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Plying the Steel: a Reconsideration of Surgical Metaphors in Psychoanalysis

Ivey, Gavin ORCID: 0000-0002-5537-3504 (2010) Plying the Steel: a Reconsideration of Surgical Metaphors in Psychoanalysis. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 58 (1). pp. 59-82. ISSN 0003-0651 (print) 1941-2460 (online)

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Abstract

Among the metaphors that Freud used to describe psychoanalysis, the surgical is possibly the most deplored. It is considered an anachronistic remnant of a dubious medical ideology that psychoanalysis has largely renounced. However, while analysts today avoid surgical analogies, their patients continue to produce surgical fantasies about analytic treatment. This fact alone requires a serious consideration of the meanings that surgical metaphors have for them. A second reason for reconsidering the role of the surgical metaphor, from the analyst’s perspective, lies in its creative revival by W. R. Bion. Disregarding the shift away from surgical analogizing, Bion employed the metaphor to vividly portray various aspects of the analytic situation and the patient’s experience of them. A brief historical overview of the surgical metaphor in psychoanalysis is provided, followed by an account of the reasons for its demise and by a review of the criticisms that continue to be leveled at it. Bion’s use of surgical metaphors toward the end of his life is then explored. Finally, illustrations are given of the various ways in which patients use spontaneous surgical metaphors to depict transference and the analytic process. Though the analyst should not deliberately adopt surgical metaphors, it is important to remain open to these transference portrayals.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: ResPubID21391, surgical metaphors, professional-patient relations, psychoanalytic theory, psychoanalytic methods
Subjects: Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
SEO Classification > 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Depositing User: VUIR
Date Deposited: 21 May 2012 00:16
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2019 03:05
URI: http://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/7110
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0003065110361253
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Citations in Scopus: 2 - View on Scopus

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