You are here: Home / Concepts / Fantasy

This project is funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) research grant and is supported by the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) and Kingston University's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

AHRC logo

CRMEP logo

Le fantasme

In Freudian psychoanalysis, fantasy is a means of realising wishes or desires. In Lacanian psychoanalysis, fantasy replays our most basic relations to the Other. Several articles in the Cahiers pour l’Analyse take up contemporary Lacanian interpretations of the function of fantasy.

In Freud’s early works, such as Studies on Hysteria (1893; co-authored with Breuer), fantasy is treated as a psychological state analogous to day-dreaming (cf. SE 3: 51). In The Interpretation of Dreams Freud continues this approach, treating fantasies as subject to the same forces of repression and compromise formation as dreams (cf. SE 5: 570). The fantasy, like the dream, is a ‘scene’ or ‘stage’ for the fulfilment of wishes. Initially, Freud had argued that actual sexual traumas were at the origin of the neuroses, but in 1906, he declared that it was not actual events which were repressed, but the subject’s own fantasies. ‘I have learned to explain a number of fantasies of seduction as attempts at fending off the subject’s own sexual activity’ (SE 7: 41). From this point on, fantasy (in particular incestuous fantasy) becomes a primary motor in Freud’s account of the neuroses and assumes a key role in the splitting of the subject into consciousness and the unconscious.

In an early draft from 1897, Freud had already begun to speculate on the specific ‘structure’ and ‘construction’ of early childhood fantasies: ‘Fantasies arise from an unconscious combination, in accordance with certain trends, of things experienced and heard […] Fantasies are constructed by a process of amalgamation and distortion analogous to the decomposition of a chemical body which is compounded with another one’ (SE 1: 252). During the process of construction, the original memories on which they are based disappear, leaving only the libidinal structure. The idea that fantasies were constructed step-by-step gave Freud a means of reconstructing or analysing in reverse the structure of fantasies as they presented themselves in patients. Freud returns to the idea of the ‘construction’ of the fantasy in his key paper on the subject ‘A Child is being Beaten’ (1919). He develops the idea that the fantasy may be approached from different angles, according to whether one is a subject in it, or outside it. Thus fantasy figures may express desires that are not straightforwardly those of the person having the fantasy. The dreamer may themselves be in the fantasy, or may not. If he is in it, he may be playing an active or passive role.

In the case of the Wolf Man, Freud speculated that there might be ‘primal fantasies’ of castration that were inherited rather than acquired (SE 17: 99). In their paper ‘Fantasy and the Origins of Sexuality’, Laplanche and Pontalis explain that ‘since it had proved impossible to determine whether the primal scene is something truly experienced by the subject, or a fiction’, Freud went looking for a ‘foundation in something which transcends both individual experience and what is imagined’.1

Lacan initially developed the concept of the fantasy within the context of his theory of the imaginary. In his discussion of fantasies of ‘fragmented bodies’ [corps morcelé] in ‘Aggressiveness in Psychoanalysis’ (1948), he suggests that ‘phantasmagorias crop up constantly in dreams, especially when analysis appears to reflect of the backdrop of the most archaic fixations’. According to the early Lacan, these fantasies of devouring and fragmentation echo distortions of a primary relation to a ‘maternal imago’ (E, 105; cf. E, 97). But Lacan soon rejected phenomenological accounts of fantasy, and began to stipulate that fantasy is ‘an image set to work in a signifying structure’ (E, 272). As his work develops in the 1950s, he goes on to contend that the specific role of fantasy is to stage the relationship of the subject to the Other. Fantasy is an elaboration within the imaginary sphere of a defence against castration.2 Fantasy allows the subject to ‘sustain its desire’.3 By analysing the fantasy, it is possible to uncover the original relationship of the subject to the Other (their ‘fundamental fantasy’).4 Given the constructed character of the fantasy, a series of reversals can be attributed to the fantasy before it reaches its ‘mature’ form. For instance, voyeuristic fantasies only gain their significance because they depend on an inversion of a primary exhibitionism, in which the child tries to be the imaginary phallus of the mother. Thus ‘what is intended by the subject’ – their desire to be an object for the mother – ends up being ‘realized in the other’, as voyeuristic fantasy.5

Jean Laplanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis’s article on ‘Fantasy and Origins of Sexuality’ (1964) suggests that there are three basic ‘original’ or ‘primal’ fantasies: fantasies of the primal scene, castration and seduction. Like myths, these fantasies all relate to ‘origins’; here, the origins of the subject, their sexuality and their sexual difference. ‘Fantasies of origins: the primal scene pictures the origin of the individual; fantasies of seduction, the origin and upsurge of sexuality; fantasies of castration, the origin of the difference between the sexes’.6 Laplanche and Pontalis contend that original fantasies are ‘characterised by the absence of subjectivization, and the subject is present in the scene’. But ‘the indication here of the primary process is not the absence of organization, as is sometimes suggested, but the peculiar character of the structure, in that it is a scenario with multiple entries’.7 Several of the discussions in the Cahiers make key references to this essay, and attempt to develop its concepts.

