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Burying Freud

[ Burying Freud Homepage | Freud's Seduction Theory Homepage ]

Contributors to this website may find useful my just released book, Between the Lines: Unconscious Meaning in Everyday Conversation. New York: Plenum Press. 
For Table of Contents, see
http://www.plenum.com/title.cgi?0306460092

The following précis will briefly outline the book’s basic ideas and its relationship to psychoanalysis.

Psychoanalysis and Cognitive Science:

Search for a Common Set of Operations and Psychodynamics

Robert E. Haskell

                In a little cited article by Jean Piaget (1973)  entitled “The affective unconscious and the cognitive unconscious,”  originally an invited presentation before the Plenary Session of the  American Psychoanalytic Association, Piaget  said, “I am persuaded that a day will come when the psychology of cognitive functions and psychoanalysis will have to fuse in a general theory which will improve both, through mutual correction” (p. 250). While this day has yet to even approach its high noon, it has been slowing dawning since the 1950's with the classic work of Dollard and Miller (1950), but not without continued controversy on both sides. 

                Let me say first that I am not a clinician, but was weaned on Freud and have continued an interest in Freud’s work (1968, 1999, in press). My interest , however, has always been in Freud as a cognitive psychologist, not as a therapist or a developmental theorist. In particular, my interests has been in unconscious cognitive operations as evidenced in Freud’s writings on dream work mechanisms, jokes, and parapraxes. 

                 For cognitive scientists, there perhaps have been few other phenomena that have raised as much controversy as the concept of an unconscious mind. Indeed, until recently, when most cognitive researchers addressed the concept of an unconscious, the term nonconscious has typically been used to separate them from Freud.

                For cognitive psychology, one  major problem with psychoanalysis is the interpreting of unconscious or symbolic meaning. From my small group dynamics laboratory courses, over the last twenty years I have been developing a qualitative cognitive and linguistic methodology for analyzing and validating unconscious meaning in conversations (1991). For example, I have found that literal stories in conversations are often “symbolic,” or “metaphorical” references to what is actually happening in the social situation where the conversation is occurring. Because I have developed a cognitive linguistic framework, I call such unconscious meaning, subliteral.

                While I can not present the methodology (see Appendix in my book) here, the structure  of what I have come to call subliteral meaning is initially arrived at as follows: A literal conversation,

                (a) about four people in a bar, (b) two of whom are male and two female, who

                (c) are being boisterous, and who (d) are dominating the social interaction

can be hypothesized as having subliteral meaning when the membership composition and interaction in the group isomorphically corresponds or matches the ostensibly literal conversation: For example, when the conversation is in isomorphic correspondence to the actual conversational situation where

                (a') four group members, (b') two of which are male and two are female who

                (c') are being boisterous and who (d') are verbally dominating the group interaction

The hypothesis is further supported when the literal report about the four people in a bar is later changed to three people when one of the verbally dominant members is absent from a group session. Additionally, the gender composition of (a) and (a') exactly match. Subliteral narratives generate much more complex and detailed meanings. The implications of my methodology for psychoanalytic interpretation are considerable.

                Interestingly, a couple of years ago, I was informed about the work of psychoanalyst Robert Langs who developed a new school of psychotherapy based on very similar phenomena that he calls “derivatives.” Langs (see,1983) and I both discovered this phenomenon independently at about the same time but were not aware of each others work (see Chapter 12 of my book). Contrary to the more “pop” versions and understandings of psychoanalysis, Freud did not recognized such unconscious communications, though he came close (for a history see, Smith, 1991, Myers, 1996).

                In addition, Lang sand I come from different disciplines and frameworks. Being more linguistic and cognitive, my view of Langs derivative phenomena is that its underlying set of operations are not psychoanalytic dependent. Rather psychoanalysis is an overlay on a more fundamental set of cognitive operations.

                So, while Piaget called for a rapprochement between psychology and psychoanalysis, he did not indicate what such a rapprochement might look like.  Will it be a merger, a blending, an overlapping set of concepts, a reduction of one to the other, or just a mutually informed influence on each other? The latter, of course has already occurred more than cognitive scientists are wont to admit. Whatever the underlying set of operations of my systems of analyzing and validating subliteral meaning turn out to be, we have Freud’s cognitive insights to thank for point the way.

