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Etchegoyen, L. Mehler, J.A. (2004). Language and affects in the analytic practice. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(6):1479-1483.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(6):1479-1483

Language and affects in the analytic practice

Reported by:
Laura Etchegoyen

Moderator Jacqueline Amati Mehler

Opening the panel, Jacqueline Amati Mehler pointed out that language lies at the heart of human psychic development, and she referred to the ‘psycho-archeology’ of language as it is embedded in early affects and psychosensory experiences related to the world of primary object relationships and primary process. The acquisition and development of language implies the development of the symbolic function and the transition from bodily to mental. She mentioned that the possibility of translation, transcription and signification or resignification of lost or hidden meanings through free association constitute the main challenge to our ‘talking cure’. There seems to be an essential difference between what words can express and what they do not express because it is not in their domain. In this respect, she pointed out the importance of making the distinction—evident, but often overlooked—between pre-verbal and non-verbal.

All three panellists presented papers about the centrality of language and affects in the psychoanalytic endeavour.

Ana-Maria Rizzuto's paper, ‘Language and affects in the analytic practice’, continues from her research on speech, language and clinical practice, dating back over the last ten years. Rizzuto reiterated that the transformation of the analysand effected by analysis is mediated by verbal exchanges between the two participants. The transformative power of words is not limited to their cognitive or semantic meaning.

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