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Sexual metaphor and the language of unconscious phantasy



Abstract:  This paper investigates the attempt to find a ‘bedrock’ for psychic life in the idea of unconscious phantasy. Through a detailed examination of the development of the concept of unconscious phantasy, especially in Kleinian discourse, it is argued that unconscious phantasies are inherently metaphorical and have no ‘concrete’ existence in the unconscious. The use of unconscious phantasy as metaphor enables a ‘two-way’ form of interpretation that describes sexual behaviour and fantasy in terms of object relations (interpreting ‘away from sex’, while simultaneously describing object relations in terms of the sexual body (interpreting ‘towards sex’).