Comments on Judy Gammelgaard's paper “Metaphors of listening”
Gammelgaard's paper raises several important issues which I would like to highlight and further develop. The paper begins with remarks concerning silence and listening in our society today, and then in relation to the analytic process, as well as reflections on listening as being at the border of language, not understanding rationally and cognitively but something closer to allowing ourselves to feel what is going on. Gammelgaard evokes those moments of “absolute presence” where we may even become (if we allow ourselves) momentarily helpless and disoriented. Listening is also described as creating a space where the unspoken can take shape and as a creative process on the borders of consciousness. The discussion then leads to what we listen to or sometimes even listen out for. Apart from material such as dreams and associations which the patient brings to the session, we are attentive concerning repetitions and surprises, and here the very interesting issues of nuance and style and linguistics in general are raised. The paper then continues more specifically with the use of the metaphor, with not only its semantic, but also its evocative and affect-releasing functions.
Schafer, in his book entitled The Analytic Attitude(1983), is of the opinion that the metaphor creates an experience one has never had before. It is not a mere paraphrase of an already fully constituted experience. Even if one has been dimly aware of it, the experience has not until now been fully realised.
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