chapter  3
12 Pages

Out classed

The family romance as fantasy of upward mobility
ByKaryn Sproles

Issues of class are not explicitly central to Sigmund Freud's work. Focusing as he does on internal processes, his analytic method seemingly decontextualizes the individual by narrowing in so tightly that larger socio-economic conditions remain outside the frame of inquiry. His essay "Family Romances" includes a rare consideration of class status in his work. In this fantasy, the child daydreams that her real parents are royalty, and that someday she will be rescued from the horrible family where she is suffering and misunderstood. The fantasy also enables the child's painful but compelling need to establish an identity that is separate from the parent with whom he most identifies, usually the parent of the same sex. The fantasy of the Family Romance also makes the child feel powerful because she has a secret. Not only is the child free from parental authority and secure in a new and autonomous identity, but she also knows something the parents don't know.