Is the strong imagination side by side

Anna Freud

Beat fantasy and daydream

(Lecture at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association on May 31, 1922.
Publié dans Imago, Volume VIII, 1922, Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag,
Leipzig - Vienna - Zurich - London, pp. 317-332.)

Gentlemen and ladies!

For a number of years I have been using your hospitality, Schaft, but I have not yet made any noticeable contribution to you through any kind of cooperation. Now I know from a good source that the Association generally does not approve of such inactive watching by its guests. But I think I would have stuck to my behavior even today if your strict rules didn't require everyone who applies for membership to be heard from you beforehand. So my request for admission to the Vienna Association is the motivation and at the same time the excuse for my lecture today.
The communication I am making is a small illustration of Professor Freud's essay "A child is beaten." It arose out of a series of joint conversations with Ms. Lou Andreas-Salomé, whom I owe very much to thank for her interest and her part in it.
In the essay “A child is beaten” the author deals with a fantasy which - as he says - is admitted with surprising frequency by people who have sought analytical treatment because of hysteria or obsessive-compulsive disorder. He thinks it's right. probably that it occurs more often with others. who are not forced to take a step due to obvious illness. This so-called beat fantasy is regularly occupied with a high level of pleasure and ends in an act of lustful auto-erotic satisfaction. I mean, I can assume that the content of this work, the description of the phantasy, the reconstruction of the phases from which it originated and its derivation from the Oedipus complex are known. Incidentally, in the further course of the evening I will be right again and again and in part come back to them in detail.
At a certain point in his work the author reports that he is aware of female cases in which an artistic superstructure of daydreams, which is very important for the life of the person concerned, has developed over the masochistic beating phantasy, to which the function fell, the feeling of satisfied excitement to make it possible even when renouncing the onanistic act. I have now succeeded in picking out one material from various daydreams that seems particularly suitable for illustrating this brief remark. It was created in a girl of about fifteen, in whom the daydreaming activity, despite its copiousness, never came into conflict with reality, it can be precisely determined according to the occasion, development and conclusion and its origin and continuous dependence on a long-standing beating fantasy is in fairly thorough analysis has been demonstrated.


Let us try to follow the entire phantasy activity of our daydreamer according to its development. So in the fifth or sixth year of life - it was not exactly clear "to deliver when, but at least before starting school, it forms a beating fantasy like the one described by Freud. The content initially remains extremely monotonous: any boy is beaten by any adult . A little later he transforms into: many boys from many adults. But the person of the beaten boy as well as that of the beating adults remains unknown, and in almost all cases also the offense for which the punishment is carried out. The various situations are presumably seen very vividly, but in the later analysis they are only reported with poor words and without any clarity. Every single, often very short, fantasized scene is accompanied by strong excitement and concluded with a masturbatory act.
The sense of guilt, which in our child is immediately attached to the imagination, explains Freud's work in the following way. It says there that this form of the blow fantasy is nothing original, but only the conscious substitute for an earlier, unconscious phase in which the people who have now become unrecognizable and indifferent were still very well-known and meaningful: the beaten boy the child who fantasizes, the beating adult is his own father. But even this phase - as it says there - is not yet original, but only the transformation, brought about by regression and repression, of a previous first, which takes us back to the most vivid times of the Odipus complex But the child who is beaten is not the one who fantasizes, but other children, the siblings, i.e. competitors for the love of the father. What this phase wanted to express was a claim of love for oneself, while the severity and chastisement were left to the others. The repression of the Oedipus attitude, the awakening sense of guilt, later turned the punishment on oneself. But at the same time, through a regression from the genital to the pregenital, sadistic-anal organization, the beat situation could still be used as an expression of a love situation. Hence the emergence of a second phase, which had to remain unconscious because of its all too meaningful content, and its replacement in consciousness by a third phase that better satisfies the demands of repression, which has now become the bearer of excitement and a sense of guilt. Because the secret meaning of this strange fantasy would still be expressed in the words: "The father only loves me."
