Skip to main content

Rescue Fantasies


In "A Special Type of Choice of Object Made by Men" (1910h), Sigmund Freud describes a type of man who repeatedly falls in love with a woman who is "of bad repute sexually" and "to whom another man can claim right of possession." What is striking in such men is "the urge they show to 'rescue ' the woman they love."

Freud interprets the fantasy of rescue in light of the Oedipus complex: The boy initially believes his mother to be a saint and refuses to accept, when he begins to become aware of sexual relations between adults, that his parents could behave in such a way. When the boy accepts this, the figure of the mother switches from that of the saint to that of the whore; the child is jealous of the father and regrets that the mother has not preferred him instead. "[H]e comes, as we say, under the dominance of the Oedipus complex," and if "these impulses do not quickly pass, there is no outlet for them other than to run their course in fantasies: that of saving the beloved woman in order to win her love and obtain a baby from her, and, as a reaction to his hostility toward the father, the fantasy of saving him from a life-threatening danger by some heroic action.

Freud concludes this article by evoking imaginary scenes in which the mother is saved from drowning, a symbolic translation of the birth of a child. The following year, he added a brief reference to this theme in the 1911 edition of The Interpretation of Dreams. He returned to the topic at greater length in "Dreams and Telepathy" (1922a).

Although this theme is often encountered in clinical practice, it does not seem to have been further elaborated either in Freud's work or thereafter.

Roger Perron

See also: Fantasy.


Freud, Sigmund. (1910h). A special type of choice of object made by men. SE, 11: 165-175.

. (1922a). Dreams and telepathy. SE, 18: 195-220.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Rescue Fantasies." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . 20 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Rescue Fantasies." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . (February 20, 2019).

"Rescue Fantasies." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . Retrieved February 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.