The French ‘fantasme’ is related to the Greek φάντασμα (appearance or apparition). In the Sophist, Plato distinguishes copies [είκόνα] from phantasms [φάντασμα]. In Scholastic and Renaissance philosophy the Greek φάντασαί [to phantasise] bifurcated in Latin translation into ‘imaginatio’ [to imagine] and ‘simulo’ [to copy], from which ‘simulacrum’ (singular) and ‘simulacra’ (plural) are derived. Marsilio Ficino’s translation of the Sophist uses ‘simulacra’ for Plato’s φάντασμα. The convention is taken up by Auguste Diès in his 1923 translation of the Sophist, used by Xavier Audouard and Jean-Claude Milner in their discussions of the Sophist (CpA 3.4 and CpA 3.5).

In the Cahiers pour l’Analyse

In ‘Science et la vérité’ (CpA 1.1), Lacan describes the formula of the Trinity in Christian theology as a fantasy in the most ‘rigorous’ sense of that term, where fantasy denotes the ‘institution of a real that covers over truth’ (CpA 1.1:23).

In ‘Réponses aux étudiants en philosophie’ (CpA 3.1), Lacan appeals to his theory of fantasy to answer a question about ‘the relation between the subject of a revolutionary praxis aiming at going beyond its alienated labour and the subject of alienated desire’ (CpA 3.1:8; trans. 109). He remarks that ‘there is no subject of desire’, only a ‘subject of the fantasy, that is, a division of the subject caused by an object, that is: stopped up by it’ (CpA 3.1:9; trans. 110). This object is the objet petit a, which ‘leaps from its place’ when one attempts to know it. In response to the question, Lacan warns that ‘revolutionary theory would do well to hold itself responsible for leaving empty the function of truth as cause’.

Serge Leclaire discusses fantasy at various points in the sessions of his seminar (reprinted as ‘Compter avec la psychanalyse’ in CpA 1.5, 3.6 and 8.6), but his main discussion is in a session on ‘Fantasy and Theory’ in the first seminar (CpA 1.5:60-65). Leclaire begins by citing Freud’s remark in ‘The Unconscious’, that fantasies have a mixed nature. ‘On the one hand, they are highly organized, free from self-contradiction, have made use of every acquisition of the system Cs […] On the other hand, they are unconscious and are incapable of becoming conscious. Thus, qualitatively they belong to the system Pcs., but factually to the Ucs. Their origin is what decides their fate’ (SE 14: 190-1). Leclaire reflects on suggestions about the common structure of fantasies put forward by Melanie Klein and her school.8 This approach has its advantages. Whether we are talking about the most ‘diurnal’ or the most ‘nocturnal’ degrees of fantasy, fantasy retains the same structure, and appeals to the same scenarios. Leclaire suggests that in diurnal fantasy, ‘the subject lives their reverie in the first person’; while in dreams, at the other pole, there is no ‘subjectivation’, and the subject becomes part of the scene (CpA 1.5:60). Referring to Jean Laplanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis’s 1964 paper on fantasy Leclaire suggests that a certain ‘unity of content’ can be extrapolated from fantasies, beyond their structural unity, insofar as they all concern the emergence or origins of desire. This turning towards origins suggests why Freud suggests that fantasies implicitly involve appeals to ‘theory’.9

In a discussion of clinical approaches to fantasy, Leclaire says that ‘two references are essential for the determination of the structure of the fantasy’ (CpA 1.5:61). On the one hand, fantasies are tied to an emotion that is corporeally localized. He gives examples: anal excitation, oral or dental excitations, or ‘sensations of threshold or passage [émoi de seuil, de passage]’. On the other hand, they are attached to signifiers, and more particularly to ‘signifiers as such’, that is, signifiers detached from their relation to the signified. This is how one should understand Freud’s suggestion that fantasies are ‘made up from things that are heard, and made use of subsequently’ (SE 1: 248).10 Leclaire gives examples of how certain signifiers used by the mother (proper names and pet names) can become detached from their common significance for the child and become sites for unconscious signifying chains. Continuing to follow the theses of Laplanche and Pontalis, Leclaire suggests that they are right that there are only a few fundamental forms of fantasy (fantasies of seduction, of the primal scene, and of castration), but he claims that with regard to each fantasy, its particularity can only be understood by referring to the ‘singular mode of anchoring in the body (the distinct emotion) and the chain that attaches it to one or several privileged signifiers’ (CpA 1:5:61).

