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Cooper, A. Tobin, A. (2000). Affect, Language and Communication: Loose Ends. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 81(2):320-323.

(2000). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 81(2):320-323

Affect, Language and Communication: Loose Ends

Arnold Cooper and Arnold Tobin

Arnold Cooper introduced the panel. Max Hernández presented a comprehensive discussion of the loose ends (see Hernández, 1999 and Boesky' discussion on page 257 of this issue). In reviewing important ideas in the three areas, he used a historical approach. He focused on the architecture and structure of relations between the three. They are all connected by language. He explained the connection that psychoanalysis has always had with language, starting with Freud. He reviewed the ideas of many contributors and stressed the importance of spoken language to the practising clinician and how he works to hear the unconscious. He mentioned thing and word representations; the two grammars need to be considered in any exploration of language and categories of critical thought.

In doing clinical work, we must use the affects to achieve understanding; he stressed how symptoms are often confined to the body and must be approached through affects since words cannot clarify the meaning. He returned to Freud and his ideas about energy and physics and the underlying connection between excitation and emotion. Affects suggest a quantitative approach, as opposed to ‘feelings’, which are related to sensations and feeling states of the body. Since language is complex and varies in use, we have to try to be specific. The concept of anxiety is central and complex, as is the issue of unconscious affects. We find conflicting tendencies in the unconscious. Language is limited in expressing ‘affective states that barely attain the condition of thinkability’, which is most evident in traumatic states.

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