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The 'Reality Oriented' Imagination: a Philosophical Examination of the Imagination in 'Mentalization' and 'Neuropsychoanalysis'

Hardy, Annie; (2018) The 'Reality Oriented' Imagination: a Philosophical Examination of the Imagination in 'Mentalization' and 'Neuropsychoanalysis'. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis is concerned with the conceptualization of the imagination in contemporary psychoanalytic theory, focusing in particular on its connection with knowledge. I will propose that imaginative processes form the core of psychic ‘health’ by instantiating a state of mind in which the subject is genuinely open to ‘learning from experience’. At the centre of the investigation is a psychic process that I term the ‘reality oriented’ imagination: a form of conscious mental activity that facilitates an epistemological connection with both the internal and external worlds and renders the unobservable psychological experiences of others accessible. The concept of the ’reality oriented’ imagination significantly disrupts Freud’s portrayal of the imaginative processes as a form of wish-fulfilment in which the individual’s attention is drawn away from external reality and placed under the sway of the pleasure principle. Such differing presentations of the imagination across psychoanalytic models can arguably be understood by considering several major shifts in psychoanalytic theorizing since Freud’s time. I will propose that these changes can be characterised as an ‘epistemic turn’: a general movement in psychoanalysis towards framing the internal world as strategic rather than compensatory, and a corresponding understanding of psychopathological processes as a response to failures in understanding and prediction rather than instinctual conflict. Sound psychological functioning, according to such a picture, is characterised by a lack of rigid internal interpretive schemas: it is, paradoxically, the individual who does not need to ‘know’ who is most open to experience as it presents itself. This leads to a characterization of healthy conscious experience that resonates more with Winnicott’s ‘creativity’ than Freud’s ‘secondary process’: a form of engagement with internal and external reality that combines veridical perception with an affective sense of self and agency.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The 'Reality Oriented' Imagination: a Philosophical Examination of the Imagination in 'Mentalization' and 'Neuropsychoanalysis'
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10052413
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