Interpretation Today - University College London 2015

Start: Dec 04, 2015 03:30 PM
End: Dec 06, 2015 01:00 PM

Location: Cruciform Building, Gower Street, University College London


Psychoanalysis depends upon repeatedly moving from the psychoanalyst’s receptive stance to the analysand’s thought, feeling and mode of relating - originally on dreams, parapraxes, symptoms, resistance and transference - to a more active one of ‘interpretation’, initially conceived in terms of other levels seen as disguised or unconscious. Famously, Paul Ricoeur applied the phrase, ‘the hermeneutics of suspicion’ to describe this aspect: like Sherlock Holmes, the psychoanalyst detected universal psychological crimes as well as the infantile levels of adult mental life in the forms that are individual for us.

There is much that is penetrating in this view, but it does not give an accurate impression of the psychoanalytic endeavour. Thus many other kinds of hermeneutics apply to it: for example, there is a hermeneutics of emotional responsiveness or of alimentary provision. Accordingly, a literary dream interpretation, such as Joseph’s in Egypt might aim to offer a solution to the Pharaoh’s anxious forebodings of famine. While psychoanalysis does have a hermeneutic aspect - arriving at meanings that may not always be obvious – most regard the psychoanalyst’s mode of action as requiring more than hermeneutics and semiotics. Quite different kinds of statements or acts with different purposes are put under the heading of ‘making an interpretation’: to impart knowledge, to offer a response to assuage inner loneliness or strangeness. They often involve descriptions of object relations on the surface more than hidden motives.

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