 

References

Dollard, J. and Miller, N. E. (1950).  Personality and psychotherapy.  New York: McGraw-Hill.

Haskell, R.E. (1999/2000) Unconscious Communication: Communicative Psychoanalysis and Subliteral Cognition. Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis. Forthcoming.

            Haskell, R.E. (1999).  Between the Lines: Unconscious Meaning in Everyday Conversation. New York: Plenum Press.

Haskell, R.E. (1991).  An analogical methodology for the analysis and  validation of anomalous cognitive and linguistic operations in small group (fantasy theme) Reports. Small Group Research, an International Journal of Theory, Investigation and Application, 22,  443-474.

Haskell, R.E.. (1968). The analogic and psychoanalytic theory. The Psychoanalytic Review, 55            662-680

Langs, R. (1983). Unconscious communication in everyday life. New York: Jason Aronson.

Myers, P. (1996). Sándor Ferenczi and patients’ perceptions of analysis. British Journal of Psychotherapy 13(1) 26-36

Piaget, J. (1973). The affective unconscious and the cognitive unconscious. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 21, 249 -261.                       

Smith, D. L. (1991). Hidden conversations: An introduction to Communicative psychoanalysis.

Professor of Psychology
Associate Editor, Journal of Mind and Behavior
University of New England (USA)
Hills Beach Road, Biddeford, Maine 04005
Email
rhaskell@javanet.com
Telephone (207) 934-1897; Facsimile 207 934 5009 
http://www.faculty.une.edu/cas/rhaskell/index.htm
or http://www.une.edu/sbs/haskell.htm

 


human-nature.com
© Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young - Last updated: 28 May, 2005 02:29 PM

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 | Human Nature | The Human Nature Daily Review | Psychiatry Research Online |

Burying Freud

[ Burying Freud Homepage | Freud's Seduction Theory Homepage ]

Contributors to this website may find useful my just released book, Between the Lines: Unconscious Meaning in Everyday Conversation. New York: Plenum Press. 
For Table of Contents, see
http://www.plenum.com/title.cgi?0306460092

The following précis will briefly outline the book’s basic ideas and its relationship to psychoanalysis.

Psychoanalysis and Cognitive Science:

Search for a Common Set of Operations and Psychodynamics

Robert E. Haskell

                In a little cited article by Jean Piaget (1973)  entitled “The affective unconscious and the cognitive unconscious,”  originally an invited presentation before the Plenary Session of the  American Psychoanalytic Association, Piaget  said, “I am persuaded that a day will come when the psychology of cognitive functions and psychoanalysis will have to fuse in a general theory which will improve both, through mutual correction” (p. 250). While this day has yet to even approach its high noon, it has been slowing dawning since the 1950's with the classic work of Dollard and Miller (1950), but not without continued controversy on both sides. 

                Let me say first that I am not a clinician, but was weaned on Freud and have continued an interest in Freud’s work (1968, 1999, in press). My interest , however, has always been in Freud as a cognitive psychologist, not as a therapist or a developmental theorist. In particular, my interests has been in unconscious cognitive operations as evidenced in Freud’s writings on dream work mechanisms, jokes, and parapraxes. 

                 For cognitive scientists, there perhaps have been few other phenomena that have raised as much controversy as the concept of an unconscious mind. Indeed, until recently, when most cognitive researchers addressed the concept of an unconscious, the term nonconscious has typically been used to separate them from Freud.

                For cognitive psychology, one  major problem with psychoanalysis is the interpreting of unconscious or symbolic meaning. From my small group dynamics laboratory courses, over the last twenty years I have been developing a qualitative cognitive and linguistic methodology for analyzing and validating unconscious meaning in conversations (1991). For example, I have found that literal stories in conversations are often “symbolic,” or “metaphorical” references to what is actually happening in the social situation where the conversation is occurring. Because I have developed a cognitive linguistic framework, I call such unconscious meaning, subliteral.

