Psychology of Utopias Agnes Balint The concept of Utopia

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Utopias and daydreaming

Utopias, as we have seen, share some common features with dreams, but there are limits with this similarity. Daydreaming, which means a kind of “wakeful dreaming”, seems to be a more proper analogy. As a matter of fact, the daydreamer usually creates utopias – it is not certain, however, that he puts it into a written form. He lets his imagination free, which means, that with some conscious control he mobilizes his unconscious world of images and instincts to solve a current problem – at least in his imagination, on the level of wish-fulfillment.

Utopias, though wish-fulfillment predominates in them, with the exclusion of the principle of reality, are the favorite genre of adolescents, not of children. Utopias enforce abstractions, so one must be intellectually mature enough to do such cognitive reasoning. Adolescents not only understand abstractions but they like them as well. They willingly submerge in an imaginary world and they even create worlds like that in the course of their daydreams. Adolescents are “professional” daydreamers, and as long as their contact with reality is kept, this activity can be considered normal.

What happens in the course of daydreams? Daydreamers create imaginary images about their possible identities with the help of possible worlds. The imaginary work mobilizes their complete personalities: beyond the conscious progresses even the unconscious tends to play a significant role. Daydreamers look for the most proper identities for themselves: profession, aims, values, community. Daydreaming, at least in the case of adolescents, is in close relation with identity construction, and as such, it is a factor that makes the personality develop. 9

In the case of an adult, daydreaming is not an unambiguously positive phenomenon. Adults start daydreaming when they get in crises, that is, they face problems concerning their identities. Unlike adolescents, adults do not have either “unlimited” possibilities, or “unlimited” life-time. That is why daydreaming is not the proper way for the reintegration of their identities in crisis. For adults, daydreaming is rather regression, or even escape, than real problem solving. Though, it is true, that it is a fairly creative form or escape, and as such, by some lucky chance, it can lead to the resolution of the crisis. Utopias, nonetheless, mean a special form of daydreaming. The authors of utopias are none other than talented daydreamers who are in identity crisis.

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