Interpretation and Difference: The Strangeness of Care

Interpretation and Difference: The Strangeness of Care

Interpretation and Difference: The Strangeness of Care

Interpretation and Difference: The Strangeness of Care

Excerpt

This book is the companion to Difference and Disavowal: The Trauma of Eros (2000). Difference and Disavowal was written with an audience of psychoanalytic clinicians in mind, whereas this work is more specifically philosophical. But the two books are really one. In the preface to Difference and Disavowal I already began to explain that deconstructive thought sheds light on a problem at the limit of psychoanalysis as therapy—resistance to interpretation itself. This clinical argument about resistance to interpretation will introduce the philosophical issues.

How to understand patients who stay in analysis while resisting the interpretive process? These patients, who are surprisingly common, know that analysis is really about interpretation and yet seem not to know it. In two brief papers, Freud (1924a, b) began to examine the kind of perverse relation to the external world in which one simultaneously does and does not know something. A fantasy can be applied like a patch over the objectionable reality. But the very existence of such a defensive patch indicates that the reality is known. This is the beginning of the theory of ego splitting, of oscillation between reality and the fantasy replacement for it. In his paper on fetishism Freud called this process “disavowal”—the registration and repudiation of reality.

The understanding of fetishism as a compromise between registration and repudiation of reality was an important advance in rethinking the ego’s relation to the external world. Freud had previously spoken of “reality testing” in fairly simple terms, but he now understood that the ego can split itself, can know and not know reality. However, the new understanding of fetishism also contains a major inconsistency. The theory is . . .

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