Challenging the Fantasy Bond: A Search for Personal Identity and Freedom

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 Fantasy Bond, 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 thorough update of a classic work is particularly timely in its identification of the existential fears that contribute to prejudice, political divisiveness, and ethnic strife.

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About the Presenter

Robert Firestone, Ph.D Robert W. Firestone, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, theorist and artist. He is the Consulting Theorist for The Glendon Association. He is author of numerous books including Voice Therapy, Challenging the Fantasy Bond, Compassionate Child-Rearing, Fear of Intimacy, Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice, Beyond Death Anxiety The Ethics of Interpersonal RelationshipsSelf Under Siege, and recently his collection of stories Overcoming the Destructive Inner Voice.  His studies on negative thought processes and their associated affect have led to the development of Voice Therapy, an advanced therapeutic methodology to uncover and contend with aspects of self-destructive and self-limiting behaviors. Firestone has applied his concepts to empirical research and to developing the Firestone Assessment of Self-destructive Thoughts (FAST), a scale that assesses suicide potential. This work led to the publication of Suicide and the Inner Voice: Risk Assessment, Treatment and Case Management. He has published more than 30 professional articles and chapters for edited volumes, and produced 35 video documentaries. His art can be viewed on You can learn more about Dr. Firestone by visiting

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