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Matte-Blanco, I. (1984). Reply to Ross Skelton's Paper 'Understanding Matte-Blanco'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 65:457-460.

(1984). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 65:457-460

Reply to Ross Skelton's Paper 'Understanding Matte-Blanco' Related Papers

Ignacio Matte-Blanco

1. The gist of the author's assertions is, first: the principle of symmetry contradicts the principle of generalization; second: 'Anyone familiar with the theory of formal systems knows that if the basic principles of a system contradict then it can be proved that anything whatsoever can be proved in that system …' Third: taken both these assertions together the author concludes with what he seems to think would be a coup de grâce to my proposals about the unconscious: 'It is claimed that it is possible to explain such a wide range of characteristics of the unconscious because these two principles contradict one another'.

2. The irony of it is that I agree with the first two assertions, so far as they go (see 3.1 and 4), and at the same time think that his conclusion completely ignores both the meaning and scope of the book. To explain: as is well known, unconscious manifestations, as seen in dreams and free associations, respect only in part the rules of 'normal', i.e. aristotelian or bivalent logic. The 'deeper' the level of such manifestations, the greater is this lack of respect. Freud's five characteristics of the system Ucs. describe this 'behaviour' in extreme cases. The principle of symmetry tries to express in terms of symbolic (bivalent) logic the violations of this logic seen in the five characteristics: hence the title of my first paper on the subject.

On the other hand, among the various uses of bivalent logic seen in unconscious manifestations, I have singled out one which is frequently seen intertwining with the logic which conforms to the principle of symmetry.

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