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Bucci, W. (2012). Is There Language Disconnected from Sensory/Bodily Experience in Speech or Thought? Commentary on Vivona. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 60(2):275-285.

(2012). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 60(2):275-285

Is There Language Disconnected from Sensory/Bodily Experience in Speech or Thought? Commentary on Vivona Related Papers

Wilma Bucci

Vivona offers a picture of “a young infant who not only understands something of the meaning of the speech she hears, but who also uses that speech to organize both her perception and her conceptualization of the world, perhaps beginning as early as three months of age …” (p. 255). She also makes strong claims concerning the clinical implications of this view:

What are the implications of the idea that language shapes the mind from the very earliest days of life? To state this boldly and even provocatively, there may be no form of self-experience that is profoundly or unequivocally beyond the reach of language, at least not in normal development. If this is so, then infancy provides no inherent justification for therapeutic approaches specifically designed to access modes of thought and being that are conceptualized as beyond language because they are before language in some sense [p. 256].

I'll comment here on several of these points: first, evidence concerning the role of language in the first year of life; second, whether there are forms of experience that are beyond the reach of language—and here I will talk not only about infancy but about the entire course of life; and third, the implications of research concerning language development for clinical work.


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