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Norman, J. (2002). A final response to Dr Flink. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 83(1):269-270.

(2002). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 83(1):269-270

A final response to Dr Flink

Johan Norman

Dear Sirs,

I have found it fruitful to have this exchange of comments that Dr Flink initiated by his reading of my paper ‘The psychoanalyst and the baby’ (IJPA, 82: 83-100) from the vertex of modern linguistic philosophy, mainly Marcia Cavell (1993). In Dr Flink's letter to the Editors and the following exchange of responses (Flink, 82: 805-807; Norman, 82: 807-810; Flink, 82: 990-991; Norman, 82: 1257-1258; Thomson-Salo, 82: 1259-1261; and in this issue, Flink and this final response) some points that I find extremely interesting seem to have emerged. I will pick up just a few points in this final comment.

On the infant's ‘mental’ life, ‘understanding’, ‘meaning’

Dr Flink argued in his first letter that infants ‘are not yet able to understand any kind of meaning’ as they have not yet developed language. I have pointed to the fact that we are using the concepts differently and there seems to be no disagreement about that. But the more important consequence of Dr Flink's use in his first letter of a narrow understanding of what we mean by language excluded, for him, the notion of the infant's mental life and understanding, and consequently also nursed a doubt in my understanding and description of the idea that the relationship between the psychoanalyst and the baby could be a dynamic force for the working through in the relationship between the baby and the mother. In Dr Flink's last response I found that our views have become closer to each other as he is not questioning the meaningfulness of the communication.

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