In our child, the sense of guilt arising from the repression of the attitude towards the father is not so much attached to the phantasy itself, although this too is perceived as something ugly from the beginning, but to the autoerotic activity that regularly ends. That is why the little girl has always been ill-advised for a number of years. Lingering but repeated attempts to separate the two from one another, to keep the fantasy as a source of pleasure and to give up the sexual satisfaction that is perceived as incompatible with the claims of the ego. During this time, the imagination itself experiences all sorts of changes and developments. In the endeavor to savor the permitted pleasure for as long as possible and to postpone the frowned upon graduation into the indefinite, all possible, in themselves secondary accessories are added and described in great detail , in which these hit scenes are supposed to take place, and sets up rules and laws to which the conditions of pleasure gain remain tied. The beating people are now all teachers and educators, very seldom and only in later times do the fathers of the boys usually play a mere spectator role. But even with this detailed Aus. The acting persons are shadowy, everything that determines more precisely, such as names, facial features and personal fate are withheld from them.
Of course I don't want to say that such an Auf. pushing the scene, which is actually stressed by pleasure, the drawing out and lengthening of the whole phantasy is always an expression of a sense of guilt, a success of the effort to separate phantasy and autoerotic activity from one another. The same technique is also used in fantasies in which the guilt is conscious. Being does not matter and there it simply serves to increase the tension and thus the expected end pleasure.
Let us now follow the fate of the blow fantasy one step further. With increasing age, all the self-serving tendencies in our child, in which the moral demands of the environment are embodied, become stronger in our child. As a result, the fantasy, in which the little girl's entire sex life is concentrated, finds it increasingly difficult to assert itself. The attempt to separate the punch fantasy and autoerotic satisfaction from one another is abandoned as a failure, the condemnation extends ever further, now also to the content of the fantasy. Each of their breakthroughs, which can only happen after a long struggle with strong, resisting forces, is followed by violent self-reproaches, remorse and a time of slight disgruntlement. As a result, what is satisfying about it is more and more compressed into the one moment of pleasure itself, which appears to be embedded in discomfort that occurs before and after. The beating fantasy thus fulfills its task as a source of pleasure more and more poorly and imperfectly and is considerably restricted in the course of time in the frequency of its occurrence.


At the same time - it could have been between the ages of eight and ten, the age could again not be precisely determined - our child begins a new kind of imaginative activity, the results of which, in contrast to the ugly beat imagination, he calls his "beautiful stories" . These “beautiful stories” paint - so it appears at first observation - nothing but pleasant, cheerful scenes and bring examples of philanthropic, loving and kind behavior. All persons who act in the beautiful stories are given a name, certain facial features. features, a precisely detailed external appearance and a personal life story that often goes back far into their fantasized past. The family relationships, the acquaintance and kinship of the individual characters with one another are precisely determined and all details of the external circumstances are reproduced as faithfully as possible from real life.The external framework of the stories changes slightly when changes occur in the daydreamer's life, and everyone is also possible , suggestions from the reading are readily accepted. The completion of each of the self-contained individual scenes is regularly accompanied by a strong feeling of happiness that is not clouded by a sense of guilt; there is no longer any question of an auto-erotic act. As a result, this type of phantasy activity can occupy an ever wider space in the child's life undisturbed. We have here the elaborate structure of daydreams, important for the lives of those concerned, of which Freud speaks in his work. The extent to which we are justified in viewing it as a superstructure based on the masochistic beating fantasy will be made clear by the further continuation of this investigation.
The daydreamer herself knew of a dependency or some connection between the beautiful stories and the. Beat fantasy nothing and would certainly have denied it then with all determination. For her, some were the embodiment of everything ugly, indecent and frowned upon, others the end. pressure of beauty and happiness. A connection between the two could not exist for her feeling. B. a figure taken from the beautiful stories could be used in the hit scenes. Any contact between the two was so anxiously avoided that even each of the occasional breakthroughs in the beat fantasy punished itself with a temporary withdrawal of the beautiful story.
