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Kirsch, J. (2005). Ogden, Thomas. ‘On psychoanalytic writing’, Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 2005, 86, 1, pp. 15-29.. J. Anal. Psychol., 50(4):554-555.

(2005). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 50(4):554-555

Ogden, Thomas. ‘On psychoanalytic writing’, Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 2005, 86, 1, pp. 15-29.

Review by:
Jean Kirsch

Who among this Journal's readers has not desired to contribute to its clinical conversation? We have an analytic experience; we formulate a vague idea about it; we wish to communicate. Some of us write abundantly—with a confidence that may or may not be justified, especially when it blinds us to errors of scholarship, development, form, tone or voice. The rest of us scribble a few notes and perhaps look for a time to compose our thoughts and write. To our dismay, when we find the time, language balks. Words pour out in an unmanageable stream or dance just beyond the edge of recall. Ideas that looked solid last week refuse to stand upright, and the fresh experience that gripped us now seems evanescent. Words lie dead on our pages. Thoughts like, ‘This has all been said before!’ or ‘I'm no writer!’ may end the project. However, just trying will have taught us the enigmatic difficulty of saying what we have been through with our analysands in the encounter with the unconscious and our own notions of the complexity involved. If we persist, though, we may discover along with Thomas Ogden that creating with words can parallel the analytic experience and out of that fresh encounter with the unconscious be inspired to find ways to fictionalize the analytic events and thereby make them ‘real’. That, along with ‘an original analytic idea (developed in a scholarly manner)’ (p. 15), is what Ogden means by psychoanalytic writing.

He speaks of this in the present article wherein he also develops the notion that the analytic literature comprises a literary genre of its own, and is both creative and imaginative in the profoundest sense. This is a relatively new idea, but one that seems obvious once we reflect on the pleasures of reading some psychoanalytic writers. In the first two paragraphs, Ogden tells us what he thinks constitutes writing in this genre with a terse presentation of his point of view. He proceeds to develop this paragraph by opening it ‘clause by clause, sentence by sentence, as one might do in closely reading a poem’ (p. 25). This is a form of argument familiar to readers of Ogden, one that is particularly effective and enchanting.

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