Re: fantasy & imagination value

Martin Thompson (
Tue, 17 Dec 1996 22:40:06 +0000

In article <>, Alan Hutchison
<> writes
>What survival value has fantasy?
>Is it just a sub-class of imagination allowing for example the planning
>of catching a sabre toothed tiger without actually trying it, or is
>it/has it some higher function?
>If that is the case (maybe this is for another news group) why does it
>have its own word to describe it?
>Funny what we think of when we brush our teeth isn't it!

I'm sure that there are other values, but one may be to enhance one's
self-awareness: for example, by objectively observing my fantasies, I
can learn something about myself that I might not otherwise be very
aware of.

For example, suppose that I frequently spend my time imagining that I'm
some kind of hero, such as Sly Stallone in his films. This is far from
my real-life behaviour, and I would probably hate it if it came true!
But what does it tell me? Being aware of the fantasy, I can ask
questions: what would I gain from such behaviour? Admiration? All the
girls would love me! Aha! In other words, I might feel that in order to
be loved, I have to be some kind of hero (a common male fantasy).

Now, without actually asking the question, this may not have been
obvious - i.e., it could easily have been suppressed. What do you think?
Try it with your own fantasies - look at the rewards - and see if you
come up with any insights. The difficulty, as ever, is in asking the
right question. A pre-linguistic creature wouldn't benefit, presumably,
but then would be more directly in touch with its feelings anyway. On
the other hand, a people under the guidance of an insightful Shaman
could well benefit from the greater self-awareness such insights could

I suppose the same applies to dream interpretation . . . uh-oh!

Martin Thompson
London, UK