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Abella, A. Zilkha, N. (2005). Response to Dr Sheppard. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(3):899-900.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(3):899-900

Response to Dr Sheppard Related Papers

Adela Abella and Nathalie Zilkha

Dear Sirs,

Sheppard raises the general problem as to the nature of ‘errors’ in the psychoanalytic interpretation of a cultural production. When a psychoanalyst puts forward a particular understanding, how are we to determine whether this reading is ‘correct’, pertinent and free of errors? Moreover, does it make sense to frame the question in these terms?

Freud approached art in several different ways. The first of these approaches, expanded in his study of Leonardo da Vinci (1910), seeks to link the representational content of a work with the supposed unconscious conflicts of the author. On the contrary, in his work on Gradiva (1907), Freud seeks to describe the unconscious of the work rather than the unconscious of the author. Freud then considers the work as a manifest content based on the model of the dream. From this perspective, the work of art is the product of a secondary processing that reveals traces of primary processes just as the dream does. It is precisely these traces that will be apprehended by the unconscious of the recipient through an evenly suspended listening that is akin to free association. This non-directed ‘imprecise’ listening, which may entail apparent ‘errors’, enables the viewer to ‘turn his own unconscious like a receptive organ towards the transmitting unconscious(Freud, 1912).

From this point of view, to return to Dogville, we can say that arrogance is expressed in turn by the father, by Grace and by other characters as well.

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