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Thanopulos, S. (2005). Leonardo's phantasy and the importance of Freud's slip: The role of the analyst's phantasies in applied psychoanalysis and in the analytic relation. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(2):395-412.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(2):395-412

Leonardo's phantasy and the importance of Freud's slip: The role of the analyst's phantasies in applied psychoanalysis and in the analytic relation

Sarantis Thanopulos

In his paper on Leonardo, Freud made a slip. Referring to the bird which, according to one of Leonardo's memories, tossed its tail into the painter's mouth many times when he was a child, Freud replaced ‘kite’ with ‘vulture’. It is widely accepted that this slip doesn't significantly damage the whole of Freud's constructions on the paper, nevertheless, the part of his considerations relating to the meaning of ‘vulture’ should be discounted. In the author's view, this part of the Leonardo paper is necessary. Thanks to the slip Freud was able to reach a comprehension which otherwise would have been unattainable. Interpretation based on the vulture made possible the configuration of a mother as ‘daughter of the wind’, as was the case not only with Leonardo's mother but also with Freud's. Interpretation of Leonardo's phantasy was achieved through Freud's unconscious identification with Leonardo and the slip adequately interpreted becomes the evidence of this. Through identification, Freud succeeded in making sense of Leonardo's memory but also in realising an indirect virile possession of his own ‘winged’ mother. Freud's position as interpreting subject in his paper on Leonardo also has more general value: the analyst's knowledge about the ‘other’ has a very important basis in the indirect expression of his unconscious wishes within the field of sense. The author uses clinical material in order to show how the analyst's phantasies play an important role in analytical interpretive work.

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