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Barratt, B.B. (2017). Opening to the Otherwise: The Discipline of Listening and the Necessity of Free-Association for Psychoanalytic Praxis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(1):39-53.

(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(1):39-53

Opening to the Otherwise: The Discipline of Listening and the Necessity of Free-Association for Psychoanalytic Praxis

Barnaby B. Barratt

(Accepted for publication 12 April 2016)

It is argued that only free-association methodically opens the discourse of self-consciousness (the representations available to reflective awareness) to the voicing of the repressed. The method is key to Freud's originality and the sine qua non of any genuinely psychoanalytic process. Clinical procedures which do not prioritize a steadfast and ongoing commitment to this method (instead emphasizing either interpretative formulations, as decisive acts that appear to fix and finalize the meaning of a particular lived experience, or the vicissitudes of transference-countertransference in the immediate treatment situation) all too readily entrap the treatment, limiting its capacity to divulge the power of unconscious processes. Influenced by Laplanche, Freud's 1920 principles of lifefulness and deathfulness (the binding and unbinding of psychic energy in representations) facilitate an understanding of the unique significance of free-associative discourse in opening the representational textuality of self-consciousness to the voicing of that which is otherwise than representationality and reason. The ‘otherwise’ is intimated as the returning force of the repressed, as the ‘unfathomable navel’ of ‘thing-presentations,’ experienced and expressed within the text of awareness, yet not translatable into the law and order of its logical and rhetorical reflections. Free-associative discourse thus affects self-consciousness in a way that is radically different from other creative procedures (‘psychosynthetic’ or integratively interpretive). In this respect, the status of free-associative praxis as necessary for a genuinely psychoanalytic process is justified.

[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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