Wandering Eye and the Green-Eyed Monster

By David Ludden Ph.D. on November 11, 2017 in Talking Apes
New research shows that when people fantasize about illicit affairs, they often project their guilty feelings onto their partner.

When an Open Book Is Fiction: Detecting Dishonesty on a Date

By Wendy L. Patrick, Ph.D. on November 08, 2017 in Why Bad Looks Good
As much as you want to take the plunge of trust, don't believe everything you hear. Pacing, presentation, and pauses provide several ways to detect deception.

52 Ways to Show I Love You: Imagine Talking to Yourself

Are you stumped about how to act or respond? Try an interior monologue to help you expose unconscious beliefs, pause, accept responsibility, and move on in a loving manner.

Our Curious Fascination With Serial Killers

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on October 23, 2017 in Wicked Deeds
Serial killers are larger-than-life popular culture celebrities due to the efforts of law enforcement authorities and the media which feed the public’s appetite for the macabre.

Interview With Jennifer Egan

By Jennifer Haupt on October 22, 2017 in One True Thing
"I always explore whether or not people can change, whether they can escape the circumstances of their past. Sometimes they can, sometimes they can’t."