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Indirect Speech And Communication

The Letter, Issue 25, Summer 2002, Pages 76 - 92


Colm Massey

What happens to the subject when confronted by speech or text whose origins or purpose are deliberately disguised? Irony, for example, is central to the clinical situation. The analyst is the one supposed to know, - at least that is why the analysand is drawn to him, when in fact the opposite is the case. The analyst poses as the one who knows, by promoting their knowledge in order draw the client, but refuses to impart it. A vacuum is created which draws the truth from the analysand. The analysand tells his story, but it is not, at least initially the true story. Why is this subterfuge necessary? What is in this counterfeit situation that provokes true speech? We know that the manifest content of the dream is a parable: Is the unconscious then the arch-ironist?

Although parallel speech and writing is confined to the symbolic order of language, there is a strong case for comparing this to the effectiveness of schemata, topology, algebraic formulae etc. as parallel modes of representation and symbolisation for psychoanalytic knowledge. If it is found that what is included under the title of parallel speech enhances and advances the meaning of the parent topic, then it may follow that symbolic representation (schemata, topology, algebraic formulae etc.) can enhance and progress psychoanalytic thinking. If it is seen that both of these parallel modes of communication are more than analogous, that they in fact add, develop, progress and enhance what we refer to as the parent topic, then there must be some reason, some connecting factor that overrides the apparently simplistic application of these (so-called) analogous techniques.

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