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Psychoanalysis on the Verge of Language: Clinical Cases on the Edge
Dana Amir
Routledge / Softcover / 2021-09-01 / 1032023708
price: $46.50 (may be subject to change)
110 pages
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This book examines the importance of language and writing in psychoanalytic theory and practice, offering an understanding of how language works can give a deeper insight into the psyche both in clinical practice and everyday life.

Bringing together psychoanalytic insights that hinge on the language of "difficult cases", this collection also includes contributions dedicated to meta-study of psychoanalytic writing. The first chapter shows how music includes tonal regions that deploy existing rules and syntax, alongside atonal ones dominated by caesuras, pauses, and tensions. The second chapter discusses the malignant ambiguity of revealing and concealing typical of incestuous situations, pinpointing how the ambiguous language of incest "deceives by means of the truth,". The third chapter brings in Virginia Woolf’s character Orlando in order to illustrate two types of gender crossing. Distinctions defined by the linguist Roman Jakobson help in the fourth chapter to offer an integrative description of obsessive-compulsive phenomenon as an interaction between metaphoric and metonymic dimensions, as well as with a third, psychotic dimension. The fifth chapter focuses on what is called the "screen confessions" typical of the perpetrator’s language. George Orwell’s "newspeak" is used here to decipher the specific means by which the perpetrator turns his or her "inner witness" into a blind one. The final chapter uses Roland Barthes’ concepts of "studium" and "punctum" to discuss the limits of psychoanalytic writing. As a whole, this book sets the psychoanalytic importance of language in a wider understanding of how language helps to shape and even create internal as well as the external world.

Drawing on insights from psychoanalytic theory and practice, as well as from linguistics and cultural theory, this book will be invaluable for psychoanalysts, psychoanalytic psychotherapists and bibliotherapists, as well as anyone interested in how language forms our reality.


"In this rich and prolific book Amir brings to our attention the many aspects of the relations between psychic processes and the principles of language. She casts a light on regions that are outside the reach of verbal expression or even clash with any effort at articulation. Her clinical innovations, anchored in her profound understanding of the mazes of psychic syntax, make a daring and original addition to the psychoanalytic canon." - Prof. Aner Govrin, Doctoral Program in Psychoanalysis, Hermeneutics & Cultural Studies, Bar-Ilan University

Table of Contents

Foreword by Aner Govrin. Prologue: The Body is All Ears 1. Tonality and Atonality in the Psychic Space 2. The Malignant Ambiguity of Incestuous Language 3. The Two Sleeps of Orlando: Gender Crossing as Caesura or Cut 4. The Metaphorical, the Metonymical and the Psychotic Aspects of Obsessive Symptomatology 5. ‘Screen Confessions’: A Fresh Analysis of Perpetrators’ ‘Newspeak.' 6. Epilogue: "Studium" and "Punctum" in Psychoanalytic Writing: Reading Case Stories through Roland Barthes

About the Author:

Prof. Dana Amir is a clinical psychologist, supervising and training analyst at the Israel psychoanalytic society, full professor and head of the interdisciplinary doctoral program in psychoanalysis at Haifa University, editor of Maarag – the Israel Annual of Psychoanalysis (the Hebrew University), poetess and literature researcher. Her previous non-fiction books are: Cleft Tongue (Karnac Books, 2014); On the Lyricism of the mind (Routledge, 2016); Bearing Witness to the Witness (Routledge, 2019).

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