Interpretation and Change in Psychoanalysis: What is Left of Classical Interpretation

Psychoanalytic interpretation, traditionally considered the specific intervention of the analyst and the driving force of therapeutic change, is presently in a state of profound crisis. A symptom of this is the prevailing uncertainty in defining this type of intervention. Originally, in The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), Freud linked the meaning of the term "interpretation" to the clarification of a hidden meaning(1). This definition has long characterized the meaning attributed to the term "interpretation" as intervention in analysis, as in Laplanche and Pontalis's definition in The Encyclopedia of Psychoanalysis; there interpretation is defined

Lucia Pancheri
The Crisis of Interpretation

Interpretations and the management of transference are the particular working tools of psychoanalysisas any psychoanalyst, regardless of school or trend, would agree. Knowing how to use, and limiting oneself to, these two tools, distinguishes an analyst from other psychotherapists. Yet, in recent decades, in both analytic practice and theory, a certain disdain for interpretation has taken hold. (1) Many analysts try to not interpret, and would seemingly agree with those films which poke fun at analysts who blurt out interpretations such as: "You left your umbrella with me. What you really wanted to leave me was your penis." For an increasing number of scholars influenced by structuralism or cognitivism (whether analysts or not), the interpretive keys offered by the various schools tend to appear both arbitrary and dogmatic. Arbitrary, either because they are not based on any proof of a scientific character which might render them plausible, or because they are founded on a pre-constituted theory of the unconscious. And dogmatic because they sustain something by way of an arbitrary choice: "x means y simply because the theory says so".

Sergio Benvenuto
Freud and the Dream of Dreams (1)

The first detailed interpretation of a dream presented by Freud was of the one he himself had the night of July 23/24, 1895, and analyzed the next morning. This so-called "dream of Irma" paved the way to the unconscious and represents the cornerstone of psychoanalysis.

Silvia Vegetti Finzi
Crisis of the Soul and the Primacy of Technology

A conversation between Giorgio Mosconi and Umberto Galimberti

Giorgio Mosconi and Umberto Galimberti
An Introduction to Cornelius Castoriadis’ Work

Cornelius Castoriadis (1922-1997), the philosopher of social imagination, was a political activist and a revolutionary theorist. Castoriadis, after his education in Athens and his arrival in Paris in 1945, founded with Claude Lefort and others the group and journal "Socialisme ou Barbarie" (1949-1965), while working simultaneously as a professional economist at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In order to avoid deportation from France, Cornelius Castoriadis wrote his political texts under pseudonyms (namely Chaulieu, Cardan, Coudray) until his naturalization as a French citizen at the end of the 1960s. English translations of his writings were circulated at that time by "Socialisme ou Barbarie"'s sister organization in London, "Solidarity".

Fabio Ciaramelli
A Conversation between Sergio Benvenuto and Cornelius Castoriadis (1)

Benvenuto: You are a philosopher of politics, but you are also a practicing psychoanalyst. Does your profession of analysis have an influence on your philosophical concepts? Castoriadis: There is a very strong bond between my concept of psychoanalysis and my concept of politics. The aim of both is human autonomy, albeit via different processes. Politics aims at freeing the human being, …

Sergio Benvenuto and Cornelius Castoriadis
Anorexia and Femininity

In the last two decades there has been an astonishing increase of eating disorders all over the industrialized world. Up to the sixties, cases of anorexia nervosa were a rarity. Bulimia nervosa as a nosographic label had to be described and would receive its name only as late as 1979. From then on, both anorexic and bulimic forms of behavior have been spreading among high school and college students, starting at the social and economical higher levels to reach progressively the lower strata of the population; spreading from the more affluent nations (first of all USA and UK) to the less advanced communities; and taking root especially among persons of the female sex. Girls outnumber boys in the ratio of 10:1 (some authors say 6:1). The disproportion is large enough to support the idea of a strong, maybe even intrinsic link, though of a conflicting kind, between anorexia and femininity.

Pierrette Lavanchy
On Feminine Sexuality(1)

The genital difference between men and women in their subjective image of reunified post coital power

Françoise Dolto
European Journal of Psychoanalysis