The Writing Cure: Psychoanalysis, Composition, and the Aims of Education

Synopsis

Psychoanalysis and writing instruction have much to offer each other, asserts Mark Bracher. In this book, Bracher examines the intersection between these two fields and proposes pedagogical uses of psychoanalytic technique for writing instruction.

Psychoanalysis reveals that the writing process is profoundly affected by factors that current theories have largely neglected -- forces such as enjoyment, desire, fantasy, and anxiety, which, moreover, are often unconscious. Articulating an approach based on the work of Jacques Lacan, Bracher shows how a psychoanalytic perspective can offer useful insights into the nature of the writing process, the sources of writing problems, and the dynamics of writing instruction. He further demonstrates that writing instruction constitutes the most favorable venue outside of individual psychoanalytic treatment for pursuing psychoanalytic research and practice. Like psychoanalytic treatment proper, writing instruction can function as a way of reducing psychological conflict,and as a means of pursuing psychoanalytic research into the workings of the mind. Empirical studies and personal testimonies have demonstrated the psychological (and even the physical) benefits of writing about personal conflict in an academic setting; such benefits promise to be enhanced and consolidated through the application of psychoanalytic principles to the teaching of writing.