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Bohleber, W. (2016). Introduction to Alfred Lorenzer's Paper ‘Language, Life Praxis and Scenic Understanding in Psychoanalytic Therapy’. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(5):1393-1398.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(5):1393-1398

Key Papers

Introduction to Alfred Lorenzer's Paper ‘Language, Life Praxis and Scenic Understanding in Psychoanalytic Therapy’

Werner Bohleber

In the contribution reproduced here, which dates from 1983, Alfred Lorenzer develops his conception of psychoanalytic knowledge and of the method whereby it is obtained. It forms part of the more comprehensive project to establish a new metatheory of psychoanalysis, centred on the scenic understanding of the unconscious. After a short biographical sketch, I shall describe by way of introduction the fundamentals of his metatheory of psychoanalysis.

Alfred Lorenzer was born in 1922; following his medical studies, he trained as a psychiatrist with Ernst Kretschmer at Tübingen University's clinic for nervous diseases. He completed his psychoanalytic training at Stuttgart's institute of psychotherapy and in Alexander Mitscherlich's psychosomatic clinic at the University of Heidelberg, and then worked at the Sigmund Freud Institute in Frankfurt, which was headed by Mitscherlich. He was a training analyst in the German Psychoanalytical Association (DPV). In 1971 he became Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Bremen, moving in 1974 to Frankfurt University, in whose sociology faculty he held a chair in the theory of socialization. A serious illness caused him to give up his scientific and psychoanalytic activity in 1991. He died in 2002.

On the basis of the Critical Theory due to Horkheimer and Adorno, an extraordinarily stimulating and fertile culture of discussion on such issues as scientific methodology in the social sciences, scientific objectivity, and the hermeneutic understanding of meaning had arisen in 1960s Frankfurt, embracing psychoanalysis too as a theory. The resulting dialogue between social scientists and psychoanalysts led to fruitful advances within the discipline of psychoanalysis. One of these was Alfred Lorenzer's project for a new metatheory of psychoanalysis. Lorenzer was one of the great theorists of German psychoanalysis. His scientific approach was concentrated on gaining a detailed understanding of the formation of knowledge in psychoanalysis and on placing psychoanalysis in the context of a theory of society.

From the beginning of his scientific career, he was concerned with the particularity of psychoanalytic understanding. His concept of scenic understanding enabled him to overcome the limitations of logical and psychological

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1 Translated by Philip Slotkin MA Cantab.

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[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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