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Heenen-Wolff, S. (2007). From Symbolic Law to Narrative Capacity: A Paradigm Shift in Psychoanalysis?. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 88(1):75-90.

(2007). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 88(1):75-90

From Symbolic Law to Narrative Capacity: A Paradigm Shift in Psychoanalysis?

Susann Heenen-Wolff

In the Freudian perspective, the primal phantasies, a reflection of prehistory, oblige us through our phylogenetic heritage and its repetition in the ontogenetic to recognize the limits of generation and sex, to submit to the symbolic law represented by the father of the primal horde and to find—as is sought in the treatment—one's ‘right’ place in the primal scene (Oedipus complex). Clinical experience with patients suffering from narcissistic disorders soon led certain analysts to propose a paradigm change, which has brought about important modifications to technique, but also, more recently, modifications at the level of metapsychology. Certain contemporary analysts have a conception of the subject focused on processes of interaction and communication between ‘thinking apparatuses’ in the here and now. The author shows that this current development is taking place in parallel with major trends in our postmodern era in which communication and negotiation replace former religious, mythical, philosophical, moral or political beliefs.

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