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The Centrality of Metaphor and Metonymy in Psychoanalytic Theory and Practice

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Psychoanalytic theory is recast by interpreting the main psychodynamic concepts transference, interpretation, and defense temporally, and thereby showing their greater-thanassumed connection. They are congruent with each other as temporal metaphors, differing only regarding the direction and scale of influence. Transference interprets the present from the past; psychoanalytic interpretation as well as ongoing self-interpretation interpret the past from the present; healthy defense, tantamount to insight, is a second-order metaphor, metaphorically articulates the interpretation of transference, two first-order temporal metaphors. The psychoanalytic setting engenders a paradoxical tension between the basic rule (no censuring of personal feelings towards the analyst) and the basic contract (no personal relationship with the analyst beyond being coinquirers). This is conducive to metaphorization of traumatically lost metaphoricity. Metaphor theory, by resolving structural theory contradictions, simplifies psychoanalytic theory (e.g. “defense is understood as the interpretation of transference”), rendering it meaningful and accessible to nonanalytic cognitive scientists.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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