Difference between Imagination and Fantasy
Key Difference: Imagination is the experience that one has when they deal with reality, or how they deal with reality, while fantasy is an unrealistic byproduct of that imagination.
It is often easy to confuse imagination and fantasy as being the same thing or even similar things. However, these are completely different from each other but highly related. Let’s understand both the terms in detail.
Imagination is defined by the Dictionary of Psychology as, “the reorganization of data derived from past experiences, with new relations, into present ideational experience”. This means that imagination is often based on real experiences, or a person’s experience with their own reality. It is safe to say that imagination is how one views the world. For some it could a half glass full, while for others it can the half glass is empty. It is often a recreation of the world. So, if one is asked to close their eyes and describe a place, they would re-create an image in their head about their perfect world and this would be imagination.
Imagination is a part of every day life, day dreams include imaginations, wild ideas and thoughts can also include imagination. Imagination can also be an exaggerated form of reality. The Register defines imagination as, “the synthesis of mental images into new ideas. It is the power of the mind to form mental representations of a thought, concept, dream, symbol, or fantasy.”
This brings us on to the fine line that divides imagination and fantasy. Imagination is the key that leads to fantasy. Fantasy is defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary as, “something that is produced by the imagination : an idea about doing something that is far removed from normal reality.” So, imagination is what leads one to create a fantasy. Fantasy can also be defined as a branch of fiction that deals with the supernatural such as magic, legends, myth, superpowers, etc.
A simple way to distinguish between the two is imagination is the experience that one has when they deal with reality, or how they deal with reality, while fantasy is an unrealistic byproduct of that imagination.
Comparison between Imagination and Fantasy:
|The organization of data in our brain that is derived from what one sees and how one experiences reality||A genre that deals with a world that is unrealistic in nature|
|Can be real objects||Is mostly abstract ideas of reality|
The word “imagination” comes from the Latin word imaginare and means “to form an image or to represent”.
The imagination is the synthesis of mental images into new ideas. It is the power of the mind to form mental representations of a thought, concept, dream, symbol, or fantasy. The imagination has the power to create or re-create any sensation perceived or possibly perceived by the mind. Since sensation is reliant upon the body and the brain, the imagination cannot be entirely separated from either.
Imagination is not the opposite of reality. Instead, it is a means of adapting to reality. As such, imagination is essential to reality. Mental life could not exist without the imagination. Certainly creativity would be impossible without the imagination.
The imagination is one of the most unique and important aspects of being a human being.
The word “fantasy” comes from the Greek word phantazesthai and means “picture to oneself” – and that is exactly what it is.
A fantasy is a product of the imagination. It is an imagined sequence of events or mental images (for example, a daydream). It is a form of a story from the self with one common factor: The subject imagining the fantasy appears as one of the actors in the story.
A fantasy may originate from conflicts, desires, frustrations, or wishes when the imagination interacts with reality. A fantasy may substitute for action or pave the way for later action.
In Freudian terms, the fantasy may itself afford gratification for id impulses (our darkest and most hidden drives), may serve the ego as a defense (our recognised self), or may take over superego functions by providing the imagery on which concepts are based (our self we project to others).
A fantasy can be a conscious or unconscious construction. When it is unconscious, it is sometimes spelled “phantasy”. Again, mental life could not exist without fantasy. And fantasy is also a unique and important aspect of being a human being.