Language is an object of central interest both for psychoanalysts and for psychologists. Psychoanalysis, after all, was dubbed ‘the talking cure’ by one of Freud’s early patients because of the way it attempts to release psychic tension through verbal reminiscence of traumatic experiences. Despite the many alterations in analytic ideas and methods, the speech of analysts and analysands is still its primary mode of work and empirical data. More broadly, psychoanalysis deals with the symbolic world which is internal to each individual; this may be more extensive than language (a point disputed by some analytic schools), but language is a substantial component of it. Since Freud’s Psychopathology of Everyday Life, investigations of the use and mis-use of language have consequently been both the main clinical method available to practising analysts, and a research tool used to increase understanding of the relationship between conscious ‘discourse’ and unconscious desire.
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