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Challenging the Fantasy Bond: A Search for Personal Identity and Freedom
Robert W. Firestone | Foreword by Phillip R. Shaver and Mario Mikulincer
American Psychological Association / Softcover / 2022-02-01 / 1433835819
Self Help / Attachment
price: $45.95
327 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

Why are many of us compelled to repeat the pain of our past, while avoiding positive experiences that could enrich our lives?

This much-anticipated follow-up to the critically-acclaimed and bestselling The Fantasy Bond tackles the complex question of why so many of us are compelled to repeat the pain of our past while avoiding positive experiences that could enrich our lives.

In this thought-provoking book, clinical psychologist and theorist Robert Firestone explains how the fantasy bond, an illusion of connection, develops early in childhood to cope with the pain and frustration resulting from parental misattunement, neglect or mistreatment. It is manifested as a destructive internal thought process, the critical inner voice. Later, the fantasy bond is extended to family members, intimate partners, and social groups. In Challenging the FantasyBond, Dr. Firestone presents his latest thoughts and observations about the self-defeating aspects of this process and places the original concepts in the broader context of his overall theoretical approach, Separation Theory.

Compelling case studies illustrate how the critical inner voice causes considerable pain and discomfort and interferes with intimacy. These case studies demonstrate how Voice Therapy, a cognitive/affective/behavioral methodology, can be used to counteract these destructive internal messages and help individuals embrace the present, instead of reliving the past.

Challenging our illusions of a merged identity and moving toward separation and individuation are essential if we are to become fully autonomous human beings. This companion to a classic work is particularly timely in its identification of the existential fears that contribute to prejudice, political divisiveness and ethnic strife.


If you wish to transform your inner critical voice; sustain love and authentic connection; restore your sexual vibrancy; and feel the exhilaration of a wide range of feelings—this book is for you. Robert Firestone gives us a detailed roadmap to true personal identity and freedom.
— Pat Love, EdD, author of Five Forces Destroying Your Relationship You Probably Never Heard Of

Contained herein is a map that will reinvigorate compassion both for self and others. We may be jailed by past pain, but we can heal constricting wounds by giving voice to them. Dr. Firestone's genius shines in this illuminating exposition. His guidance will unshackle your potentials.

— Jeffrey K. Zeig, PhD, The Milton Erickson Foundation

When faced with unhealthy parenting, children universally blame themselves and preserve attachment through fantasizing a bond that isn’t real. Adults do the same. Adaptive then, maladaptive now. This book is a way out, and more, a way in—to healthy relationships and healing self-love. A classic already, the new revision speaks right to the moment we’re in. Read it and watch your life change.
— Terence Real, author of The New Rules of Marriage and US: Getting Past You and Me to Build a More Loving Relationship

Challenging the Fantasy Bond is a triumph of contemporary depth psychology. Depth psychology is in short supply these days and this book shows why it is so vital to revive it. From the formation of human personality to the formation of the culture and spiritual ethos out of which it arises, this book is essential reading for anyone concerned about a deeply gratifying life.
— Kirk J. Schneider, author of The Polarized Mind: Why It's Killing Us and What We Can Do About It and

Hanging on, by means of a fantasy bond, and therapeutic work to let go of trying to get unmet needs met by significant others are probably some of the most important processes that need to be worked on in therapy. This book is an original guidebook on the process of therapeutic change. A substantial theory, developed and refined over the last 60 years and a must-read for those who value in-depth work in psychotherapy.
— Leslie S Greenberg, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology, York University

About the Author:

Robert W. Firestone, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and author whose principle focus has been the subject of resistance in psychotherapy and people’s resistance to a better life in general. His comprehensive body of written work elucidates how the avoidance of the true nature of the human condition contributes to interpersonal pain and suffering as well as to the crisis of fellowship in which we, as a species, find ourselves. Dr. Firestone is the author of fifteen other books including Voice Therapy, Compassionate Child-Rearing, Fear of Intimacy, The Self Under Siege, The Ethics of Interpersonal Relationships, Beyond Death Anxiety, and The Enemy Within.

Dr. Firestone is the consulting theorist for The Glendon Association. His studies on negative thought processes and their associated affect have led to the development of Voice Therapy, a therapeutic methodology used to uncover and contend with aspects of self-destructive and self-limiting behaviors. The concept of the critical inner voice has been applied to empirical research, developing The Firestone Assessment of Self-destructive Thoughts (FAST) and The Firestone Assessment of Violent Thoughts (FAVT), scales that assess the potential for suicide and violence. Dr. Firestone has also produced 35 documentaries with The Glendon Association.

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