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Spence, D.P. (1990). The Rhetorical Voice of Psychoanalysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 38:579-603.

(1990). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 38:579-603

The Rhetorical Voice of Psychoanalysis

Donald P. Spence, Ph.D.


The rhetorical voice of psychoanalysis has a long history and has only recently come to be seen as a special feature of the theory. Its beginnings can be found in Freud's earliest pleadings for the usefulness of metaphor and analogy, although he felt that they were largely provisional and would eventually be replaced by more durable concepts. We have begun to see problems in replacing the central metaphors; the rhetorical base of psychoanalysis may be more enduring than we thought. While our metaphors may never provide epistemic access to the stuff of the mind, they can and do pint to specific clinical encounters. Ways must be found to expand our rhetorical treasure chest and develop language even better suited to our concepts and observations.

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