This book is an attempt to analyse psychic language and its diverse modes of expression, both within psychic structure and in the interpersonal realm. It begins by looking at two basic forms of delay in the development of psychic language: concrete language, which is based on flattening, and pseudo-language, which is rooted in concealment. The next chapter focuses on the split between voice and meaning which marks psychotic syntax, and the latter's double function in defending the self against an unconscious death wish.
The subject of the third chapter is the chameleon language of perversion, and the relationship between the perverse structure and the primal scene. This chapter is followed by one that suggests understanding autistic syntax as an inverse use of the psychic musical 'organ point'. The fifth chapter discusses the absent function of the inner witness in traumatic language.
The sixth chapter discusses psychosomatic language through the distinction between metaphorical, metonymical and psychotic bodily expressions. The final chapter is dedicated to the singular ethics of interpretation. The various chapters, most of them already published in psychoanalytic journals, include detailed clinical illustrations as well as close readings of literary works by Rilke, Beckett, Sartre, Brodsky and Celan.
--- from the publisher
Reviews and Endorsements:
‘Beautifully written, Dana Amir's book is a gift to the practising clinician. It exposes with great sensitivity the importance of understanding the patient’s “internal grammar”, allowing us to go beyond the spoken word so as to grasp the patient’s idiosyncratic psychic language. This book should be essential reading for all clinicians and deserves to become a classic text.’
— Professor Alessandra Lemma, Unit Director, Psychological Therapies Development Unit, The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust
‘This book may well enter the pantheon of psychoanalytical thinking. With surgical skill, Dana Amir inserts language and its poetic use into the very heart of psychopathology and the clinical work with it.’
— Professor Golan Shahar, Department of Psychology, Ben Gurion University, Israel; Yale University, USA
‘Dana Amir’s book brings new tidings to psychoanalytical writing. It is subtle, literate, and very wise.’
— Dr Eran Rolnik, the Israeli Psychoanalytic Society, author of Freud in Zion: Psychoanalysis and the Making of Modern Jewish Identity
‘The psychoanalyst and poetess Dana Amir develops a unique opportunity to get to know, to contemplate, and to “dream” the psychoanalytical clinic, making use of extensive psychoanalytical knowledge, detailed case descriptions, and reference to literary works. A book both rich and enriching.’
— Dr Ofra Eshel, Winnicott Center; the Israeli Psychoanalytic Society
‘Over and beyond its central preoccupation with language, this is an illuminating textbook for both the lay reader and the experienced professional, making these psychopathological structures incomparably accessible and lucid.’
— Meirav Roth, the Israeli Psychoanalytic Society; Tel Aviv University Psychotherapy Program
‘Cleft Tongue invites a reflective, slow, pleasurable reading. It stretches between abyss and heaven, fissure and fusion, finite and infinite. It moves between wound and beauty, between voice and gaze, between the immanent and the transcendental. Those, nothing more or less, are its dimensions.’
—Hagit Aharoni, The Israeli Psychoanalytic Society
‘Dana Amir’s book does not merely add “more material” to the psychoanalytical corpus. It examines the language in which this material is written and read.’
— Dr Yossi Triest, Chair of the Scientific Committee, The Israeli Psychoanalytic Society
About the Author:
Dr Dana Amir is a clinical psychologist, psychoanalyst, poetess and literature researcher. She is the author of four poetry books and two psychoanalytic non-fiction books. She is the winner of the Adler National Poetry Prize (1993), the Bahat Prize for Academic Original Book (2006), the Frances Tustin Memorial Prize (2011), the Prime-Minister Prize for Hebrew Writers (2012), and the IPA Sacerdoti Prize (2013). Cleft Tongue, her second non-fiction book, has recently received the Israel Science Foundation Grant. Dana Amir's papers were published in psychoanalytic journals and presented at national and international conferences. She is a lecturer at Haifa University and practices psychotherapy and psychoanalysis.