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Parkin, A. (1979). Meaning and Mechanism in Psychoanalysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 60:481-487.

(1979). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 60:481-487

Meaning and Mechanism in Psychoanalysis

Alan Parkin


Within the metapsychology of psychoanalysis the economic and the dynamic viewpoints refer, respectively, to the somatic and the psychic processes, which to Freud were mysteriously linked in a relationship of psychophysical parallelism. It is suggested that the relationship of these two processes may be more heuristically expressed as one of psychophysical interactionism in which the somatic processes are understood in the material-mechanistic deterministic concepts of the economic point of view and the psychic processes are understood in the hermeneutic indeterministic concepts of the dynamic point of view. The interacting or transitional processes between the two occur in the unconscious where somatic processes become psychic ones, where mechanism assumes meaning, and where the principle of determinism is ultimately limited by the indeterminism of the teleological or forward-looking capacity of consciousness. The limitation of the determinism of the unconscious processes by the indeterminism of the conscious ones contributes to the therapeutic possibility of change consequent upon the interpretive making of the unconscious conscious.

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