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Goldner, V. (1994). Theoretical Metaphors in Psychoanalysis: A Constructivist Commentary on John Lindon's “Gratification and Provision in Psychoanalysis”. Psychoanal. Dial., 4(4):583-594.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 4(4):583-594

Theoretical Metaphors in Psychoanalysis: A Constructivist Commentary on John Lindon's “Gratification and Provision in Psychoanalysis” Related Papers

Virginia Goldner, Ph.D.

In Jerome Bruner's (1993) astute and witty discussion of Donald Spence's (1993) paper “The Hermeneutic Turn,” he counterposes the “arid” project of scientific explanation and justification with a narratological alternative that addresses the psychological processes of “subjective construal and of meaning making” (p. 16). Dismissing the tradition of psychoanalytic scientism launched by Freud in one mischievous phrase, “the [view] that came before our expulsion from the garden of epistemological innocence,” Bruner insists on a hermeneutic stance for psychoanalysis. It comes down to this: “Scientific explanation … omits from consideration the [way] … we give meaning to human events—namely, through narrative…. To determine what something ‘means’ … you must locate it in the narrative in which it has been placed” (p. 16).

This is not only a truism to guide analytic listening, but in these epistemologically uncertain times, it is all we have to guide our judgments, of whatever kind. As truth has yielded to taste, and science to story-line, there is no longer, in the words of postmodern philosopher Jane Flax (1993), any “trancendental trump or universal measure of the good [and true]” (p. xii).

These observations are another way to make Mitchell's (1992) point about the change in truth status of the psychoanalytic case report from “evidential” to “illustrative and inspirational” (p. 444). I have relied on Mitchell's literary conceit of the analytic narrative as a variety of


Dr. Goldner is on the Editorial Board of Psychoanalytic Dialogues and is Co-Director of the Seminar in Psychoanalysis and Sexual Difference, New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University. She is also on the Senior Faculty of the Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy.

© 1994 The Analytic Press

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