Fear of Fantasy

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Oct. 29 2009 9:31 AM

Fear of Fantasy

So many patterns have emerged among the fantasies-and analyses of fantasies-you've sent in over the past few weeks. Violence and submission. The excitement of being desired (which has come through in all kinds of ways, including, if I'm not misinterpreting, in the reference, within yesterday's post, to being a pinup among soldiers serving in Iraq). But for a moment, I want to linger on the opening line of one recent reply: "I consciously avoid fantasizing about things I would never want to happen in real life." Is there a fear that desires given life in fantasy will take on more power, will become more real, more urgent, until they hold sway over life itself? Is this fear warranted in any way? What exactly is the relationship between what we fantasize and what we actually desire? Would we want to live out our fantasies if we could do so without harm? How much psychological danger lies within this territory? How closely can we allow fantasy and actuality to coexist? ... But this is subject matter to circle back to later. For today and tomorrow, some new replies. And then, next week, a new topic.

Daniel Bergner is the author of the new book What Do Women Want? Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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