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Rizzuto, A. (2011). Discussion. Psychoanal. Inq., 31(2):185-201.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 31(2):185-201


Ana-María Rizzuto, M.D.

The aim of my discussion is to assess whether the author's contributions are apt to support the notion that the metaphoric process offers a common ground for dialogue among psychoanalytic schools. I have been asked to focus on theoretical considerations.

Common ground means that at least a majority of psychoanalytic perspectives consider the metaphoric process essential for the understanding of the psychoanalytic process and for the theoretical understanding of the mind. Difficult questions face me as a discussant of theoretical issues: Where does metaphor fit in psychoanalytic theory? Waelder (1962) stated that psychoanalytic theory is composed of “different parts which have different degrees of relevance” (p. 619). Metaphor appears first at the level of observation manifesting many aspects of the configuration of the patient's mind. The level of clinical interpretation introduces the first obvious complexity for the understanding of each particular metaphor or metaphoric activity. The interpenetration of words, feelings, and actions during an analytic moment requires that metaphor or the metaphoric process be understood, synchronically and diachronically, as opening up the meaning they might have as a psychic event for both participants. The collective effort of the analytic community has always tried to organize into a comprehensive understanding the repeated appearance of similar phenomena into generalizations at the clinical level, classifying them—usually under a metaphoric term—as group of phenomena that form particular configurations be it of symptoms, type of experience or other groupings.

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