Friday, February 15, 2013

Ferro & Foresti - Characters in Psychoanalytic Dialogue

"Every analysis session is characterized by the emergence and taking shape of stories in which "characters" of various forms and emotional depth play a significant role. These characters emerge to a greater or lesser extent from the discourse that the analytical couple develops: they supply complex and often enigmatic storylines that, in the course of the work, will prove to be more or less important and/or constant. In order for the therapeutic process to progress, the analyst must firstly try to understand the psychic function of these figures, and secondly intuit how they can be used to develop the couple's interaction and dialogue. To this aim, the therapist uses the conceptualizations and indispensable theoretical options that are the foundation of his professional and personal identity.

We believe that the interdisciplinary study of the "character" can be a useful addition to the traditional psychoanalyst's conceptual tools: the transference and the object. We will try to show the ideas that lie behind how different clinical-theoretical models of psychoanalysis look at characters...

The authors propose the use of the narratological category of "character" in psychoanalysis. They consider this notion useful in studying clinical material because it may help in making clearer the distinction between the clinical development of dialogue and the theoretical options that can be used to conceptualize the interaction. In order to facilitate theoretical comparison and effective technical integration, the authors outline three main schemes commonly found in different psychoanalytic traditions: (a) the models with a strong bias toward a reality-oriented approach, which could be defined "individual-historical;" (b) the models focused on the patient's internal world, which will be defined as "individual-phantasmatic;" and (c) the models centered on the study of the intersubjective clinical facts and usually referred to as theories of the "bipersonal psychoanalytic field." The hypothesis developed in the paper is that the characters of the psychoanalytic materials are to be considered both as a part of a text, which is endowed with a certain stability in the patient's inner world, and as a component of a dialogue that is prone to living dialectical exchanges and transformations."
(p. 71)

Antonio Ferro and Giovanni Foresti (2008). "Objects" and "Characters" in Psychoanalytical Texts/Dialogues. International Forum of Psychoanalysis, Vol. 17, pp. 71-81

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