45 pages 1 hour read

Sigmund Freud

The Uncanny

Nonfiction | Essay / Speech | Adult | Published in 1919

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“The Creative Writer and Daydreaming”Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Essay Summary: “The Creative Writer and Daydreaming”

In this essay, Freud explicitly examines the relationship between literary analysis and psychoanalysis. The essay begins with the memorable and oft-quoted line: “We may perhaps say that every child at play behaves like a writer” (25). He then adds that “the opposite of play is not seriousness–it is reality” (26). Freud continues by explaining that rather than forgoing the pleasure we once took in playing in adolescence, humans replace play with fantasy. People’s fantasies are less easily observable than children’s play, and adults are generally ashamed of these secret desires.

In his psychoanalytic practice, Freud has learned that healthy and neurotic people both fantasize, but happy people do not, only dissatisfied ones, as “every fantasy [is] wish fulfillment, correcting the unhappy reality” (28). Fantasies are either ambitious or erotic. Fantasies also inhabit three time periods: the present impression, which has aroused the desire; the past memory of an earlier experience; and the future fulfillment of this desire. For instance, an orphaned youth might fantasize about gaining employment and marrying into a wealthy family to repossess themselves of a happy childhood. Fantasies proliferate prior to a lapse into neurosis or psychosis.

Freud also states that “our night dreams are nothing other than fantasies” (29).