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Torvanger, M.S. (2016). Delving into psychoanalytic texts: the notion of the reading third. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 39(1):3-12.

(2016). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 39(1):3-12

Articles

Delving into psychoanalytic texts: the notion of the reading third

Merete Sæbø Torvanger

In this article I introduce the notion of the reading third, which evolves during the reading process. The idea came to my mind while studying Wolfgang Iser’s theory of the reading process, and already knowing about Thomas Ogden’s concept of the analytic third: What is experienced, shaped and understood while reading a text? The notion of the reading third is based on psychoanalytic theory and method like just Ogden’s concept, and on the aesthetic response theory of Iser. Elaborating the reading third, I combine two modes of reading: one understanding and interpreting, and one floating and experiencing mode. To these modes I add two different understandings of truth. The first mode is connected to a traditional, objective and visible truth. The latter mode relies on Wilfred Bion’s concept of O, a special kind of evasive, ephemeral truth. The reading third takes and loses form as one reads, accentuating reading as a highly creative activity, where each reading elicits different understandings, experiences and truths. I give examples of such a way of reading psychoanalytic texts like those of Bion and a work of fiction, Henry James’ short novel The Turn of the Screw.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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