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Bank, R. (1997). Psychoanalysis and The Myths We Work by: A Burkean View. Psychoanal. Rev., 84(6):865-889.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Review, 84(6):865-889

Psychoanalysis and The Myths We Work by: A Burkean View

Rona Bank


From the perspective of certain ideas in the linguistic philosophy of Kenneth Burke, this paper views psychoanalytic theorizing about motivation and development as mythopoetic activity and specifically views psychoanalytic developmental theory as the functional equivalent of myth. It is much in keeping with the Zeitgeist of epistemological philosophical ideas associated with many twentieth-century philosophies that understand the nature of human experience in terms of linguistic force, including the epistemological philosophical ideas associated with such contemporary philosophical movements as hermeneutics and social constructivism (or constructionism) which have so greatly influenced psychoanalytic thinking in recent years. Under the influence of these movements, the idea of truth in psychoanalysis has come to be considered more in contextual and linguistic terms than in terms of direct correspondence to objective and/or historical reality. Moreover, psychoanalysis as a treatment modality has come to be broadly understood as a process which generates narrative structures or personal myths and as a process through which meaning is as much created or constructed as discovered through the interplay of mutually inextricable strands of subjectivity and objectivity within and between the patient's and the analyst's experiences and views (Hoffman, 1991).

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