Unconscious phantasy and its conceptualizations: An attempt at conceptual integration

Bohleber, W., Fonagy, P., Jiménez, J., Scarfone, D., Varvin, S., & Zysman, S. (2013). Towards a better use of psychoanalytic concepts: A model illustrated using the concept of enactment. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 94, 501-530.

Bohleber, W., Jiménez, J.P., Scarfone,D., Varvin, S., & Zysman, S. (2018) . Unconscious phantasy and its conceptualizations: An attempt at conceptual integration. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 96.


That there is a lack of consensus as to how to decide between competing, at times even contradictory theories, and about how to integrate divergent concepts and theories is well known. In view of this situation, the IPA Committee on Conceptual Integration (2009–2013) developed a method for comparing the different versions of any given concept, together with the underlying theories and fundamental assumptions on which they are based. Only when situated in the same frame of reference do similarities and differences begin to appear in a methodically comprehensible and reproducible form. After having studied the concept of enactment followed by the publication of a paper in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis in 2013, we proceeded to analyze the concept of unconscious phantasy while at the same time continuing to improve our method. Unconscious phantasy counts among the central concepts in psychoanalysis. We identified a wide range of definitions along with their various theoretical backgrounds. Our primary concern in the present paper addresses the dimensional analysis of the semantic space occupied by the various conceptualizations. By way of deconstructing the concepts we endeavoured to establish the extent to which the integration of the different conceptualizations of unconscious phantasy might be achieved.


Werner Bohleber

Am Ebelfeld 1 A, D-60488 Frankfurt a.M.

Email: wbohleber@gmx.de