As poor as all the information about the hit fantasy had been in the analysis - it was mostly scarce. and hints with all the signs of shame and resistance, from which one had to laboriously construct the correct picture - so readily came vivid and vivid reports on the various fantasized individual scenes of the "beautiful stories", yes, it made after overcoming the first difficulties even the impression that the daydreamer could not get enough of the storytelling, as if she were feeling a similar or even greater pleasure than with fantasizing herself. Under these circumstances it was not difficult to soon see the full range of figures and situations in an organized manner. It turned out that our girl had developed not just one, but a whole series of stories. For the sake of constancy of the characters and the whole context, they probably deserve the name of "continued daydreams" (continued stories). One of them was the main and most important one, in which the greatest number of characters were employed, which was preserved through the longest series of years, underwent various changes and - similar to the saga circles in mythology - again branched off, which almost became too much independent stories with numerous individual situations were designed. In addition to this great story, there were then various small, more or less meaningful ones, which alternated with it, but all formed according to the same pattern. In order to delve closer into the construction of such a daydream, I will take as an example the shortest of the beautiful stories which, because of their clarity and isolation, will be best suited for the purposes of this communication.
Our now fourteen or fifteen year old girl, after she has already developed several continued daydreams and continues them side by side, accidentally comes across a boy’s book in the rank of “good comrade”, in which, among other things, a story of a few pages is made up the knighthood takes place. She reads it once or twice with keen interest, then returns the book to its rightful owner, and never sees it again. Her imagination, however, immediately seizes the various figures and all the external circumstances required in the story, makes them her own, spins her hand. ment further and give it, just like a spontaneous fantasy product of its own, a not insignificant place in the series of their beautiful stories.
Despite some efforts by the analysis, it was not possible to establish the content of this narrative even remotely with certainty. to deliver. It had been so fragmented, sucked out and overlaid with new things by the daydreamer's imaginative activity that any separation between what was taken in and what was independently produced was impossible. As was the case with the analysis, we have no choice but to drop this practically meaningless distinction and deal with all the content of the fantasized scenes regardless of its origin.
The subject matter used in the knight tale was as follows: A medieval burgrave wages a lengthy battle with a number of nobles who have allied against him. In the course of a scuffle, a fifteen-year-old Junker, a boy of the age corresponding to the dreamer, falls into the power of the count's servants and is brought to the castle. He spends a long period of imprisonment there, from which he is finally freed. The daydreamer does not simply carry on with this plot in sequential order like a newspaper novel, but only uses it as a kind of external framework. In these she enters nothing but small or larger, completely self-contained and mutually independent scenes, each of which is formed like a real big narrative, i.e. has an introduction, development and climax up to the climax. It is not tied to any logically ordered elaboration of the material, can return to an earlier or later narrative period depending on the mood and insert a new one at any time between two completed and temporally juxtaposed scenes, until finally the framework of the narrative of the abundance of situations housed in it is almost blown up.
In this simplest daydream there are only two really acting people, all the rest can be left aside as an accessory. One of these main characters is the imprisoned boy, whom the daydream endows with all sorts of good and engaging qualities, the other the castle. Graf, who is portrayed as dark and violent. Through all sorts of details added from the past and family history of the two, the contrast between them is intensified, i.e. an underground of seemingly irreconcilable hostility of a powerful, strong against a subjugated, weak is created. An introductory main scene then describes the first meeting of the two, in which the count betrays the decision to persuade the prisoner to betray the prisoner by threatening torture, thereby strengthening the boy's conviction of his helpless situation and arousing his fear of the count . All further situations are then based on these two moments.For example: The count actually does it almost to the point of torturing the prisoner, but leaves the last eyes open. look away from him, he almost wrecks him through a long imprisonment, but then lets him care for and heal again before it is too late, he presses him again after his recovery, 'only about him, subdued by his steadfastness to spare again, and he grants him favor after favor, always apparently on the point of inflicting harm on him. Or from a later period in the narrative: the count meets the prisoner outside the boundaries of his freedom of movement, but disdains it. To punish him as expected with new imprisonment for it, he catches him on the waiter another time, breaking a prohibition imposed on him, but then he spares him the public humiliation that was set on it, he imposes privations on him and the prisoner feels then the enjoyment of what has been granted again all the more clearly. - Alt this happens in vividly executed and dramatically moving scenes. In each of them the daydreamer lives with the fear and steadfastness of the threatened boy in full excitement. At the moment in the tormentor's anger and rage transform into compassion and kindness, that is, at the climax of each scene, this excitement dissolves into a pure feeling of happiness.
