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Gerhardt, J. (2003). Does or Should the Past Go Away? Commentary on Paper by Donna M. Orange. Psychoanal. Dial., 13(1):105-127.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 13(1):105-127

Does or Should the Past Go Away? Commentary on Paper by Donna M. Orange Related Papers

Julie Gerhardt, Ph.D.

In Donna Orange's interesting paper, psychoanalysis is put into dialogue with philosophy as a royal road for questioning certain essentialist habits of thought as Orange asks us to consider the continued viability of certain overly freighted theoretical descriptors given recent shifts in theoretical assumptions. Instead of being viewed as neutral, timeless, culturally disembodied descriptors, our psychoanalytic lexicon is itself sociohistorically grounded in a particular tradition or assumptive context. Thus, given recent shifts in the assumptions on which psychoanalysis is grounded, the continued use of terms from a previous world view or context, without explicit reflection, is, according to Orange, at the least, problematic. The present commentary seeks to raise questions about the reasonableness of Orange's claims—including the use of reason itself as a way into this problem-space. In short, it is argued that the semantic structure of many words in a natural language lexicon derives from the fact of our embodiment—such that the controversial terms are claimed to rest on a background of prereflective, bodily based experiences that exist as echoes saturating the use of such terms. To strip our theoretical discourse of the use of the terms in question would seriously jeopardize losing the layers of sedimented meanings based on unconscious associations that echo through their continued use.

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