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Harris, A. (1996). Symposium on Psychoanalysis and Linguistics: Part II. Psychoanal. Dial., 6(1):97-98.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 6(1):97-98

Symposium on Psychoanalysis and Linguistics: Part II

Adrienne Harris, Ph.D.

In this, the concluding installment of our symposium on the interdisciplinary encounter of psychoanalysis and linguistics, we present an engaging dialogue between Rosemary Pérez Foster and Carla Massey. Pérez Foster's paper illustrates the value and power of the interdisciplinary approach as she weds empirical and theoretical work on bilingualism and the psychology and neuropsychology of code switching with an extended clinical vignette from her bilingual treatment of a Hispanic woman. Both her theoretical analysis and the clinical case illuminate the complex experience of analytic work across and through languages. Perhaps we might think of the phenomena Pérez Foster describes as a special instance of the current interests manifest in the work of Philip Bromberg, Betty Joseph, Jody Davies, and others who carefully track the shifting self-states of analyst and patient in the analytic interaction. Code switching may be the more dramatic form of the subtle microshifts in subjectivity that many analysts are now encouraged to notice.

Carla Massey's critique raises a number of important questions. How, and why, would analysts draw on empirical work? Are the theoretical underpinnings of research and clinical process compatible? Drawing on the semiotic theory of Bakhtin, which stresses the practices of speaking rather than the universal structures of language, she questions the reification of culture and identity in speech. We have in this debate, and in Pérez Foster's spirited reply, a glimpse into fascinating and important conversations and disagreements about multiculturalism and difference. We can appreciate both the power and the limits of linking language, culture, and subjectivity.

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