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Ogden, T.H. (2005). On psychoanalytic writing. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(1):15-29.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(1):15-29

On psychoanalytic writing

Thomas H. Ogden

Analytic writing constitutes a literary genre of its own. It involves the linking of an analytic idea (developed in a scholarly manner) with an analytic experience created in the medium of language. What makes this literary genre so demanding is that experience—including analytic experience—does not come to us in words. This fact generates a paradox that lies at the core of analytic writing: analytic experience (which cannot be said or written) must be transformed into ‘fiction’ (an imaginative rendering of experience in words) in order to convey to the reader something of what is true to the emotional experience that the analyst had with the patient. The author discusses a clinical passage from one of his recently published papers in an effort to demonstrate some of the conscious and unconscious thinking that goes into his writing. He then looks closely at the way the language works in a successful piece of theoretical analytic writing. The paper concludes with a discussion of a number of facets of the author's experience with analytic writing including the psychological ‘state of writing’, which is at once a meditation and a wrestling match with language; experimenting with the form (structure) of an analytic essay; and the question of originality in analytic writing.

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