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Int J Psychoanal. 1998 Oct;79:923-36.

A psychoanalytic concept of metaphor.

The International journal of psycho-analysis

A F Borbely

PMID: 9871831


Metaphor is defined as seeing something in terms of something else. Psychoanalysis sees the present in terms of the past and the past in terms of the present. It therefore relates past and present metaphorically to each other, which implies that both metaphor parts change each other. This view entails a broadening of the linguistic metaphor concept towards a supralinguistic, here psychoanalytic, one: metaphor is not only a phenomenon of language but of mentation; its units are not only words but psychodynamics. Familiar concepts of psychoanalytic theory are recast in the light of this psychoanalytic concept of metaphor. Symptoms are seen as the analysand's damaged ability to metaphorise past and present. Using interpretation the analyst helps the analysand to restore metaphorical processes that have been interrupted in their flow from the past to the present and from the present to the past. Metaphor restores the polysemy that is lost in neurotic suffering. The metaphorical processes within psychoanalysis are seen as common to all psychoanalytic schools that focus on the analysis of transference. The increasing attention the concept of metaphor is receiving within psychoanalysis is seen as related to a trend in today's science to more from objective categories to experiential ones.

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