Edward Rosenfeld

Altered States

Daily Escapes Into Your Subconscious

On fantasy and daydreaming

Posted May 01, 2018

We all have fantasies and we all daydream. Our society does not sufficiently encourage constructive daydreaming or creative uses of fantasy and the material that fantasy produces.

An important part of the daydreaming process is the ability to let go, to follow the currents of the imagination and allow to emerge whatever will emerge. When we were caught daydreaming at school we were always criticized for not paying attention. Teachers didn’t inquire into the content of daydreams. Yet the dreams we dreamt were often quite relevant to the lesson for the day.

Workman
Source: Workman

Our daydreams and our fantasies contain many keys to our future life. On the creative side, spontaneous material that is germane to our current relationships and projects often becomes available to us in an “idle” daydream. By consciously indulging in fantasy, we can tap hidden resources and release material that might not be available to us in most social situations.

Daydreaming and fantasy have a great advantage in that they are always private activities. There i-s no way that this privacy can be invaded, short of mindreading.

But daydreaming and fantasy aren’t always an entertaining escape. Fritz Perls, the formulator of Gestalt therapy, discussed the use of fantasy as the main way to rehearse for our roles in future activities. This rehearsal can be used to avoid real action and may produce catastrophic expectations which can freeze our ability to truly be.

The systematic use of fantasy in psychotherapy has been shown in the work of psychologist R. Desoille. Desoille used a series of daydreams that he felt helped to link the fantasy-creator to their creative collective unconscious. (The collective unconscious was postulated by C. G. Jung in his development of analytical psychology as a repository for universal symbols, or archetypes, that all human beings may draw upon. See Analytical psychology, No. 108.)

Desoille gave his patients six different situations and asked them to act out these situations internally, through their own fantasies. The series of daydreams included:
1 The identification with the sexual symbol: the sword for the male and the ball for the female.
2 A journey to the bottom of the ocean.
3 A journey to the cave of the witch.
4 A journey to the cave of the wizard.
5 A journey to the cave of the mythical beast.
6 The imagining of the patient’s own version of the sleeping beauty legend.

Fantasies and daydreams have long been rich source material for stories and tales. Writers often depend on their ability to fantasize within a given, highly structured situation. In this way a plot can be carried through an entire work of fiction.

If you have children and you read them stories, try making up one yourself. Also, ask your children (or nieces, nephews, or friend’s children) to tell you a story. That way you will be able to see how in touch children are with their daydreams and fantasies.

From The Book of Highs by Edward Rosenfeld (Workman Publishing). Copyright © 2018. Illustrations by Nate Duval.

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