                While I can not present the methodology (see Appendix in my book) here, the structure  of what I have come to call subliteral meaning is initially arrived at as follows: A literal conversation,

                (a) about four people in a bar, (b) two of whom are male and two female, who

                (c) are being boisterous, and who (d) are dominating the social interaction

can be hypothesized as having subliteral meaning when the membership composition and interaction in the group isomorphically corresponds or matches the ostensibly literal conversation: For example, when the conversation is in isomorphic correspondence to the actual conversational situation where

                (a') four group members, (b') two of which are male and two are female who

                (c') are being boisterous and who (d') are verbally dominating the group interaction

The hypothesis is further supported when the literal report about the four people in a bar is later changed to three people when one of the verbally dominant members is absent from a group session. Additionally, the gender composition of (a) and (a') exactly match. Subliteral narratives generate much more complex and detailed meanings. The implications of my methodology for psychoanalytic interpretation are considerable.

                Interestingly, a couple of years ago, I was informed about the work of psychoanalyst Robert Langs who developed a new school of psychotherapy based on very similar phenomena that he calls “derivatives.” Langs (see,1983) and I both discovered this phenomenon independently at about the same time but were not aware of each others work (see Chapter 12 of my book). Contrary to the more “pop” versions and understandings of psychoanalysis, Freud did not recognized such unconscious communications, though he came close (for a history see, Smith, 1991, Myers, 1996).

                In addition, Lang sand I come from different disciplines and frameworks. Being more linguistic and cognitive, my view of Langs derivative phenomena is that its underlying set of operations are not psychoanalytic dependent. Rather psychoanalysis is an overlay on a more fundamental set of cognitive operations.

                So, while Piaget called for a rapprochement between psychology and psychoanalysis, he did not indicate what such a rapprochement might look like.  Will it be a merger, a blending, an overlapping set of concepts, a reduction of one to the other, or just a mutually informed influence on each other? The latter, of course has already occurred more than cognitive scientists are wont to admit. Whatever the underlying set of operations of my systems of analyzing and validating subliteral meaning turn out to be, we have Freud’s cognitive insights to thank for point the way.

 

References

Dollard, J. and Miller, N. E. (1950).  Personality and psychotherapy.  New York: McGraw-Hill.

Haskell, R.E. (1999/2000) Unconscious Communication: Communicative Psychoanalysis and Subliteral Cognition. Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis. Forthcoming.

            Haskell, R.E. (1999).  Between the Lines: Unconscious Meaning in Everyday Conversation. New York: Plenum Press.

Haskell, R.E. (1991).  An analogical methodology for the analysis and  validation of anomalous cognitive and linguistic operations in small group (fantasy theme) Reports. Small Group Research, an International Journal of Theory, Investigation and Application, 22,  443-474.

Haskell, R.E.. (1968). The analogic and psychoanalytic theory. The Psychoanalytic Review, 55            662-680

Langs, R. (1983). Unconscious communication in everyday life. New York: Jason Aronson.

Myers, P. (1996). Sándor Ferenczi and patients’ perceptions of analysis. British Journal of Psychotherapy 13(1) 26-36

Piaget, J. (1973). The affective unconscious and the cognitive unconscious. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 21, 249 -261.                       

Smith, D. L. (1991). Hidden conversations: An introduction to Communicative psychoanalysis.

Professor of Psychology
Associate Editor, Journal of Mind and Behavior
University of New England (USA)
Hills Beach Road, Biddeford, Maine 04005
Email
rhaskell@javanet.com
Telephone (207) 934-1897; Facsimile 207 934 5009 
http://www.faculty.une.edu/cas/rhaskell/index.htm
or http://www.une.edu/sbs/haskell.htm

 


human-nature.com
© Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young - Last updated: 28 May, 2005 02:29 PM

US -
 Search:
Keywords:  

Amazon.com logo

UK -
 Search:
Keywords:  

Amazon.co.uk logo

 | Human Nature | The Human Nature Daily Review | Psychiatry Research Online |