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Skelton, R.M. (2002). Replies to JAP's Questionnaire. J. Anal. Psychol., 47(1):57-65.

(2002). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 47(1):57-65

Replies to JAP's Questionnaire Related Papers

Ross M. Skelton, Ph.D.


I think the notion of ‘interpretation’ is vastly overrated by analysts - at least in the sense that the analyst can say what events ‘mean’. I favour an approach where there is a kind of ‘perpetual interview’ which draws the patient's attention now this way, now that way. I have always felt that even and especially the initial interview is a structuring event. The analyst's evident interest in some things and not in others exerts an influence on the way patients come to see themselves. The analyst's questions suggest an alternative ‘grammar’ for living.

Lacan's idea is that we are ‘written into’ the local culture of the family into which we are born and therefore into our society. Another way of seeing this is to imagine a baby being born on stage where a scripted drama is in progress. The parents will already be involved in their own dramatic relationships not only with each other but also with other people in their lives. In particular this includes especially those dramatic relations into which they were drawn by their own parents. The ‘script’ of this play is something the baby must slowly come to learn and must play its part. Eventually, out of the desires foisted upon it by parents and others, the child will come to articulate its own desire. From this perspective, psychoanalytic enquiry seeks to touch on the original script or ‘writing’ of the family in the patient and through this contact with alienated desire helps a patient to find his or her own desire.

In the early sessions with a patient I am inclined to show less interest in the actual symptoms unless these are pressing anxiously for attention. The reason for this is that these will be part of the patient's habitual script or rationalization - what he or she sees as ‘reasonable’.

Largely given by the family, this habitual view people have of themselves is often absolute or to use a Lacanian term, ‘imaginary’ and often very difficult to dissolve. This is exemplified by a Sufi teaching story: A man smuggles in a prison escape plan.

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