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Lepper, G. (2009). The Pragmatics of Therapeutic Interaction: An Empirical Study. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(5):1075-1094.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(5):1075-1094


The Pragmatics of Therapeutic Interaction: An Empirical Study

Georgia Lepper

(Final version accepted 9 April 2009)

The research reported in this article aims to demonstrate a method for the systematic study of the therapist/patient interaction in psychoanalytic psychotherapy, drawing upon the tradition and methods of ‘pragmatics’ - the study of language in interaction. A brief introduction to the discipline of pragmatics demonstrates its relevance to the contemporary focus of clinical theory on the here-and-now dynamics of the relationship between analyst and patient. This is followed by a detailed study of five segments from the transcript of a therapeutic dialogue, drawn from a brief psychoanalytic psychotherapy, in which therapist and patient negotiate the meaning of the patient's symptom: Is it psychosomatic? The research seeks to show how the therapeutic process can be observed and studied as an interactional achievement, grounded in general and well-studied procedures through which meaning is intersubjectively developed and shared. Implications of the analysis for clinical theory and practice, and further research, are discussed.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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