Fixed fantasy

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A fixed fantasy — also known as a "dysfunctional schema" — is a belief or system of beliefs held by a single individual to be genuine, but that cannot be verified in reality. The term is typically applied to individuals suffering from some type of psychiatric dysregulation, most often a personality disorder, and essentially summarizes it.

A fixed fantasy differs from a delusion or delusional system in that, superficially, a fixed fantasy tends to appear plausible, and the person expressing the fantasy is not suffering a break from reality, as occurs in a delusional state. For example, sufferers of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder would believe that "everything has to be perfect" while sufferers of avoidant personality disorder would believe that they are "not good enough".

A fixed fantasy also differs from religion or superstition in that these are culturally bound, whereas a fixed fantasy is specific to an individual.

In and of themselves, fixed fantasies are typically not harmful, but they can sometimes interfere with an individual's ability to develop a coherent and integrated life experience.