Imagination and Fantasy: The Dialectic Nature of the Encounter with Trauma and Dissociation

Daniel Levy, Boaz Shalgi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This paper proposes a distinction between fantasy and imagination, and endeavors to investigate its interconnectedness with trauma, as well as its implications to the therapeutic encounter with the psychic areas of trauma, dissociation, and repetition. Whereas imagination is an active phenomenon which resides within the dialectic of inner and outer worlds, increases psychic movement and works in the service of linking self-states within the subject and with his or her fellow subjects, fantasy is a phenomenon which is caused by trauma and isolates the subject both from his core self as well as from any sense of reality and connection with others. The paper offers a detailed exploration of these two modes of being and experiencing and of the psychic structures which comprise them, and demonstrates the ways by which the movement between imagination and fantasy, each with its own unique qualities, can enable patient and analyst to encounter, together, the experiences which were traumatized and dissociated. The clinical implications are discussed, and a detailed vignette is presented in order to demonstrate the elusive ways in which fantasy acts between patient and therapist in an effort to resuscitate deadened parts of the patient’s traumatized psychic life and bring them to the world of imagination and human connection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-69
Number of pages16
JournalPsychoanalytic Dialogues
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2022 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


Dive into the research topics of 'Imagination and Fantasy: The Dialectic Nature of the Encounter with Trauma and Dissociation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this