The daydream-like acting out of the mentioned scenes of the knight's story with the formation of ever new, similar situations usually took a few days, at most one to two weeks. The strict elaboration and development of the individual daydream pieces used to work best at the beginning of each such fantasy period. At that time, the already mentioned possibility of considering all preceding and following as nonexistent from every single situation existed to the fullest extent. As a result, the threatening situation of the prisoner and the possibility of a bad end to the scene found full faith in the daydreamer and the description of the fear, i.e. the preparation for the climax, was given a wide space. But if the fantasizing lasted for a long time, it seemed, contrary to the intention of the dreamer, from scene to scene a piece of memory of the happy ending. to carry away the gang, fear and concern were described without real conviction and instead of being limited to a single, brief moment of pleasure, the conciliatory ... loving mood of the climax spread more and more and finally took up all the space otherwise used for introduction and development. But that made the story unusable and had to be replaced by another - at least for a period of several weeks - which in turn experienced the same fate after a while. Only the life periods of the big, main daydream lasted infinitely longer than those of the small, incidental stories. The reason for this is surely to be found in its great wealth of figures and its multiple branches. It is also not improbable that this broader elaboration only occurred in order to secure a longer life for it in every period of its emergence.
If we look over the described individual pieces of the knight, daydream in context, we are amazed at the monotony that is expressed in them. The daydreamer herself - a girl who was otherwise not unintelligent and demanding in her reading - had never noticed her, neither while fantasizing nor when telling the story in the analysis. But the various scenes of the knight's story offer, stripped of their accessories, which at first glance make them appear individually different, moved and lively, in each case the same scaffolding, a strong and a weak in opposition to one another, a mostly involuntary offense of the Weak ones, who hand him over to the other, whose threatening demeanor, which justifies the worst fears, a slow rise in fear, often described with ingenious means, almost to the point of unbearable, and then as a pleasurable height. point the solution, forgiveness, reconciliation and a moment of complete empathy between the two opponents. Incidentally, with minor variations, this is also the structure of each individual scene in all of the other so-called "beautiful stories" of our day.
In this structure, however, lies the important analogy between the beautiful story and the beat fantasy, which the daydreamer did not suspect. In the beating phantasy, too, the acting persons are strong and weak, in their clearest form as adults and children, juxtaposed with one another. There, too, it is regularly a matter of an offense, albeit just as indeterminate as the figures themselves. There is also a period of fear and tension there. The decisive contrast lies in the difference in the solution, which in one phantasy is given by chastisement, in the other by forgiveness or reconciliation.
When the analysis made her aware of this surprising correspondence in structure, the daydreamer could no longer ignore the suspicion of a connection between the two externally so different fantasy products. And after accepting the possibility of their relatives, she immediately noticed a number of other relationships between them.
Even if the similar structure is recognized, it seems to a fleeting observation that the content of the beat fantasy has nothing to do with that of the beautiful stories. But the assertion that the content is foreign cannot be fully resolved either. A closer look shows that the beautiful stories are more or less clear in the most varied of places. traces of an attempted breakthrough by the old Schlage. exhibit topic. We already got to know the best example of this in the knight's daydream: the torture, which as an unexecuted threat provides the background for so many of his scenes and gives them a certain color of fear and tension, is nothing more than the echo of an old beat scene, theirs Execution of the beautiful story is denied. More types of such. Implementation of the beat theme in the daydream is not found in the knight story, but in the other day. dream of the girl. I am quoting from the great main story as far as it has just become known in the analysis. For example: In some scenes the role of the passive, weak (the boy of the knight's daydream) is divided between two characters. One of these persons then experiences - according to the same previous history - the punishment, the other the forgiveness. The punishment. The scene here is not in itself lustful - or unpleasurable, it only forms the background from which the love scene stands out, and increases its emphasis on pleasure through the contrast. - Another possibility is that the daydream lets the passive, while love is being added to it, relive a past punitive scene in thought, here too the contrast increases the emphasis on pleasure, or as a third possibility: the active, strong person remembers, while the conciliatory one The mood of the climax comes over him, of an act of punishment or blow from the past in which, after the same offense, he was the sufferer.
