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Mental images or imaginary narratives that distort or entirely depart from reality. Primary fantasies arise spontaneously from the unconscious, while secondary fantasies are consciously summoned and pursued. Sigmund Freud saw fantasy as a vehicle for the expression of repressed desires (seerepression). Fantasy is important in the lives of children and is a vital element in play. In adult life it is crucial to creative thinking and the making of art. Fantasy can become destructive if it serves as a constant refuge from the world of reality and a source of delusions.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on fantasy, visit Britannica.com.