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(1970). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 39:169.

(1970). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 39:169

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

October 15, 1968. INTERPRETATION AND NAMING. Theodore Shapiro, M.D.

Shapiro, a participant in a Study Group on Linguistics at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, attempts to describe and clarify a part of psychoanalysis by using linguistic concepts. 'An interpretation is the restatement in speech of language expressions formerly indicated by more cumbersome, less manageable idiosyncratic forms.' By organizing a variety of phenomena under one heading, the analyst furthers the process of elucidating the meaning of the patient's behavior. Interpretation, a verbal event, can be viewed as 'naming' according to Shapiro, and can be subjected to linguistic formulations that enhance the analyst's ability to synthesize disparate data on the nature of the interpretative process. Among the interventions within the psychoanalytic process, the classification into names (interpretation) represents only an initial step in acquiring the insight and producing the behavioral changes that are the major aims of psychoanalysis.

Some of the linguistic theories of naming were reviewed. Freud was interested in the relationship of words to things and used 'a linguistic postulate' that thought is trial action. The linguists, Werner and Kaplan, believe that the connections between things, their labels, and the concepts they refer to is a problem of development. Vigotsky and Piaget emphasize that we learn words in a social matrix.

To demonstrate the heuristic value of the linguistic frame of reference, six models for the initial response to an interpretation are considered as indices of 'the cognitive and emotional value' to the patient of the analyst's interpretive verbalization. To account for failures of communication in analysis, Shapiro postulates an 'exchange barrier'. For 'knowing' to occur, the heard words of the interpretation must be associated with concepts that correspond to the 'denotative' meaning of the words. The relation between denotation and connotation may be affected by conventional changes in social-historical usage of words and by unconsciously significant personal ontogenetic associations. Unconscious connotations, like concepts of words, have associative connections with affective residues. Denial of an interpretation requires that the words be heard and the concepts for which they stand be understood. Only when new analytic data is produced is the path to denotations and connotations re-enforced and the interpretation verified.

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