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Meregnani, A. Ferro, A. (1995). Rivista di Psicoanalisi. XXXIX, 1993. Endopsychic Perception/Functional Phenomenon. Fausto Petrella. Pp. 113-132.. Psychoanal Q., 64:632-633.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Rivista di Psicoanalisi. XXXIX, 1993. Endopsychic Perception/Functional Phenomenon. Fausto Petrella. Pp. 113-132.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 64:632-633

Rivista di Psicoanalisi. XXXIX, 1993. Endopsychic Perception/Functional Phenomenon. Fausto Petrella. Pp. 113-132.

Anna Meregnani and Antonino Ferro

The paper opens with the definition of endopsychic perception and with the consideration that Freud's notion of it has not won a place in the lexicon of psychoanalysis. It does not even appear as a separate entry in The Language of Psycho- Analysis by Laplanche and Pontalis who dedicate an entry to Silberer's “functional phenomenon,” a close relation of endopsychic perception. The paper attempts to do justice to the concept which, in the author's opinion, occupies a significant place in the psychoanalytic conception of the psychic: the questions touched upon are not merely historical, lexical, or academic; they are also theoretical and clinical and involve the practice of interpretation. Petrella gives a concise, clear summary of the history of this notion, which undergoes two distinct phases in Freud's works, one preceding and one following the writings of Herbert Silberer. He then gives a brief summary of the history of Silberer's functional phenomenon and of Freud's reactions to it. According to the author, it is likely that the positions assumed by Freud played a role in eliminating the functional phenomenon from psychoanalytic theory, and with it endopsychic perception, with which it had been identified.

The author's final considerations are of great interest. Freud intuited and used the notion of endopsychic perception to ascertain that the mind functions self- referentially, but he was unable to develop adequate paradigms for a phenomenon which appeared circular, flawed, and tautological. What was needed was the idea of a cognitive circle that was not vicious. Such an idea has been proposed only recently in a new model of circularity. In connection with endopsychic perception, it should be pointed out that dreams, like human discourse in general, have the quality of representing, along with the story, the stage on which they are played. This means that the analyst and the patient, in addition to constructing stories which they re-elaborate incessantly, become the actors, spectators, and witnesses in a psychic process: the process itself may become the subject of the story or even the main theme of the narrative.

The notion of endopsychic perception introduces a particularly crucial issue of considerable interest: the unsettling circularity existing between the theoretical conception of the psychic and the fantasies one may have about it, or the existence of a self-representation which reflects the psychic process in visual images and is at the same time mirrored in the figures of the discourse used to speak about it, in other words, similes, analogies, metaphors, and allegories. Theory at a certain point resembles

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sembles a dream or a fantasy, and fantasy seems to contain more reality (both psychic and historical) than one may expect. Endopsychic perception shows the analyst that he is dealing with images that speak about images. And these images, even those that seem to concern the most remote outside world, always speak about us.

Finally, the author says that the identification of “functional aggregates” by Bezoari and Ferro, in the fantasies and talk of the patient and analyst, seems to point to a functional phenomenon that does not speak about the subject's mind but presents, rather, an imaginative reflection of the conditions of a relational field: thus imagination is treated in connection with a domain different from that of the mind—that of the field—of which the imaginative phenomena of the analysis are considered a function.

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Article Citation

Meregnani, A. and Ferro, A. (1995). Rivista di Psicoanalisi. XXXIX, 1993.. Psychoanal. Q., 64:632-633

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