Cleft tongue: The language of psychic structures.

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This book is an attempt to think through psychic language, in its diverse forms and modes of expression, both within psychic structures as well as the inter-personal realm. What kind of rapture does psychotic language create? What is an autistic syntax? What are the body's forms of expression and how do they render themselves to interpretation? The first chapter looks at two basic forms of delay in the development of psychic language, each of which can be associated with a different discourse: concrete language, which is based on flattening, and pseudo-language, which is rooted in concealment. The second chapter is devoted to the split between voice and meaning which marks psychotic syntax, as well as the latter's double function in defending the self against intolerable contact with an unconscious death wish. The subject of the third chapter is the chameleon language of perversion and the relationship between the perverse structure and the primal scene imagined as an empty event. This chapter is followed by one that suggests thinking of autistic syntax as an inverse use of the psychic musical 'organ point'. The fifth chapter discusses the language of trauma and its main characteristic, namely the absent function of the 'inner witness'. The ' sixth chapter discusses psychosomatic language through the distinction between metaphorical, metonymical, and psychotic bodily expressions. The final chapter is dedicated to the singular ethics of interpretation. The various chapters include clinical illustrations as well as readings of literary works by Rilke, Beckett, Sartre, Brodsky, and Celan. 'By its sense of light, you divine the soul', writes Celan in his poem 'Language mesh' (1959). This book is an attempt to illuminate the language's sense of light. If space, by its very nature, marks what is absent from it—then language, whose words are the openings in the mesh through which seeps the unrepresentable, is the closest we can get to what dwells beyond this representation as well as beyond any ability to represent. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherKarnac Books
Number of pages161
ISBN (Electronic)1782200428, 9781782200420
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Psychoanalysis
  • Language
  • Trauma
  • Self-Expression


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