Definition of daydreams (Fantasy)
In final fantasy 2 I looked at what daydreams are. Part of that was to distinguish them from memory and I concluded
Thus we have three main characteristics of fantasy:
1. It is a cognitive process
2. It involves creative thought
3. It causes some change in mood or leads to some kind of psychological advantage
Comments by Kahless, Roses and KYLady have now added to this definition thus providing a more comprehensive understanding of the subject. Some of the comments made were:
“The other way I use fantasy is to explore how I would feel about something. Sometimes I imagine a particular event happening, like a bereavement (which is quite a common one of late) and then I play out in my mind how I would behave and how I would act. I think through what I would say and how I would feel. So sometimes fantasy can be a training ground?”
“I practice golf in my imagination all the time. A boring meeting is the perfect time to play at least 9 holes”. (end quotes)
I need at this juncture to distinguish between thinking and daydreaming. The two examples to me show some kind of mental exercise for some kind of gain. Sports psychologists also use this kind of thing. They counsel the sports person to imagine themselves winning the race. As I develop this work on daydreaming I would exclude these from my definition of daydreams. The daydreams I am talking about are driven by the unconscious just like sleeping dreams are. Thus we have a fourth aspect of daydreams:
4. They are expressions of the unconscious or they arise from the unconscious.
People can engage in all sorts of mental tasks as KYLady and Kahless demonstrate above. They are not daydreaming because they are not expressions of the unconscious. I see the need to make this distinction because it allows us to keep daydreaming and sleep dreaming as psychologically similar processes. If we restrict the definition of daydreaming as I suggest then they remain useful in therapy particularly with diagnosis. Or one can use daydreams in the same way one would do sleep dream work in therapy. If we include mental activity that is not an expression of the unconscious then the concept of daydreams looses some of its therapeutic applications.
As with sleep dreams, daydreams will arise spontaneously driven by what is in the unconscious. Initially one does not plan the daydream. After a daydream has been created the individual may repeat the same sort of daydream theme over and over. This is reported by Kahless when she says:
“I used to day-dream being a secret agent, or a fireman, or Lara Croft”
and when I discuss the man who reported
“A 27 year old male reports that when he gets very down he will create visual scenarios (fantasies) in his mind. Typically he does this when he goes to bed at night. They are very violent and always involve him getting hurt. For instance he imagines himself being stabbed or shot by someone else or he will imagine himself shooting, stabbing or cutting himself with big knives. In essence we have fantasised self harm.”(end quote)
Thus the content and theme of the daydream arises spontaneously from the unconscious. Once developed the person often repeats the same daydream theme with minor changes to players and scenarios. It is the theme of the daydream that the therapist is interested in because this is what gives the insight into the unconscious.
Once created the person may use the daydream for a variety of psychological reasons some of which I described in final fantasy 4 and will add to in final fantasy 6. For instance as a source of strokes, as a defence mechanism, to maintain schizoid withdrawal or narcissistic self aggrandisement.