Leclaire then turns to the question of the ‘structure and function of the fantasy’ (CpA 1.5:62). Fantasy has a binary structure. Minimally, it is composed of two terms, X and Y, that are related to each other in a ‘scansion’ (an action, such as to see, to touch, to hit). Fantasies present scenarios of the type ‘A child is being beaten’ or ‘We are about to find it’ (Leclaire’s example). ‘The two terms, X and Y, whatever their position of substitution or permutation, constantly fulfil the roles of subject and object’ (62). Fantasies offer permanent places for subjects and objects.

Leclaire notes that this ‘permanence’ of the subject of the fantasy has a privileged relation to the ‘evanescence of the subject of the unconscious’. For the fantasising subject, the fantasy fills a gap or occupies a ‘hole’ [trou] left by the unconscious, which partly accounts for the ‘framing’ or ‘window’-like feature of the fantasy (62). The fantasy can manifest itself as a ‘threshold’ [seuil] (the window in the Wolf-Man), or as the surface of a mirror (as in Alice in Wonderland); it can also appear as ‘another world’ in itself (Carroll’s Wonderland, or the ‘microcosms’ in Goethe’s New Melusine). The perspectives afforded by fantasy take place within an asymmetrical topology. ‘Interiors’ can have a luring relation that lead into further interiors. Relations to objects in fantasy unfold within these fixed and permanent spaces. ‘In sum, it can be said that the fantasy ensures the permanent representation of the evanescent relation of a subject to an object’ (63). Leclaire notes that fantasy also supports the spaces in which theorising takes place, and in which general subject-object relations unfold.

In the discussion, Jean-Claude Milner asks whether the reference of the fantasy to the body proposed by Leclaire assumes a particular ‘model’ of the body, as the set of ‘places’ [ensemble des lieux] where fantasy produces its singular sensations. He suggests that it appears that ‘the body of the fantasy is made of expanses [plages] and barriers (for instance, the teeth in opposition to the lips’, while other features, such as its holes and rings, suggest a relation between interior and exterior that unites the space of fantasy with that of the drive (CpA 1.5:65). So if there is a distinctive model of the fantasmatic body to be constructed, is it different to that provided by the theory of the drives? Would it be possible to derive the one from the other? Leclaire agrees that this might be possible, but that the question of the surface as limit, and of the limit of the surface, in the case of orificial thresholds, will be treated in the next session.

André Green’s analysis of the objet petit a stresses its role in the relation between the subject and the Other and in the organisation of the sensible field of fantasy. It is fantasy that allows the subject to enter into a desiring relationship with an Other that it cannot know: ‘We know that fantasy allows this structure of relationship to be established, insofar as that fantasy reveals the subject of this relationship even as it erases its traces. Fantasy is thus the structure that constitutes the subject – on which the subject imprints itself negatively, and through which fascination operates, opening out the relationship between the object a and the ideal ego’ (CpA 3.2:19; trans. 168).The object of desire is divided into ‘non-specularisable’ and ‘specularisable’ aspects. The former symbolise the ‘lack in the Other’ and prevent specularisation from achieving a ‘consistent reflection in reality’ (20/169).

