Imagination vs. Fantasy: Flights of the Mind

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Difference between Imagination and Fantasy

While most people tend toward periods of fantasy from time to time, not many people are gifted with an imagination that can be translated into action in the 'real' world. Both mental functions are quite necessary for a happy and rewarding life. It could be said imagination and fantasy are both manifestations of our mind reaching out to our soul for inspiration. Sometimes the manifestation is clear and beautiful and opens something in our hearts. Other times people reach out but find only frustrations that consciousness or subconscious hasn't let go of for some reason.

Imagination
Fantasy

Definition

The word "imagination" is Latin in origin and its original form imaginare is defined as "the act of creating or representing an image”.

As for “fantasy”, the word is Greek in origin and is derived from the word phantazesthai, which means "picture to oneself".

Purpose

It is important to note that imagination is not so much the opposite of reality as it is a method by which humans adapt to reality. Based on this idea, imagination can be said to be a crucial aspect of reality and not contrary to it. In fact, some would say that proper mental well-being would not be possible without a healthy dose of imagination. And most people of a creative bent would agree that creativity would not be possible at all without imagination.

Fantasy for its part is a result of the imagination process. In most cases, fantasy is characterized by an imagined series of events or mental images, with daydreams being one of the most common manifestations. Fantasies also often take the form of a story that involves the person doing the fantasizing, and he or she is often the main character in the fantasy.

According to psychologist Sigmund Freud, a fantasy may serve as gratification for what he called “id impulses”, which are defined as a person’s most hidden desires. They may also function as defense mechanisms for the ego or the “recognized self” and in some cases even supersede superego functions by providing an image upon which self-concepts are based on. Given this definition, a fantasy may form the image that we would like to project to other people. It is also interesting to note that fantasies may either be conscious or unconscious functions.

Origins

As mentioned previously, imagination can be defined as the creation of new ideas from mental imagery. Imagination can also refer to the ability of the mind to formulate mental representations of thoughts, concepts, dreams, and fantasies. One aspect of imagination is that it also has the ability to create and/or re-create sensations that are perceptible only to the mind. And since physical sensation is dependent on the functioning of the body as well as that of the brain, imagination relies in equal part on both functioning in conjunction with each other.

A fantasy on the other hand often results from desires, frustration, wishes or even internal conflicts that come about when imagination merges with reality. Fantasies may either take the place of action in some people, or they may be precursors to future action.

Summary

Imagination

  • Can be said to be a crucial aspect of reality and not contrary to it
  • Many feel that proper mental well-being would not be possible without imagination
  • Can be defined as the creation of new ideas from mental imagery

Fantasy

  • Often results from desires, frustration, wishes or even internal conflicts
  • May either take the place of action or may be precursors to future action

Which one is more useful for you?
  • Imagination
  • Fantasy
 
 

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