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psychical reality


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In psychoanalysis, anything that strikes a person as real, including fantasies that are experienced as memories of actual occurrences, including those of sexual seduction in childhood, whether or not they are based on real events. Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) claimed in his book Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1916–17) that ‘phantasies possess psychical as contrasted with material reality’ and that ‘in the world of the neuroses it is the psychical reality which is the decisive kind’ (Standard Edition, XV-XVI, at p. 368, italics in original). This concept has been attacked as an absurd and dangerous blurring of the distinction between truth and fantasy arising from Freud's discovery that his patients' claims of childhood seduction were untrue. Also called psychic reality. See also seduction theory.

Subjects: Psychology.


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