The Role of Reading in Analysis

In Lacanian psychoanalysis, the patient’s/analysand’s speech can be “read” as if it were text. Writing about this idea Shoshana Felman says,

Lacan's view is more radical than that. For the activity of reading is not just the analyst's, it is also the analysand's: interpreting is what takes place on both sides of the analytic situation. The unconscious, in Lacan's eyes, is not simply the object of psychoanalytical investigation, but its subject. The unconscious, in other words, is not simply that which must be read. [Emphasis mine]

Reading this reminded me of something Éric Laurent also wrote.

Psychoanalysis is a practice of speech. It involves two partners, the analyst and the analysand, brought together in a single psychoanalytic session. The analysand speaks about what brings him there, his suffering, his symptom. This symptom is hooked into the materiality of the unconscious, made out of things that have been said to the subject, that have hurt him, and things that are impossible to say and cause him suffering. An analyst will punctuate the words of the analysand and enable him to weave the thread of his unconscious. The powers of language and the truth effects that it enables, what is called interpretation, is the actual power of the unconscious. Interpretation is apparent on both sides, analysand and analyst. They do not both have the same relation to the unconscious, however, since one has already carried this experience through to the end whereas the other has not. [Emphasis mine]

Éric Laurent Guiding Principles for Any Psychoanalytic Act .

Shoshana Felman, Jacques Lacan and the Adventure of Insight: Psychoanalysis in Contemporary Culture (Harvard University Press, 1987), 21.

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