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Rosolato, G. (1978). Symbol Formation. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 59:303-313.

(1978). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 59:303-313

Symbol Formation

Guy Rosolato

Psychoanalysis essentially consists 'in bringing out the unconscious meaning of words, acts, imaginary products (dreams, fantasies, delusions) of a subject'; specifically 'by the controlled interpretation of resistance, transference and wish' (Laplanche & Pontalis, 1967p. 351). Now, the interpretation of the unconscious meaning can happen only through words, irreducible to any other therapeutic method (medication, bodily action, authoritarian or violent pressures, suggestions, intuitions and shared ideals). But language is not only a way of communicating, and the best as to analytic subtlety; it also structures psychic processes and conflicts in the meaning they take on for the subject himself. As E. Beneviste (1974) asserts, 'Every semiology of a non-linguistic system must borrow language as a go-between, can only exist by and in the semiology of the language'; 'the language is the interpreter of all other systems, linguistic and non-linguistic' (p. 60).

In the study of different systems of meaning, the symbol has a central place. To study its characteristics suitably, it is important to describe it in the most organized and the most analytic system, that is to say, in the logic of the language.

I propose a perspective which will deviate from the presuppositions of perceptual empiricism which make the word the direct reflexion of the object. Besides, one can no longer maintain the theory of Jones (1916) who saw in symbolism only the negative and regressive aspect of a defence mechanism; likewise, the opposition between symbolism and metaphor seems debatable.

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