In ‘Linguistic and Specular Communication’, Luce Irigaray describes fantasy as what is left over ‘after the child’s subjection to the signifier’(39/9). Fantasy ‘provides a privileged window onto a “primary imaginary”’ and reveals ‘the deep structures of human behaviour’ (ibid). It has its own linguistic correlate. By taking advantage of the reversibility of the verb in order to subvert stable subject positions, fantasy conspires with language to offer human beings the mirage of a ‘possibility of reversion to the original state of indifference’. The fixed nature of fantasies can only be transcended through an encounter with the ‘speech of the other [la parole de l’autre]’, whether this speech comes from an analyst or from a lover or poet. All of these, in their own way, retain an ‘incantatory power’, and ‘share the goal of getting back as close as possible to the initial integration of the body and of language’. They achieve this not by taking ‘an endlessly retraced circular path’ (as in fantasy itself), but by pursuing ‘a spiral whose revolutions get closer and closer to the point of origin’ (ibid).11 In this article, she focuses on analysing the ‘specular’ features of fantasy that haunt linguistic discourse. Having a ‘specular image’ introduces a de-stabilising feature into linguistic communication. Anticipating her later feminist critique of psychoanalysis she notes that female subjects find themselves having to occupy a position as a mirroring, specular other, providing a ‘fantasmatic complement that compensates for the male subject’s failure to find a secure identity within linguistic and social structures’ (47/16). The final section of her paper is devoted to the analysis of the ‘fundamental fantasy’ of hysterics and obsessional neurotics (51/20).

In ‘Le simulacre’ (CpA 3.4), Xavier Audouard relates Plato’s conception of the simulacrum in the Sophist to the psychoanalytic notion of fantasy. Relying on Diès’s translation of the Sophist (which translates φάντασμα as ‘simulacre’), Audouard analyses the relationship Plato depicts between the Stranger, the representative of the Parmenidean One, and the Sophist, the apparent master of the ‘art of fantasy’.

Audouard’s analysis springs from a reading of a key passage from the Sophist on the subject of φάντασμα. Plato notes that artists often adjust the proportions of statues or paintings to fit the perspective of spectators. However, the very possibility of producing likenesses [είκόνα] also implies the possibility of producing simulacra [φάντασμα]. A simulacral image of the beautiful ‘appears to be like the beautiful, but is not even likely to resemble that which it claims to be like’ (Sophist, 235d-236b). For Plato, φάντασμα are therefore to be taken as constructions that include the angle or perspective of the observer ‘in order that the illusion may be produced from the very point where the observer finds himself’ (235d-236b). Audouard notes the analogy between the Platonic simulacrum and the ‘representative of a representation’ (Vorstellungsrepresentanz) in psychoanalysis (CpA 3.4:64). Taking up Plato’s discussion of the peculiar ontological status of simulacra and false discourse (which Plato says both are not, and are; i.e., they appear as instances of ‘non-being’, while also appearing to ‘be’ in some way), Audouard proceeds to raise questions about whether the representations in fantasies analysed in psychoanalytic theory and therapy should be taken as mere non-entities, or as determined symbolically by reference to other categories. The Sophist’s art, says Audouard, may be understood as ‘the art of the fantasy’. But what is the relation between the simulacral representation and the thing (or form) it distorts?

Audouard’s view, in opposition to Milner’s in his accompanying paper, ‘The Point of the Signifier’ (CpA 3.5), is that the question of the status of non-being in the Sophist is ‘ultimately transposable onto that of the status of the subject’ (CpA 3.4:65). Audouard argues that the ‘non-being’ in the fantasy originates in a ‘minute warping of the real image [ce petit gauchissement de l’image reélle] in its presentation to the particular point of view occupied by the observer’ (CpA 3.4:64). However, he goes on to say that ‘non-being thus poses in truth, for us, the question of the subject, because if the φάντασμα is possible, it comes from the particular place that the subject occupies with respect to the universal and all-seeing Subject’ (5). As Audouard presents it, the Sophist is at its heart a struggle to contain the concept of the simulacrum, to determine its status and the extent of its reach, with the Stranger representing the Parmenidean One and wanting to repel non-being from being, and the Sophist wanting to exploit non-being and introduce it into appearances.

Audouard opts to pursue a Hegelian dialectical resolution of the conflict between the Stranger and the Sophist. He argues that Plato’s ultimate goal is to show how ‘the limitation of being by non-being founds the possibility of the Whole’ (67). Thus, in his dialectical account of the concepts of ‘being’ and ‘non-being’, Plato shows how the simulacra of the Sophist lose some of their power once the concept of non-being is converted into that of ‘otherness’ (68). Concepts like ‘genesis’ and ‘becoming’ include both being and non-being and thus dialectically supersede them. For Audouard, Plato’s task is to ‘attempt to reconcile Parmenides with Heraclitus, the on with the genesis, being with becoming, the unchangeable with the changeable, the true being attained by pure thought, and the becoming that is attained by sensation’ (67). Nevertheless Audouard stresses that Plato’s method is to show the dialectical interdependency of the two positions, that of the Stranger and that of the Sophist. Thus the Stranger only manages to retain a secure grasp of the One by letting the Sophist into discourse (where his words can be determined and gain meaning by being put into relation with the rest of discourse). As interpreters of texts and utterances, the psychoanalyst must also subject fantasies to dialectical determination, in order to bring them into discourse.

