Author(s): Julia Segal
It is through phantasy that we as humans see, recognise and comprehend the world. Phantasy colours and moulds behaviour, thoughts and feelings. Constantly changing, phantasies move and develop with growth and, like dreams, are created through our desires, our hopes, our fears, conflicts and anxieties. Arising from real experience interlaced with emotional reality, with lies we tell ourselves or with a deep knowledge of inescapable truths, phantasies can both enrich and confuse. Phantasy adds not only pleasure and emotional resonance but also fear and anxiety to everyday experience, and as such is a defining characteristic of what it means to be human. It is an essential - and contentiously debated - idea in psychoanalysis, punctuating the dialogue between ourselves and a world that we are forced both to live in and live through.