A New Language for Psychoanalysis

A New Language for Psychoanalysis

A New Language for Psychoanalysis

“Should be of considerable interest to a wider public, since it proposes a radical reformulation of psychoanalytical theory which, if accepted, would render outmoded almost all the analytical jargon that has crept into the language of progressive, enlightened post-Freudian people.”-Charles Rycroft, The New York Review of Books “Schafer’s arguments have considerable cogency. The tendency to over-theorize so that the translation of abstractions into the language of ordinary discourse between analyst and patient has become increasingly difficult is a fault; Schafer goes a long way towards redressing it, and his efforts to include meaning and the person in the form of his language is an achievement.”-Michael Fordham, The Times Higher Education Supplement

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  1. David Chirko said,

    Wrote on August 11, 2012 @ 11:58 pm

    3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    The voice of a generation redefines the oral tradition, May 1, 2009
    David Chirko (Sudbury, Ontario Canada) –

    This review is from: A New Language for Psychoanalysis (Paperback)

    “A New Language for Psychoanalysis” (1976) is a 394 page book by American psychologist/psychoanalyst Roy Schafer, Ph.D. (1922- ). Its preface explains it’s about, “A reconceptualization…a new set of language rules…as much philosophic as psychoanalytic….a systematic alternative to the established language of psychoanalysis, its metapsychology….that….presupposes a…philosophy of science and..theory of knowledge.” (Earlier, too, French theorist/psychiatrist/psychoanalyst Dr. Jacques Marie Emile Lacan, believing the unconscious was put together like a language, modified psychoanalysis by extending it to lingusitics and philosophy.)

    According to 1973’s “PsychoSources” edited by Evelyn Shapiro, if philosophy is defined as reflection it can reflect on what psychology does, questioning whether or not it’s a science if it can’t predict anything to the same degree as the natural sciences do. Further, in “Philosophy and Psycho-Analysis” (1953), John Wisdom, a British philosophy professor of language, mind and metaphysics, and formerly employed in industrial psychology, maintained that, “…of philosophers I have been hinting….at connections with what psycho-analysts try to bring into the light…philosophy has never been…a psychogenic disorder nor is…philosophical technique…a therapy. There’s a difference. Philosophers reason for and against their doctrines and…show us not new things but old things anew. Nevertheless…noticing the connections…philosophical discussion is the bringing out of latent opposing forces like arriving at a decision…when the reasoning is done we find…besides the latent lingusitic sources…others non-lingusitic and much more hidden which subtly co-operate with…features of language to produce philosophies….” (In fact, American psychologist/biographer Leonard Zusne, in his “Names in the History of Psychology” [1975], proclaimed that such a delving of psychology goes back to the philosophy of 4th Century Greece, because “Aristotle is…regarded by many as the first psychologist”.)

    Metapsychology, according to “A Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis” (1968) by British psychiatrist/psychoanalyst Charles Rycroft, M.D., is a “Term invented by Freud to….describe mental phenomena…of…fictive PSYCHIC APPARATUS…ideally…the topographical referring to its location within the psychic apparatus, i.e. whether…ID, EGO, or SUPER-EGO, the dynamic to the INSTINCTS involved, and the economic to…distribution of ENERGY within the apparatus.” Metapsychology then, works with abstraction that transcends the more scientific, empirical approach, enabling one to examine psychology philosophically. (Similar to my approach, elsewhere on amazon, in an earlier review of E.R. Emmet’s “Learning to Philosophize”.)

    Connecting the linguistic with the philosophical to explain the psychological, I’ll summarize what Schafer’s volume says about all of this in relation to a new argot for psychoanalysis–making it more scientifically palatable.

    First, there is a psychoanalytic vision of reality that blends four modes: the ironic mode–being objectively assiduous with the contradictory and indefinite related to the probing, introspective and determinative facets of analysis; and tragic mode–profoundly confronting the cost of conflicts, doubt, horror, loss and the unexplainable. Both modes are characteristic of the Freudian approach of dealing with internal reality. However, the comic mode–stressing hope to surmount life’s hurdles and move forward; and the romantic mode–boldly attempting to free, cure and alter one’s exterior situation in the process of analysis, must also be incorporated in order to embrace external reality more and purvey a fresh and total therapeutic vision.

    Schafer believes that Austrian born American psychiatrist/ego psychologist/psychoanalyst Heinz Hartmann, M.D., is the bulwark of metapsychology. The latter assailed strict Freudian adherence to dualism, i.e., pleasure principle versus reality principle, by introducing the notion of degree therein. Hartmann also more precisely brought psychoanalytic theory within the context of biological adaptation, helpful when discussing, say, drives. He, as well, sought to make analytic thinking more accurate. For instance, pointing out that an analyst may be erudite about why memories are buried in the unconscious, but could be oblivious to the facts of normal memory function. Further, he successfully developed the concept of psychic energy for purposes of explanation, through its origins and movement which determined frameworks, functions, narcissism, reality relations, et al. Lastly, poignant is Hartmann’s view of the psyche as a strong and organized government model, entailing meaningful choice reflecting its background and defending its integrity, but cooperating with others to eschew conflict.

    Schafer finds anthropomorphism sculpted the…

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