In ‘Le Point du signifiant’ (CpA 3.5), Jean-Claude Milner disputes Audouard’s interpretation of the transformation of non-being into otherness in Plato’s Sophist and identifies a more basic dialectic in Plato’s account of the highest genera, arguing that Plato’s theory of being and non-being can be mapped onto Jacques-Alain Miller’s ‘logic of the signifier’ (CpA 1.3). The piece is largely situated at a conceptual level, but towards the end themes of fantasy and appearance re-emerge when Milner discusses how the gaze of desire must focus on an imaginary ‘point’ or ‘focus’ which exists in a displaced relation to the structure of signification that determines it. ‘One must imagine Plato directing a blind eye towards a point whose unicity, position and validity can only subsist as strangers to the gaze itself, just shy of misrecognition’ (CpA 3.5:82). He cites André Breton’s remark that ‘in order to situate the point that renders the object alive’, it is necessary ‘to place the candle well’.12 Milner thus gestures towards the ‘optical’ account of intersubjective desire originally articulated by Lacan in his first seminar (Freud’s Papers on Technique, 1953-54)13 and pursued by Alain Grosrichard (CpA 2.3) and François Regnault (CpA 7.3) in the pages of the Cahiers pour l’Analyse.

In his article on Freud’s 1919 article ‘A Child is being Beaten’, Nassif notes an ambiguity in the notion of fantasy in psychoanalysis (CpA 7.4:73). Nassif points out a potential problem with the view maintained by Leclaire (cf. Leclaire’s presentation on ‘Fantasy and Theory’ in CpA 1.5:59-65), in which the origins of fantasy are related to the history of the body of the individual, and to a process of signification that is overcoded on the body’s excitatory zones. The problem is that the body of the child is not originally ‘detailed’ [détaillé], and the bodily zones where the beating takes place are in principle interchangeable. Nassif contends that fantasies should be understood first of all as ‘the metaphorical presentation of a fundamental fantasy’ (CpA 7.4:74). He agrees with Laplanche and Leclaire that one of the fundamental fantasies concerns castration, which ‘expresses the origin of sexual difference’ (74).

With his article on beating fantasies, Freud opens up ‘an archaeology of the fantasy’ (CpA 7.4:80). Analysis of the fantasy can show the original content, the transformations of the object, and changes in signification. Throughout the 1919 article, Freud presents the beating fantasy as a ‘phrase’, with ‘wording’ that can be altered to produce different effects. The presentation of active and passive verbs and the interchange of the subject positions in the three phases of the beating fantasy appear to have their own syntax (CpA 7.4:79). Nassif takes up Leclaire’s suggestions in ‘Les Éléments en jeu dans un psychanalyse’ that at the heart of every fantasy, there is a ‘verb’ [verbe], which ‘signifies a pleasurable or unpleasurable movement of the body’(CpA 5.1:17; CpA 7.4:78).14 But he draws the line at locating a direct correspondence between the series of bodily events and linguistic signs.

In the final section, Nassif pursues the relationship between primary repression and fantasy, intersecting with Leclaire’s research on the relation of the body to repression. In contradistinction to Leclaire, Nassif stresses the temporal aspects of subjectivity, and the status of the child as ‘prematurely born’. He concludes with an epistemological problem: does an archaeology of fantasy describe the original process of repression itself, or merely give us a model of that process? (CpA 7.4:90). His subsequent article in the Cahiers, ‘Freud et la science’ (CpA 9.10) further pursues this epistemological problematic.

Jean Reboul’s Lacanian reading of Balzac’s Sarrasine (CpA 7.5) explores the fantasy of the corps morcelé, or ‘fragmented body’. Having avoided the test of symbolic castration and immured himself in narcissism, Sarrasine ends up encountering lack and castration ‘in the real’ [dans le réel] through the fact of Zambinella’s castration (96). As a result, Sarrasine cannot re-appropriate himself as a desiring being, and becomes permanently ‘excluded’ from possessing a ‘specular other’.

In ‘Action de la structure’ (CpA 9.6), Jacques-Alain Miller argues that subjectivity ‘only appears as a subject in the real by miscognizing itself in the imaginary as element in the structuring’. Since alienation is necessary for agency, ‘the subject is a director [metteur en scène] only in his fantasy’ (CpA 9.6:100).