However, the key topic can not only appear alongside the actual topic of the day, as in the four cases just described. enforce the dream, but also be processed as the real main theme of a daydream scene. The condition for this, however, is the omission of a trait that is indispensable for the blow fantasy, namely the humiliation by the blow. In the main story of our girl, which has already been mentioned, there are some particularly effective scenes, the climaxes of which are the descriptions of a blow or a punitive act, but one portrayed as unintentional, the other as self-punishment.
The analysis was able to use each of these examples, brought by the daydreamer herself, of incursions of the stroke theme into the beautiful stories as new evidence of the relationship between the two, which had already been claimed. The most convincing evidence of their togetherness, however, was provided by a confession in the continuation of the analysis. It then turned out that here and there, albeit very rarely, the beautiful story had been transformed directly into the beat fantasy. In bad times, i. H. In times of greater external demands or lower internal performance, the beautiful stories did not always succeed in fulfilling their task. And then it happened several times that at the end and climax of a beautiful fantasy scene, the old beat situation with its associated sexual satisfaction suddenly replaced the pleasant and cheerful love situation and the pent-up excitement got the full blown away. But such incidents were always forgotten as soon as possible, erased from memory and, with great consequence, considered as not having happened.
The preoccupation with the connections between Schlage. Imagination and beautiful history thus give us three important relationships between them for the time being, firstly a striking analogy in the structure of the individual pieces, secondly a series of content-related similarities and thirdly the possibility of a direct reversal. An important difference in principle has remained that the beautiful story allows an unexpected affectionate scene to occur where the beating fantasy describes an act of chastisement.
Let us return at this point to Freud's essay with his reconstructed prehistory of the beat fantasy. As already mentioned, it says there that the form of the beat fantasy known to us is nothing original, but only the substitute for an incestuous love scene, which has been distorted by repression and has been depicted as a beat scene by humiliation on the sadistic-anal level. From this point of view, an explanation of the difference between the beat fantasy and daydream comes to mind: the alleged progress from the beat fantasy to a beautiful story seems to be nothing other than the return to an earlier phase real meaning, the love situation hidden in it, regained.
The most important part of this assertion is still missing for the time being. We know that the climax of the beating fantasy is inextricably linked with the compulsion to sexual satisfaction and the subsequent emergence of feelings of guilt. The climax of the beautiful story, on the other hand, is free from both. At first glance this seems incomprehensible, since we know that both sexual satisfaction and a sense of guilt are drawn precisely from the repressed love phantasy, which is veiled in the beating phantasy, but presented in the beautiful story.
The solution lies in the insight that even the beautiful story does not take up the lost love fantasy unchanged. In this incestuous wishful fantasy from early childhood, it was a matter of a union of all sexual instincts on a first love object, the father. The suppression of the odipus attitude then forced the renunciation of most of these childish sexual goals. The earlier “sensual” strivings had been relegated to the unconscious. That they reappeared in the hit fantasy means nothing but a partial failure of this endeavor.
But if the beat fantasy is a return of the repressed, namely the incestuous wishful fantasy, then on the other hand the beautiful stories are their sublimation. The direct sexual instincts find their satisfaction in the beat fantasy, those in the beautiful story that Freud describes as "goal-inhibited". As in the development of the relationship between the child and its parents, the original full flow of love is divided into a repressed sensual striving (here the beat fantasy) and a sublimated tender one (the beautiful story).
So we get the following scheme for the two phantasy representations: The task of the beating phantasy is the veiled representation of an always constant, sensual love situation, expressed in the language of the sadistic-anal organization as a beating act. The theme of the beautiful stories, on the other hand, is the representation of the most diverse kind, tender and loving emotions, but their task, like that of the beat fantasy, is a monotonous one: it consists in establishing a friendship between a weak and a strong, a boy and an adult or, as some days, dream to put it between a low. and a higher, placed. The fact that even during the development of the beat fantasy known to you, the gender difference appears. was given and the girl regularly portrayed herself transformed into a boy, such a sublimation of sensual love to tender friendship comes especially to the aid.


