It is probable that passive fantasies always have their origin in an unconscious process that is antithetical to consciousness, but
invested with approximately the same amount of energy as the conscious attitude, and therefore capable of breaking through the latter’s resistance.
Active fantasies, on the other hand, owe their existence not so much to this unconscious process as to a conscious propensity to assimilate hints or fragments of lightly toned unconscious complexes and, by associating them with parallel elements, to elaborate them in clearly visual form.
It is not necessarily a question of a dissociated psychic state, but rather of a positive participation of consciousness.
Whereas passive fantasy not infrequently bears a morbid stamp or at least shows some trace of abnormality, active fantasy is one of the highest forms of psychic activity.
For here the conscious and the unconscious personality of the subject flow together into a common product in which both are united.
Such a fantasy can be the highest expression of the unity of a man’s individuality, and it may even create that individuality by giving perfect expression to its unity.
As a general rule, passive fantasy is never the expression of a unified individuality since, as already observed, it presupposes a
considerable degree of dissociation based in turn on a marked conscious/unconscious opposition.
Hence the fantasy that irrupts into consciousness from such a state can never be the perfect expression of a unified individuality, but will represent mainly the standpoint of the unconscious personality.
The life of St. Paul affords a good example of this: his conversion to Christianity signified an acceptance of the hitherto unconscious standpoint and a repression of the hitherto anti-Christian one, which then made itself felt in his hysterical attacks.
Passive fantasy, therefore, is always in need of conscious criticism, lest it merely reinforce the standpoint of the unconscious opposite.
Whereas active fantasy, as the product of a conscious attitude not opposed to the unconscious, and of unconscious processes not opposed but merely compensatory to consciousness, does not require criticism so much as understanding. ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Paras 713-714
A fantasy needs to be understood both causally and purposively.
Causally interpreted, it seems like a symptom of a physiological or personal state, the outcome of antecedent events.
Purposively interpreted, it seems like a symbol, seeking to characterize a definite goal with the help of the material at hand, or trace out a line of future psychological development. ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 758
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