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Sexual Fantasies

At the Convergence of the Cultural and the Individual

Mariah Larsson and Sara Johnsdotter

This book expands the notion of sexual fantasies from the field of psychology into the realms of cultural studies, anthropology, philosophy, and sociology. So far, much research on sexual fantasies has dealt with issues of gender differences, the effect of sexual fantasies on people’s sex lives, or how problematic fantasies can be treated in therapy. In this volume contributors from different academic disciplines explore sexual fantasies at the convergence of the cultural and the individual, taking into account that fantasies are paradoxical: highly individualised and private, and at the same time dependent on a world that supplies structures, images, symbols, and narratives.
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Introduction: At the Convergence of the Cultural and the Individual


Fantasy and imagination are vital parts of what makes us human beings. Our capacity to form mental images or concepts of things that are not actually present, together with our ability to let our minds and imaginations wander, aid us in our everyday lives. Although we can fantasise about many different things – from positive daydreaming about more or less attainable goals to nightmare visions about accidents or illnesses – one significant aspect of fantasy has to do with our sexual worlds. Sexual fantasies might be shameful or embarrassing, they might create awkwardness in real-life situations, or a questioning of one’s own sexual identity, but they might also be rich and rewarding, a path that leads to exploration, self-discovery, and pleasure. Moreover, they contain a weird paradox: on the one hand, they are the most private and secretive in people’s lives (some never admit their sexual fantasies even to a partner who is very close); on the other hand, they are both shared by many and, in some way, dependent on a world that supplies structures, images, symbols, narratives, and so on, that can be deployed in various ways within those fantasies. On the one hand, fantasies emanate from the individual; on the other, they are produced in interaction with the world around us.

Using the terminology from sexual script theory by Simon and Gagnon (e.g., 2005[1973]; 1986), one could say that sexual fantasies are the place where the cultural scenario and the intrapsychic script converge and/or...

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