chapter  4
History-Related Unconscious Fantasies
Pages 10

As DAVID BERES (1962) LONG AGO NOTED, psychoanalysts detect the presence of unconscious fantasies only indirectly-that is, from their effects. Through listening to free associations, dreams, stories involving transference, and projective psychological tests, clinicians can discern the derivatives of such fantasies and, in time, put them into words. Once the "storyline" of an unconscious fantasy becomes conscious through therapeutic work, it closely resembles a conscious fantasy or daydream. Still, this storyline expresses primary process-which is to say, illogical-thinking. For example, a patient's previously unconscious fantasy, now verbalized, reads something like this: "I want to enter my mother's belly and kill my unborn sibling." AB long as the fantasy remained unconscious, the psychoanalyst or therapist could only see its influence on the patient's dreams and symptoms; the patient might have suffered from claustrophobia, for instance, the enclosed spaces representing the mother's belly. Symptomatically, then, the patient avoids entering such spaces, but from a psychological point of view what she avoids is the sibling, made dangerous in the patient's mind by projections of her own childhood aggression or murderous rage onto the unborn fetus inside her mother's abdomen. Before her fantasy is made conscious, this patient may also have reported dreams reflecting similar themes, and these themes will have repeated themselves in the transference neurosis. (See Volkan and ABt, 1997, for many detailed examples of womb and sibling unconscious fantasies among more than a dozen of their patients.) The storyline of an unconscious fantasy-like a daydream-satisfies aggressive or sexual tensions, restores self-esteem, seeks satisfaction for various wishes, supports rebellion against or submission to superego or superego precursors, or performs any combination of these tasks. Once the fantasy is made conscious and is reflected in the transference neurosis, it can be worked through with the help of the analyst or therapist.