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Køppe, S. (2016). Meaning, representations, and the preunconscious. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 39(1):70-79.

(2016). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 39(1):70-79

Meaning, representations, and the preunconscious

Simo Køppe

Arild Utaker´s article, Images and words: a reconsideration of the psychic dimension (2015), analyzes important concepts that are essential to discuss: the concept of meaning and the production of meaning within a psychoanalytic framework. One of Utaker´s important arguments is that images and words are to be understood as specific sensuous dimensions. They are not reducible either to something in reality, which is represented in the psyche, or to something definable only as forms or contours. Thus, meaning exists on its own and is not reducible to anything else. In the following I want to describe another way of defining meaning production, one that in some ways is parallel to Utaker´s definition in that it starts with the concept of sense or meaning in consciousness. In this description, I believe, there are some aspects that may enhance the discussion Utaker initiates.

I think there are some fundamental aspects in the psychoanalytic model of the psychic apparatus that have to be re-thought:

ο    It is very rare in psychoanalysis to discuss not only the ordinary sense modalities (the visual, the auditory, etc.) but also movement, language, and affects. Yet, the latter three also produce meaning, hence they are modalities as well. If psychoanalytic theory is going to incorporate meaning and meaning production as fundamental concepts, then it becomes necessary to have a more detailed theory of the constitution of the psychic modalities and, in particular, of the combination of them – because, to a great extent, meaning consists of elements from these modalities in combinations with one another.

[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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