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Arlow, J.A. (1979). Metaphor and the Psychoanalytic Situation. Psychoanal Q., 48:363-385.

(1979). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 48:363-385

Metaphor and the Psychoanalytic Situation

Jacob A. Arlow, M.D.


In the psychoanalytic situation one of the principal functions of the analyst is to interpret to patients certain contents of the patients' productions which are totally unknown to them. The communication and interpretation of unconscious meaning is made possible largely through the use of metaphor. Language is inherently metaphorical; its essential ambiguity permits quick transference of meaning from one phonic representation to another. This process may serve the purposes of wish fulfillment as well as defense. The technical and theoretical implications of metaphor in the psychoanalytic situation are fundamental to the psychoanalytic process.

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