Select bibliography

  • Freud, Sigmund. ‘Draft M’ [1897]. In Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, ed. James Strachey et al. London: Hogarth Press, 1953-1974. Vol. 1. [Hereafter ‘SE’ followed by volume number].
  • Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams [1900], SE 4-5.
  • Freud, Sigmund. Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality [1905], SE 7.
  • Freud, Sigmund. ‘The Sexual Theories of Children’ [1908], SE 9.
  • Freud, Sigmund. ‘The Unconscious’ [1915], SE 14.
  • Freud, Sigmund. ‘From the History of an Infantile Neurosis’ (’The Wolf Man’) [1918], SE 17.
  • Freud, Sigmund. ‘A Child is being Beaten’ [1919], SE 19.
  • Irigaray, Luce. ‘Du fantasme au verbe’, L’Arc 34 (premier trimestre, 1968). ‘On Phantasm and the Verb’, trans. Gail Schwab in To Speak is Never Neutral.
  • Lacan, Jacques. ‘The Mirror Stage as Formative of the I Function’ [1936/1949], in Écrits [1966], trans. Bruce Fink, in collaboration with Héloïse Fink and Russell Grigg. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006.
  • Lacan, Jacques. ‘Presentation on Psychical Causality’ [1946], Écrits.
  • Lacan, Jacques ‘Aggressivity in Psychoanalysis’ [1948], Écrits.
  • Lacan, Jacques. Seminar I: Freud’s Papers on Technique,1953-54, ed. J-A. Miller, trans. J. Forrester. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
  • Lacan, Jacques. Seminar IV: La relation d’objet, ed. J-A. Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1999.
  • Lacan, Jacques. Seminar VIII: Transference (1960-1), trans. Cormac Gallagher, unpublished manuscript.
  • Lacan, Jacques. ‘Remarks on Daniel Lagache’s Presentation: “Psychoanalysis and Personality Structure”’ [1960], Écrits.
  • Lacan, Jacques. Seminar XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Penguin, 1977.
  • Laplanche, Jean, and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis. ‘Fantasme originaire, fantasme des origines, origine du fantasme’, Les Temps modernes 215 (April 1964). Trans. in International Journal of Psychoanalysis 49:1 (1968). Reprinted in Formations of Fantasy, ed. Victor Burgin, James Donald & Cara Kaplan. London: Methuen, 1986.
  • Laplanche, Jean, and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis. Vocabulaire de la psychanalyse. Paris: PUF, 1967. The Language of Psychoanalysis, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith. London: Hogarth Press, 1973.


1. Jean Laplanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis, ‘Fantasy and the Origins of Sexuality’, 16.

2. Lacan, Seminar IV: The Object-Relation, 119-20.

3. Lacan, Seminar XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 13 May 1964, 185.

4. Lacan, Seminar VIII: Transference, 127; Seminar XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 273.

5. Seminar XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 13 May 1964, 183.

6. Laplanche and Pontalis, ‘Fantasy and the Origins of Sexuality’, 19.

7. Ibid., 22.

8. In ‘Fantasy and the Origins of Sexuality’, Jean Laplanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis had noted that ‘analysts such as Melanie Klein […] are, more than others, careful to distinguish between the contingent imagery of daydreams and the structural function and permanence of what they call “unconscious fantasies”’. Klein’s theory of fantasy was developed most famously in Susan Isaacs 1948 essay ‘The Nature and Function of Phantasy’.

9. Cf. Freud’s 1908 essay on ‘The Sexual Theories of Children’ (SE 9: 205-26).

10. In ‘Draft L’, included in a letter to Fliess of 2 May 1897 (SE 1: 248-50).

11. In her 1968 paper ‘Sur le fantasme et le verbe’ [‘On Fantasy and the Verb’], Irigaray went on to develop the thesis that the verb is the linguistic vehicle of the fantasy, and that it is its infinitive and impersonal function that allows it to serve as a vehicle for a reactivation of the primary imaginary.

12. The citation is from Breton’s ‘Ideas of a Painter’, on the work of André Derain: ‘The object whose being I paint only lives insofar as I can make a “point blanc” (blank point) appear. Everything is in placing the candle well’ (Breton, Oeuvres complètes, 1, 248).

13. Lacan, ‘The Topic of the Imaginary’, Seminar I: Freud’s Papers on Technique, 74-79. Cf. E, 672-683).

14. Cf. Irigaray’s development of the same theme in her ‘Sur le fantasme et le verbe’.