The Languages of Psychoanalysis  book cover
1st Edition

The Languages of Psychoanalysis

ISBN 9780203779064
Published September 5, 2013 by Routledge
224 Pages

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Book Description

In this remarkable survey of "the communicative repertory of humans," John Gedo demonstrates the central importance to theory and therapeutics of the communication of information.  He begins by surveying those modes of communication encountered in psychoanalysis that go beyond the lexical meaning of verbal dialogue, including "the music of speech," various protolinguistic phenomena, and the language of the body.  Then, turning to the analytic dialogue, Gedo explores the implications of these alternative modes of communication for psychoanalytic technique.  Individual chapters focus, in turn, on the creation of a "shared language" between analyst and analysand, the consequences of the analytic setting, the form in which the analyst casts particular interventions, the curative limits of empathy, the analyst's affectivity and its communication to the patient, and the semiotic significance of countertransference and projective identification.

Gedo does not proffer semiotics as a substitute for metapsychology.  He is explicit that communicative skill is always dependdent on somatic events within the central nervous system.  Indeed, it is because Gedo's hierarchical approach to communication builds on our current understanding of a hierarchically organized central nervous system that his clincal observations become insights into basic psychobiological functioning.  Grounded in Gedo's four decades of clinical experience, The Languages of Psychoanalysis points to a new venue of clinical research and conceptualization, one in which attentiveness to issues of communication will not only foster linkages with contemporary neuroscience, but also clarify and enlarge the therapeutic possibilities of psychoanalytic treatment.

Table of Contents

Part I: Psychoanalysis and Semiotics. Psychoanalysis and Nonverbal Communication. Protolinguistic Phenomena in Psychoanalysis. The Primitive Psyche, Communication, and the Language of the Body. Speech as Manipulation. Epigenesis, Regression, and the Problem of Consciousness. Part II: On the Analytic Dialogue. Treatment as the Development of a Shared Language. Channels of Communication and the Analytic Setup. Analytic Interventions: The Question of Form. Empathy, New Beginnings, and Analytic Cure. More on the Affectivity of the Analyst. On Countertransference and Projective Identification, and the Question of Intersubjectivity. Part III: Intrapsychic Communication. The Self as True or False, Crazy or Sane. Working Through as Metaphor for Treatment Modality. On Fastball Pitching, Astronomical Clocks, and Self-Cognition.

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John E. Gedo, M.D., retired in 1990 as Training and Supervising Analyst, Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. He is the author of numerous books for Analytic Press, including The Biology of Clinical Encounters (1991) and The Mind in Disorder (1998).


"The Languages of Psychoanalysis is the culmination of Gedo's many splendid theoretical contributions that aim at integrating contemporary developments within psychoanalysis with the yield from all the sciences that impinge on it and enrich it. His reconsideration of virtually every aspect of analysis, in particular the variety of 'voices' and affective experiences of analysands, enables him to provide a theoretical basis for both the psychology and the biology of motivation.  Thus, he gives us an outline of, and an introduction to, a future psychoanalysis that is open to all scientific, semantic, poetic, musical, and any number of other possible sources and insights, while remaining true to its biological roots."

- Henry Krystal, M.D., Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute

"In this remarkable volume, Gedo takes us on a whirlwind guided tour into the future of psychoanalysis.  It is a future where clinical psychoanalysis draws its sustenance from the several psychologies that underlie it rather than rusty metapsychology and where artificial dichotomies (such as mind-brain) collapse under the force of rigorous scientific thinking.  He depicts a clinical world where evidence truly counts toward assessing value, where data drive theories rather than vice-versa, and where analysands are provided with treatment rather than ideology.  His hierarchical model bridged clinical psychoanalysis with contemporary brain, cognitive, and developmental psychologies.  This future is Gedo's fervent wish, and the outlining of its possibilities is his signal contribution.  His ambitious intensity on behalf of his discipline further stamps The Languages of Psychoanalysis as critically significant for contemporary psychoanalysis."

- Arnold Wilson, Ph.D., Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research