The intention of this communication was to investigate the mutual relationship of the two on the basis of a single case of beating phantasies and daydreams that existed side by side, in order to determine the existence and nature of the connections between them. This task seems to me to have been solved as far as possible here with what has been said so far. In the remarks that now follow, I am only taking one opportunity, which the same example offers us, to pursue the fate of such a continued daydream, again the knightly story with which we are familiar, for another piece.
I have a written record of the knight's daydream that was made by the daydreamer at a certain point in time several years after its first appearance. This transcript is a short, exciting story, the content of which includes the time of the Junker's captivity. At its point of departure is the prisoner's torture, at its extreme end its refusal to try to escape. Behind this voluntary stay at the castle one suspects his turn to the Count. All events are depicted as past, dressed in a conversation between the Count and the prisoner's father.
While the written story retains the material of the daydream, it changes its processing. In the daydream, the creation of friendship between the strong and the weak became full again and again in every single scene. constantly carried out; in the writing this development is distributed over the entire period of the plot. The single. Scenes of the daydream are lost in this transformation, some of the situational material they contained recurs in the writing, but their individual climaxes are not replaced by a major climax at the end of the written narrative.The goal - the unification of the original opponents only becomes in it anticipated, no longer really described. As a result, the interest that remained focused on certain climaxes in the daydream stage is more evenly distributed here across all situations and figures.
This change in structure corresponds to a change in the mechanism of pleasure generation. In the daydream, every new formation or repetition of an individual scene meant a new opportunity for lustful instinctual satisfaction. In the written story, on the other hand, the direct acquisition of pleasure is abandoned. It is true that his writing itself was still in a state of happy excitement, similar to the state of fantasizing. The finished story, however, does not arouse such excitement. Your reading is useless for daydreaming pleasure. In this respect it has no different effect on the author than reading any other story with a similar content,
Here we come to the assumption that the two important differences between daydreaming and writing are the downfall of the individual scenes and the abandonment of the day. dreamlike pleasure at certain climaxes - closely related. The written narrative must have had other motives and purposes than the daydream. Otherwise the knight's story would simply have turned from something useful to something unusable on its way from fantasy to writing.
When asked about the reasons that urged her to write it down, the author herself could only address one she was aware of. give. The written story, she said, came about at a time when the knight's daydream was particularly intrusive as a defense against her excessive preoccupation with it. Her intention was to create a kind of independent existence for his all too vivid characters, so that they no longer had to make demands on their imaginative activity. The knight's daydream was actually as good as finished for her after it was written down.However, this kind of reasoning leaves a lot of things incomprehensible: the very situations, the clarity of which is said to have urged written fixation, are not included in the record, while others that the daydream did not contain (e.g. torture) are broad are executed. The same also applies to the characters: the writing suppresses some who the daydream had developed into full individuality and leads in others (such as the prisoner's father) as acting.
A second motivation for the writing results from a statement made by Dr. Bernfelds on the attempts at sealing young people. There he notes that in such recordings of daydreams the motive for recording is not to be found in the daydream itself, but rather outside of it.He finds this motive in the effectiveness of certain ambitious tendencies emanating from the ego, for example in the wish to work as a poet on others, to gain respect and love from others in this way. Let's apply this theory to ours. In the case of the knightly story, the process in its development from daydream to writing would have been as follows: In the service of ambitious endeavors like the ones mentioned above, the private fantasy becomes a communication intended for others. In this transformation, all considerations for the personal needs of the dreamer are replaced by considerations for the hoped-for readers. The direct reference to pleasure from the content of the Nieder. writing can be omitted because the writing as such is the honor. stingy striving gives satisfaction to the author and thus indirectly gives pleasure. With this renunciation of the direct reference to pleasure, the preference for certain parts of the content of the high points of the daydream also disappears - which were particularly suitable for gaining pleasure, and the restrictions that were placed on it disappear in the writing (as the recording of the torture scene shows) Daydream had forbidden the execution of situations from the blow fantasy. The writing treats all pieces of the daydream content equally as objective material and can be guided in the selection from them by considering their representability. The better the presentation of the subject, the greater the effect on others and thus the indirect pleasure. So, for the sake of this effect on others, the author renounces personal pleasure and thus achieves a turn from autism to social. We can say: it paves the way back from fantasy life back to reality.