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Fisher, J.V. (2014). The Evolution of the Analytic Process: Poetry and Psychoanalysis, Twin “Sciences” of the Emotions. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 4(1):5-21.

(2014). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 4(1):5-21


The Evolution of the Analytic Process: Poetry and Psychoanalysis, Twin “Sciences” of the Emotions

James V. Fisher

In this article the author explores some of T.S. Eliot's reflections on the nature of poetry and links these with evolving psychoanalytic assumptions on the contrast between the views of Freud and Bion. Noting contemporary neuropsychological interest in the emotions such as in the work of Antonio Damasio, the author suggests that both in Eliot's view of the enterprise of poetry and in Bion's theory of the psychoanalytic enterprise, emotion is the “heart of the matter”. The article attempts to clarify the distinction between thinking with our feelings (thinking feelingly) and the emotional idea, a distinction common to both Eliot and Bion—although expressed in different languages. The concept of imaginative identification is introduced as central to the recognition of emotional experience. In conclusion the author proposes that, in their capacity to explore and articulate emotional experience, one could view poetry and psychoanalysis as twin “sciences” of the emotions.

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