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Siggins, L.D. (1993). On Defining Freud's Discourse: By Patrick J. Mahony. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 1989, viii + 104 pp., $15.95.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 41:907-909.

(1993). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 41:907-909

On Defining Freud's Discourse: By Patrick J. Mahony. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 1989, viii + 104 pp., $15.95.

Review by:
Lorraine D. Siggins, M.D.

This short book is another one in Professor Mahony's series in which he subjects Freud's writings to a textual analysis. As an English professor and psychoanalyst he is well prepared for this undertaking. His primary thesis is that the content and the language of Freud's writing are inextricably interwoven. In arguing this point he works with Freud's distinction between "genetic discourse" and "dogmatic discourse." In the "dogmatic discourse" Mahony sees Freud as being logical and didactic, proving a theoretical point by logic and debate. On the other hand, he sees "genetic discourse" as an associative type of writing. In this mode Freud lays out the basic material in an associative rather than a logical way. He persuades the reader by bringing the reader along as he attempts to sort out the puzzle. Mahony feels that the form of genetic discourse is the same as that of analysis itself. It leads to understanding through the accumulation of associated ideas. Mahony argues that while Freud confined genetic discourse to his case histories early in his career, later he became more comfortable with this way of writing and extended it to his theoretical papers as well. This is to be seen in one of his final works, Analysis Terminable and Interminable. Mahony tells us that Freud used the style of genetic discourse to find his way through theoretical webs, that he elucidated his ideas through the form of his writing.

This discussion of genetic and dogmatic discourse takes place in the introduction and in the first chapter of the book.

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