Fantasy: Learn About It, Use and Enjoy It (heck, it’s free)

how do you do visualization

Fantasy Island, Fantasy Baseball, Fantasyland, Final Fantasy, Fantasy 5. Seems plenty of people are doing the fantasy thing, coughing-up large dough to participate. So why not us? I mean, what a great coping technique. And, heck, it’s free…

It makes sense that fantasies can be beneficial, as well as destructive. For instance, we can use our fantasies for purposes of healthy diversion, perspective, and relaxation…

Was driving home – Detroit burbs – from Chicago this past Sunday after five days with my children and grandchildren. We’d gone to Columbia, SC to inter our father’s/grandfather’s remains. Halfway home I started to feel the letdown and fatigue. And as you likely know, that can generate some anxiety, especially at 70 miles an hour.

What to do?

Did I panic? No. Breathe into a bag? No. Pull over? Nah. Pop a benzo? Nope. Reflexively, I turned to something I keep in my portable toolbox – fantasy. And, as always, it came to my mental and emotional rescue, occupying my mind (putting a smile on my face) and steering me around some potholes.

So let’s chat fantasy…

Fantasy in Psychobabble

Sure, we all know what fantasy is, but what about within psych context? I mean, we’re operating from a mood and anxiety disorder perspective, yes?

Let’s start with one of Merriam-Webster’s definitions…

“The power or process of creating especially unrealistic or improbable mental images in response to a psychological need.”

Fits with what I did on Sunday, doesn’t it?

Putting our legs deeper in the pool, fantasies, originating in the conscious or unconscious mind, are imagined phenomena that express highly guarded desires or aims. As you know, fantasies can go well beyond reality or be smack-dab on it. And the foundation is often things we wished we’d done or wish we could.

It makes sense that fantasies can be beneficial, as well as destructive. For instance, we can use our fantasies for purposes of healthy diversion, perspective, and relaxation. And we can use them to fuel and express our creativity.

On the other side of the coin, we can use our fantasies to imagine, say, we’re successful and popular – even depression or anxiety free – all along doing nothing in reality to make any of it happen. To the destructive extreme exists what’s known as fantasy prone personality, a trait that brings a lifelong reliance upon fantasy.

Uncle Siggy’s Take

how did Freud treat depression
Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud was all over fantasy, which he believed to be a powerful defense mechanism. Freud was convinced that we construct our fantasies around multiple wishes, which are often repressed. And our designs are so intricate that we weave-in assorted disguises so we remain unaware of the defensive nature of our work.

In fact, Freud believed it all goes down in sort of a third person manner, omitting the “I,” so we can access the fantasy from multiple doors and angles.

As you might imagine, Freud submitted sexuality, going back to infancy, was deeply involved in fantasy. Trust me, it becomes very complicated, hence I’ll leave you to your due diligence.

But, the bottom-line for Freud was his belief that humans can’t get by on the tiny morsel of satisfaction provided by everyday reality. Thinking that includes him, right?

Coping Techniques, Fantasy, and You

How do you feel about coping techniques? That may seem like a silly question, but many wrestling with a mood or anxiety disorder choose to continue the match, accepting in the moment fate. Guess you could say they just gut it out with minimal resistance.

Like me, do you prepare for emergencies by keeping a toolbox at your side? I keep a variety of time and situation-tested coping techniques, including fantasy, in mine. If you do indeed keep a toolbox, what’s in it? When was the last time you did an inventory to make sure it’s up-to-date and well-stocked? Shoot, when was the last time you opened it – used it?

Bringing it back to fantasy, can you see it as an effective coping technique for you? I suggest experimenting with a few to see which ones hold the most productive power, while allowing you to keep your mind on the business at hand. I mean, driving down I-94, the last thing I wanted to do was tap into a fantasy that, shall we say, would overstimulate me. Know what I mean?

That’s All Folks

Living with a mood or anxiety disorder calls for huge amounts of courage and creativity. And a good portion of that creativity can be expressed in our choice and implementation of coping techniques.

Fantasy works so well for me when I find myself in a tough spot. Just knowing it’s in my toolbox for 24/7 use is comforting, not unlike that favorite fix-it-all tool we rely upon.

So, yeah, toss fantasy in your toolbox. Won’t cost you a dime…

Speaking of freebies, take a good look at hundreds of Chipur titles. All sorts of info and relief for anyone struggling with a mood or anxiety disorder.

(Freud image: Wikipedia)