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Laplanche, J. (1992). Interpretation Between Determinism and Hermeneutics: A Restatement of the Problem. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 73:429-445.

(1992). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 73:429-445

Interpretation Between Determinism and Hermeneutics: A Restatement of the Problem

Jean Laplanche


The author opposes the two principal conceptions of interpretation: the deterministic conception predominant in Freud, in which the present is determined by the subject's actual past; and the creative hermeneutic conception, which traces its origins back not only to Heidegger and Ricoeur but also to Jung; in the latter view, interpretation cannot but be retroactive, assigning significance to a meaningless past.

The author shows that Freud, in exactly the same way as the hermeneuts in the opposing camp, remains the prisoner of the antithesis of factual reality and a purely subjective interpretation close to fantasy. He lacks a third category, that of the message whose meaning is immanent, in particular taking the form of the mostly non-verbal sexual messages conveyed by the adult to the small child.

The development of the human individual is to be understood as an attempt to master, to translate, these enigmatic, traumatizing messages.

Analysis is first and foremost a method of deconstruction (ana-lysis), with the aim of clearing the way for a new construction, which is the task of the analysand.

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