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Olinick, S.L. (1984). Psychoanalysis and Language. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 32:617-653.

(1984). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 32:617-653

Psychoanalysis and Language

Review by:
Stanley L. Olinick, M.D.

It has often been commented that writing and printing have resulted in the loss of something very important, a direct linking and knowing between persons. Such linking is counterfeited in the pseudo intimacy of the telephone and of television; a pseudo intimacy may also be attained in the reading of some books.

To be sure, it has not been writing and printing alone that have led to this loss. It is the full impact of the industrializing of society, including the increased size and mobility of the population, which has also contributed heavily to this distancing of communication.

Does this direct knowing and linking return in the psychoanalytic situation? Is there a partial replacement or a renaissance of a more direct and primitive communication that had been lost? If so, what are the consequences?

Preliterate peoples have had different perceptions and orderings of experience than have members of Western industrial society. This is expressed and crystallized by their languages; in turn, language forms and patterns the disparate experiences of the groups. Technically advanced and sophisticated as modern languages are, they contain fossilized residues of earlier modes of thinking, feeling, and expression.

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